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Backpacker Magazine – March 2008

Backpacker Gear Guide: One-Person Tents

by: The Backpacker Editors

PAGE 1 2
Mountain Hardware Stilleto, Sethhughes.com
Mountain Hardware Stilleto, Sethhughes.com
REI Quarter Dome 1 TT, Sethhughes.com
REI Quarter Dome 1 TT, Sethhughes.com
Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis, Sethhughes.com
Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis, Sethhughes.com
Big Agnes Emerald Mountain SL1, Sethhughes.com
Big Agnes Emerald Mountain SL1, Sethhughes.com
Catoma the Twist, Sethhughes.com
Catoma the Twist, Sethhughes.com
Macpac Microlight, Sethhughes.com
Macpac Microlight, Sethhughes.com

Greener Poles (*): Standard anodizing processes use hazardous acids. DAC Featherlite NSL poles are made with an eco-friendly anodizing process.
Dye-free fabric (*): White, dye-free tent canopies both brighten interiors and minimize pollutants during manufacturing.
Fly-only fastpitch (FP): In mild, bug-free conditions, you can pitch these tents with just the rainfly and poles, cutting down on bulk and weight.

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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