Gear Review: Big Sky Soul Solo Tent

A freestanding tent that tarp lovers will love.


Tarp fanatics, take note: The Soul is so light, it just might convert you to the convenience of a freestanding tent. Two crossing poles speed setup on all surfaces—even rock slabs, since the Soul’s vestibule requires no staking. The vestibule attaches to the pole ends to create a covered, 6-square-foot storage space big enough for a pack and boots. “Inside, there’s plenty of room to stretch out and sit up,” reports our 6’1”, 200-pound tester, citing the 39-inch peak height and 18-square-foot floor.

One big front door let him enter and exit without stooping. On warm, clear nights, he rolled back the fly to enjoy stargazing and breezes; battened down, the all-mesh tent body provided good ventilation, since a 5-inch gap between the fly and the ground enhances airflow. During Superstorm Sandy-spawned deluges, the Soul proved a dry refuge, and it withstood 20-mph winds in Vermont’s Green Mountains. The secret? Carbon poles and SuprSil UL nylon, which is lighter—and two times stronger—than PU-coated nylons (pitched on New Hampshire granite, it never snagged). Of course, that technology increases the price. Note: Slow shipping frustrated buyers in the past, but Big Sky now fulfills 80 percent of its orders within a week. $400 ; 1 lb. 11 oz;