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10 of the best one-man tents

Inject a bit of adventure into your trail running plans this summer by investing in a one-man tent and pressing on into the night...

one man tents
Keri Wallace

There are lots of running activities for which a good lightweight one-man tent is invaluable. Think: mountain marathons, fast-packing journeys, self-supported multi-day challenges, long-distance FKT attempts and outdoor festival camping. A one-man tent can also be handy when crewing and supporting fellow runners in remote locations.

What to look for in a one-man tent

Weight and size:

Whatever your excursion, if you plan to run with your tent on your back, then you’ll be looking for something ultra-lightweight and packable. Extremely lightweight tents may have reduced weight at the expense of space, durability or waterproofing (particularly of the groundsheet). Often it is possible to purchase a footprint on which to pitch such tents, to protect the groundsheet and reduce dampness, but of course this is at an additional weight and cost to the runner.

Waterproofing:

To be considered fully waterproof, it must be able to withstand the pressure of a column of water 1000mm high without leaking. Higher values mean better protection in wet weather but also greater weight. As a benchmark, 2000-3000 HH is average for tents aimed at use in the UK climate.

Easy to pitch

You'll want a design that is easy to pitch and pack away. Most one-man tents are comprised of a waterproof outer tent with guy lines for tensioning, a breathable inner tent (usually with an in-built groundsheet), a set of poles and a set of pegs for pitching.

What tents can be put up by one person?

All one-man tents can be put up by one person, as can many bigger tents. However, ease depends on the tent design and some are difficult to pitch without help. In general, free-standing/stand-alone tents are easier to erect alone. These tents come with poles which are used to maintain their form, and can be picked up and moved around easily before pegging out. In our round-up below, we've highlighted how easy each one-man tent is to pitch.

What is the lightest and smallest one-man tent?

The lightest one-man tent in the world is the Terra Nova, Laser Pulse Ultra 1. This ultra-lightweight tent weighs-in at just 490g (less than a loaf of bread). It will also take up the least space in your bag, packing down to just 30cm x 9cm. However, it also one of the most expensive tents on the market. It is ideal for fast expedition-style racing and multi-day running challenges, where performance is paramount but isn’t going to be the most comfortable or durable.

It is possible to camp out even lighter by using just a bivvy bag or by sleeping under a minimalist tarp/shelter.

Alternatives to a one-man tent

There is a wide range of tarps and shelters on the market which can make for great lightweight alternatives to a tent. However, tarps tend to require better weather and offer no barrier against foraging rodents or midges. And unless you run with poles, you’ll need to find trees or a rocky outcrop for rigging up a tarp.

If you want to go fast, and comfort and protection from the weather isn’t your top concern, then you should also consider a bivvy. A bivvy bag is essentially a waterproof but breathable over bag which covers your sleeping bag (leaving you looking like a giant cocoon!). A bivvy bag packs down to a small size and is usually lighter and cheaper than a one-man tent. They can usually be dried out more easily too but don’t tend to offer such a comfortable night of rest – and we know sleep-deprivation is cumulative and so important for running performance.

Despite the joys of lying out under the stars, however, some people find sleeping in a bivvy bag a damp and claustrophobic experience, compared to the more familiar sleeping environment of a tent. Most bivvy bags will leave you more exposed to the elements, insects and wildlife, whereas a one-man tent can offer you a space in which to sort your kit out, get some privacy and perhaps feel a bit more secure when out alone in the great outdoors.

What are the best one-man tents?

We tested a range of lightweight one-man tents with running adventures in mind and below we've listed our favourites. These models also work well for fast-hiking, trekking, backpacking and thru-hiking expeditions.

Best in test: MSR FreeLite 1

FreeLite 1 Ultralight Tent
MSR sigmasports.com
£410.00

      Minimum weight: 740g; pack size: 46cm x 10cm

      The Freelite 1 is a spacious twin-skin one-man tent with an innovative pole system and lots of ventilation (perfect for warmer weather). It’s straightforward to pitch but its best feature is the 1m of headroom which allows you to sit-up comfortably. It also has a decent-sized porch to keep all your kit in. The inner tent can be pitched without the outer for a stripped-down option that provides bug-protection on warm, dry nights. 'This tent is ideal for multi-day adventures when you’re planning to spend some time chilling in your tent each day,' said our tester.

