Camping and backpacking expert Chris Townsend highlights some of the best solo backpacking tents he has tested.
The best one-person tents for backpacking will involve the right balance between weight, space and durability. Tiny backpacking tents with just enough room to lie down but none for sitting, storing gear, cooking and eating may be ultralight but they’re not suitable for comfortable living in a storm and then, at the other end of the scale, large tents like family camping tents might be comfortable and offer liveability, but they will often be too heavy to hike with.
Key features for one-person backpacking tents: How to choose a solo tent
These are some of the crucial details to look for when you’re shopping around for the right lightweight backpacking tent for solo adventures.
Silicone coated fabrics are very light and durable. PU coated nylon or polyester is heavier and less durable but costs less. The seams on silicone nylon tents aren’t usually taped – silicone is very slippery – so some makers treat the nylon with silicone on the outside and PU on the inside so the seams can be taped.
Breathable nylon or polyester resists drips from condensation and keeps out breezes. In warm weather optional mesh doors are useful. Mesh inners are cooler and airier but not as warm, especially in a breeze, and condensation can drip through unless the mesh is very fine.
You’ll find more information on the different types of tent fabrics and how to maintain them in this guide that looks at how to clean a tent.
Groundsheets should be made from heavier fabrics than flysheets and have a higher hydrostatic head (the measure of how much water pressure can be applied before a material leaks). Some makers recommend using an optional footprint under light groundsheets. These add weight and cost.
The inner should be long enough that your sleeping bag doesn’t push against the end. There should be room for a full-length, full-width (c100cm) sleeping mat without it touching either end. Headroom should be enough that you can sit up comfortably at the highest point of the inner – for me that means a minimum of 90cms.
Poles and pegs
Poles should be easy to attach. Backpacking tents with sleeves should slide in place without sticking. If the poles are different lengths, they and the attachment points should be colour-coded, so the right pole goes in the right place.
It’s useful to have a mix of different types; thin ones for hard ground and wider ones for soft ground. The ones for key pegging points and guylines should be 14-15cms long. With most backpacking tents adding a few different pegs to those supplied is advisable both for different types of ground and in case of loss.
Guylines are the key to stability in strong winds. Extra guylines are useful in a big storm. Many tents have attachment points for these.
Porches and doors
The porch should be big enough for safe cooking and for storing hiking boots, wet gear and packs. With some tents porch space can be increased by adjusting the position of the inner or by using a guyline to peg out one side of the door as an awning.
Flysheet doors that can be opened in several ways are the most versatile. In good weather you can open them fully for easy access and good views. Unlike two person tents, most one person tents will only have one door and porch.
Protected vents or upper door zips that can be left open in all but the worst weather can reduce the amount of condensation that builds up in humid weather. Only close vents when you really must to prevent rain entering.
Some tents pitch inner first, some flysheet first or as a unit. The first gives a taut inner but speed is needed in rain. Flysheet and unit pitching keeps the inner dry, but it can be hard to tension the inner. Whatever the method it’s best to practise pitching before taking a tent on a trip.
The best one-person backpacking tents for solo adventures
In this article expert backpacker, Chris Townsend, reveals the results of his recent solo tents testing. The majority of options are one-person designs though there are a couple of two-person options that will be light and packable enough for solo trips too.
Chris tested these backpacking tents in the Scottish Highlands, mostly the Cairngorms, in 2022 and the early part of 2023. Sites were both high and low level and at times the tents were subjected to more severe weather than they are designed for. Note: weights are for the tent complete with stuffsacks.
