Best Solo Tents For Backpacking 2022 | The Only Companion You Need For Hiking And Backpacking - Outdoors Magic

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Best Solo Tents For Backpacking 2022 | The Only Companion You Need For Hiking And Backpacking

From a cheeky weekend wild camp to a long-distance thru-hike abroad, here are our pick of the best solo tents

It is your home away from home, your refuge from the storm, and your ticket to a wild, adventurous night out under the stars, all rolled into one. So, naturally, you want to make sure your solo backpacking tent is up to the task. You need it to be lightweight and compact, as you’ll be carrying it on your back wherever you go; you need it to be waterproof and windproof, as you’ll be camping in all weathers; and you need it to be as comfy, cosy and roomy as possible, as you want to enjoy rather than endure the experience.

Tent Buyer’s Guide | How To Choose a Tent For Backpacking

Is that too much to ask from one tent? Our in-depth, in-field research – undertaken throughout the Highlands of Scotland during a Munro-bagging hiking expedition – concludes a categorical ‘hell no’.

These six one-person tents all strike an effective and impressive balance between weight, size, comfort, price, and ability to withstand wind and rain. Wild campers can have their cake and eat it, after all. So why not pick up one of our top six tents and start planning your next solo backpacking adventure.

What Are The Best Solo Tents For Backpacking?

  • Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 1 – Best In Test Solo Tent
  • Terra Nova Laser Competition 1
  • Big Sky Wisp Bivy
  • Fjällräven Abisko Lite 1 
  • Jack Wolfskin Exolight 1 
  • Snugpak Ionosphere
  • Wild Country Helm 1
  • Vango F10 Helium UL 1
  • Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

BEST BUY: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1

Credit: Chris Johnson

Weight: 852g
Price: $359.95
Internal Size: (LxWxHcm ): 213 x 97 x 99

If you’re looking for an affordable but high-end shelter, look no further. The Big Agnes Tiger UL1 is ultralight (852g), spacious, waterproof and packed full of features including: double sliders on the vestibule zippers allows for venting from the top or bottom; mini slats in the structured foot-end corners to create more usable space between your feet and tent wall; ceiling pockets for great storage space; a vent on the vestibule door; and multiple interior loops for attaching gear such as a headtorch.

The flysheet and groundsheet are made from a silicone-treated ripstop nylon with a 1,200mm hydrostatic head rating and an additional PU coating, while the tent inner is a breathable ripstop nylon with polyester mesh. All seams are taped with a waterproof, solvent free PU tape and the poles are DAC Featherlite. 

New for 2021, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1 has been redesigned using a solution-dyed fabric that is highly resistant to UV fade and drastically reduces energy consumption and water use during manufacturing, a process that is better for the environment and that “improves the quality of the tent fabric”.

This one person tent features a cleverly-designed, hub-connected, all-in-one skeletal pole, which forms the main structure. A smaller transverse pole then slots across the apex of this structure stretching out the peak to maximise headroom. The freestanding inner, which is pitched first, clips tightly to this skeletal pole – and the result is a shelter with near-vertical walls and maximum head and elbow room. A decent-sized side porch and minimally-tapered floor add to the sense of spaciousness.

Full Specifications

Ultralight: 852g / three-season use / flysheet and groundsheet: silicone-treated ripstop nylon with PU coating (1200 HH) / freestanding inner: ripstop nylon with polyester mesh / solvent free PU taped seams / DAC Featherlite poles / hub-connected skeletal pole / double sliders on vestibule zippers / mini slats in foot-end corners / ceiling pockets / vestibule vent / multiple interior loops / 1.8m² floor space / 218cm floor length / 71-97cm floor width / 99cm head height / 0.7m² vestibule area / eco-friendly UV-resistant solution-dyed fabric.

Selected for our Outdoor 100 2021/22 – Read our full Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1 tent review.

BUY NOW: BIGAGNES.COM

 

Terra Nova Laser Competition 1

Weight: 970g
Price: £440
Internal Size: (LxWxH): 220cm x 93cm x 95cm

Terra Nova’s Laser Competition 1 is an iconic backpacking tent. Its trophy cabinet is brimming full of ‘Best in Test’ badges from reputable outdoor magazines and websites, as well as industry awards. Why? Well, first and foremost, it is incredibly lightweight. At just 970g, it is the lightest tent on test, meaning it won’t weigh you down (or take up much space in your backpack) during your adventures – and, somewhat miraculously, the sub-1kg weight doesn’t mean the Laser Competition 1 is light on features.

