EMS Velocity 1 Tent Review

Velocity 1 Inner Tent and Exoskeleton Pole
Velocity 1 Inner Tent and Exoskeleton Pole in Freestanding Mode without Corner Stakes

The EMS Velocity 1 is a lightweight, freestanding and affordable.  I think it’s an exceptional value, particularly if you plan on doing any backpacking where you need to camp on unprepared tent sites in the woods or other wilderness areas where unobstructed space is at a premium.

Total Weight: 40.0 ounces (2 pounds 8.0 ounces)

  • Inner tent: 11.8 ounces
  • Rainfly: 15.6 ounces
  • Aluminum hub and spoke pole: 11.1 ounces
  • Minimum number of stakes (4): 0.8 ounces
  • Pole silnyon bag: 0.5 ounces
  • Stake silnylon bag: 0.2 ounces

The Inner Mesh Tent

Weighing pounds 2 pound 8 ounces including tent stakes, it’s almost hard to believe that the Velocity 1 is a free-standing, double-wall tent with an external fly. With one exoskeleton hub style pole (3 hubs), the inner tent pitches very quickly and has color-coded tie-outs to make orienting the poles and inner easy. The ends of the pole snap into Jakes feet connectors at the corners and hooks suspend the mesh ridgeline to the pole, including spreader bars that ensure sufficient width is provided.

Inner tent pitches with corner stakes
Inner tent pitched with corner stakes

While this tent is technically freestanding in that it can be pitched without tent stakes, using them will result in a much tauter inner tent pitch, where internal condensation can occur if the sleeping bag comes in contact with the sides of the bathtub floor. While it’s not strictly necessary to use stakes to anchor the for corners of the inner tent, doing so provides about an inch more side space to reduce condensation and helps prevent the floor from sliding on the ground at night. Being able to do either with little weight penalty is really the best of both worlds!

The inner tent itself has an enormous amount of mesh which provides excellent ventilation, even with the rain fly buttoned up tight all night. There are four handy pockets in the interior corners of the tent making it easy to store your glasses, cell phone, a book, or headlamp out of the way but in easy reach at night, in addition to a triangular gear loft which can be used to store extra stuff or dry wet gear at night. There are also interior abundant hang loops along the ridgeline for hanging still more gear and glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls on the single side mesh door.

While it is possible for me to sit up in the Velocity 1 in order to get dressed (36″ peak height), there is really only enough floor space for a sleeping bag and sleeping pad to fit into the tent with a few inches of clearance on each side. The actual width tapers from head to foot, starting at 36″ at the head end, narrowing to 29″ at the midpoint, and 24″ at the foot end of the inner tent. Despite this, I can easily sleep on my side or on my back without feeling claustrophobic. However lengthwise, I wouldn’t recommend this tent to anyone who’s more than 5’11” in height. It’s not long enough.

Front Gear Vestibule
Front Gear Vestibule


Pitching the rainfly is very straightforward as well, as long as you remember to orient the rainfly door with the single mesh door. The corners of the fly connect to the outside of the inner tent’s Jakes feet with clips, eliminating the need for corner stakes. The rain fly can be further secured to the center pole in the space between the flu and the inner mesh using velcro strips for additional security; this would be a little awkward to do in the pouring rain and howling wind but is easy to accomplish by touch in more favorable weather.

Rainfly doors rolled back
Rainfly doors rolled back

In wet weather, the vestibule requires one stake to create a gear “garage” with ample space to store a large backpack and other gear. When fully deployed, the bottom edge of the rain fly does not touch the ground but is raised up a few inches greatly increasing airflow and reducing internal condensation. A second large airspace, whose primary purpose is additional ventilation, is also available at the rear of the fly which could be used for gear storage but is not accessible from the inner tent. This and two large side vents located on the outside of the fly near the center pole hub, keep internal condensation to an absolute minimum on the Velocity 1, even in very heavy thunderstorms.

Rear vent and air space
Rear vent and air space


My only potential concern with the Velocity 1 is the durability of the plastic hardware used to connect the inner tent to the exoskeleton ridgeline pole, particularly along at the corners of the tent where it snaps into Jakes feet with a ball socket like connection. If any of the ball sockets were to crack in the field, I’m pretty confident that they could be repaired with super glue or duct tape, until I could get a replacement connector from EMS. The same holds for the plastic connectors where the inner tent hooks onto the center pole or pole hubs (which could be fixed with guy line) or the rainfly hooks on the Jakes feet, which could just as easily be secured with regular tent stakes.

