Big Agnes Emerald Mountain SL1 *FP
The three-person version of this tent earned our Editors’ Choice Award last year (4/07), so testers had high expectations for this new solo model. “It delivered–in a big way,” says one broad-shouldered six-footer, who found plenty of space to stretch out in the SL1′s 22-square-foot interior. The vestibule is equally expansive, and it grows even larger with the optional accessory vestibule ($100; 14 oz.), which more than doubles the tent’s sheltered space. Solo hikers with big (or wet) dogs will love the extra room. Stability and ventilation are good, but you pay a weight penalty for the ample real estate: This tent is as heavy as some two-person models. $300; 3 lbs. 7 oz.
Catoma The Twist FP
Yank this hoop-style shelter from its stuff sack and it springs to shape, thanks to integrated, flexible fiberglass poles. Simply stake down the fly and your bed is made. The super-fast pitch endeared it to hikers who had to make camp during a downpour. “I slept dry even during heavy rains, and the Twist also held strong against the wind,” said a Montana tester who weathered repeated mountain thunderstorms. One just-big-enough vestibule extends along its length. Pitched fly-only (using the same pop-up technique), the Twist becomes a tarp-style shelter weighing just 1 pound 10 ounces. And at more than 7 feet long, it let tall guys unfurl completely. Downsides: It needs better ventilation during prolonged rain, and packing the tent back into its sack requires practice. The fabric appears to be less durable than some competitors, but it had no breakdowns during a summer of testing. $199; 2 lbs. 15 oz.
Macpac Microlight FP
“It’s not a tent, it’s a storm bunker,” declared our Colorado tester after weathering driving rain and 40-mph winds on the Continental Divide. The Microlight’s ground-hugging, single-pole tunnel design is rock solid when staked out (it’s not freestanding). And the integrated fly means you can pitch the tent in a storm without exposing the interior to rain. The super-durable floor–made of Torrentwear XP, a densely woven, polyurethane-coated nylon–needs no TLC. Demerits: Our 5’11″ tester found the interior length adequate but not generous, and the low ceiling and narrow profile turned changing clothes into a yoga session. Ventilation isn’t sufficient; condensation formed even in mild weather. And despite the name, it’s a tad heavy for a solo tent that’s not freestanding. $250; 3 lbs. 5 oz.