Open main menu

which tent for solo backpacking

Hey all, here's yet another "tent selection" thread :).

I am looking for a tent for solo backpacking. I currently have a Mountain Hardwear Skyview 1.5 shown here:

From the size (it's a "1.5"), and the looks, you'd expect it to be reasonably light. But it weighs in at almost 8 1/2 lbs PLUS the footprint which is another full pound. It's also fairly bulky when packed (approx 7 x 22). I guess I could scrunch it down a little more if I really worked at it. It's got plenty of room inside, I really like the window options (very wide open, or all closed up). It's withstood some pretty windy & bad weather conditions over the years. And (except for the fly) it's truly free standing. But the weight, while fine for car-camping, is outrageous for solo backpacking.

I've backpacked with this tent before, but it's one factor that caused my pack to tip the scales at 65 lbs+. OUCH. No wonder I haven't gone backpacking in almost 3 years... I've been doing all car/Jeep camping.

I'd like to upgrade my kit to do more backpacking again. It gives me a feeling I can't get camping any other way, even on a relatively remote Jeep road.

Here are my requirements (and wish list)

1. Weight in ~3lb range (preferably less, and no more than a few ounces over) including footprint. I prefer the manufacturer's footprint to the plastic sheets people talk about here, because the little grommets for the poles make it easier to set up the tent :)

2. I am 6' so need plenty of length to fit without rubbing the ends. And don't want to feel like I'm wrapped up in a tube.

3. free standing

4. preferably a neutral color that'll blend into the natural environment

5. preferably have the option of opening or closing screened windows & roof like my current tent does (none of the UL tents I've found have this feature)

I've narrowed my selection down to these:

1. Tarptent Moment

2. Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1

3. MSR Hubba HP

The Tarptent is the lightest by far. And it's the least expensive by over $100. But it's an all mesh upper body so it has the same issues as the Hubba HP (see below). And the kicker is every time I look at their site, the backorder date is pushed out further. I want a tent I can use this summer. So for all practical purposes it's "vaporware" at this point.

So it's really down to the Copper Spur and the Hubba HP. Both are the same price and about the same weight (about 3 lbs + about 5 ounces for the footprint). The real difference is that the Hubba HP is closed in, with just a couple small windows (which don't close).

Thinking back to how I've used my Skyview 1.5, there have been times when I keep it closed up ... I've camped in some pretty strong winds, and in cold (e.g. 15 degree, ... cold to me :) weather. On the other hand, camping in the Sierra in the summer, there have been lots of times I've skipped the fly altogether, and opened up the big door and roof panels and enjoyed the view of the stars.

So I really do enjoy the openness of a mesh upper body... in good weather. Yet other times I need to close it up ... it's windy & dusty ... or snowing (though I'm not looking for a true 4-season tent) ... or it's just plain cold...

So I'm in a quandary. It's almost as if I need both... and need to be able to forecast the conditions before each trip ... the Hubba HP for cold or windy weather, and the Copper Spur for warm summer weather (and hope it doesn't get windy and blow dust). And my current Skyview for car camping :).

But I really don't want to buy 2 more tents, especially not at $350 each!!!

What do you all think? Thanks in advance... :)


It sounds like you are looking for a 3/4 season solo tent you search may turn out to be a tough search. For what you are looking for I would lean more towards the MSR Hubba HP but thats just me.

Yeah, basically I want what I have now, but at 1/4 of the weight :).

I wish that was possible lol and if you find it let me know. I use a Eureka Spitfire Solo version but it is not free standing you need 2 stakes and it is designed for 3 season use. In the winter time I use a 2 person 3/4 season tent that weighs about 6.5lbs.

Yeah ... I'm coming to the conclusion that I need two more tents...

I have been looking at the Hilleberg Akto. May be a choice ya might have overlooked.

Some times 2 tents is the way to go, it gives you a more versatile way to go.

I have the northface tadpole 23 and i love it!

Thanks for the suggestions .. I'm checking out the Tadpole 23 & Hilleberg Atko now.

The hard thing about this is there are very few stores in this area (the SF Bay Area) where you can actually see these tents. It's tough laying out this kind of money for something like this without being able to see it in person first.