With its transverse hoop design, utilising one main alloy pole in the centre and two tiny poles at each end, the Competition 1 still feels relatively spacious for one person. Most people can just about sit up without your head touching the inner’s roof, while the two mini poles ensure improved structure and room at the foot and head ends.

A large backpack can easily be accommodated in either the interior or the single porch, which at 220cm long and 50cm wide is easily big enough for gear storage or cooking. In terms of durability, the Laser Competition 1 is rated for three-season use, especially when additional guy ropes are used to provide extra support. Its low profile stands up excellently to strong winds, with air flowing aerodynamically over the tent, while the flysheet and groundsheet are made of Terra Nova’s Watershed fabrics, ensuring they are waterproof and ‘cleverly designed to prevent water penetration into the inner’. Condensation is effectively dealt with too. Half of the inner door has a midge-proof mesh and there are mesh panels at the end of the inner and flysheet.

Another useful feature is that the inner and flysheet come attached, so the tent pitches quickly and easily ‘as one’; or during wet wild camps the inner can be detached and stored separately, thus preventing the outer wetting the inner.

As with any product, the Laser Competition 1 isn’t flawless. It isn’t as durable as others; taller campers may find it somewhat small and claustrophobic; and I found that the zips of the single door often annoyingly jam and catch on their seal. This, however, is nit-picking. The Terra Nova Laser Competition 1 is a classic tent at an unbelievable weight, as well as being sturdy, durable and comfortable. It’s an epic tent worthy of epic adventures.

Full Specification

3 season backpacking / 5 mins pitch time / single porch / single door / fly and inner pitched together / 42x12cm packed size / 10 x 11g Alloy pegs.

BUY NOW: TERRA-NOVA.CO.UK

Big Sky Wisp Bivy

Weight: 684g
Price: £190
Internal Size: (LxWxHcm ): 230 x 90 x 120

The name ‘super bivy’ is a spot-on description of this. Big Sky have come up with a shelter that you could arguably say comes with all of the benefits of a bivy bag without the claustrophobic downsides.

Like a good bivy bag, it’s extremely light and also very packable – good for bedding down in during ultralight adventures. But unlike a bivvy bag, it has a large compartment that you can sit up in comfortably and a decent sized porch to keep your pack and boots in. 

It pitches like a tarp tent, requiring a trekking pole to prop it up which should be either 120cm of less in length. There’s then a 15-inch aluminium pole that props up the other end. This is embedded but can be removed if necessary. 

“It’s one for those who take a minimalist approach to their hiking.”

The pitching time is really quick. The first time we used it, we approached it blindly, not knowing what we should really be doing with it, but in the end it took us less than five minutes to have a well propped shelter for the night. 

It’s by and large a single skin tent, albeit with a double wall on one side where the mesh door separates the sleeping compartment from the porch. Single skin in the moisture-heavy air of the UK that we’re so fortunate to have means that you are vulnerable to a heavy soaking from condensation if you don’t ventilate this well enough, and while there is an adjustable air vent at the top of the Wisp Bivy, for heavy summer evenings you’re certainly going to need to sleep with the door open. 

The Wisp Bivy’s incredibly light weight is mainly down to the technical materials that have been used, more specifically, the clever SuperSil fabric, which is a ripstop nylon that’s coated on both sides with silicon to add both waterproofness and durability. 

What about its sturdiness then? Well, we’re sorry to say we’ve only tested this in moderate winds (which it handled very well) but considering its multiple pegging and guy line points we think it could be pretty dependable in any strong stuff. All the pegs and the guylines need to be purchased separately however. 

At its base weight, this tent weighs just 567g, but that measurement doesn’t include the pegs and guylines. Add them in and you can expect to be carrying around 100g extra. 

When it’s all packed up into its stuff sack (with pegs and poles), it’s about the size of a small loaf of bread – the official measurement on the site given as 39cm long x 11.5cm diameter.

