From minimalist backpacking and mountaineering, to quick overnights in the hills closer to home, solo shelters save a lot of weight and bulk in your pack. With an emphasis on versatile three-season models, we look at a range of options for budgets of all sizes.
Good roundup, which would you recommend for bikepacking though? Which packs down the smallest? OR Helium?
Have you tried any of these sort of tents ?
Many thanks for all the reviews.
Nice review piece.
Having owned the Alpkit Soloist for a couple of years now I can attest to the small dimensions, it's not a tent I could recommend unless budget is your overriding concern. However, given it's only 300g heavier than the Alpkit bivvy bag you would have to be nuts to pick a bivvy over a twin walled tent.
Another option to consider is an ultralight 2-person tent for only a little more cash than some of these models. I have the Nordisk Telemark 2 LW, which is currently £460 (incl. a footprint) and is lighter and roomier than any of the reviewed tents. For one person it is very comfortable. As ever, the 2-person designation is to be taken with a pinch of salt but if you're slightly built, travel light and are very friendly with the other person then it will do that job too.
So who gets to keep the Samaya?
I spent last night in a alpkit soloist in upper eskdale. Stayed dry despite the heavy rain and strong winds. Very good value for money. But space inside the tent would have to be an issue if you are even a few inches taller than me (5 foot 7) and trying to cook in the porch in the rain is tricky with the sloping roof. Managed to make a brew this morning but had to keep a very close eye on the flapping tent fabric to make sure it didn't get too close to the stove.
> So who gets to keep the Samaya?
Sadly that one had to be returned! Shame, as I'd loved to have given it a go...
That said, I'm not entirely sure they'd envisioned its use as a family camping tent
> Sadly that one had to be returned! Shame, as I'd loved to have given it a go...
> That said, I'm not entirely sure they'd envisioned its use as a family camping tent
I was intrigued, but must admit it seems to have a lot of limitations for typical UK wild camping use. Scotland without an insect mesh - not a chance, unless in the depths of winter!
Hilleberg conspicuous by their absence - I assume you didn't ask or they just didn't send you anything for review. Had my Akto for about seven years now - heavy by modern standards but IMHO worth it for the feeling of bombproofness.
> I was intrigued, but must admit it seems to have a lot of limitations for typical UK wild camping use. Scotland without an insect mesh - not a chance, unless in the depths of winter!
Agreed, its focus is firmly within the high alpine environment, although Dan does a good job of going through its pros and cons for more modest UK use.
> Hilleberg conspicuous by their absence - I assume you didn't ask or they just didn't send you anything for review. Had my Akto for about seven years now - heavy by modern standards but IMHO worth it for the feeling of bombproofness.
I've tried to get Hilleberg on board for years, but have failed each time, which is a real shame as they make truly fantastic tents.
On the note of truly fantastic tents, I've been reviewing the Sea to Summit Telos TR3 Plus over the summer. It's very different to a traditional tunnel style Hilleberg - not least because it's not a tunnel tent - but it's in the same sort of level as far as quality is concerned.
Just the minor detail of writing the review and getting some pictures now...
Did you consider the Lanshan 2, as a budget lightweight option, and truly 2 person? I've just got one, yet to use it though (probably high summer only realistically).
Another vote for the Nordisk Telemark 2LW. We got one a few months ago and it is comfortable for two of us (I'm 188cm but we're both slim and Mrs65 is quite wee) but I wouldn't fancy my chances of a good night's sleep in proper wild weather. The space:weight ratio is amazing though. I had an Akto for many years, and wish I hadn't sold it, as PM says, heavy by today's standards but a very cosy place to be in a raging hoolie.
> Did you consider the Lanshan 2, as a budget lightweight option, and truly 2 person? I've just got one, yet to use it though (probably high summer only realistically).
We've never had contact with them, but having had a look at the tent I'll put them on our wish list, as it's a really interesting product (although, like you say, maybe better suited to the warmer months of the year).
