The Best Tents, FULL STOP

Wild Country Sololite 2009


Wild Country Sololite 2009The Wild Country Sololite tent pulls out of its stuffsack and rolls out on the ground, the poles clip into the outer quickly and easily, and you’ve got an instant shelter from the worst of weather. It’s got a strong design and uses tough materials. Terra Nova is Wild Country’s parent company, and you can see the quality genes have been passed down. The porch is very small, but can be rolled back for cooking out of the rain. The two-way door zip gives you venting options, there’s a mesh vent at the foot and the inner door has a mesh panel that zips over to keep the heat in. It’s a cosy tent, and suits use at this time of year when you want to feel that there’s a barrier between you and the elements. But it’s small inside and gear storage can be a problem if you’re got a large pack or wet gear, and I can just sit upright at the door. It’s very heavy for the space it provides (but for this price it offers a good compromise).


The Wild Country Sololite is an easy-to-use and tough tent for poor conditions. Its great price is due to the use of heavier fabrics, which should mean stability and durability are good. It won ‘Best Value’ in our test.

Macpac Microlight


Macpac MicrolightThis 2-person backpacking tent is very light at just over 2kg and very easy to pitch as it has only one pole. It pitches outer-first, which is ideal in wet weather, and there is ladder lock adjustment for easy tensioning of the tent. There is one entrance and one porch, which extends down one side of the tent. You can open up virtually the whole side of the tent with the doors opening to the sides to expose the spacious porch that is ideal for two rucksacks. The inner doors have a zip-out panel as well as a midge net so you get reasonable control over ventilation. Inside the inner two campers can sit up at a squeeze. There’s also space for two to lie down, if you are not too big and don’t mind being very close! But this is really a one-person tent that can be used for two smaller people and the width is a clear indication of this, being some 30cm narrower than most tents in this class. The outer doors also only get one zip pull, so you cannot vent the doors from the top when cooking in the porch. The pegs are quite sore on the hands too.


Buy it if you want a small tent with one reasonably large porch for overnight use rather than multi-day use.

Vaude Hogan Ultralight Argon tent (2008)


Vaude Hogan Ultralight Argon tent (2008)This is a lightweight version of the classic Hogan tent. Unlike the Hogan, it pitches inner-first with a pre-assembled pole frame that forms a skeleton from which the inner is suspended. The outer then goes over the top, with quick-release buckles and ladder-lock adjustments. There is one entrance and this leads directly into the single porch. As with many Vaude tents the design of the door is excellent as it allows bottom, top and side opening to suit the conditions. The porch takes a pack easily enough, and two lightweight sacks could be squeezed in. Inside the inner there is good headroom, and two can sit up at the front. Two campers could sleep inside here alternatively, use as a spacious one-person tent. But this is an inner-pitched-first tent, so it is not ideal if you are setting up or breaking camp in the rain. The tent is quite narrow, so while it can sleep two, it is a bit of a squeeze. The headroom is narrow too, so, again, it’s not ideal for two unless it’s essential to save weight. And it’s worth noting that  the porch is very small.


An inner-pitched-first, lightweight tent that is tolerable for two when you need to keep weight to a minimum and ideal for one during multi-night trips.

Terra Nova Voyager Superlite


Terra Nova Voyager SuperliteThis 2-person sub-2kg tent is a lightened version of the Voyager, a classic 3-pole geodesic that defines its class. By lightening the fabrics to those used in the brand’s Laser range, Terra Nova has reduced the weight by 400g (18 per cent). The beauty of the tent is that you still get an inner and outer, a three-pole geodesic design and a superb porch and front entrance with double zips for venting. The geodesic design is incredibly stable. The pegs are the wire skewer type which do not hurt your hands and they are made from titanium to keep the weight down. But the outer doors do not get external stormflaps and the zips are particularly small, so you will need to treat them with a little care. To save weight the poles are held in place with clips rather than sleeves. Also this is an inner-pitched-first design, so it’s not ideal for pitching in heavy rain.


Buy it if you want a superlight version of a proper backpacking tent with the space, stability and features that make camping comfortable.


Reviews by Peter Macfarlane and Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine March 2009, August 2009

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