If you’re itching to get out there for a solo hill-top overnighter or backpacking trip, then check out our pick of the best one-person hiking tents first.
The Post-it note on my desk – part of my initial back-of-an-envelope research for this review – has 25 tent brands listed on it. How can there possibly be so many? A bit like those restaurant menus with so much choice you’re rendered utterly indecisive, this expansion of options hardly helps the tent shopping process.
There’s so much to consider – weight, size, durability, features, comfort and price – and balancing these competing priorities can be tricky.
If protection is your number one consideration, opt for a bombproof tent with an aerodynamic profile, high hydrostatic head (HH) rating like 3000mm+, bathtub-style floor and flush-to-the-ground flysheet – but it’ll be heavy, expensive and the tapered walls will feel cramped. Or, if space and comfort are more important to you, choose a tent with a skeletal pole structure, high walls, good headroom, well-sized vestibule and impressive dimensions – but it may not cope as well with torrential rain and high winds. A two-person model may even suit you better.
Choosing the right tent is an indecision-inducing minefield, whichever way you turn, but thankfully our list of the best one-person tents is here to help.
MSR Freelite 1 - Best in Test
Vango Nevis 100 - Best Value
Exped Mira 1 HL - Best for headroom
Terra Nova Starlight 1 - Best 3-season one person tent
Vaude Taurus SUL 1-Person - Best for eco credentials
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo - Best lightweight one person tent
The best one-person tents in detail
1. MSR Freelite 1
Best in Test
Tents with the most comfortable and spacious interiors feature hub-connected pole systems, like
- Fantastic internal space
- Good ventilation
- Can catch the wind
- Inner first pitching not ideal for wet conditions
2. Vango Nevis 100
Officially recommended as Duke of Edinburgh expedition kit, the superbly priced Vango Nevis 100 is
- Very affordable
- Tough and weatherproof materials
- Proven shape
- Relatively heavy and bulky
- Hard to pitch taut
3. Exped Mira I HL
Best for headroom
This tent is very similar to the MSR Freelite 1. It uses a near identical hubbed pole design
- Great headroom
- Good flysheet coverage
- Two vestibules
- Quite narrow
- Inner pitching first not ideal in the wet
4. Terra Nova Starlite 1
Best 3-season one person tent
Terra Nova is a safe bet if you’re looking for a strong, stable, well-designed tent capable of
- Strong and stable
- Great for coping with rough UK weather
- Not very spacious
5. Vaude Taurus SUL 1-Person
Best for eco credentials
The Taurus features Vaude’s ‘tripod dome’ structure, with one long pole forming a lengthwise ridge
- Quite spacious
- Good eco credentials
- Slightly awkward porch shape
6. Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo
Best lightweight one-person tent
This ultralight, single-skin tent is pitched using a trekking pole and appeals to gram-counting
- Super lightweight
- Fantastic liveability
- Not suitable for very wet or windy conditions
What to look for in a one-person tent
Wind resistance: A good backpacking tent will allow wind to flow over it smoothly, without buffeting and flapping like crazy. Tents with a low-to-the-ground, aerodynamic profile will ‘shed’ wind better than tents with higher, more vertical walls. Either way, pegging out guylines will increase stability in high winds.
Flysheet: For maximum weatherproofing, a tent’s flysheet – the waterproof outer – should peg out flush to the ground, and be easily adjustable via tension straps so that it’s taut, stable and well-shaped. Some flysheets don’t quite reach the ground, which aids ventilation but risks water ingress.
Weight: If you’re carrying a tent up a mountain, you’ll want it to weigh as little as possible – but the lighter it is, the more expensive it’ll be. For a good quality, 3-season tent for UK use, 1kg or under is extremely light, 1.5kg is good and 2kg is a tad on the heavy side.
Pitching: Some tents, particularly from US brands, are pitched inner first – which isn’t ideal if it’s raining (and let’s face it, it probably will be!). Others are pitched outer first or all-as-one, enabling the inner to be kept dry while the flysheet is pegged out. Ease of pitching is another important consideration.
Ventilation: Condensation can be difficult to avoid in the UK’s wet climate, so good ventilation is key. Mesh vents on the inner and vent windows on the flysheet will help increase airflow, as will mesh panels on the inner’s walls. Good clearance between the inner and outer is very important too.
Comfort: The most comfortable tents have roomy interiors with vertical walls and ample head and shoulder room, enabling you to sit up and move around without touching the inner. Lower profile tents will have aggressively tapered walls, which can feel cramped and claustrophobic.
Groundsheet: The groundsheet – the bottom of a tent’s inner and the bit you lie on – needs to be strong, durable and waterproof because it’s constantly in contact with the ground. ‘Bathtub’ groundsheets have waterproof material stretching a few inches up the walls, creating a ‘tub’ of protection around you.
Waterproofing: For an indication of how waterproof a tent really is, check the hydrostatic head of the flysheet and groundsheet. A good baseline is 3000mm. However many other factors, including silicone or PU coatings, the tent’s shape, sealed seams, and the tightness of a fabric’s weave, affect waterproofing. To maintain your tent's waterproofing, consult our guide to cleaning your tent.
Features: Other important features include: a good-sized porch for stashing your backpack and wet boots, a wide door for easy entry and exit, sufficient length and width for lying down (check carefully if you’re 6ft+), a stormflap over the main zipper, internal pockets for gear organisation, an easy-to-fill carry bag, strong poles, good pegs, sturdy pegging out loops and robust guy lines.