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Backpacker Gear Guide: One-Person Tents

Best All-Around
Mountain Hardwear Stiletto FP

Compressed in its sack, this hoop-style tent measures no bigger than a football thanks to foot-length pole segments. But looks, as they say, can be deceiving. Pitched, the Stiletto’s curved outrigger pole supports a high vestibule that runs the length of the tent, creating prime cooking and gear-storage real estate. Dogs, boots, 80-liter packs–the Stiletto’s covered porch swallowed them all, and still allowed unhindered coming and going. Testers also praised the tent’s excellent ventilation in a wide variety of climates, from muggy Pennsylvania to high-alpine Idaho. It’s non-freestanding, and despite a wide midsection, the Stiletto’s headroom is narrow and low, which one tester found claustrophobic. $325; 2 lbs. 8 oz.

Best Buy
REI Quarter Dome 1 TT *FP

Stop surfing Craigslist for a tent steal. This is it: a freestanding, three-season shelter that weighs less than 3 pounds and costs less than two hundred bucks. Pitching is fast and simple the first time out, thanks to the color-coded setup and smart finger-pulls on the guylines that make tightening the fly a snap. The near-vertical walls and generous ceiling height (40 inches) mean a six-footer can sit up comfortably, and the large vestibule shelters pack, boots, and wet clothing. After a six-day trek through Olympic National Park, one tester reported sleeping dry every night despite strong winds and frequent, heavy rain. Two adjustable ventilation flaps and an all-mesh canopy also helped keep the tent free of condensation. Our only serious gripe: its narrow floorplan. “Lying on my back, my elbows were mashed up against the tent walls,” reported one tester. $179; 2 lbs. 12 oz.

Top Ultralight
Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis

If you have space in your pack for a box of mac-and-cheese, you have room for this minimalist tent. The floorless, sil-nylon shelter offers better-than-a-tarp protection thanks to a no-see-um skirt around the perimeter. With practice, the Wild Oasis pitches quickly using six stakes and a trekking pole (or the optional carbon-fiber pole, $25). And the shelter’s height is adjustable: taller for increased ventilation, or lower profile for better storm protection (it proved impressively sturdy in strong winds). But it became sauna-like and wet with condensation in Tennessee’s humid summer weather. “It’s not built for creature comforts,” said our tester after carrying the Wild Oasis for 300-plus miles on the Appalachian Trail. Still, if you put weight savings above all else, it’s hard to beat. $175; 13 oz.

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