Home / Gear Reviews / Eureka Spitfire Tent: Ultralight Goes Mainstream…

Eureka Spitfire Tent: Ultralight Goes Mainstream…

Eureka Spitfire Interior View
Eureka Spitfire Interior View

The first tent I ever bought for myself was manufactured by Eureka. That was a long time ago. So when Eureka asked me to review one of their lightweight tents, the Eureka Solo Spitfire Tent, I was intrigued. Eureka is not the first brand that springs to mind, when you think of lightweight camping tents and shelters. But the fact that they have products that target this segment, must mean that ultralight backpacking is well on its way to going mainstream.

The factory weight of the Spitfire is just under 3 lbs and contains the following components:

  • Inner tent (19 oz)
  • 8 Aluminum tent stakes and a silnylon sack (5.4 oz)
  • DAC Featherlite Poles and silnylon sack (9.3 oz)
  • Rain Fly and silnylon sack (17.5 oz)
Eureka Solo Spitfire Inner Tent
Eureka Solo Spitfire Inner Tent

The Spitfire’s inner tent is pretty nice. It has a seam-taped bathtub floor and provides extensive ventilation. It is held up by a pair of very lightweight DAC featherlite poles that easily clip to the inner tent and are inserted into side grommets. The inner tent has a substantial amount of headroom so you can sit up in it. It also has an inner pocket for storing gear and a flashlight loop that you can use to hang an LED lantern or to keep a light handy at night. Nice touches.

The only issue I have with the inner tent is that it’s just about 6 feet long and a bit too short for comfort. Both the head and the feet areas come to narrow points and barely fit a 6 foot person, making the shelter best for a shorter person or a child.

Eureka Solo Spitfire Rain Fly
Eureka Solo Spitfire Rain Fly

To finish setting up the tent, you cover it with a rain fly that clips to the tent stake loops. It’s made out of a very heavy silnylon fabric that covers all of the fantastic ventilation provided by the inner tent and doesn’t provide that much extra gear storage area in return. It can be rolled up to provide some ventilation, but only on one side of the tent, preventing cross-breezes. In addition, there is a bivy like window on top of the fly that you can prop open to allow some venting even in heavy rain. It’s an unusual touch on such an inexpensive tent.

Eureka Solo Spitfire Tent
Eureka Solo Spitfire Tent

Priced at under $125, I have to admit that I’m impressed by certain aspects of the Spitfire. It is incredibly easy to set up and well made. My only gripe beside the fact that it’s too short for me is the outer fly which I think you’d be better off tossing. Instead, I’d use the inner tent as a luxurious bug bivy under a lighter weight silnylon tarp. Tied to hiking poles or surrounding trees, a sub 10 oz. tarp would make the ventilation in the inner tent more effective and provide much more gear storage area in the event of rain.

Disclosure: Eureka provided SectionHiker.com with a complementary Spitfire tent for this review.

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13 comments

  1. This tent is very similar, and a bit simpler, than the Kelty Crestone 1 that we’ve used with the Scout troop for the last 3 years. One nice feature is being able to sit all the way up though.

    The tarp idea as a replacement for the rainfly is a great idea. Might be nice for my Crestone, too.

  2. I have to hand it to Eureka – this tent is very easy to set up and sub-3 lbs is interesting, not just for us big folks but for kids, too. I think they have an even lighter model the Spitfire UL Tent which weighs 2 lbs. 5 oz, but has the same rain fly issue and it's even shorter.

  3. How would you rate the tents ability mastering heavy winds? Looking at the general design it doesn't seem to me that it can take stronger winds very well.

    • I have a spitfire II that i use for two people. A few years ago I was caught in a microburst on top of Cheaha mountain in Alabama.There were gusts well over 50 mph and even without the extra stakes and tie downs the tent held up fine. If you look at the rain fly you will see extra tie downs should you need them for the wind…I love this tent, it kept me draw and out of the wind and the spitfire II has a door on each side so you can use one of the vestibules for wet gear and cook on a stove in the other one and stay pretty dry even in a down pore. I have even used this tent in light snows and the roof top vent works great for getting rid of excess moisture from inside the tent while keeping out the weather.

  4. Completely agree with you. Eureka makes tents for campgrounds not mountain passes. It targets the mass market. However, the mega-trend is that the entire mass market is picking up on the lightweight craze since they're running out of features to add to outdoor gear. I find it very interesting to note that Eureka offers sub 3 and close to 2 lb shelters. That signals a pretty big market shift.

  5. Thank you for the informative review. I am in the planning staging of buying a solo shelter system for summer/early fall and I have been reading your posts very closely.

    Your criticism of the fly and overall length adds weight to the positive comments you made on the tent body and ease of set-up.

    At $125, I could see buying this for the tent body, poles, and stakes.

    Is the tent free standing or do you need to stake out the foot and head of the tent body to achieve the design floor area?

    Also, I had thought the purpose of a double wall tent was so that the condensation built up on the fly and therefore the key design feature is the separation between the fly and the tent body rather than the tent's ability to vent.

    Therefore, when you mention the lack of a cross breeze, I (respectively) wonder if you are apply a criteria for a single wall tent to a double wall tent?

    You have written before about the difference between traps, tarptents, single wall tents, double wall tents, and hammocks. What I got from that post was basically you said that each has its place – Has your thinking changed?

    I ask becuase I haven't read a recent trail report that mentions a hammock and from this post it sounds like a traditional double wall tent, no matter how light, is not an option you would make?

