There is not many options in the market for a solid tent under $120…and for many that price is pretty steep; If you go camping an average of 10 nights total for the entire year you are only paying $12 a night for a roof over your head that should protect you from the elements. So remember, dirt cheap means cheap quality, materials and craftsmanship.
1.- Eureka Solitaire
The Solitaire in simple words is a glorified bivy with ample interior space and a few tricks that are worth trying for $69 at Academy Sports . The front entrance of the tubular design gives you plenty space for a 6’1 adult plus gear or dog (can’t do both) and enough elbow room to move around if you are a side sleeper but is impossible to fully sit up in the 28 inches of interior height. The biggest feature is the stargazing mesh top access once you fully roll the fly. The inner tent has a full zipper between the 2 loop poles for quick access under the right elements. At 2lb 9oz including the steel stakes and fiberglass poles is a big hit among budget hikers. (You can drop a few ounces by exchanging the stakes to msr mini hogs)
The front entrance has no real vestibule and requires crawling for the sleeper to go in; once inside is fairly easy to enclose the shelter by zipping the fly and the interior mesh next. In dry days you can leave the door open to be fully protected from critters and creating better ventilation.
The fly has shock cord loops at both ends (something easy to replace). The biggest flaw is the separation between the fly and the mesh, the poles are inserted via sleeves giving no space room in between the fabrics; so under rain or high humidity areas expect a lot condensation.
The interesting aspect is that you can buy the Canadian version (available from Amazon Canada for $108 USD) where the aluminum poles are standard or you can risk the existing fiberglass poles breaking (which seams to be a constant complain in the American version)
Overall I wouldn’t recommend this tent but in a tight budget there is nothing in the market at this price that has better features. If you are handy you can make some quick inexpensive modifications that will ease the set up and your experience with it.
2.-Koppen Lokal solo Tent
This shelter is a true bang for your money retailing at $90 . Comes with beefy 7000mm aluminium poles and has an enormous side entrance. The set up is straight forward and similar to Eureka Solitaire, utilizes sleeves for a hoop design. The interior floor space is way wider than a MSR carbon reflex and taller than the solitaire giving you more room to semi sit up and should host a 6’1 adult without issues. The bathtub floor is thick enough for no added footprint. The fly connects with 4 clip buckles at the pole joints and stretch cord in both ends requiring 4 extra stakes. One guy out point on each end of the fly helps handling high winds. The zipper seems to work flawless and the entire door including the mesh can be rolled and secure with toggles.
At 2lb 4oz in my scale is the lightest shelter in this list and for the money and quality there is not much to complain.
To get picky replace the shock cords from the fly using reflective line like Nite Ize that will provide a more sturdier design for high winds.
The only true con is condensation, as there is not much separation between the fly and the mesh so under high humidity you will deal with condensation and lack of vestibule (big enough to keep shoes in and lean a small backpack against the mesh). Make sure to properly vent the door as much as possible.
3.-Winterial Solo Bivy Tent
At 2lb 9oz and retailing at $100 sounds like a big bang for your pocket but the pros and cons balance each other out. The drop down hoop bivy design is an interesting option for short people. If you are 5ft 10″ or more you be touching both ends of the interior mesh.
The aluminium poles connect with clips creating plenty separation between the mesh and fly eliminating any possible condensation issues. Requires only 8 stakes to be taut and has (14 anchor points for foul weather). For added support has 3 guy out points (2 at the headroom and 1 at the footbox). The floor is also thick enough that requires no footprint.
The interior height is 28″ and is super wide so you have plenty space to have a few items inside with you and easily roll over if needed.
Winterial website does not really provide proper specifications about the type of materials but the fly seems to be non breathable. Under 24 hrs of heavy rain we experienced a leak at the zipper entrance so i will suggest to seam sealed all outer seam inside out. The biggest con is the entrance:
- Once the tent and fly is taut the one way zipper tends to stretch the materials making it hard to zip. Make sure to leave some slack and this issue be easily manageable.
- The vestibule capacity is nearly none so forget about cooking. .
Overall I will recommend this tent for short people ONLY or backpacking Kids!
Is the best option on this list weighting 2lb 12oz.
40 inches of interior height and fast pitch makes the Spitfire the best option for a low budget. Proven fully seam sealed and no condensation with all interior mesh and top vent accessible from the inside. The hoop design is 9ft long and fits a 6’3 person without touching the end panels. The fly connects with clips buckles at the pole joints and aligned anchor points to the inner tent eliminating extra stakes.
The aluminium 8.8mm connect to the inner tent with hook clips providing plenty space between the fly and inner fabric creating a good flow of ventilation. The bathtub floor is 5″ tall so you won’t feel any wind draft under the fly.
Only con is the lack of vestibule space alike all the choices above and one way zipper.
Overall I will recommend this tent to anybody that wants a semi free standing tent, is looking for quality and does’t mind a few extra ounces.
The common denominator between all choices were weight, design, budget and waterproof durability. Honorable mention to Sixmoondesigns Scout (34oz semi free standing tent that requires trekking poles but needs to be seam sealed twice or have them provide the service) alps mountaneering mystique 1 (bombproof 70D materials semi free standing tent that weights almost 4lbs with double vestibule and entrance)