A cheap backpacking tent
I struggled with the idea of spending a ton of money on a tent just for the occasional backpacking trip. But I didn’t want to wallow around with a monster on my back. I just needed something light enough and small enough for short trips. Like the occasional wild camp and a few multi-day hikes.
I hate carrying a heavy pack.
Searching the internet and looking around campsites kept revealing one very popular tent. The Vango Banshee Pro 200.
They were everywhere.
Had I found the solution?
Could I spend the saved cash on other goodies instead?
- A cheap backpacking tent
- Who is this tent aimed at?
- What to consider when choosing a 1 person backpacking tent
- The Vango Banshee Pro 200
- Let’s look at the details…
- It’s a popular tent – very popular
- If you are looking for cheaper or lighter…
Who is this tent aimed at?
If you are a solo backpacker looking for a light but economical tent then the Banshee 200 was made for you. It is designed to give you a good, dry nights sleep as well as not weighing you down on the trail.
The tent is billed as a 2 man tent but is better suited to 1 person if you want to get some kit in there with you.
If you are looking for a genuine 2 person tent then I would suggest you consider a 3 man tent.
What to consider when choosing a 1 person backpacking tent
Is there enough space for you to lie down comfortably
Sleeping in a tent that’s too short is a pain. Cold feet and head can often result, so make sure you get something big enough.
Where are you going to put your kit when you are inside the tent. Is there room?
Close to home you can get away with a tent that may not stand 8 hours of torrential rain. But if you are heading out on a hike, you need to know you’ll stay dry. You need something that says it is waterproof and means it. For what it’s worth it has a Hydrostatic head rating of 5,000 for the outer tent. That’s excellent.
This can be a big consideration if you are camping in exposed areas – particularly in the winter. You will need to choose a tent that can cope with the conditions you expect.
Strength & durability
For fair weather camping, strength and quality of construction are not too important. But if you are planning on multi-day trips or there is a risk of bad weather you will need a tough tent that won’t let you down.
If you are going to be carrying the tent, weight is important. It will make a big difference to your enjoyment. Packing light reduces fatigue and is critical for long distances or multiple days.
Size when packed
You’ll have to get your tent into your rucksack, or at least strapped on the outside. Expensive tents tend to be small and light. Cheap ones are heavy and bulky.
The trick is to find a balance of budget, size and weight.
The Vango Banshee Pro 200
The Vango 200 Pro is a budget priced, high quality tent that is ideal for backpacking and wild camping. It is strong, light and genuinely waterproof.
The Banshee “Pro” differs little from its (non-Pro) predecessor. It has an extra door and better poles – both of which are an improvement on the older non -“Pro” version. The tent has been around for donkeys years and is highly respected. It’s a recommended D of E (Duke of Edinburgh Award) tent.
It comes complete with Poles, pegs, and a very useful stuff sack.
If you are looking for an ultralight tent where every gramme is critical – this is not the tent for you. It’s light but not that light.
This tent is not going to break the bank or weigh you down too much. So if cost and weight are both important, it could be a winner.
- 2 entrances
- Spacious for 1 person
- Fast easy erection of inner and outer together
- Rear vents don’t stay open properly
- Too small for 2 people
- Small porch
Let’s look at the details…
A 2 pole tunnel tent which is lowered at the foot end – where the space is not needed. This works well and provides sitting headroom at the other end. This low profile makes it stable in all but the strongest winds.
The 2 doors mean you can choose which side to open depending on wind and rain direction. Very useful for keeping everything dry. These doors can be vented at the top to keep condensation down.
When it is hotter, you can have both doors open and enjoy the breeze as well as the view. This gives you a real sense of being outdoors even when you are wrapped up in your sleeping bag. It’s one of my things about camping in a small tent.
Tension Band system
This consists of a a pair of diagonal straps that brace the main pole. This enhances stability in strong winds and stops the whole tent flapping around. It is simple to disconnect the straps when not needed.
Made of ripstop polyester, the outer flysheet is waterproof to a 5000mm head. This is unusually high for a tent of this budget and ensures that you stay dry inside. All seams are fully taped. I’ve never seen a leak in my Banshee.
The zips are of high quality and work well without snagging the fabric.