- Mountain Laurel Designs SoloMid XL – $275 | £233, flysheet only (available from Mountain Laurel Designs) – Best one-person tent tested in 2023
- Hilleberg Enan – $720 | £750 (available from Hilleberg) – recommended in 2023
- MSR Hubba NX Solo – $533 | £570 (available from MSR Gear) – recommended in 2023
- Terra Nova Laser Compact AS – £690 | only available in the UK & EU (available from Terra Nova) – recommended in 2023
- Vango F10 Neon UL 1 – £525 (available from Vango)
- Vaude Taurus SUL 1P – £550 (available from Vaude)
- Nordisk Svalbard 1 SL – $224 | £316 (available from Nordisk)
- Robens Chaser 1 – £280 | only available in the UK & EU (available from Robens)
- Vaude Hogan SUL – £500 | U.S. shipping charges apply (available from alpinetrek.co.uk) – Best one-person tent tested in 2022
- Sierra Designs High Route 3000 – $300 | £285 (available from wildbounds.com) – recommended in 2022
- Alpkit Polestar – $170 | £150 (available from alpkit.com) – recommended in 2022
- Vango Heddon 100 – International shipping available | £285 (available from vango.co.uk) – recommended in 2022
- MSR Freelite 1 – $420 | £400
- Terra Nova Laser Compact 1 – £620 | International shipping charges apply (available from amazon.co.uk) – recommended in 2022
- Hilleberg Niak 1.5 – £920 | International shipping available – recommended in 2022
- Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1 Solution Dye – $370 | £400 (available from trekitt.com)
- Nemo Hornet 2P – $400 | £400
The best one-person backpacking tents tested in 2023
Mountain Laurel Designs SoloMid XL
Pros: lightweight, spacious, headroom
Cons: only available from USA
RRP: $275/£233, flysheet only
Weight: 575g (flysheet only)
Flysheet: 20D silpoly, hydrostatic head 5,000+mm | Inner: optional silnylon/mesh Innernet tent (311g, $180/£145) | Groundsheet: optional silnylon (156g, $75/£60) | Poles: trekking pole or UL Carbon Fibre pole (91g, $42/£34) | Pegs: not provided, optional MLD Ultimate Stake Set (133g, $42/£34) | Porches: 1 with Innernet | Dimensions: 280 x 142cm, max. height 140cm
The SoloMid XL is a well-proven pyramid tent that pitches with a trekking pole. The latest version is made from silpoly (silicone impregnated polyester), a material I hadn’t used before, rather than silnylon. Silpoly is slightly heavier. Mountain Laurel Designs says it has ‘functionally comparable’ strength compared to silnylon.
This tent was awarded The Great Outdoors‘ ‘Best Buy’ in 2023. Read Chris’ full review of the Mountain Laurel Designs SoloMid XL.
Pros: low weight, porch, high hydrostatic heads, ventilation
Flysheet: 10D silicone nylon, 5000mm hydrostatic head | Inner: 10D ripstop nylon/mesh | Groundsheet: 70D PU coated nylon, 15000mm hydrostatic head | Poles: 9mm SAC NSL | Pegs: 8 x 15cm Y | Porches: 1, max depth 75cm | Inner Dimensions: 215 x 95cms widest, 60cms ends, 93cms max. height
The Hilleberg Enan is a three-season version of the heavier Akto, made of lighter fabrics and with a mesh rather than solid inner door and single rather than double short poles at each end.
This tent is recommended by The Great Outdoors. Read Chris’ full review of the Hilleberg Enan.
MSR Hubba NX Solo
Pros: lightweight, roomy, big porch
Cons: flysheet doesn’t come right down to the ground
Flysheet: silicone/PU 20D ripstop nylon, 1200mm hydrostatic head | Inner: ripstop nylon/nylon micromesh | Groundsheet: 30D PU ripstop nylon, 3000mm hydrostatic head | Poles: DAC Featherlite NFL | Pegs: 9 x 16cm MSR Needle | Porches: 1, max. depth 76cm | Inner Dimensions: 216 x 76cm, 91cm high point
The Hubba NX Solo is lightweight yet roomy and resists winds well – a good three-season tent, says Chris Townsend.
This tent is recommended by The Great Outdoors. Read Chris’ full review of the MSR Hubba NX Solo.
Terra Nova Laser Compact AS
Pros: weather resistance, roomy inner, tough groundsheet
Cons: shallow porch, quite heavy, expensive
RRP: £690, only available in the UK & EU (buy from Terra Nova)
Flysheet: PFC-free 30D nylon ripstop, hydrostatic head 3000mm | Inner: PFC-free 30D ripstop nylon | Groundsheet: 70D nylon PU, hydrostatic head 10000mm | Poles: Terra Nova Reflex | Pegs: 14 x 18cm alloy Y | Porches: 1, max depth 40cm | Inner Dimensions: 92 x 110 x 92cm
Unlike most of the tents reviewed the new Terra Nova Laser Compact AS is designed for year-round use – the AS stands for All Season. That means it’s built with heavy-duty materials including a groundsheet with a very high hydrostatic head and is designed to repel wind and snow. It also has extra headroom and living space over the other Laser models for comfort in cold weather. The penalty for this is extra weight. It’s also expensive.