      The only slight negatives are that you pitch the inner first, which is less than ideal in wet weather. The groundsheet also has a low Hydrostatic Head (HH) rating – the standard used to quantify the level of waterproofness of different textiles – at just 1200mm HH.

      Best mountain tent: Nordisk Telemark 1 LW

      Nordisk Telemark 1 LW
      Nordisk outdoorgear.co.uk
      £450.00

      Minimum weight: 830g; pack size: 41cm x 12cm

      The Nordisk is a really compact and lightweight one-man tent. It pitches really well with just four pegs; set-up is quick and the design well-tensioned. It’s a great looking two-skin tent with a very big porch for its size and practical side entry. There isn’t loads of headroom but it’s still really roomy inside. 'I actually managed to sleep two persons in this tent for a mountain marathon, where it performed admirably!' said our tester.

      Its robust structure and sturdy groundsheet make it a good option for wet and windy mountain weather. Groundsheet waterproofing is an impressive 8000mm HH.

      Best for racing: Terra Nova Laser Compact 1

      Terra Nova Laser Compact 1 Person Tent
      Terra Nova amazon.co.uk
      £440.00

      Minimum weight: 945g; pack size: 30 x 14cm

      This is a lightweight two-skin tent that packs down to just 30 x 14cm. It has reasonable headroom and can be pitched as inner-only. The groundsheet waterproofing is good at 7000mm HH, making it a great option for expedition-style racing and multi-day running challenges in wet weather conditions. The two-person version is ideal for mountain marathons with racing pairs; and the more expensive but even lighter Terra Nova, Laser Pulse Ultra 1 (490g) is a great choice for fast-and-light racing where performance is paramount.

      Best for long distance trails: Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

      Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo Green 1 Person Ultralight Tent
      Six Moon Designs amazon.co.uk
      £287.57

      Minimum weight: 740g; pack size: 28cm x 11.5cm

      The Lunar Solo is a packable, single-skin shelter that uses a single 124cm pole (which can be a running pole) to give tons of headroom and enough living space for a big pack and even a dog, if required. Side entry and a large porch make camp craft a dream, and it can be set up in a variety of ways to suit the conditions. Although perfect pitching takes time and skill to master, the result is a really versatile and comfortable camping experience – you can even pin up the door to create a covered vestibule for cooking. 'I loved this shelter for its airy volume and innovative design,' said our tester. 'It’s basically like sleeping under a tarp but with bug protection.'

      The groundsheet waterproofing is suitable at 3000mm HH, however, we'd say this is best for low-level, long-distance trails in fine weather, where you’re expecting to camp many nights out on the trail.

      It's worth noting that single-skin shelters are prone to condensation on the inside of the canopy. This can be reduced by pitching your shelter for maximum ventilation and is one of the trade offs of having such a capacious but packable shelter. For a two-skin equivalent, try the Gatewood Cape and Serenity NetTent in combination.

      Best in poor weather: Terra Nova Starlight 1

      Terra Nova Starlite 1 Tent
      Terra Nova amazon.co.uk
      £479.94

      Minimum weight: 1kg; pack size: 29cm x 10cm

      Despite being positioned as a bike-packing tent, the Starlight 1 is also a great option for slower-paced journeys on two feet – especially in changeable British weather. As a two-pole, two-skin tunnel tent, it offers optimal protection from the elements and above-average capacity. All this extra protection comes at an additional weight but it won’t take up much room in your bag since it packs down really small. The Starlite 1 is quick and easy to pitch and is suitable for use in all seasons and elevations. Groundsheet waterproofing is a secure 7000mm HH. 'I would recommend this reliable tent for high-level trail running and fast-hiking journeys where protection from the weather is imperative,' said our tester.

      Best for fast-packing adventures: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 Bikepack Tent

      Copper Spur HV UL1 Tent
      Big Agnes amazon.co.uk
      £368.23

      Minimum weight: 1.05kg; pack size: 34cm x 15cm

      This tent is a brilliant all-rounder. The design is a twin-skin, single-pole system that is simple to erect and surprisingly sturdy despite its higher, rounded profile. It offers a decent 97cm of head height and a user-friendly living space that packs down well. You can also set up just the flysheet when the weather is hot and dry (so called ‘fly-fast mode’). 'I found the internal storage to be really well thought-out,' said our tester, 'and I also like that its production is more eco-friendly than other tents on the market, due to the use of solution-dyed fabrics (which reduce energy consumption).'

      A slight irritation is the limited re-adjustment options once pitched but re-staking takes seconds and doesn’t impact the overall experience. Groundsheet waterproofing is also on the lower end at 1200mm HH.

      Best for race/event camping: Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Tent

      Quechua 2 Person Blackout Pop Up Tent
      Quechua decathlon.co.uk
      £119.99

      Minimum weight: 4.7kg; pack size: 59cm x 20cm

      If you’re not carrying your tent while you’re running and you just want something for camping at a race or running festival, then this one is for you. It's technically a two-man tent but also serves perfectly as a one-man pop-up tent that can be set up in seconds. Most pop-up models are designed for more than one person, but if you’re not going to be carrying it anywhere, then you may as well enjoy the extra room.

      Quechua is a well-respected budget brand that makes excellent outdoor kit. The 2 Seconds Easy may ultimately be just a festival tent, but it’s surprisingly waterproof, with the groundsheet waterproofing at 5000mm HH, and is robust in the wind. Thanks to its black-out design, you can enjoy 99% darkness and a great night’s sleep before race day. At 4.7kg, it's definitely not a lightweight option, though.

      Best value: Alpkit Polestar

      Alpkit Polestar Trekking Pole Tent
      Alpkit alpkit.com
      £139.99

      Minimum weight: 980g; pack size: 45cm x 14cm

      The Polestar is an affordable twin-skin hiking pole tent. As such, it comes with only one short tent pole (reducing its weight) but is set up using two variable/fixed-length running or hiking poles of 120cm (not included). It can be pitched outer-only as a simple shelter but there is no way to use just the inner. Set up takes some figuring out but is easy once you know how. It has a decent sized porch for such a small tent, and there is a very effective vent for improved ventilation. Groundsheet waterproofing is also good at 5000mm HH. 'This is a lightweight but durable model for a very reasonable price,' reported our tester. 'I found it to be ideal for running adventures where I already had my poles with me.'

      Best for versatility: Sea To Summit Alto TR1 Plus

      Alto TR1 Plus One Person Tent
      Sea to Summit snowandrock.com
      £435.00

      Minimum weight: 228kg; pack size: 11 x 44cm

      The Alto is a multi-purpose, one-man tent which is jam-packed with innovations. Firstly, there are the five set-up configurations: dry set-up, fly-only, inner-only, partial fly and classic mode. These can be pitched depending on the kind of weather you encounter. There are also some quirky features such as dual-use storage bags and even an illuminating light bar.

      The inner of this tent is all fabric (as opposed to mesh) which makes it warmer for use in cooler climates but the venting and headroom, which is over 1m, means that it still feels spacious and well-ventilated. Overall this is a practical tent that can be tailored to suit a wide range of running journeys.

      Best for warm and wet climates: Hilleberg Enan Tent

      Hilleberg Enan Tent
      Hilleberg tauntonleisure.com
      £750.00

      Minimum weight: 1.5kg; pack size: 51cm x 15cm

      The Enan is the lightest tent from a brand renowned for its build quality and durable materials. The level of waterproofing is high throughout (groundsheet is 12000 HH) and the design includes a spacious vestibule for storage of any wet kit that you don’t want inside with you. The tent is quick and easy to pitch (though it is pitched outer first) and is remarkably stable in windy conditions. 'This tent ideal for fast-packing in warm, wet climates,' said our tester. 'It has an extensive venting system, with mesh panels allowing excellent airflow throughout, reducing condensation build-up and keeping you comfortable through the night!'

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