Home / Gear Reviews / Eureka Solitaire 1P Tent Review

Eureka Solitaire 1P Tent Review

manufactured by:
Philip Werner
Version:
2015
Price:
71.00

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On June 4, 2015
Last modified:October 2, 2016

Summary:

The Eureka Solitare Tent is an inexpensive one-person bivy style camping tent for people who don't want to spend more than $100 for a lightweight tent. Weighing less than 3 pounds, it provides backpackers and campers with a functional alternative to other lightweight and ultralight tents costing 3-7 times as much, as well as innovative features not found on other tents in this weight range. While the Eureka Solitaire Tent has some limitations, it's hard to beat the value it provides.

The Eureka Solitaire is a bivy style tent erected with two arched poles.
The Eureka Solitaire is a bivy style tent erected with two arched poles.

The Eureka Solitaire Tent is an inexpensive one-person bivy style camping tent for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money for a lightweight tent. Weighing less than 3 pounds (see specs below), it provides backpackers and campers with a fully functional alternative to other lightweight and ultralight tents costing 3-7 times as much, as well as innovative features not found on other tents in this weight range. While the Eureka Solitaire Tent has some limitations, it’s hard to beat the value it provides.

You can pitch the Solitaire Tent in the rain without the interior getting wet if you fold it up so that the roof and vestibule doors are all closed ahead of time.
You can pitch the Solitaire Tent in the rain without the interior getting wet if you fold it up so that the roof and vestibule doors are all closed ahead of time.

Set Up

The Eureka Solitaire Tent has an inner net tent with a waterproof floor and an outer rain fly. Unlike most double walled tents, both are attached to one another and erected at the same time, making the tent good for less experienced campers. It also means that you can pitch the Solitaire in the rain without getting the inner tent soaked, countering the major drawback of most double-walled tents.

When pitching the Solitaire, it’s best to begin by laying the tent on the ground and inserting the two fiberglass poles that give it some structure. Both shock-corded poles are inserted into fabric sleeves on the outer fly, with the ends slotting into side grommets, sewn to the tent floor.

Once the poles are locked in place, you can walk around the tent and stake out the bottom inner tent and the rain fly. All of the tie-outs are small loops of shock-cord, which are best-staked out using a Shepard’s hook stake. While the Solitaire comes with a set of steel stakes weighing 8.4 ounces, you’re probably going to want to substitute them with lighter weight alternatives.

The Eureka Solitaire has a large front mesh window than can be covered or opened in several different configurations to provide ventilation.
The Eureka Solitaire has a large front mesh window than can be covered or opened in several different configurations to provide ventilation.

Once pitched, there are a variety of ways to configure the Solitaire to improve its internal ventilation. The simplest starting point is to roll back the rain fly over the front screened in vestibule. You can further open up the vestibule, by rolling open the doors, so that they are flush with the top pole (toggles are provided).

You can also completely roll back the fly covering the front vestibule.
You can also completely roll back the fly covering the front vestibule.

In this configuration, your head will be positioned in front of the front pole, inside the front wedge-shaped and screened in vestibule. This works great on a dry night without any morning dew, but leaves your head exposed to moisture if it rains. The size of this wedge-shaped screened area also makes it impossible to store your backpack under cover, although there’s plenty of interior room inside the tent to store its contents.

The Solitaire has a surprsing amount of interior space, with ample room to store a lot of your gear inside the tent with you.
The Solitaire has a surprising amount of interior space, with ample room to store a lot of your gear inside the tent with you.

There is a zipper in the right side and front of the vestibule that opens the screened area to allow for entry. But, like most bivy shelters or A-frame tarps with inner tents, you need to crawl in feet first to enter the tent, which can be awkward. There’s not really enough space inside the tent to turn around to face the other direction, but you wouldn’t expect there to be any in a tent of this type or shape.

You also can’t sit up straight in the Solitaire because the tent poles don’t reach high enough. There is however ample room inside the inner tent for gear storage on either side of your sleeping bag/pad and in the front vestibule: certainly a lot more than 1-person tarp shelters like the Tarptent Notch.

The fly over the main living space can be rolled back for more ventilation and stargazing.
The fly over the main living space can be rolled back for more ventilation and stargazing.

There is a second entrance to the Solitaire that can be used to enter and exit the tent, but only when the outer fly is rolled back in stargazing mode. This is a really cool  option and I’ve never seen anything like it on a 1 person shelter.