Long story short, the Big Sky Wisp Bivy is one for those who take a minimalist approach to their hiking, long-distance running or bikepacking but want a little more luxury than a simple bivy bag or open sided tarp. We like it. 

Full Specifications

Pegs and guylines not supplied / packed size 20 x 14cm / SuprSil Ul flysheet with silicone on each side / no-see-um mesh netting / seam taped floor / 1 x aluminium 7.9mm 38cm foot end pole / interior pocket / top vent / large side door.

BUY NOW: BIGSKYINTERNATIONAL.COM
Photo: Chris Johnson

Fjällräven Abisko Lite 1 Tent

Weight: 1650g
Price:
£500

Fjällräven’s Abisko Lite 1, is the lightest and smallest in the brand’s collection, weighing in at 1650g and catering for one sleeper plus all of their backpacking kit. It uses a single hooped tunnel design with pole-propped corners, a removable inner compartment, a sizeable porch space and a single door.

The flysheet is made from a TripleRip silicone coated polyamide with an impressive waterproof rating of 3000mm (hydrostatic head). Cleverly, the upper parts of the fly have a 20D strength rating while the lower parts, those more at risk of abrasion, are rated at 40D. The inner features a 15D ripstop polyamide, a super fine bugproof mesh, and a 40D polyamide bathtub style floor with a 4000mm hydrostatic head. The poles, on the other hand, are made from a DAC Featherlite NSL, whilst the pegs are v-shaped and made from DAC aluminium alloy. All the materials here are made without PVC plastic and have a PFC-free DWR treatment. 

The inner mesh features a large C-shaped door that’s double zipped and double-layered so that you can either seal yourself in with the full protection of the two layers (in winter, say) or just use the single layer of fine mesh in the warmer months. The ventilation options are equally handy, with one wire stiffened vent above the door, covered hatches at either end, and a clever toggle to fold back the door in the summer.

Nice details to note include mesh interior pockets for storage, an internal adjustable cord, reflective guylines and a handy adjuster cord that reduces the width of the inner compartment so you can have maximum porch space for cooking or organising gear.

Full Specifications

Four-season use / Triple Rip silicone coated polyamide fly sheet (3000mm HH) / 15D ripstop polyamide inner / 40D polyamide bathtub style floor (4000mm HH) / DAC Featherlite NSL poles / DAC aluminium alloy pegs / PVC plastic free / PFC-free DWR / single hooped tunnel design / removable inner compartment / sizeable porch / double zipped and double-layered single door / multiple vent options / 8 reflective guylines / mesh interior pockets / internal adjustable cord.

Selected for our Outdoor 100 20201/22 – Read our full Fjällräven Abisko Lite 1 tent review.

BUY NOW: FJALLRAVEN.COM

 

Photo: Chris Johnson

Jack Wolfskin Exolight 1 Tent

Price: £360
Weight: 1.43kg
Internal Size: (LxWxH): 215 x 60 x 100

The lightest tent in the Jack Wolfskin range, the Exolight I is a double-skinned solo shelter designed for backpacking and trekking. It’s a modified dome-type tent that employs a hubbed ‘exoskeleton’ pole set, with a flysheet and pre-attached inner so you can pitch it all-in-one. Once erected, it’s pretty stable and can withstand some fairly strong winds.

There’s only a single entrance, but it has a decent-sized porch plus a handy rear storage area with an unusual ‘hatch’ in the mesh inner that allows you to reach through and stash small items of kit. The end walls are also fairly steep, especially at the head of the tent, which means you ought to be able to lie out comfortably even if you’re well over 6 foot tall. The width isn’t class-leading by any stretch, but should still accommodate all but the chunkiest sleeping mats.

The flysheet is a PFC-free 20D ripstop sil-nylon (1,500mm HH), coated on both sides and with taped seams. The inner is entirely made from 15D fine gauge mosquito mesh, with a bathtub groundsheet made of 40D sil-nylon (5,000mm HH). The hubbed poles, on the other hand, are high-quality aluminium alloy DAC Featherlite NSL, in variable diameters. The tent is supplied with 9 lightweight pegs and 2 guylines.