This tent is recommended by The Great Outdoors. Read Chris’ full review of the Terra Nova Laser Compact AS.
Vango F10 Neon UL 1
Pros: ultralight, tiny pack size
Cons: low inner, tiny porch, joke pegs
Flysheet: 7D double silicone nylon, hydrostatic head 2000mm | Inner: 7D nylon | Groundsheet: 10D ripstop PU nylon, hydrostatic head 6000mm | Poles: Yunan UL | Pegs: 12 x 13cm titanium wire, 3 x 15cm alloy Y | Porches: 1, max depth 30cm | Inner Dimensions: 62 x 85 x220cm, max. height 65cm
The F10 Neon UL 1 is truly ultralight. It’s a double-skin tent yet weighs less than many hooped bivis. Its size makes it more akin to the latter than bigger, heavier tents, however. This is a tent for the ultralight minimalist who just wants somewhere protected from the weather to sleep.
Read Chris’ full review of the Vango F10 Neon UL 1.
Vaude Taurus SUL 1P
Pros: lightweight, roomy
Cons: small porch
Flysheet: PFC-free triple silicone coated nylon, hydrostatic head 3000mm | Inner: mesh door & lower walls, solid fabric upper walls | Groundsheet: nylon, hydrostatic head 3000mm | Poles: NFL featherlight 8,7mm | Pegs: 10 x 15cm | Porches: 1, max depth 58cm | Inner Dimensions: 90 x 70 x 210, max. height 95cm
The Vaude Taurus SUL 1P’s tripod construction with a long pole curving the length of the tent and a shorter hoop at the front is well-proven and stable. As well as good wind resistance it provides good headroom and plenty of space inside. The only drawback is the small porch.
Read Chris’ full review of the Vaude Taurus SUL 1P.
Nordisk Svalbard 1 SL
Pros: good headroom, tough groundsheet, cost
Cons: heavy, small porch
Flysheet: silicone nylon, 3000mm hydrostatic head | Inner: 40D ripstop nylon | Groundsheet: 40D PU nylon, 10000mm hydrostatic head | Poles: aluminium | Pegs: 12 x 18cm aluminium Y | Porches: 1, max depth 56cm | Inner Dimensions: 45 x 125cm, max. height 100cm
The Svalbard 1 SL is a tunnel tent that tapers steeply in height and width. The inner is asymmetrical with the widest point near the front and the door off to one side. Headroom at the front is excellent and there’s ample room to store gear here beside your mat and sleeping bag. The price of the Svalbard 1 SL is low for such a tough, well-made tent. However, it is heavy and I do wish the porch was bigger.
Read Chris’ full review of the Nordisk Svalbard 1 SL.
Robens Chaser 1
Pros: lightweight, low cost, black mesh
Cons: shallow porch
Flysheet: silicone/Pu nylon, 2000mm hydrostatic head | Inner: 20D nylon mesh | Groundsheet: 20D PU nylon ripstop, 5000mm hydrostatic head | Poles: aluminium 7001, T6, 8.5/7.0 mm, anodised | Pegs: 12 x 16cm square | Porches: 1, max depth 40cm | Inner Dimensions: 70 x 50cm ends, 90cm centre, max. height 90cm
The Chaser 1 is lightweight and good value for money. The single hoop design is well-proven and it’s easy and quick to pitch as a unit. An unusual feature is that you can roll up half the flysheet for ventilation and bug-free views on calm dry nights. The inner and outer can each be pitched separately too. Despite the shallow porch and the pegs, the price is among the lowest of the tents reviewed and this makes the Chaser 1 worth considering for three-season use.
Read Chris’ full review of the Robens Chaser 1.