A zipper runs along the top of the inner tent, making it possible to enter and exit when the top fly is rolled back.
A zipper runs along the top of the inner tent, making it possible to enter and exit when the top fly is rolled back.

A double-sided zipper runs along the top of the inner tent, making it possible to step out of the Solitaire or enter when the top fly is rolled back. Unfortunately, you can’t roll back the outer fly if it starts to rain from within the tent.

Limitations

There are a number of issues with the Solitaire that you want to know about if you’re considering buying this shelter, which is an excellent value for the money (about $70 dollars retail.)

Fiberglass Poles

The factory tent poles that come with the Eureka Solitaire have a bad reputation (going back years and years) for breaking. While I haven’t yet managed to break mine yet, this isn’t a failure you want to experience on a backpacking trip, since it would make the Solitaire impossible to pitch when you need it the most.

You have two options:

  • Buy durable aluminum replacement poles for the Solitaire from Tentpole Technologies for $49.75/pair. They replace Solitaire poles all the time and can replace them for the current version of the tent as well as the two older models which have slightly different pole sets.
  • Buy the Canadian version of the Solitaire (available on Amazon Canada), which comes with aluminum tent poles and not the fiberglass ones that are packaged with the US version. The cost of the Canadian version is currently $108 in US dollars.

Is it worth it? I think so, because you end up with a very inexpensive functional and lightweight tent for under $120 if you buy the replacement poles or for $108 if you buy the Canadian Solitaire. That’s still a very good value. You do get your money’s worth with this tent and it will last for a good long time if you get it with aluminum poles.

Ventilation

The Solitaire can become quite warm if you can’t roll back the front vestibule fly at night. Of course, this depends on humidity and precipitation, but the side mesh windows on the inner tent don’t provide enough air flow to keep you cool unless there’s a steady wind blowing. If it’s warm outside and raining, the inside of the tent can become insufferably hot and humid, but it is a double wall tent so you won’t get soaked at least. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this shelter for areas with high humid heat and frequent rain.

Wind Performance

It’s difficult to get a very taught pitch with the Solitaire because it’s guyed out with shock-cord not fixed line. This can be easily remedied however, by replacing the shock-cord with fixed guylines, like Kelty Triptease with cord tensioners like GSI Line Locs. This would really improve the sidewall ventilation as well.

Stakes

The Solitaire comes with 12 steel shepard’s hook stakes and one plastic one which are awfully heavy and weigh 8.4 ounces. Since you need a dozen to pitch the shelter, I’d replace them with titanium shepard’s hook stakes that weigh 0.2 ounces each. These can be pricey so shop around or mix and match with whatever you have handy. If you’re obsessed with weight and cost, you can always carve out a dozen stakes from sticks you find on the ground using a knife.

The inside of the Eureka Solitaire has plenty of interior room for a bivy style shelter.
The inside of the Eureka Solitaire has plenty of interior room for a bivy style shelter.

Recommendation

The Eureka Solitaire Tent is a surprisingly inexpensive lightweight tent. Weighing just 2 pounds 9.5 ounces (without stakes, which you’d want to replace anyway), it’s a surprisingly good value for a double-walled bivy-style tent that has more interior room than similar style tents or tarp shelters costing much much more. With a convertible mesh stargazing roof and front mesh vestibule, the Solitaire is bombproof enough to survive a thru-hike and only requires a small amount of space to set up making it a good option for solo backpackers who have to camp where they can.

If you buy the Solitaire, you should upgrade the fiberglass poles to aluminum ones from ($49.75) from Tentpole Technologies or buy the Canadian version (available from Amazon Canada for $108 USD) where the aluminum poles are standard. I would not recommend using this tent with the fiberglass tent poles that come standard with US version of this tent. They have a reputation of breaking and you can’t afford to have that happen on a trip in bad weather.

