Solo backpacking/canoeing tents

It seems now that my stepson is a boyscout and spent a cold, rainy 6 nights in a cheap Timber Creek dome tent at Winter Camp, he has come to appreciate my two-man REI Half-Dome, and he insists on always using that rather than staying in any of his friends’ tents. The problem is I go along with him on about half of his campouts, so where am I to sleep? This past weekend I spent two nights with temps in the high 20s to low 30s in an old tent I bought for $20 in college, a bivy style 2 person without a full rainfly (doesn’t go all the way to the ground and doesn’t cover the front of the tent). It had served me pretty well for mild nights (no rain, temps in the 40s or higher) but not a great tent for the conditions where you actually NEED a tent, and then this weekend one of the poles splintered.

So I definitely need a new tent. I would like to buy a compact, light (3.5 pounds or less) not-too-expensive solo tent. I see that Campmor has a Eureka Solitaire for $60. It has the 2 hoop bivy design, but appears to have a full rainfly going all the way to the ground and covering the entire tent. Does anyone have any experience with this tent, and do you recommend it?

Thoughts on Kelty Crestone?
I can pick one of these up for $83.

Unless you want to spring big bucks
you may have to go heavier than 3.5 lbs.

The Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight is a tried and tested design thats been around for a long time. Now its mostly mesh though. Mesh tents are colder than those with less mesh. Mesh is lighter than nylon.

Campmor usually has a good selection of name brand closeouts.

clip flashlight
I like this tent. It’s a little more expensive, but not much, and it’s small, light and well protected. The fly is solid and goes all the way to the ground, and encloses a decent sized vestibule.

Not free-standing, but that’s probably part of the trade-off for lightweight.

I don’t mind that tradeoff
My halfdome is freestanding and that’s nice, but I’ve used nonfreestanding bivvy tents, and found that the smaller a tent is, less of a big deal that becomes.

After reading online reviews
I’m thinking of going with the Kelty Crestone over the Eureka Solitare. Seems a lot of people have had problems with poles breaking on the Solitaire, it seems to have problems with condensation (hard to avoid in a small tent, I know, but it seems more than usually bad) and is apparently hard to get into. The Kelty is only $83 at, still meets my weight target. Unless anyone here has had a bad experience with it, I am going to pull the trigger.

Since I mostly camp in Texas
going mostly mesh is actually probably a good thing for me. As long as the rainfly goes all the way to the ground for colder nights. I am mostly a two-season camper - Spring and Fall.

I will say this
About the Clip Flashlight.

it will stand up to a STRONG thunderstorm. We were on the Wisconsin river and a big storm blew through at night. I stayed nice and dry… granted I did bring BIG stakes since it’s all sand.


– Last Updated: Feb-17-10 1:17 PM EST –

Eureka is a decent maker of tents.

A friend has the Spitfire and he has no complaints of it in the rain.

I like the design of the Spitfire. It's not a cramped one-person tent (if you are of normal height).

I’d get a small 2 person
Its nice to have the extra room, and some 2 persons are pretty much as light as a solo tent. When I worked in an outdoor retail store, we called the solo tents the “I have no friends tent…”

You could go for a bivy and a tarp, that’s a pretty fun way to go…

If you like mesh and ventilation
I doubt that there is a tent more “meshy” than a MSR Hubba Hubba.

It has two side doors with overhanging awnings, allowing the panels to be left open in light rain for flow-through ventilation. This tent is actually worthless early spring and late fall in my usual lattitudes as it is too breezy.

Not the cheapest though, but mine has withstood 40 mph gusting (I ama good staker-downer).


yep there is
Its the pizza box for one…the Hubba.

I tried it in the store and it was a tad too narrow for my likes though it had ample headroom.

The trouble with inexpensive tents is often the pole material. Fiberglass is not good and all aluminum is not the same.

MSR is working on a negative weight tent. I have a Hubba Hubba too but prefer the North Face Tadpole 23 which is much like the Clip Flashlight with a far superior vestibule.

alps mountaineering
I have their solo and love it. Good quality, sounds like what you are looking for. rain fly to floor, good vestibule, and all mesh

free standing too.


Alps mountaineering tent…
REI has some for sale…

The Zephyr model?
That one looks great - compact packed size, weight under 4 pounds, and yet freestanding, plus a reasonable pricepoint. Thanks!

Hubba size
Well, I am a big guy and I thought the Hubba was small - I guess it is really a glorified bivvy.

I had a predecessor to the Tadpole - the Luna Light or something like that. I found that in a rain ir was difficult to enter/exit without getting the bag wet. That is why I love the side doors on the MSR tents.


I’m not so big
5’9, 165, so small tents don’t bug me so much.

yep I have the zephyr 1.0

– Last Updated: Feb-18-10 3:28 AM EST –

I fit fine at 6 ft and 210

vestibule big enough for my backpack

I like that I can sit up in it with a crazy creek chair or a thermarest chair pad and read during a rain.
Next family tent will be an alps mountaineering tent as well.

do NOT get the Eureka Solitaire

– Last Updated: Feb-17-10 7:34 PM EST –

it's basically a kid size bivy more than a solo tent. even at 5'9" you'll feel cramped

Alps makes great stuff, take a look on REI's outlet site for some good deals. I have the Comet 1.5, a little on the small side compared to my Clip Flashlight but weighs just over 4 lbs including footprint, and has a door & vestibule on either side. The Triton is similar but has a front door/vestibule.

Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight
1, or 2. I’ve used the 2 for years. “2” is questionable but I do like the extra room. Light and packs small but bigger than a bivy. Last time I searched, there were some used ones out there.