The best one-person backpacking tents tested in 2022
Vaude Hogan SUL 1-2P
Pros: wind resistance, length
Cons: groundsheet hydrostatic head could be higher
RRP: $565.50 / £500 | U.S. shipping charges apply
Weight: 2.76 lb. | 1255g
Flysheet: silicone nylon, 3000mm HH | Inner: nylon/mesh | Groundsheet: 30D PU ripstop nylon, 3000mm HH | Poles: 8.7mm DAC NFL featherlight | Pegs: 10 x 15cm X | Porches: x1, 70cm deep | Inner dimensions: 235cm x 110/90cm, 95cm high point.
Vaude describes this tent as for 1-2 people. I’d say it’s a roomy backpacking tent for one and just about okay for two smallish people if they don’t mind a bit of a squeeze. For one it’s good if you’re tall as it’s longer than most of the tents tested with reasonable headroom at the front.
This tent was awarded The Great Outdoors‘ ‘Best Buy’ in 2022. Read Chris’s full Vaude Hogan SUL 1-2P review.
Sierra Designs High Route 3000 1
Pros: pitches with trekking poles, very roomy, makes a good tarp, light
Cons: minimal porches
RRP: $300 | £285
Weight: 2.22 lb. | 1010g
Flysheet: 20D nylon ripstop silicone/PU, 3000mm HH | Inner: 20D nylon ripstop silicone/15D nylon mesh | Groundsheet: 30D nylon ripstop, 3000mm hydrostatic head | Poles: n/a, 2 trekking poles needed | Pegs: 9 x 15cm Y | Porches: x2, 28cm deep | Inner dimensions: 259cm x 107ccm, 114cm high in centre.
The High Route 3000 1 is the European version of a tent that was launched in the USA a few years ago, the High Route. The functional difference is in the hydrostatic head of the flysheet and the groundsheet, up from 1200mm to 3000mm in both cases, which should mean better durability and waterproofness, especially with the groundsheet.
This tent was recommended by The Great Outdoors in 2022. Read Chris’s full Sierra Designs High Route 3000 1 review.
Likes: light, innovative pole use, tough groundsheet, stability, low cost
Dislikes: small porch depth
RRP: $170 | £150
Weight: 2 lb. | 910g
Flysheet: 20D polyester ripstop silicone/PU, 3000mm HH | Inner: 20D nylon ripstop/mesh | Groundsheet: 20D ripstop polyester PU, 5000mm HH | Poles: small 7001 alloy, 2 trekking poles also needed | Pegs: 8x 16cm V | Porches: x1, 50cm deep | Inner dimensions: 200cm x 80/65cm, 90cm high point.
The Polestar has an innovative, unusual design. Most shelters that require trekking poles to pitch are ridge tents or pyramids with upright poles. With the Polestar the poles are angled and cross near the top. They are situated at one end of the tent. To give it a little height (though it’s still quite low at 45cm) the other end has a small arch pole.
This tent was recommended by The Great Outdoors in 2022. Read Chris’s full Alpkit Polestar review.
Vango Heddon 100
Likes: pitches with trekking poles, tough groundsheet, roomy, low cost
Dislikes: not that light
Weight: 3.68 lb. | 1670g
Flysheet: recycled 70D polyester, 3000mm HH | Inner: polyester | Groundsheet: 70D polyester, 6000mm HH | Poles: n/a, 2 trekking poles needed | Pegs: 13 x 18cm hook | Porches: x2, 65cm deep | Inner dimensions: 220cm x 85/75cm, 90cm high point
The Heddon 100 is the most conventional of the three backpacking tents in this review that pitch with trekking poles. It’s a ridge tent with the ridge running across the tent offset from the centre. It does have one unusual feature though. There are porches either side but only one has an external door. The other can only be accessed by a small door on the inner tent.
This tent was recommended by The Great Outdoors in 2022. Read Chris’s full Vango Heddon 100 review.
MSR Freelite 1
Pros: low weight, large porch
Cons: low hydrostatic head on groundsheet
RRP: $420 | £400
Weight: 1.89 lb. | 860g.