Pitching the tent
The inner and outer are separate parts but pitching is much quicker if you leave the 2 connected – which I always do. It takes less than 10 minutes to have the tent erected. Even in a stiff breeze.
Another advantage of this sytem is that the inner tent stays dry if it is raining when you are putting the tent up. It’s really important to have a tent that’s not wet when you get in it.
This is an excellent piece of kit and deserves a mention. It is bigger than the tent and rolls up to make a compact pack size. If the whole thing is wringing wet or you need to get it down in a hurry, it all stuffs in the bag for dealing with later. You can still make it pretty small if you use this method.
When you have more time and want a small pack size you can fold your tent in the normal way. It will then fit very neatly in the bag.
The aluminium pegs are light weight and quite chunky. They get a good grip on the ground. They are more than capable of securing the tent in windy weather. They will also cope with being bashed in with a rock.
The 2 poles are high quality “Yunan Eco” and are more than you would expect for a tent at this price. They are strong and, very light . This was an improvement for the “Pro” version. The poles are even colour coded to match the part of the tent they slip into. The poles are different sizes as well as colour so it’s a breeze to get them on the right place.
The whole thing with poles and pegs weighs in at 2.39 Kg. Not ultralight, but light enough to be comfortable on your back.
If you leave the bag and pegs behind it comes down to 2.16Kg, which is not worth the hassle to save 230g. You could save a bit of weight by buying high tech pegs but it really is light enough as it is.
When packed in it’s bag the length is around 46 cm and the diameter is 16cm. You can get it smaller than that, but generally it’ll be a tad bigger. Unless you put a lot of effort in.
When the tent is up it is 265cm long and 175cm at the widest point. Add on a bit more for guy ropes all round.
That’s tiny and you can normally find a flat bit of ground to put something that small on.
Even a “full” campsite can often fit one in.
The floor is 220cm long but it’s not all useable. If you are over 6’2” you will struggle to not have your feet and head touching the inner tent. Not a problem but something to bear in mind.
For one person and kit it is spacious enough to not feel constricted.
The porch gives enough shelter for cooking with the door open. You can also fit boots in there but not much else. It would be better if it was bigger.
Officially it is 115cm wide at the widest point inside. That’s too narrow for 2 people. You can jam 2 in but it’s a real squeeze. There is certainly no room for your kit – or movement – if you do. Best to consider the second person’s space for emergency sharing only.
Consider the Banshee 300 if there are 2 of you.
In a word – excellent.
There are 3 external vents in the flysheet and the tops of the flysheet doors can be left open. You can also lower the tops of the internal doors to supplement the mesh vents in the inner tent.
The external vents are not great at staying open but jamming something in there helps. Careful not to rip your tent though.
With this much air floating around, condensation is not a big problem – other than in extreme conditions.
It’s a popular tent – very popular
I checked out lots of other reviews of this tent and it is super-popular, scoring many 5 star reviews on Amazon.
People love it and it’s pretty unanimous how good it is.
It’s great value. It really wins on weight to price ratio.
If you are looking for cheaper or lighter…
If you are looking for something ultra lightweight and are happy to pay the price then take a look at this tent.
It is around 3 times the price but it is much lighter.
That’s an understatement – it’s less than half the weight.
1.12Kg as opposed to the Banshee’s 2.39Kg. It’s a winner if you want to travel really light and have the budget.
On the downside it is flimsier and will not be as durable.
Half the weight and 3 times the price. Is it worth it? Only you can decide.
Lighter and not much more expensive, the Zephyros Compact 1 is a real bargain. I now own this tent and the Banshee is rarely used.
It weighs 1.6kg and packs into a tiny bag.
Perfect for backpacking.
Construction quality is great.
This is in a similar price range to the Banshee 200 and weighs pretty much the same, . Maybe not quite the pedigree of the Vango but worth considering.
Coleman is a good budget brand that packs in the features and quality for an excellent price.
The Cobra has less ventilation than then the Banshee Pro. Condensation is more likely to be an issue.
The zips are prone to problems.
It has a tendency to collapse in high winds which is not a pleasant feeling.
If you are looking for a 1 man backpacking tent that has enough space to stow your gear inside – the Banshee Pro is a great choice.
It solves the problem of finding a light-enough tent for backpacking, without spending a fortune.
It weighs in at a respectable 2.39Kg, is a breeze to put up, and features rock-solid construction.