Sierra Designs 1-Person Tent

Two ultra-light poles + rain-fly + nylon case + tent = Less than 4 pounds and slightly larger than a shoebox when packed up. Unpacked, it isn’t spacious (about 20 sq. ft.), but there’s more than enough room to stash a pack in the event of a downpour or to use as a headboard while reading (try that in a bivy sack!).

Backpackers will appreciate the quick, intuitive set up: Clip the poles to eight hooks, insert the four pole ends into grommets at the base, and drive five stakes (the fifth creates the door). If you need the rain guard, the tent shape — unlike a dome — makes it obvious to surmise what goes where. Throw it on, fasten a couple Velcro straps to marry the fly to the poles, and be sure the stakes go through the holes at the base of the fly. Drive a sixth stake for the “entryway.” All of this takes maybe three minutes. The learning curve is rapid.

I spent two months in the tropics crashing in this tent. Even on a sandy beach, a heavy rock or two maintained the tension needed to retain the door’s shape. The tent also held its own in a number of windy rainstorms, and I’ve since used it for wintertime jaunts into the coastal hills of Northern California. Not exactly the High Sierras, but there can be morning frost. To this day: no tears, no leaks, no busted seams. Since I purchased mine in 2000, Sierra Designs has added a more resistant silicone coat to the rain-fly and knocked off a few ounces by switching to even lighter poles.

-- Steven Leckart  

Sierra Designs 1-Person Tent
$128

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Sierra Designs