In terms of features, the inner has a small internal storage pocket and an attachment ring on the ceiling to hang a head torch or camp lantern. The full mesh construction of the inner also means there is plenty of ventilation, though the main entrance in the flysheet can also be held open via clips to fasten it to the poles, giving you even more airflow.

Full Specifications

Double-skinned / all-in-one pitch / single entrance / porch plus rear storage area / three-season / internal footprint: 215 x 60cm / porch depth: 70cm / apex headroom: 100cm / 20D ripstop PFC-free sil-nylon flysheet (1500 HH) / 15D fine gauge mosquito mesh inner with a 40D sil-nylon bathtub groundsheet (5000 HH) / aluminium alloy DAC Featherlite NSL hubbed poles / 9 pegs and 2 guylines / stuff sack measure: 43 x 12cm /internal storage pocket / ceiling attachment ring. 

Selected for our Outdoor 100 2021/22 – Read our full Jack Wolfskin Exolight 1 tent review.

BUY NOW: JACK-WOLFSKIN.CO.UK

 

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

Weight: 740g
Price: £240
Internal Size: 2.4 m2

While you may not have heard of Six Moon Designs before, they are in fact an extremely popular brand within the ultralight hiking and fastpacking community. For that reason, the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo makes for an ideal tent for fast and light solo trips.

The Lunar Solo is a hybrid tarp / tent design that features a single skin of silicon coated polyester upper that’s suspended off a trekking pole. This upper is pegged down at the edge and corners to form a hexagonal shape around its base.

 

This design gives a relatively large sleeping area, with 1.2 metres of height and 2.4 square metres of sleeping space. On top of that, you’ve also got the benefit of a 0.8 square metre porch, providing plenty room to cook and organise your kit – something we feel is an essential feature in single skin tents to avoid touching the potentially damp walls of the main compartment.

You’ll be able to pitch this tent in no time, once you’ve got the hang of it. First of all,  peg down the back corner, then stick your trekking pole in place and pull the guyline on the peak to then peg down the front, followed by the corners. Don’t worry if the sides look to be high off the ground; this has been done to promote ventilation.

Full Specification

Full vestibule / high vent / zipper vestibule closure / easy tensioning adjustment / floating canopy / floating floor / optimized sleeping area / centre pole support

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2019/20 – Read our full Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo Tent review

BUY NOW: SIXMOONDESIGNS.COM

 

Snugpak Ionosphere

Weight: 1520g
Price: £200
Internal Size: (LxWxH): 240cm x 90cm x 75cm

If you can’t stomach forking out £500 or so for a premium tent, but still want a sturdy, roomy and weatherproof shelter for your backpacking adventures, then look no further than the Ionosphere. At £180, Snugpak’s offering is the joint cheapest tent on test, making it an affordable and excellent value option. It can’t compete with Terra Nova, Hilleberg and co in terms of weight – at 1520g it is heavier than many solo wild campers would prefer – and it isn’t as flush with high-end touches and premium materials. But don’t be fooled into thinking the low price tag means low features. This is a great tent at a great price.

Snugpak’s Ionosphere is a long, narrow and low profile tent, with a huge floorspace. At 240cm in length, it is big enough for even the tallest of wild campers, and there is ample room for a single occupant with lots of equipment, despite the lack of a porch. At only 75cm high, it isn’t the best for sitting up in, but the low profile means the tent isn’t thrown around by the wind. The two-pole, hooped structure feels sturdy and durable, while the 5000mm hydrostatic fly sheet with taped seams effectively keeps out the rain and the accompanying mesh interior effectively prevents condensation (and midge attacks). Other positives include the military green colour, which is ideal for stealthy wild camping; and the 16 star-shaped pegs, which enable extremely secure pegging out.

As with any product, there are of course some negatives. The pole sleeve, which is split into three parts, is fiddly and awkward, while the very low profile of the tent makes sitting up without your head pressing against the inner roof impossible. In some ways, the Ionosphere could be described as a very large, hooped bivvy bag, or perhaps a particularly shallow, squat tent. But none of this really matters. At £180 and a weight of 1520g, this is an amazing value tent that is lightweight, sturdy and weatherproof – a great companion for adventures, both big and small.