I just bought a Glaciers Edge Galaxy. It is very much like the Tadpole. They are very roomy. Mine weighs in at 5lbs that's with the footprint. I use it when Rita comes with me. If I'm by myself I use my Glaciers Edge Hiker (3.5lbs). Its a tube style. Plenty of room for me and my gear. But not free standing. For car camping a Dugdale (10lbs). Yes one needs more than one tent! :)

I've been through a couple of solo tents the past couple of years. Thank goodness for REI's return policy! My latest, and yet untried, tent is the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. Technically, it's a two-person tent, but just barely. It's more of a large one-man tent. I've given up on true one-person tents. They are just too small. Most are fine when sleeping, but I find them too cramped for anything else (like getting dressed or even sitting up).

I'm hoping the Fly Creek UL2 will finally be the solo tent I've been looking for. It weighs in at 2 lbs, 14 ounces including the footprint.

Thanks for the continued feedback!

I considered the Fly Creek too ... but read that it really needs to be staked out. I'm leaning towards the Copper Spur (for summer use) since it's apparently truly free-standing. My only gripe with that one (from what I've read) is the door that opens downward instead of to the side. I'm not sure what they were thinking with that one...

And at 80" by 40" (at the wide end) I'm hoping it's roomy enough, realizing that to get the weight down there will be compromises. I wouldn't typically store my backpack in my tent anyway (I carry food in the backpack, and even though it's in a bear canister, that's still too close for comfort, and I'm afraid there could be lingering odors). But I do hope there's enough room to store some clothes (e.g. my jacket, fleece pants, etc) which I typically wear on cool evenings but not in my down bag.

Also I'm concerned about the pointed roof in the Fly Creek, thinking the more square design of the Copper Spur might be roomier.

Hmmm, decisions decisions...

This may be a thread in its own right, but I am becoming a bit skeptical about "freestanding" tents. The name implies there's no need to peg them down, but every one I have ever used requires at least a peg or two for the vestibule, and usually you want to peg out the corners if you can, and if it's windy you want to peg out some guy lines, so in the end you wind up carrying and using pegs anyway. And freestanding tents use multiple poles for structure, whereas in tunnel or other 2-pole tents the tensile strength of the tent fabric is part of the structure (look up Buckminster Fuller's remarkable "tensegrity" structures to see what I mean. Poles are heavy, fabric is light and already a required part of the tent. So all else being equal, I think a 2-pole tunnel tent or equivalent will always be lighter than a freestanding one, and really doesn't add that much hassle in terms of pegging etc. in most places where people camp.

I'll also put in another vote for the Sierra Designs Flashlight -- I've mentioned it before and someone dissed it as "old fashioned" or something like that. But I'd call it more like "old but good" -- a tent design that has in its general outline remained unchanged for years but with lots of upgrades in construction, etc. I got my daughter a new one a couple of years ago and I'm still impressed by the design and construction, except maybe for the lack of ventilation, a problem that is common to many American tents. Under 4 pounds, under $200, very roomy for one, big enough for two in a pinch. Worth a look!

I'm going to agree with BigRed about free standing tents.

They are only free standing from the aspect of being able to erect them with out staking them out first, which allows you to move the tent around camp without taking the tent down.

Even tents that are free standing really need to be staked & guyed out before you are done setting them up if you intend to be prepared for rough weather.

I agree, BigRed and Trouthunter, on the points you made about staking out a tent for rough weather. One thing I've enjoyed with my MH Skyview 1.5 is that in "normal" weather (warm sunny summer :)) I am able to set up just the base tent, no fly, open up the top, and enjoy the view. Several times I've gone without staking it at all ... unless I'm going to leave camp and I don't want to risk the tent blowing away if a wind springs up.

Also there have been times when I've had campsites where I could use some of the stakes but not all, due to rocky or otherwise stake-unfriendly conditions. In those instances, a tent requiring full staking out have been problematic.

Anyway I ended up ordering a BA Copper Spur UL1. Thanks much for all your feedback! I'll let you know how it goes and will post a review once I've had some experience with it :).

If you're dead set on a really lightweight 4 season tent, take a look at the GoLite Shangri-la 3. It's not really an ideal winter tent because you have to stake out all of the corners, and it's not an ideal summer tent because of the limited vents, but it works in all four seasons and it's really light.

Since you are over 6 feet tall, check out the Sierra Designs Light Year 1 (non-free standing) at about 3 pounds or the Sierra Designs Zolo 1 (free standing) at about 3 1/2 pounds.

The general rule is that you should get a tent at least 93 inches long if you are over 6 feet tall. Otherwise, you WILL have no leg room or space for a stuff sack full of clothes in your tent.

Both tents are under $200 and on sale right now at several online retailers.

November 28, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply