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Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for best one-person tents

Are you thinking of taking a solo hiking trip into the great outdoors? There’s nothing better at the end of a tiring day than pitching a tent and looking forward to a dry, comfortable night’s sleep. Backpackers must take weight and size into consideration when putting together their hiking gear, especially people traveling alone, and a one-person tent is one of the biggest considerations.

No matter your budget, there is always a trade-off to be made when it comes to choosing a tent. Do you need a rugged tent that will keep you warm in all seasons? Expect a tent that weighs more to also cost more. Do you insist on the lightest weight possible yet have a small budget? Cheaper, lightweight tents can tear easily. With all of the available options, it can be hard to find the one-person tent that fits your price range and backpacking style.

We’re here to help. Let us guide you toward the right one-person tent for you. We’ve included some of our favorites, too. 

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The denier (D) rating of a tent is the weight of the fabric based on a 9,000-meter length of the yarn used to make it. Higher denier-rated tent fabric is more rugged but weighs more. Lighter tents with lower denier ratings may not be as durable.

Key considerations


Can a tall person stretch out in the tent? Can you sit up inside? The dimensions of one-person tents vary more than almost any other kind of tent. Consider how you sleep when camping out, whether you like a tent that’s snug or roomy, and if you’ll be keeping your backpack inside the tent.

The amount of room a one-person tent takes up in your pack is also a factor. Will the tent fit in the pack you’re using? Is it large and ungainly in its storage sack? This can result in a pack load that isn’t well balanced, making the hike that much tougher.


A critical factor in backpacking is the “trail weight” of a one-person tent. This is the weight of the tent, rain fly, tent poles, stakes, and storage sack. Tents with a trail weight of over five pounds add far too much weight to the pack load.

Ultralight or minimal shelters are designed so you can use just the rain fly propped up on hiking poles and a ground cloth, or footprint, and leave the main tent and poles behind. Look for tents that specifically advertise this option if you want to try ultralight hiking.

Experienced ultralight hikers also try out different shelter options on their treks. Some may use a single tarp as a shelter or opt for a different sleeping system such as a bivy sack (a water-resistant, one-person shelter slightly larger than a sleeping bag) or a hammock tent.


Three seasons or four? If you’re a backpacker who likes to travel in any kind of weather, a four-season tent is your best bet. Three-season tents, used in spring, summer, and fall, tend to be lighter and cost much less, but one of these shouldn’t be the go-to tent for winter campers. 

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Did you know?
A light-colored fly allows more natural light to filter in and makes a small tent feel roomier.

One-person tent features

Inner tent: This is the main section of the tent where you sleep. The canopy portion of a three-season tent is usually constructed of mesh fabric for the upper half and water-resistant nylon for the bottom portion, called a groundsheet and sometimes a “bathtub” due to its integrated design.

Rain fly: This tough, water-resistant fabric goes over the tent to protect it from water. Some rain flys are just wide enough to protect the tent itself. Others cover the entire tent and extend out a few inches from the entry door, creating a small sheltered vestibule where backpackers can place their boots or even their pack to keep them dry.

Vent: Depending on the design of the tent, vents are built into the upper part of the inner tent and on the rain fly. Keeping these vents open prevents condensation from building up inside the tent.

Footprint: An accessory that isn’t included with all tents, the footprint is a durable, waterproof sheet that is placed underneath the tent. It protects the groundsheet from wear and tear and provides extra protection from water.

Poles: Sturdy poles made of aluminum or fiberglass give the inner tent its shape and provide attachment points for the rain fly.

Guy lines: These ropes extend from the rain fly or tent wall and are staked into the ground and provide added stability in windy conditions. They also pull the rain fly away from the inner tent to prevent condensation from forming and hold the rain fly taut to prevent water from pooling in saggy sections.

Stakes: These secure the guy lines to the ground. In one-person tents, the stakes are usually metal rods that can be pushed into the ground by hand or by pressing them down with a boot.

Storage sack: The tent and all its components fit into this sack, which is Included with nearly all one-person tents.

Tieback: A standard accessory on tents of any price, campers can roll the tent door out of the way and hold it in place using a simple toggle-and-loop tieback sewn onto the doorframe.

Storm flap: This strip of fabric covers the door zipper on the exterior of the tent to keep rain and wind from entering.

Storage: Some tents have mesh pockets sewn to the interior where campers can store small items like a smartphone or flashlight. Some one-person tents have a gear loft, which is an extra mesh storage space sewn or clipped across the peaked top of the tent.

"Some tents have color-coded corners that enable you to match up the tent poles to the correct corner holes."

One-person tent prices

Inexpensive: The lowest-priced one-person tents have few luxury features and tend to be on the heavier side, hovering close to five pounds, but they offer adequate shelter in spring, summer, and fall. These range in price from $25 to $39.

Mid-range: Tougher fabrics and lighter weight, along with extras like a gear loft, are highlights in the middle price range. These tents cost $59 to $124.

Expensive: Four-season backpackers and mountaineers will find rugged tents that cost from $146 to $380.


  • Test the tent before taking it on a trip. Set it up (either in the store or at home) and climb inside.
  • Suit the rain fly to the climate. Rain fly sizes vary, so make sure you’re getting one that suits the region where you’ll be backpacking. If you’re camping in an arid region, a fly that just covers the top of the tent may be sufficient. If you’re in a rainy, wet, or chilly area, a full-coverage fly might be a better choice.
  • Don’t forget the insect repellent. Going “ultralight” often means leaving the inner tent behind and using just the rain fly and footprint. That could also mean losing the protection from biting bugs provided by the mesh inner tent, so take precautions if you opt for this method.
  • Pitch your tent in a shady spot. Direct sunlight can cause lightweight tent materials to break down more quickly.
  • Take off your boots outside the tent. Avoid putting dirty boots directly on the tent floor because sand, rocks, and twigs can damage the floor.
  • Take down your tent carefully. Reduce the stress on the tent’s fabric and poles by breaking down the poles starting from the middle rather than the ends. This distributes tension evenly along the elastic cord and doesn’t put stress on just one side of the tent when taking it down. Take the time to shake out and neatly roll up your tent rather than just stuffing it into the storage bag. This extends the life of the tent fabric and water-resistant coating. And after your trip, set up the tent in an area out of direct sunlight and let it air-dry completely before storing it away.

Other products we considered

We had to limit our top picks to five, but there were some other one-person tents we liked that you might like, too. The Hyke & Byke Zion Backpacking Tent has lots of great features, including a two-door entry system, included footprint, and full-coverage rain fly. It packs up small, too. The waterproof OLUNNA Pyramid Tent is a great option for backpackers who want a much higher area to sit up in, and its minimal setup option using one hiking pole cuts weight and goes up quickly. And the Kelty Gunnison Backpacking Tent impressed us with its highly configurable setup and extra features like lots of pockets, all at a reasonable price point.

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Be gentle when setting up or removing tent poles and using the door zipper. The fabric of lightweight backpacking tents can warp or tear more easily than that of heavier tents.


Q. Should I replace my tent if it begins to leak badly?
You might be able to extend the life of your tent by treating the seams with a seam sealer or seam tape. Areas of the fabric that are worn or where you can see the waterproof treatment peeling away can often be treated with a polyurethane sealant. However, if the tent fabric or floor are badly worn, if the treatment doesn’t stop the leaks, or if the waterproof coating is gooey or smells bad, it’s time for a new tent.

Q. If my tent is waterproof, why does it get damp inside even on dry nights?
Modern backpacking tents rely on ventilation to provide adequate shelter. If the vents are closed, or if the rain fly is set up so that there is no space between it and the top of the tent, then there is little airflow. Condensation occurs when the temperature inside the tent is different from the air temperature outside. And your breath alone contains enough moisture to kick-start the condensation process. Make sure there are at least a couple of inches between the inner tent and the rain fly at all times, and open the air vents on the rain fly and on the tent.

Q. What is the difference between packaged weight, minimum weight, and trail weight?
Backpacking tent packages and product descriptions often list three different weights. “Packaged” is the weight of the tent and accessories together in the shipping box. “Minimum” is the tent’s predicted weight when users have stripped away as many components as possible. “Trail” is the weight of the tent and accessories as actually used on a backpacking trip.

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