Setup Video


The EMS Velocity Tent is an exceptionally light and versatile single person tent loaded with features that you’d normally expect to pay much more for (see Nemo Obi 1 Tent Review or MSR Carbon Reflex 1 Review). The fact that the Velocity 1 is freestanding is huge if you ever have to camp on tent platforms, open ledge, or snow, and distinguishes this tent from others that are available in the same hub and spoke configuration. If you add in its light weight, outstanding ventilation, interior storage and the fact that it has such a small footprint and can be pitched in heavily forested campsites, it’s clear what an outstanding value this tent is.  With an MSRP of $259, the EMS Velocity 1 is a steal.


  • Free-standing and very easy to pitch
  • Can use the inner tent as a standalone mosquito shelter in lean-to’s
  • Superb ventilation, even with the rain fly closed
  • Large vestibule to store gear
  • Interior gear loft and four convenient inner pockets
  • High seam-taped floors


  • Too short for people over 6′ in height
  • Pitching in rain is likely to result in a wet inner tent

Technical Specs:

  • Floor Area: 18 sq feet
  • Vestibule Area: 9.25 feet
  • Vestibule Door: Center Zipper
  • Floor Coating: 1200 mm Silicone PU
  • Rain Fly Coating: 1200 mm Silicone PU
  • Seams: Taped
  • Doors: 1
  • Canopy Fabric: 33 Denier Cordura diamond ripstop
  • Floor Fabric: 33 Denier Cordura diamond ripstop
  • Rainfly Fabric: 33 Denier Cordura diamond ripstop
  • Peak Height: 36 inches
  • Width: Tapered, 36″ at head end, 29″ in middle, 24″ at foot end
  • Freestanding: Yes
  • Pole Frame: 1, external
  • Pole Material: Dac Featherlite Aluminum
  • Vestibule Poles 0
  • Main Poles: 1 Hub assembly
  • Sleeps: 1

Disclosure: The author received a sample Velocity 1 Tent from Eastern Mountain Sports for this review. 
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  1. How would you compare this tent with MSR Hubba? I’m still debating which 1 person tent I should buy.

    • I’ve not tried the Hubba Solo, but from what I can gather from the online specs:

      The Hubba Solo is heavier by at least 5 ounces, it doesn’t have a gear loft or 4 internal mesh pockets in the interior corners, there are no vents in the exterior rainfly to reduce internal condensation and it’s more expensive. Otherwise the dimensions and features are nearly identical. I have tried the Carbon Reflex 1 which looks like the more expensive clone of the Hubba Solo, and I like the EMS Velocity 1 way way better. EMS really hit one out of the park with this tent. Hope that helps.

      • This one looks like a keeper.

      • Definitely. You have to watch those guys at EMS…they produce some excellent store branded products and I’m glad to see them leap out ahead of REI when it comes to fast and light tents.

      • I’m glad to see this, too, since I’ve been pretty underwhelmed with EMS’s tent selection in the past few years. They’re definitely headed in the right direction. Last year they did good with the new sleeping bags, now tents… I wonder if they’ll follow suit with backpacks.

        Vlad, I’m also glad you asked about the comparison to the Hubba– the first time I saw the Velocity, I thought it was a new Hubba since it looked so similar (to someone who’s never owned either).

  2. What’s the packed size?

    • They say 6 x 17″ but I always repackage tents because they fit into a pack better if they’re not stored as a long cylinder. That’s why I showed the stuff sack in the picture.

  3. Philip, have you tried any of the REI one-person tents? I’m wondering how they compare to this one, and also how this one compares to the tarp-tents you’ve used.

    • Liz – I have not tried any of REI’s 1 person tents. There are two: the Quarter Dome t1 and the Passage 1. Both are heavier than the Velocity 1, but the Quarter Dome T1 is at least comparable.


      The big difference between tarp tents and these lightweight double walled tents is that 1) tarptents can be pitched in pouring rain without getting the inner tent wet because there isn’t a separate rain fly (the inner and fly are combined in a single layer). That matters more if you are a backpacker than if you are a car camper, because you can’t cancel your trip as easily if the weather turns bad. 2) tarptents tend to be much lighter than double-walled tents, and are often between 1.5 and 2 pounds in weight. Visit tarptent.com to see what’s available.

      • Thanks, Philip. How does the tarp tent compare to the EMS tent as far as comfort, internal size, etc.? From the pics on their website, it looks like the tarp tent is more spacious.

  4. Yes Tarptents tend to be very spacious. It depends on the model you get, but you can often get a 2 person tent and have the ability to store your gear close at hand.

    Another equally flexible and lightweight option is to get a shaped tarp that has an inner tent like the Golite Shangrila 1 or 2


    These are lightweight, very easy to pitch, 4 season, and inexpensive. They can also be pitched without the inner tent (which is optional) which makes them much lighter weight. I personally prefer tents (shelters) like this, because you don’t need to lug around extra mesh if you don’t need it.

