One person, solo backpacking tents are ideal if you’re thru-hiking, fast-packing, or backpacking big miles and want to trim your gear weight as low as possible. More livable than bivy sacks, one person tents are designed for sleeping and bad weather protection. While some solo tents are more plush and spacious than others, you almost always have to choose between competing priorities including weight, ease of use, durability, and cost when selecting one. This can make it tough to choose between tents, especially since few stores have display models anymore.
Taking these different priorities into consideration, here are our picks for the top 10 one-person tents of 2019.
1. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 1
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 1 is a spacious 34 oz high-volume, double-wall tent with an easy-to-setup hubbed pole architecture. The large, dual-zipper door makes entrance and exit easy and creates a large vestibule for ample gear storage. A large ceiling pocket and side pockets provide excellent storage space, while mesh sidewalls provide extra privacy. The high quality of the Copper Spur and its durable construction make it a backpacker favorite.
Weighing just 26 oz, the NEMO Hornet 1 is a lightweight double-wall tent with a side entrance and large vestibule for ample gear storage area The hubbed pole architecture provides easy setup, with excellent ventilation between the inner tent and rainfly to help reduce tent condensation. Aerodynamic vents encourage airflow, while the high bathtub floor prevents cold wind from chilling you inside. White mesh on the tent sides provides extra privacy, while black ceiling mesh is virtually transparent to provide bug-free star-gazing.
The MSR Hubba NX 1 is a 39 oz double wall tent with a side entrance and vestibule so you can store your extra gear under cover and still get in and out of the tent easily. The tent is easy to set up with a dual hub pole structure that provides excellent head and foot room, in addition to an overhead eyebrow pole that creates vertical sidewalls to increase livability. The carbon fiber pole structure provides excellent stability in wind conditions, while rain fly vents help prevent internal condensation.
The REI Quarter Dome SL 1 is a highly livable 31 oz double wall tent with vertical sidewalls and plenty of head and shoulder room. The hubbed and shock-corded pole assembly is color coded to simplify setup, while adjustable stake out points make stake placement easy and allow for quick vestibule tensioning. Abundant mesh and a roof vent help prevent internal condensation while a variety of pockets and hang loops help organize the interior. This tent is surprisingly affordable and quite a good value.
The North Face Mica FL 1 is a 32.5 oz double-wall tent loaded with mesh for great ventilation with ample headroom. A deep bathtub floor with taped seams protects against splashing rain while internal pockets provide gear storage. The tent’s hub-style aluminum poles lock into corner grommets making set up fast and easy while requiring just 1 stake to for the door. A large side entry door provides easy access, while the rain vestibule provides valuable gear storage. Read our review.
The MSR Carbon Reflex 1 tent offers the full protection, durability and simple setup of a double-wall tent with the ultralight weight and packed size of a tarp shelter. Weighing just 23 oz, it packs up small and sets up quick, conveniently fitting into narrow tent spaces with ease. The tent’s carbon fiber poles are exceptionally lightweight and strong, providing excellent wind resistance while eliminating the need for a bulky multi-way hub or awkwardly pre-curved poles. Read our review.
The Tarptent Aeon Li single-wall tarp tent with a floating bathtub style floor and mesh front wall. Weighing 15.8 ounces, the Aeon Li is sized for one person plus their gear. It requires one trekking pole or tent pole (optional) to pitch and has a front vestibule which can be tied open in good weather. The Aeon Li is made with DCF (formerly called cuben fiber), which is a very lightweight and waterproof laminate that is taped and sewn together. DCF can be rather noisy in heavy rain and provides limited privacy since it’s translucent, but it is puncture resistant and easy to repair with Tyvek tape. Read our review.
Gossamer Gear’s “The One” is an ultralight, single-walled trekking-pole tent that weighs 22.4 oz. It has a spacious interior that’s a palace for one, with excellent ventilation to help prevent internal condensation. Factory seam-taped, there’s no need to seam seal The One which is made with an ultralight silpoly instead of cuben fiber to help keep its price competitive. The front vestibule is quite large with a zippered center opening which can be closed shut in inclement weather, or rolled back for views and ventilation. The vestibule is also large enough to store your pack under one of the doors and get in and out through the other. Read our review.
The Tarptent Rainbow is a 35 oz, one-person single-wall tent that requires one tent pole. It has a floating bathtub floor which is connected to the rain fly with noseeum netting in order to provide optimal ventilation. The interior is quite wide and long, providing abundant interior living space and making the tent suitable for tall users. There’s a large mesh-backed front vestibule for gear storage that can be left open at night for additional ventilation. The tent can also be reconfigured to be freestanding using trekking poles, which is useful for setup on rock ledge or tent platforms. Made of silnylon, the Rainbow must be seam-sealed.
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is an ultralight style, single wall tent that’s pitched with a single trekking pole. Weighing just 26 ounces, the Lunar Solo is quite lightweight and easy to set up. It has a bathtub style floor to prevent flooding in rain and a side door, making entry easy. The interior is quite roomy, with a hexagon shaped floor, providing room to store your gear in the tent, and plenty of head room to sit up inside. A large vestibule also provides gear storage and room to cook in bad weather. Read our review.
Here are the most important variables to consider when buying a backpacking or camping tent.
WEIGHT/TRAIL WEIGHT – The total weight of a tent usually measures the tent and all of its packaging, while the trail weight is the weight of its poles, inner tent, outer rain fly, minus any tent stakes. Why the difference? Most people replace the tent stakes that come with a tent with lighter weight or stronger ones and leave all the extra stuff sacks and packaging at home rather than carry it.
TENT POLES – Tent poles are made using fiberglass, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Aluminum is the most durable of the three, while carbon fiber is normally only used in very high-end tents where the focus is on light weight. Fiberglass poles are the least durable tent poles and break frequently. So much so, that we recommend avoiding any tent with fiberglass poles. All the ones above have aluminum poles or use trekking poles. Most manufacturers who sell trekking pole tents offer regular tent poles as an add-on purchase.
DURABILITY – The floor of a tent is the part of a tent most likely to be punctured or torn as a result of ground abrasion. While using a footprint on floors that are 20 denier thick or less is always recommended, it’s far less necessary on 30 denier or higher floors, except on highly abrasive or rough terrain.
DOORS – Tents with two side doors are often preferable when purchasing a tent for two because it means each occupant can each get in and out without disturbing one another.
INTERIOR STORAGE – Interior pockets and storage organization is a plus in a multi-person tent. Look for internal pockets and gear loops to hang gear from the ceiling. A gear loft is an added bonus. Vestibule space is always a plus as well, but especially if there are multiple doors, so that gear storage does not block entry and exit.
VENTILATION – All tents experience tent condensation, but good tentsite selection and ventilation are the best ways to avoid it. Look for tents that have lots of mesh netting to facilitate airflow, top vents to release moist air, and door tie-backs to roll up tent doors and keep them open at night.
How do we know what the top 10 one person tents are? We survey our large readership to ask. If you’d like to participate in our surveys, be on the look up for the gear raffles we run every few weeks on SectionHiker, where we give survey participants a chance to win. Or sign up to the weekly, award-winning SectionHiker newsletter, so you never miss out on an opportunity to participate. We hate spam, so we’ll never share your email with anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any time.
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