Originally Posted by GSBS
...Your most wisely spent money will be in your choice of sleeping pad and sleeping bag, regardless of the tent you select.
In a cold hard rain I could be really comfortable on my 3.5" thick Downmat sleeping pad and 0º down bag even if water were puddling on the tent floor of a cheap tent. But in the same weather it could be miserable in a $500 tent with a poor sleeping pad/sleeping bag. Just sayin'...
The other thing not mentioned in this thread is noise. A better quality tent will be much, much quieter in the wind.
Nothing worse than a cheap tent flapping away all night and keeping you awake.
As mentioned above, a quality pad and bag is mandatory.
NOTHING on your trip will be fun if you aren't rested.