> We've never had contact with them, but having had a look at the tent I'll put them on our wish list
I know that you can only review products from brands that have agreed to participate, and so notable omissions may not be for lack of trying on the part of UKC/UKH, but if you can put Lightwave on the wish list too it'd be helpful. The inners of their tents are usually long enough for a taller chap, for whom many of the tents reviewed are useless because they're just too small.
Small gripe over. Otherwise, a terrific in-depth review, the quality of which puts reviews done by many other sites and magazines to shame. Good work, chaps*.
* Chaps is a gender-neutral word, at least it is in my vocabulary.
> I know that you can only review products from brands that have agreed to participate, and so notable omissions may not be for lack of trying on the part of UKC/UKH, but if you can put Lightwave on the wish list too it'd be helpful. The inners of their tents are usually long enough for a taller chap, for whom many of the tents reviewed are useless because they're just too small.
Lightwave are a brand that have been on board before, and - funnily enough - it was me that reviewed their t20 trail within the 2 person, 3 season tent group test we did a few of years ago. However, despite repeated attempts its been very hard to get a response out of them over the past couple of years.
That said, I'll refresh my efforts and attempt to get in touch again. It really can't be understated how hard it can be to get a reply, even when you're one of the busiest (and best) climbing/mountaineering/hillwalking websites out there!!
> On the note of truly fantastic tents, I've been reviewing the Sea to Summit Telos TR3 Plus over the summer.
Ohhh!!! I'm "well-jel" as the kids say. I'd been secretly hoping that one of their new 1 man tents might come up for review, and Dan would be all one-man-tented-out - so I'd get to do it. They do look brilliant. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on the bigger one though - I think lots of the design ideas are across the size range.
I've been considering the Lanshan 1 but confusingly there seem to be a couple of Chinese brands (haven't worked out if they are totally different companies or not) that make basically the same design - potentially the same tent - on various different sales sites they seem to get called Lanshan regardless of the brand. I did wonder if Lanshan means "small tent" in Chinese! So despite umming and ahhing about it for months, I still haven't decideded, and this summer on a couple of bikepacking trips used my older Macpac 1 man tent, a great tent but maybe 3 or 400 grams more than a Lanshan 1 might be.
Is yours a 3F? And did you get it from Ali Express or from a UK based reseller?
I don't think I've ever seen an advert for 3F gear - maybe the do in China? But I guess that means we are unlikely to get reviews of their gear on UKC. They do seem to send review samples out to YouTube camping and hiking "influencers". There is a whole world on youtube of trekking and camping gear reviewing - some of it is really good, but its interesting that lots of the Chinese manufacturers who were unheard of maybe even only 5 years ago? Definitely 10 years ago - seem to get reviews that way. While 'mainstream' western brands seem to still stick with UKC, other big and well established websites, and even paper magazines!
My understanding is that they are all made by 3F but marketed and sold by different distributors, which is where the additional naming may come in (KIKILIVE, Flames Creed, etc), but who knows! I got mine via amazon, but there seem to be reliable reports of using Ali Express. There seems to be continuous redesign and tinkering -- mine has some slightly different features (all to do with connectors/guys) than some of those reviewed on line from just last year; I suspect re-designs with an eye to improvement. I've already hacked/mod'd mine!
I had a look at the Sea to Summit range and thought they had far too large, flat upright panels and were just asking to be destroyed in squally winds. Can’t comment on sea to summits, but MSR wish-bone poles break and are a know weak point, and many of the designs are similar. I was on one campsite where four MSRs got trashed the same night, when the pure tunnels, good dome tents and voyager style tents survived. All the cheapo tents on the site fared badly as well. Looking at the sea to summit line up of designs I’d avoid. They look great for good warm weather camping if that’s what folks want.
I can understand why they might be missed here as they don't have distribution but Tarptent seem very popular in the UK and the Tarptent Notch is amazing as an ultralight, double skin, 1 man tent. I'm 6'1" and can sit upright and lie down with room to spare. My real joy with this tent is the ability to open both sides and have almost 360 views whilst sitting in the mesh inner. Oh and the fact that it is under 0.8kg
Alex Roddie did a great overview in 2015 and it's had a few things tweaked since then. His is the mixed inner but I also have the full mesh inner. The tent is also really good in minimising condensation.
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