Pros: excellent value; large floorspace
Cons: poor head room; relatively heavy; no porch

Full Specification

210T ripstop nylon 5000mm outer / 48cm x 14cm pack size /
anodised Aluminium poles, 100% aluminium / single-point side entry / taped seams / 14 lightweight alloy pegs.

BUY NOW: SNUGPAK.COM

Wild Country Helm 1

Weight: 1870g
Price: £185
Internal Size:
(LxWxH): 220cm x 80cm x 92cm

If you love Terra Nova’s approach but can’t afford its prices, then its sub-brand Wild Country – which offers simple, good value products utilising Terra Nova’s own design and quality standards – is exactly what you’re looking for. The Helm 1 is a freestanding, spacious tent with a three-season rating. Its main drawback is the weight. At 1870g, it is by far the heaviest tent on test – almost twice the weight of Terra Nova’s Laser Competition 1. But, if you can cope with the weight, the Helm 1 has a host of advantages. It is pretty roomy, with a big porch, a high profile providing good head room, and ample space for one person and gear. A small door at the back of the inner also provides access to the space under the flysheet for useful extra storage.

In terms of ventilation, mesh panels run around the top of the inner and there is a half midge-proof mesh inner door for additional breathability; while in adverse weather conditions, the Stormtex flysheet is waterproof and four guy ropes provide a sturdy, durable base. The Helm 1 pitches quickly with the inner and outer together, and its two-pole, freestanding structure enables easy fine tuning of your positioning and angle. Other nice touches include the colour-coded pole sleeves, two large mesh pockets and the ability to fully open the circular interior door to almost 360-degrees. It isn’t the best looking tent ever – its slightly odd, asymmetrical shape won’t be winning any beauty contests, that’s for sure, but who cares when it’s such good value?

If it weighed in at 1.2kg or so, the Wild Country Helm 1 would be an incredible buy. Sadly, it feels like the 1870g weight lets it down a little, and for many wild campers the extra grams will be a deal-breaker. But, if you’re starting out as a backpacker or you’re on a tight budget, then this is still an excellent choice. After all, a three-season, spacious, sturdy and weatherproof tent for £180 is pretty phenomenal.

Pros: excellent value; spacious; freestanding
Cons: heavy

Full Specification

5 mins pitch time /single porch / single door / 48xm x 13cm packed size / Stormtex 4000mm flysheet 8.5mm Alloy poles / 10x Alloy pegs.

BUY NOW: TERRA-NOVA.CO.UK

Vango F10 Helium UL 1

Weight: 1200g
Price: £240
Internal Size: (LxWxH): 210cm x 95cm x 95cm

Vango’s F10 Helium UL 1 is the ideal mid-range option in our list of 2019’s top 6 solo backpacking tents. It can’t match the high-end, premium features of Terra Nova and Hilleberg; nor is it as competitive as Snugpak or Wild Country on price. But this means it fits neatly on its own, in the middle, providing a mid-range option with an excellent balance between weight and price. In fact, with a price tag of just £240, the F10 Helium UL 1 is incredibly lightweight, measuring just 1200g – saving valuable grams from your backpack. And the small weight still comes with big features.

Vango bill the Helium UL 1 as a ‘welcome and reliable shelter’ – and that’s certainly how it felt testing it out in the Scottish Highlands. The hybrid tunnel, constructed with one main and two shorter poles, provides effective bracing against side winds, while the Protex 3000mm waterproof flysheet and 70 denier nylon fabric ground sheet provide effective protection against the rain. Vents allow air flow to combat condensation and pre-angled poles achieve greater internal space, including generous head room. Other handy features include internal storage pockets, reflective points on pegs and guy lines (to stop you tripping up) and the oversized fast-pack bag for ease of storage.

Downsides? The tension band system is a little annoying and can get in the way, while the central curved pole can be a little awkward to thread through the sleeve by yourself. But all in all the F10 Helium UL 1 is an extremely good value tent. For just £240, you get an ultra-lightweight, durable, weatherproof and spacious one-man tent – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Pros: competitively priced; lightweight
Cons: not as advanced as others

Full Specification

Protex 3000mm flysheet / internal storage pockets optional footprint / oversized tent bag with compression straps for easy packing  / dyneema pegging points / multiple reflective points.

BUY NOW: VANGO.CO.UK

 

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Header image: © David Miles

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