  5. Great review, thanks. I’ve been looking for a solo tent and this may just do it, especially since I live minutes from an EMS. Tent also appears to be on sale now for $207.

    The Tarptents and Six Moons tents look great. But I don’t use trekking poles and so many of the tarp designs are made for people who do. I strongly prefer a true free standing tent. I think I’ll stop in and have a look at one after work today.

    • Very true. The value of a freestanding tent cannot be underestimated. I love them in winter because it removes the need to harden snow anchors before setting up my tent. Also very handy if you sleep on rock ledge. The only really freestanding tarptent out there is a Tarptent Rainbow, but it requires trekking poles to set up.

  6. Wow this thing looks extremely small when packed up. How does this compare in weight and packability in relation to your normal tarp/ground cloth/stakes shelter? I’m looking into switching to a tarp setup because I think I will really like the openness feeling of it not being surrounded by walls that are 2 inches away on both sides of you. Aside from that caveat it seems like it is a very well designed tent.

    • Well my normal tarp setup is either a 2 person cuben fiber pyramid, bivy sack, and plastic sheet that weighs 22 oz or a 8×8 silnylon square tarp, bivy sack, and plastic sheet that weighs 18 ounces. I use poles to set up the pitches

      Packed, the Velocity 1 is about 4 times as large as my pyramid setup and 1/3 the price; the Velocity is about 6-8 times as large as my square tarp setup and close to equal the price.

      When I sleep in the Velocity, I think of the inner tent to be a roomy version of my bivy sack.It’s quite nice actually and could be set up in a lean-to as a freestanding bug net in a pinch.

      • Thanks for the advise. I saw the link to the golite tarp tent as well. I might look into those. Basically looking for something that is relatively cheap (I’m backpacking on a tight budget) and easy to pack that doesn’t take up a ton of space. If something weighs an extra 4 ounces it isn’t a deal breaker if I’ll save 75 bucks. I also don’t use hiking poles at the moment, so tying a tarp between trees and sticks would work, or a freestanding tent is sort of what I’ve been looking into. Always looking to save space and weight. Your blog has been a very good resource keep up the good work!

  7. My first thought was, “Wow. How is this tent so much lighter than the Hubba?” And then you provided the telling specs. Shorter in height and in length. Nuts. Too short for me.

    I have used the Hubba in the past and it is a great tent. The specs suggest that it is narrow, and it is. However, it is actually wider toward the top of the tent so sitting up and not brushing the walls too much is possible. The big downside to the Hubba is simply weight.

    • Lengthwise, they’re both 86 inches long I think. The other more subtle difference between the two tents is the fabric and PU. The Hubba Solo fabric is simply heavier.

  8. This tent seems very similar to the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1, which I happened to pick up a little while ago and take it out on it’s maiden overnighter recently.
    How do you find the tent poles to pack? The hub points where all three poles join add some bulk to the poles as well as the plastic jake’s feet.
    Does EMS offer a footprint? With an old REI tent I have I find myself taking the footprint and rainfly while leaving the inner mesh at home.
    Since this tent doesnt seem to differ much from the BA tent, it is possible to pitch the rainly over the footprint, then sneak under the fly and clip up the inner mesh tent if one was to pitch the tent in the rain. I’ve tried this several times with the BA and it’s easy enough. Lay the rainfly out, slide the footprint under it, then the poles in between, then quickly pop the poles in the footprint holes and pop up the poles and realign the rainfly as quickly as possible. The footprint will barely get wet.
    The BA also shares the same problem with the tent floor not being fully stretched out unless it is staked out (very tightly).
    One question – do you find it easier to role the tent or just stuff it in the carry sack?

    • I’m planning to go to EMS tomorrow if I have time, and take my trusty scale. Supposedly they have the footprint in stock, so I’ll weigh it. The BA tent is $350. With this one at $207… well, it’s more affordable for me, anyway.

    • I stuff it. EMS offers a footprint, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a footprint and not part of the tent the way the BA is.

    • I was between this and the BA CS1 this spring myself. I loved this tent overall, but it definitely was too short for me (6′). I touched at both ends due to how the walls slope sharply at the ends. Perhaps staked out it is better, but it still would be tight. The CS is more than roomy enough for me (pretty wide too), and I got a solid deal on it (it is still pricey though, I will agree on that). But EMS has made large strides with the new Velocity tents, it bodes well for what else they might do!

  9. I purchased the 2012 the Quarter Dome T1 this spring. My comments on the REI site are still valid.

    The 2012 model which has an assymtrical floor plan; a real improvement over the smaller pre-2012 floor plan. Lots of head room.

    The tent is called out as semi free-standing which is kind of silly. You have to stake out this tent in order to get a flat floor that does not touch your sleeping bag. It is less “tent pad friendly” design than my non-free standing tent since the pole design causes the floor to be a triangle until the fourth corner is staked.

