The CAMP USA Minima SL 1 (MSRP $249.95) is a compact double-walled tent that weighs 2.0 pounds. One step up from a bivy sack, it packs up impossibly small, making it an option when you need a waterproof shelter that doesn’t require much space to set up and you care less about interior comfort.
How small? The packed tent is just 12″ long by 5″ in diameter so it disappears inside a backpack. That’s about the size of a pair of mountaineering crampons or half the size of a compressed 20 degree sleeping bag.
The Minima 1 SL has an inner tent that is technically standalone, although you’ll want to stake out the front and rear for maximum interior volume. It’s pitched using two aluminum tent poles that slide into hoop-shaped sleeves and slot into grommets along the side of the tent.
While the inner tent measurements appear long at 86″ (see specs below), the usable space is considerably lower since the areas above the head and feet slope down. At 5′ 10″, the top of my face and toes touch the top of the inner tent when I lie down on my back on an inflatable sleeping pad. This tent is for sleeping, not hanging out in.
The tent pole segments fold up quite short, none longer than 12″, which contributes to the Minima 1’s packability. I wish all tent manufacturers had poles that folded up this small. Unfortunately, the 1/2 sized aluminum tent stakes included with the Minima 1 SL are an impossibly short three and a half inches and have no holding power. I recommend swapping them out for six-inch MSR mini-ground hogs, MSR needle stakes or your favorite assortment of full size tent stakes, like those shown here.
The outer fly drapes over the inner tent and is connected to the side webbing straps (that hold the tent poles in place) with plastic mitten clips, making it nearly impossible to stretch the fly fully and get a taut pitch. The front and rear of the fly is staked out separately from the inner tent using stakes.
While there is a tiny rear vent, ventilation through the tent is compromised unless the front vestibule remains open. Otherwise, condensation quickly overwhelms the tent, dripping on to your face and sleeping bag or quilt, where the inner tent mesh hangs down and touches it.
While top of the front pole is 25 inches high, it is positioned over your torso and not your face, which is just inches below the front sloping mesh of the inner tent. Getting into the tent is difficult without crawling backwards and getting up to pee at night and back in again is a clown show when you’re half conscious. Getting dressed and undressed in the tent is simply impossible and there’s no extra space in the tent or vestibule for storing your backpack or most of its contents under cover at night.
I’ve always had a very high regard for the mountaineering, climbing, and hiking products that CAMP USA makes which I’ve always found to be cutting edge and well-designed. But I’ve found the Minima 1 SL tent to be a challenge to use in anything except ideal weather conditions when you need to keep the front vestibule closed for warmth or to prevent rain from entering the inner tent.
While I can understand how having a highly compressible 2 pound tent is desirable for lightweight backpacking or climbing, there are numerous double-walled and single-walled tents available today that weigh far less and are vastly more comfortable and condensation resistant than the CAMP USA Minima 1 SL tent. I’d give the Minima 1 SL a pass and check out the Tarptent.com ProTrail, Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker, REI Quarter Dome 1, and the Eureka Spitfire instead. All of these tents are available at a comparable price to the CAMP USA Minima SL tent, but are far more livable in any weather.
- Fits into very narrow, tight campsites
- Packs very small and compactly
- Excellent waterproofing specs
- Inner tent hangs onto occupant transferring internal condensation
- Poor ventilation when vestibule is closed
- Stakes provided are to short and have no holding power
- Weight: 1.0 kg, 2 lb 2 oz
- Sleeps: 1
- Packed Size: 29 x 12 cm, 11.4 x 4.7 in
- External Dimensions (cm): 100 x 300 x h 70
- External Dimensions (in): 39.4 x 118.1 x h 27.6
- Internal Dimensions (cm): 80 x 220 x h 65
- Internal Dimensions (in): 31.5 x 86.6 x h 25.6
- Fly Sheet Material: Nylon Ripstop 30D
- Fly Sheet Water Column (mm): 2000
- Floor Materials: Nylon 190T/N
- Floor Water Column (mm): 3000
- Entrances: 1
- Poles: Alu 6063
Disclosure: CAMP USA provided the author with a sample tent for this review.
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