Tent pole issues aside, the Eureka Solitaire is still a very good value for money when you consider what you get for close to $100. Easy to pitch, the Solitaire is a good option for a new camper or backpacker who wants a functional durable tent without having to spend a lot of money and one that won’t break their back when carried in a backpack. If you want a lightweight tent of comparable value, but with more interior sitting room, take a look at the Eureka Spitfire, which has an MSRP of $139

Likes

  • Value priced, well under $100
  • Easy to set up. Very fast pitch.
  • Great ventilation in stargazing mode
  • Can be pitched in rain without flooding interior
  • High bathtub floors and seam tape keep inside of shelter dry
  • Packs up small

Dislikes

  • Roomy interior for a bivy tent.
  • Hard to get a very taught pitch
  • Not robust enough for very windy conditions.
  • Fiberglass poles break easily (Aluminum poles are available)

Specs

  • Fabric: 70d polyester and 40d mesh
  • Seam-taped
  • Dimensions: 8 ft. x 2 ft. 8 in
  • Area sq ft: 16 + 5 vestibule
  • Interior height: 2 ft. 4 in.
  • Weight:
    • Including inner tent and rain fly (2 pounds 2 ounces)
    • Fiberglass poles x 2 (7.5 ounces)
    • 12 steel tent stakes and 1 plastic (8.4 ounces)
    • Three stuff sacks: 1.5 ounces

Disclosure: Philip Werner purchased the tent reviewed here with his own funds. This post contains affiliate links. 

See Also:

Most Popular Searches

  • Eureka Solitaire
  • eureka solitaire review
  • eureka solitaire tent

22 comments

  1. Yeah, I hiked with a gentleman that had one of these tents for a couple days. He chose a small piece of low ground and woke up in a 2″ deep puddle. But, nothing got wet. Condensation is an issue. He woke up nearly every morning with damp gear, he said. He used everything stock, out of the factory, so, it was over three pounds, a bit heavy.
    He crawled in and got into his sleeping bag, shedding his shoes as he got in, he mentioned.

  2. It looks like a lighter, less-expensive variation of the Fellfab Observer Shelter ( http://www.fellfab.com/military/observer-shelter/ ). Fellfab is the tactical division of Integral Designs.

  3. Roomy is definitely right! On my AT thru hike in 2012 I met a guy carrying this tent. We eventually sent my tent home and we both fit inside with most of our gear. I never once had condensation issues and we never used the guy lines, just set it up with the stock poles and we had titanium stakes. Used a piece of Tyvek for a ground cloth and this thing worked like a dream. We had to trash the old Solitare because it got rolled up and stored wet (and smelled like two hikers lived in it for 5 months!), but we have bought a second one and have it for a backup to our Tarptent.

    He knew two people early in the trail who were carrying the Spitfire and they did have pole breaking issues, but our factory poles held up the entire AT.

    For the price, I think this tent is amazing! We sold it to many newbies going SoBo on the AT when we worked in Millinocket in 2013 and even showed them how to set it up and drop some of the weight.

  4. Another cheap option that my friend is using: http://www.gofastandlight.com/Ultralight-Low-Cost-One-Man-Bivy-Tent/productinfo/T-WF-BIVY/

    He sleeps outside once or twice a year, on our weekend or week-long trips. It was $43 after shipping. He used it for the first time in Shenandoah a few weekends ago and said it worked fine. It has a side entrance. It’s like a little coffin. He slept like death in it. There was no wind or rain. But it seemed to have an adequate, taut pitch.

  5. Great review. I used this tent for over a year including a 7-day section hike in the PCT. I used the stock poles with in mind if the reviews I read. It may seem that poles broke more often in the early versions. But I can’t confirm this.

    I also only used 7 (lightweight) stakes but I had to sacrifice a little of the toughness of the tent.

    To help with ventilation I used a stick on each side to open up the rain fly a little bit.

    For the price this tent can’t be beat.

  6. A wilderness therapy program I worked for used these for canoeing and backpacking. They worked well enough especially for the cost. We were hard on our gear and broke a few poles and zippers but again for the cost hard to beat.

  7. One of my favorite Tents until they changed the Colors on them to look like a Taco Shop. Great tent for Desert and the High Dry Sierra’s, especially the Eastern Side… I gave it up after three days of windy rain due to the sides not being long enough and not being able to secure them to the ground to keep them from blowing up exposing the netting to the rain.. I have never seen one for sale at $70.00 so you might list where that was…Campmor lists then for $89.00.. A similar Model is also sold via Sportsmans Guide, If I remember the one I bought from Sportsman Guide was around $45.00. Those issues aside I went to the Snugpak Ionosphere which cost me $45 but now found for as much as $150 to $200.00 on Amazon. I was shocked at the price increase…Though a bit heavier, it is roomier of course, but the Top Cover completely solves the problem of leakage in high wind and rain as evidenced on a number of trips this year to the Talladega NF where it does rain a lot…The Solitaire was also one of the reasons I bought a Silnylon Tarp to carry along…

  8. A similar tent is the Alps Mystique 1.0. It’s a little more expensive ($104), but it already has aluminum poles and stakes.
    I bought one as a stopgap because I couldn’t decide which of the higher-end single person tents to buy, but after using it I never felt strongly compelled to upgrade. It works fine.

