Test of the best: One-person tents reviewed (2018)

When backpacking and wild camping in the hills every gram counts. In this test we look at one-person tents for budgets over £300. 

Flysheet

This provides the protection against the rain, and is made from nylon or less durable polyester that is treated with polyurethane or silicone to make it waterproof. Broadly speaking the heavier the fabric the longer it will last, but the use of ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitors will improve long-term performance. A flysheet that reaches the ground around the edges will keep more wind-driven rain out, but a fly with a big air gap around the base will help reduce condensation. Ladder-lock adjustment is good for fine-tuning tension and tweaking the footprint a bit.

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Inner tent

You sleep inside the inner. It protects you from the condensation that will inevitably form on the underside of the flysheet, as well as midges that will easily fly under the flysheet! Some inner tents have large mesh panels to improve airflow while also reducing weight, but they can be colder and more draughty. Mesh-roofed inner tents may allow condensation to drip onto the occupants.

Pitching

Inner-pitched-first designs save weight, and are more stable and ideal for pitching in dry conditions. Outer-pitched-first designs are better if pitching in the rain, as the inner can more easily be kept dry. However, if the inner is made of nylon it can often be shaken dry and won’t absorb too much water, so this may be a worthwhile compromise.

Headroom

To be sure you can sit up, get a friend to measure your height when sitting, then compare this to the maximum internal height of the inner tent, but note that many tents taper so you may not be able to sit up throughout the inner tent.

Guy lines

A set of cords is sometimes provided to help stabilise a tent in high winds. Some tents need fewer guy lines than others, as some designs are mechanically stronger.

Porch

This space outside the inner but under the flysheet is ideal for storing wet rucksacks and to act as a sheltered cooking space. If this is too small you’ll have to think carefully where you are going to stash your wet gear overnight.

Weight

Manufacturers supply weights but it is not always clear what these weights include. All weights in this test are for the tent inner and outer, poles and pegs plus any stuffsacks and guy lines provided. 


MSR Hubba NX £360

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  • Weight 1248g
  • Packed size 12x49cm
  • Inner tent (LxWxH) 215x75x90cm

It's good

This tent is cavernous, thanks to the headroom extending over a wide area across the top and very steep side walls. This space is created through the clever pole design from which the inner is suspended. The poles locate in eyelets at the base, but it is the cross pole that really builds that inner space. The fly goes over the top and ladder-lock adjustment makes it easy to tension the tent. Once erected the tent is very stable and does not need extra guy lines, so pitching is very fast. The outer door gives access to a 90cm deep porch area that easily swallows a rucksack, with space to spare so you can access the tent or cook. 

However

There are plenty of lighter tents available if you really want to save weight, but they won’t necessarily have the living space offered here. But it could be argued that this tent is actually bigger than it needs to be, as you could easily fit two rucksacks in the porch and two people could sit up inside. The flysheet does not hug the ground, so crosswinds can drive rain into the porch. Also it is inner-pitched-first, so if you have to make camp in the rain the inner could get damp. There is also a lot of mesh on the inner, so this isn’t quite as warm as others in cold or windy conditions. 

Verdict

Well-priced for the performance it offers with excellent space and stability, but it’s not the lightest option.

  • Features 5/5
  • Design 4/5
  • Living space 5/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 88%
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Robens Goldcrest 1 £399

  • Weight 1176g
  • Packed size 13x34cm
  • Inner tent (LxWxH) 220x90x80cm

It's good

The weight and packed size of the Goldcrest 1 are instantly appealing, but as this is a side entry tent you also get easy access to the interior and good storage for gear. It pitches outer-first, with short vertical poles at the foot and then a more conventional main pole to create the headroom. There are ladder-lock adjusters at the pegging points, and with the guy lines used the tent is pretty stable. I also like that the flysheet hugs the ground to easily lock out side-driven wind and rain, and the inner is not all mesh, again to lock out the wind. The side-entry outer door and inner door roll to the top. 

However

While the inner and porch are spacious enough, the headroom is only 80cm at its highest point so there is less space here than in other tents. Also the porch is only 40cm wide, which is acceptable, but others offer more space. A slight niggle is that the inner door rolls to the top and so it can dangle annoyingly, compared to doors that roll to the side or bottom. The outer door lacks a double zip puller so you cannot open it from the top. Some other tents have a more durable nylon flysheet rather than the polyester used here. While the price is good you can pay less and still get more space plus only a slightly bigger packed size and weight.