    Finally, your suggestion of a tent/bug bivy and tarp seems to be an attmept at combining surface water & bug protection of a tent body with the improved sight lines and ventilation of a tarp. Is that correct? Is site selection tougher with this combination, since you need a relatively flat spot betwqeen tress that are close enough to set-up the tarp?

    Thanks again!

  6. Tom – Great to hear from you. You have to let me know how the Long Trail hike with your son is coming.

    Let me try to answer your questions, or at least move our dialogue forward:

    The Spitfire is free standing. There is a front and rear loop (dac featherlite poles) that the inner tent clips onto. You do need to stake out the head and foot of the inner tent – it's sort of diamond shaped. Very easy to setup. I don't think it's worth $125 though, unless you're buying it for a scout. If you are looking for a good one or two person, 3 season tent, I recommend tarptent.com. I own the Squall 2 and it's a great tarptent.

    Regarding different shelter types. My thinking hasn't changed – each has it's place and also depends on terrain and your preference. Let me just clarify and say that single walled tarp tents and a tarp/bivy are virtually the same. A standalone tarp is just a bit more flexible – for example, you can use it with a hammock.

    I will actually be using a hammock next weekend in the Whites because it is so hard to find a flat stealth site below treeline there and I will be camping above 3,000 ft. I like hanging the hammock on forested slopes – it's ideal for this.

    I am not particularly fond of double-walled tents for 2 main reasons – they're heavy and they often have condensation problems.

    Condensation mainly comes from your breath at night – you exhale about 1 pint of water and the only way to get it out is to vent the inner tent using mesh or a breathable fabric like Epic – which is what my single wall winter tent is made with.

    The main benefit of a double walled tent is – in my opinion – gear storage area – but many double walled tents don't even provide that, and provide a rain fly because the inner tent is not waterproof (because it is mesh). This has always struck me as pointless – why provide mesh if it can't breath.

    I just ordered a double walled tent, a Scarp 1 – from tarptent – expressly because it provides for gear storage and the ability to cook in pouring rain. I will mostly be using it for winter camping and a trip to Scotland next spring. It has an interesting design – basically a tarp with a bug bivy that hangs inside.

    Hope that helps. -Philip

  7. I'm slightly confused by your measurement of 6 feet. What are you referencing by the measurement? Eureka has the tent listed at 9 feet long so thats why I'm expressing some confusion. Is that usable space your referring to or does that include a pack in the tent with you?

  8. The inner tent with all of the bug netting barely fit me and I'm 5'10.5". I guess eureka uses the 9' measurement to include the fly. You can't really fit a big pack in the inner tent with you but if you have a little one, you could give it a shot. Just remember, anything touching the walls at night is bound to get soaked by internal condensation unless you're sleeping without the fly. If it were me, I'd just put the pack in the vestibule.

  9. I've used the Spitfire 2, as I like to actually sleep with my pack in the tent (on occassion). The spitfire 2 is just like the spitfire 1 but sleeps 2 somewhat comfortably. Still has issues with the vestibule being tiny, but for a lightweight tent that doesn't really concern me (considering I used to use a bivy sack only). As for high winds…well, if you're going to hike in place like that, I personally wouldn't use any tension tents…they tend to fall down in strong winds. Freestanding tents, in that situation might be better, but of course there is a weight issue as with everything backpacking.

  10. I've used the Spitfire 1 for several years and it's been great. I tried the Kelty Crestone 1 at first, and found it to be poorly constructed, especially when compared to the Eureka. The Spitfire is not freestanding. Compared to other similar tents it's plenty long and wide enough (I'm 6'0", and not slender). I really like the side entry door, It's always kept me dry, and while I haven't used it in a hurricane, I have had it in some very windy conditions above treeline and it held up fine, though I do take care to use the guy lines and stake it out in those conditions. It's actually held up better than many of the free-standing tents in the wind. Finally, while the vestibule is practically non-existent, it is big enough for my boots, which is what matters. And if it were bigger, the price paid would be more weight and less stability in the wind, not to mention more money. I think it's a great tent that is better than most of the one person tents out there, even those costing 3 times the price.

  11. I've just ordered the Spitfire Duo. Though I always go solo (on my bike) a two person tent is just sooo much more comfortable. The weight difference is also relatively small: about two or three apples. I've had more expensive tents in the past, but the most expensive of them all (a Sierra Designs Sphinx 3) proved to be the worst. Also, my tent frequently is exposed to sunlight for longer periods of time since I sometimes stay at a certain place for several days. Even expensive tents can't take that for more than 5-6 seasons or so. Therefore the very affordable Spitfire Duo seems pretty ideal.

  12. I also use a Spitfire Duo as a solo. As Tim said the weight difference is minimal versus the extra space and comfort. The model available here in Canada is quite roomy at almost 11′ by 6′. Plenty of room for gear and more. I also like the dual doors…very handy depending on the rain direction! The set-up is quick and easy. I’ve had to set-up in rain several times with little more than a paper towel needed to dry the interior. When fully guyed the fly performs extremely well in heavy rain and 50-60 km per hour winds. I was lucky to pick this up for $118 on sale, and a fabric footprint was included! I bought it on a whim as an alternative to my El Capitan 3. Something lighter and more suitable to solo trips. Camping has been a lifelong passion and I have owned several other Eureka tents over the years. Excellent value, thoughtful designs and outstanding performance.

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