  9. Hi Philip: The ALPS Mystique 1.0 kind of reminds me of the old Sierra Designs Flashlight, except that access appears to be on the side instead of at the front end. I have Sierra Designs’ single-walled version of the Flashlight, the Flash Magic. The discussion about trail weight prompted me to pull it out and weigh it on my postal scale. The total weight, which includes the tent, 2 tent poles, 6 stakes, 2 guy lines and the stuff sack, came to 3.2 pounds. I may consider using the tent on a John Muir Trail thru-hike. By swapping out the stock components with aftermarket ones, I can probably get close to 2.5 pounds. The tent last saw service on Mt. Whitney via the Mountaineer’s Route, where it performed admirably. It accommodated two adults with no condensation issues. It’d be like a sauna in high heat, high humidity conditions, though!

  10. My first backpacking tent was a Solitaire. Within 2 months I had the poles break twice on me. The first time, Eureka replaced the poles without question and very quickly. When they broke the second time, Eureka actually sent me a free upgrade to the Spitfire. By this point, I had actually upgraded to a Big Agnes Fly Creek, but Eureka definitely has great customer service.

    I ended up selling the Spitfire without ever having used it, but I would have to imagine that it’s better than the Solitaire. The Solitaire is fine in terms of space, but definitely make the sacrifice for the better poles.

  11. My son has used this tent for the last 5-6 years. It has weathered many severe storms, used in the middle of winter and 100 degree summers. It has been a great value for the $75 paid. Yes, it has it’s limitations, but they far outweigh it’s negatives. An overall good value for what you get.

  12. I just purchased this item and am looking forward in using it. I live in Yellowknife Canada, And an FYI to all Americans interested in this tent, In Canada these are sold with aluminum poles! And it cost me 98.00 CDN shipping was free.. But of course international shipping charges apply everywhere else

  13. What are the dimensions of the poles? Length, diameter, post on the end etc… I need to order replacements… my kid left the originals last time she used it…

  14. Great tent, just bought a second one from Campmor for under $59 shipped with a 20% off coupon….great deal for a solid solo tent!

  15. I wish I had read this review sooner and taken everything to heart. I made the mistake of buying a Solitaire. I think I set up the tent maybe 10 times; the fiberglass poles broke as they are undersized and poorly made. Overall the tent is a poor design — I’ve had it through too much rain and wind and waking up every morning with the bottom of the tent wet, between the sleeping pad and the bottom section of the tent due to percolation of water from the ground, even with tyvek for a ground cloth. The mesh sags after a few times of setup, and the material leaks like crazy in an extended rain. I’ve only owned the tent for a year and I can’t believe that Eureka would even attempt to sell something this shoddy. Poor design, poor construction, flimsy materials and since my poles broke, it only cost about as much as the tent to replace the poles. My advice, find something that is more a tried-and-true design. At this point I discount the entire Eureka brand– I’ve looked elsewhere. Sure the other tents are more expensive, but I have a feeling that they are far better than the cheap junk that Eureka purveys.

  16. I have one. Canadian model with aluminum poles. Works great. Gets a little condensation sometimes using the rainfly. In minnesota everything gets condensation, soo it might be pritty normal. That’s what handi wipes are for. I got mine down to 3 pounds. Got j hook aluminum stakes. I like j hooks, because you can pull the corners up off the ground slightly if you use them correctly. They actually look more like a question mark. You only need 5. Four for the outer corners, and just one to hold up one rope for the main pole. I use an msr mini stake for the rope. The four loops for the rainflies that are not staked, I just tuck under the poles. Cut the warning tag, tossed out the other stakes, and two ropes. It has been in good winds, and heavy rains set up like that, and have had no issues with the one rope pulling out. When you stake the rear of the tent, and pull and stake the rope for the big pole, the rear pole stays up on it’s own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *