I'm looking for a sturdy but lightweight 1 person tent, mostly for bikepacking and hiking.
I currently use a six moon designs lunar solo for most solo trips. Last summer I got caught out in Scotland in a storm and had probably the worst planned night out I've ever experienced. It was too windy for the tent, the pegs were getting pulled out and the pole was buckling. I ended up popping the pole out, bundling all the loose fabric up and holding it down so the wind didn't tear it to shreds till the early hours of the morning. Had to forgo an evening meal as it was too windy to cook anything. Fortunately I was in a lightweight bivvy bag, and it was the last night of my trip, but everything not in the bivvy bag was sodden by the morning. Just to rub salt in my wounds, I found out in the morning from a passing walker that I'd been about 1km away from a bothy. Anyway, I'm keen not to repeat this so I want something in which I can sit out stormy Scottish weather, if not comfortably at least without vowing to sell all my gear and never voluntarily setting foot outside the house again.
Other than being able to stand up to the wind, I'm looking for the following:
- I'm 6'3 so needs to be a decent length
- Ideally pitch inner and outer together
- Sub 2kg; 1 - 1.5kg preferred
- Free standing preferred but not essential
- Use would mostly be in the UK from mid spring through to mid autumn. I'd occasionally be using it in winter but not for prolonged periods so I'd probably prioritise good ventilation and lack of condensation over being warm.
Current front runner is the Terra Nova Southern Cross. I've heard a lot of bad stories about TN customer service though which is off-putting.
Others I've been looking at are TN Laser all season (TN customer service though, and not freestanding), Hilleberg Alto (like the TN Laser but slightly heavier, more expensive, better quality?) or MSR Hubba NX1 (looks very good, but not keen on inner first pitching)
Anyone got any experience of these, or recommendations for anything else I should consider?
Thanks for reading this overly long post!
Sounds suitably nasty!
This recent group test of 1-person tents might be useful. Though I suspect the limiting factor for some models is going to be your height.
I have a Southern Cross bought for exactly the same reason, its great, very good quality. Happy to go out with it in scottish winter, they also used by arctic film units. Cant comment on customer service as havent had to call on it.
I also have a hubba hubba which is brilliant for everything 3 seasons and under but I would not take out in forecast strong (winter) winds as its simply not up to it.
I’ve seen plenty of Hubba’s wishbone poles snap, steer clear. Nice roomy and light tent but not up to gusty strong winds.
So true. Going lightweight by making tents short is cheating by the manufacturers I reckon.
I swear by my now not produced lightwave super pricey carbon poled wonder (bought in a sale obviously) but its similar to their current t10 trail:
which still seems longer than most. Not much headroom though. In fact most of their tents seem tall friendly.
Im 6'4", so can relate to difficulties regarding the size of tents: most tent manufacturers seem to shave grammes off the weight of their products by catering for a market of short people.
Most, but not all. You should have a look at Lightwave tents, many of which have an inner size that's fit for purpose for taller people. The range is here https://www.lightwave.uk.com/products/tents/lightwave-tents - the Trail T10 might be the best place to start.
If you don't need full 4 season use, the Hilleberg Enan looks good (though, of course, spendy) at 1.2kg and 3+ season. Better ventilation than the Akto, much lighter. Might not be long enough for you though.
Edit: I've been very happy with an Akto over the last 10+ years.
Another vote for Lightwave. I have a t10 raid that has got me through some stormy conditions. I'm 6' and feels like 6'3 would still be comfortable. Note that the raid is inner pitch first but the trail is more flexible on pitching (but a bit heavier).
I've found a Macpac Microlight to be pretty tough. Withstood 100mph wind (rocks on pegs), tough groundsheet. However a bit over 1.5kg and might be too short for you.
> I've found a Macpac Microlight to be pretty tough. Withstood 100mph wind (rocks on pegs), tough groundsheet. However a bit over 1.5kg and might be too short for you.
A great tent but I would imagine it would be too short. I'm 6ft and am on the cusp of it not being long enough.
I love my Akto, and find it easy to put up.
I'm 6'1"-6'2", and I think that you would be alright for length. When I sit up my head brushes the roof away from the centre. I actually went and lay down in the tent at a display of different tents, which was useful, before buying the model.
I find the porch is a large enough size to fit all that I need in most situations.
I've not tried it out in the worst weather, mainly as I find sleeping in a solid building is less time-consuming than being in a tent in winter, when I probably do most Munro-bagging. In any case the worst risk I found, with a TN Quasar, was not setting fire to it, whilst in a snow-bound setting.
Thanks all for your recommendations. I'm suitably warned off the Hubba! Lots of votes for Lightwave, which could be a good option
I have a Vango F10 Xenon UL 2 which I'm enjoying. The sleeping area is 230cm and 100cm at its highest point, which being taller myself, were the key deciding factors. Comes in under 2kg.
I had a Macpac Microlight for 20 years, so very reliable but you might find it very low as I can only sit in the middle of the arch, I'm 5ft 9in.
I then got a Tarptent Notch which is very light as it uses trekking poles as the uprights, good idea in theory if not always in practice. The inners very long but narrow only just wide enough for you to ley down on your back. Also had to be ordered from California and payed import duty.
I now use a Trekkertent Phreeranger it's only marginally heavier than the Notch and has better headroom than the Microlight. The only downside was dealing with Trekkertent. He's a one man band and only makes tents in his spare time. So, you have to be prepared to wait.
Any recommendations for the same but with the *outer* pitching first? From my distant memories of camping in good weather I recall sitting in just the outer for brewing, cooking etc. until it was time to put in the inner for sleep?
I've been using an Enan for about a year; it doesn't seem to me better ventilated than the Akto. Depends on conditions, but the condensation can be ridiculous. I love it during the summer when I can leave much of the door open, but trying to sleep in it with the door closed in wet or windy conditions gets a bit rough - it drips like a sweat-dripping-off-the-walls nightclub; and the fabric is so thin it gets very noisy.
All the hilleberg range pitch either outer first, or as one, with the option of unhooking part or all of the inner for more living space.
Thanks...just checked the prices on Hilleberg, I assume they come with their own butler?
It's good to hear a negative review from a real tent user, especially an expensive tent at that. No one likes to admit that there choice may have been flawed but it genuinely valuable feedback to others.
Having owned a number of tents I was always scared of being too cold from a through draft, however I have learnt from bitter experience that I prefer a colder but dryer tent to a condensation trap.
To the OP.
I own a MSR Elixer 2, a heavier but sturdier beast than either the Hubba Hubba NX or Freelite tents. The Elixir 1 would be applicable to you, same design, just narrower than the two man. The weight penalty is to big for some, but it's a personal choice.
On a campsite in Patagonia the Elixer was given multiple batterings but didn't budge too much. After one very windy night we thought it would snap a pole but thankfully didn't. In the morning the campsite looked something from the aftermath of a festival riot. The proper 4 season mountain tents seemed fine but most of the sub-2kg 2 man tents were damaged in some way. I have noticed that after ~30 nights use there is a noticeable wear mark on the rotating clamp that holds the main two poles together. I can't tell whether it's superficial or if it will wear through to breaking point. If it does snap then the clips from the inner tent should hold it together, failing that some show string or tape would work in an emergency.
Length wise the MSR tents all have inner lengths of 2.13m which is quite generous. I've had some condensation issues with the Elixir despite the large mesh panels but only when I have kept the flysheet very close to the ground.
Hope you have a better night's sleep next time!
Not free standing, but I use a small two person tunnel tent (Fjällräven Abisko 2) for solo camping. Weighs exactly 2kg, but offers so much more convenience than all lighter solo tents (some much more expensive, high end pyramid type models aside).
I agree that pitching inner first is the idea of satan.
If you need to ask ...
They were always expensive, Swedish product made in Estonia rather than outsourced to China. They do seem to have accelerated upwards recently though, I admit.
That's interesting what you say about the Elixir - I wrote the review of the 1 man somewhere here on UKC. I thought it was great but heavy, but I have heard of others saying it's performance in bad weather was poor - poles breaking and so on. I do wonder how much it is some people (me, and probably you) are very pernickity about pitching tents - pitched into the wind, drum tight, all guys used, pegs at a particular angle, backing up pegs with stones etc etc. Whilst others aren't so fussy and their tents get damaged by wind?
I've had tents touch my face when blown flat by gusts but pop up again (we used our legs after that to support it for some time), and seen a mate's tents with cheap fibreglass poles splinter because we decided midwinter in Scotland on the Ben was a good time to test the cold weather performance of it! But I've never had a tent blown down or blown away or broken by weather.