Flysheet: 15D ripstop nylon silicone/PU, 1200mm HH | Inner: 10D polyester micro-mesh | Groundsheet: 15D ripstop nylon PU, 1200mm HH | Poles: DAC NFL 8.7mm | Pegs: 8 x 16cm square | Porches: x1, 66cm deep | Inner dimensions: 221cm x 84cm, 100cm high point
The Freelite 1 is the lightest tent reviewed and surprisingly spacious for the weight. This is mainly due to the ultralight fabrics. Whilst a 1200mm hydrostatic head is okay for the flysheet – I’ve not had any leaks in heavy rain – it is low for the groundsheet. MSR recommends a footprint and can supply one for an extra £40 and 146 grams in weight. I think this should come with the tent. Even better would be a groundsheet with a higher hydrostatic head.
Read Chris’s full MSR Freelite 1 review.
Terra Nova Laser Compact 1
Pros: lightweight, roomy porch
Cons: stretch pegging points, low ends
RRP: £620 | International shipping charges apply
Weight: 2.34 lb. | 1065g
Flysheet: 20D nylon ripstop silicone, 3000mm HH | Inner: 20D nylon ripstop | Groundsheet: 30D nylon ripstop PU, 7000mm HH | Poles: 8.7mm DAC NFL | Pegs: 10 x 15cm Y | Porches: x1, 50cm deep | Inner dimensions: 220cm x 93/62cm, 95cm high point.
Terra Nova’s Laser series of tents are well-established. I’ve reviewed several over the years and have always had a love-hate relationship with them due to one design feature, the separate sleeve protecting the flysheet door zip, which I always found fiddly. Thankfully Terra Nova has finally dispensed with this and replaced it with a factory-sealed main seam. Recent ultralight Terra Nova tents have also come with fairly useless thin needle pegs. With this backpacking tent, those have been replaced with decent Y pegs.
This tent was recommended by The Great Outdoors in 2022. Read Chris’s full Terra Nova Laser Compact 1 review.
Pros: roomy, stable, porch
Cons: not that light, expensive
Flysheet: Kerlon 1000 silicone ripstop nylon, 5000mm HH | Inner: 20D ripstop nylon | Groundsheet: 50D PU nylon, 12000mm HH | Poles: 9mm DAC Featherlite | Pegs: 9 x 16cm V | Porches: x1, 65cm deep | Inner dimensions: 220cm x 120cm, 100cm high point.
The Niak is in Hilleberg’s Yellow label series, designed for three-season use. Even so it’s probably the most suitable tent reviewed for severe weather. The flysheet has a high hydrostatic head, the groundsheet a phenomenal 12,000mm one, ten times that of some of the groundsheets in other tents.
This tent was recommended by The Great Outdoors in 2022. Read Chris’s full Hilleberg Niak review.
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1 Solution Dye
Pros: low weight, solution dye fabrics
Cons: low hydrostatic head on groundsheet, small porch
RRP: $369.95 | £400
Weight: 2.05 lb. | 930g
Flysheet: solution-dyed silicone/PU nylon ripstop, 1200mm HH | Inner: solution-dyed nylon ripstop breathable and polyester mesh | Groundsheet: solution-dyed silicone/PU nylon ripstop, 1200mm HH | Poles: DAC Featherlite NFL | Pegs: 11 x 15cm T (3 more needed for the guylines) | Porches: x1, 56cm deep | Inner dimensions: 218cm x 97/71cm, 102cm high point.
The latest version of the Fly Creek is made from solution-dyed fabric, which is better for the environment than conventional dyeing as it requires 50% less water and 80% less energy plus 80% fewer chemicals. This is excellent and I hope other tent makers follow.
Read Chris’s full Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1 Solution Dye review.
Nemo Hornet 2P
Pros: low weight, roomy inner, big porches
Cons: low hydrostatic head on groundsheet, cutaway flysheet
RRP: $400 | £400
Weight: 2.52 lb. | 1145g
Flysheet: 10D silicone/PU ripstop nylon, 1200mm HH | Inner: 10D Nylon Ripstop/ mesh | Groundsheet: 15D silicone/PU ripstop nylon, 1200mm HH | Poles: DAC Featherlite | Porches: x2, 71cm deep | Inner dimensions: 223cm x 127/114cm, 104cm high point.
Nemo was unable to supply the solo Hornet for the test so sent the 2-person one, which is still very light. The Hornet 1P weighs some 200 grams less and costs around $400 (£350). The design and materials are the same except that it only has one porch.
Read Chris’s full Nemo Hornet review.