    The entry door and fly design do a great job of keeping water out of the body of the tent when entering or exiting when it is raining.

    Even after reading this review, I am sticking with the Qtr Dome T1.

  10. nice review, thanks. i have the velocity 2 from last year, got it this past spring on closeout for 130 bucks i think, and you know what, its a pretty good tent. i’ve been impressed with it in the few times i’ve used it (got it to take my 6 year old on his first backpacking trips). this year’s velocity 2 was lightened by 1/2 a pound i think, but overall i would buy another ems tent. in fact, i may buy this, i’m in the market for a new a solot tent. the price is definitely right. :)

  11. hi. i’m seriously considering grabbing one of these now and came back to re-read your review. question: your specs are slightly different from those listed at ems. they list peak ht at 35, and state that the floorspace tapers from 38 – 22. you list peak ht at 36, floor tapering from 29 – 24. are those your measurements? thanks!

  12. Based on your review ( very well done as always), I purchased this tent yesterday. Upon setup at home, I noticed the two rear Jakes feet sit flat on the floor, but the two front are canted at a severe angle due to the tent fabric pulling upwards. The result is that even the lightest touch on the jakes feet to try to make them lay flat will cause to end of the poles to pop out of their seat and the tent collapses. I returned to the store today and tried to set up two other tents and they both had the same issue. In fact, the salesperson touche the jakes foot with the toe of their shoe and the tent immediately collapsed.

    Did you experience this problem? Did you have any problems with the pole attachment in the field. I think this is the perfect tent for my needs / budget, but this probably is a show stopper if I cannot be confident the tent will stay put.

    • I did notice that the rear poles slip easily out of the jakes feet, but I simply reset them and they held fine. I also seem to remember that there is a piece of webbing between the inner tent and the guy out point that let’s you relax the tension between the two (I can see this on a photo I have – but can also check this weekend when I plan to use the tent again).

      In order to release the poles from the jakes feet you normally just twist them to have the ball pop out of the socket. If the webbing is tight, it is probably tensioning the foot in a way that simulates this dis-assembly action. Try loosening the strap. If that doesn’t work you can also try staking out the rear foot at a 45 degree angle from the tent. This should flatten the Jakes foot against the ground and prevent it from popping out. Make sense?

      • Thanks for the response. On all of the tents we tried to max out the webbing length, but it had little effect as the distortion is due to the upward pull of the inner tent fabric from the clips holding it to the frame. I will try to see if staking out all four cornesr to maximum stretch helps. I will be interested to know your thoughts when you use it again this weekend.

        BTW – excellent website. You have helped me enormously as I try to re-enter the world of backpacking after a way too long sabatical. My hiking started as a teenager in 1970. Much has changed since then – most for the better.

  13. I’ll let you know what I find – I’ll be in it 2 nights this weekend.

  14. Phillip, any further comments on this tent, after your weekend? I was a hair away from pulling the trigger on one, would love to hear how it went over the weekend….

    • I didn’t experience any problems with the poles , like Steve reported above. They went in and stayed in, no issues. I do have a thought though, which is that you need to let them sit overnight in a new tent so that they relax a bit – don’t know if that makes any sense. Even then, I reckon once you get the fly on they won’t pop out of the jakes feet.

      I’m still loving this tent – it may be quite some time before I raffle it off. Spent 2 nights in it in the Whites over the weekend in the most attrocious weather (rain) and was quite comfortable even though it’s still a one person tent. The gear loft and internal pockets (4) are great and there’s no condensation transfer between the fly and the inner tent.

      • Thanks. That’s very helpful. I was at EMS this afternoon, test fitting the tent in various bags. I’ll probably pick one up tomorrow. I was kinda waiting for your report. Very much appreciated.

  15. Great review!!

  16. I thought I would share a little MYOG project I did on this tent. Certainly nothing new to most UL backpackers but it worked nicely for a brief overnighter I did Friday. The ingredients consisted of a polycro window kit and four velcro tabs. I assembled the main tent on its frame and turned it bottom side up. The frame kept the floor nicely tensioned. The polycro was exactly the length of the floor and, by laying it on top and tensioning it with a little masking tape, I cut a nearly perfect match for the floor. I used the double sided tape to hem the edges by rolling them in about an inch. I then fastened the four velcro tabs at each corner, with the mating tabs on each corner of the tent floor. Result – a ground sheet for less than $8 that weighs about an ounce. I simply left it attached to the floor when I rolled up the tent. At my campsite, the groundsheet and tent floor went down in one step. I only have one night in this tent, but very happy with it so far.

  17. Have you heard of anyone who thru hiked the AT with this tent?

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