Verdict

An outer-pitched-first design with a very good weight and packed size, but heavier tents offer more living space.

  • Features 4/5
  • Design 4/5
  • Living space 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Terra Nova Starlite 1 £425

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  • Weight 1230g
  • Packed size 15x29cm
  • Inner tent (LxWxH) 220x100x80cm

It's good

The length of this tent when packed is much shorter than others as the pole sections have been shortened, meaning it is ideal for using when bikepacking and it also fits easily into smaller rucksacks. It pitches outer-first with ladder-lock webbing adjustment at the pegging points to ensure a taut pitch. Guy lines are needed though for reasonable stability. A nice feature is that the main front door can be opened from the top to allow views outside without fully opening the door. Also the inner has no mesh, apart from at the top of the door and at the foot end, so this tent is not too chilly in windy or colder weather.  

However

Other designs are slightly more stable, which is a classic problem with all tunnel designs, so this is best used in slightly more sheltered areas. Also the headroom is low in this tent compared to others, so while I could sit up, others offer more space by quite a margin. The porch is also a little smaller than others, so while it’s still large enough for a pack, you have to clamber over this to get into the tent, while other tents allow easier access to the inner even with gear in the porch. The weight is not as low as others and it is not the lowest price either. So there are some drawbacks to consider against the benefit of the pack length.

Verdict

The short pack length and the outer-pitched-first design are benefits, but the living space is reduced and it’s not the most stable or lightest.

  • Features 4/5
  • Design 4/5
  • Living space 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Lightwave S10 Sigma £499

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  • Weight 1420g
  • Packed size 13x46cm
  • Inner tent (LxWxH) 230x90x100cm

It's good

This tent is a single-skin design, in other words it has
no separate inner and outer to manage condensation. Instead it uses an X-Tex fabric made from a tough 20 denier nylon with a carbon coating on the inside to absorb condensation. On the hill this works superbly, with only a tiny amount of condensation noticeable on the ‘bath tub’ sides of the groundsheet. The tent is also exceptionally stable, thanks to the pair of poles forming a domed structure and a third cross pole adding more stability – and collectively this creates masses of internal living space. There is an 80cm deep porch on one side that is large enough for your gear with space remaining to get in and out of the tent easily. 

However

You do perhaps get more inner space than you really need and while that’s nice to have, if this tent had less space it would be lighter. Pitching is slightly easier on some other tents as you get ladder-lock adjustment, which is not provided here. A double zip on the outer door would be a nice additional feature, so you can peek outside to check the weather without opening the door, or ventilate the porch. There is quite a large gap between the flysheet and the ground in the porch, so strong side winds can drive water into this – which is a pity, as otherwise this tent is great in strong winds. Of course you can pay less too.

Verdict

Unique single-skin design, exceptionally roomy, tough, stable and handles condensation exceptionally well, but others are lighter.

  • Features 4/5
  • Design 4/5
  • Living space 5/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Hilleberg Enan £600

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  • Weight 1198g
  • Packed size 15x43cm
  • Inner tent (LxWxH) 215x95x90cm

It's good

This is an outstanding one-person tent and it’s been a Trail favourite in past reviews. It’s pitched outer-first with a single main pole easily fitting through a sleeve, while a little more hassle is involved in fitting a short vertical pole at each end. The flysheet hugs the ground, so this is great in really wet weather and it’s also very stable. The outer door has a double zip so you can vent the top, and once opened the porch is 70cm deep and offers plenty of room for a pack with space to spare. The inner tent has very good headroom, and as the inner is all nylon this is not as chilly as mesh inner tents.

However

There are very few drawbacks here but, of course, the price is a challenge. It is also not quite the lightest tent available, so these two factors may be enough to turn you away. If you want to get picky it is annoying that the flysheet pegging points don’t get ladder-lock adjustment, so you may want to tie cords to the pegging rings to allow more choice in pegging if rocks get in the way. Fitting the short vertical end poles is a little fiddly but this will get easier with practice. This is a spacious tent and you could perhaps say it has more space that you need. But there’s not a lot to worry about here really.

Verdict

Excellent outer-pitched-first design that is ideal for wilder weather, but the price and weight are drawbacks.

  • Features 5/5
  • Design 5/5
  • Living space 5/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 92%
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