Solo Shelters: Tents for the Compulsive Weight-Watcher

Review, April 1997

Solo Shelters: Tents for the Compulsive Weight-Watcher
By Doug Gantenbein

Despite its dramaturgic lonely-guy feel, there are a few advantages to camping solo. First, you don't have to bathe as often. And you can travel much more lightly; solo tents weigh considerably less than their slumber-party relatives and yet retain many of the bigger guy's comforts. To wit:

The Garuda Jalan Jalan ($365) is proof that a one-person tent doesn't have to feel like a coffin. With 22.5 square feet of floor space, it could shelter a cozy couple in the rain--but just barely. The one-pole tent uses three stakes and features admirably prodigious vents: Unlike most solo single-wall tents, the Garuda has slanted roof panels that roll back to reveal giant swatches of mesh--skylights--making even warm nights comfortable and, yes, romantic. Too bad. Despite its size and adjustable breeziness, the Jalan Jalan is actually a solid three-season tent, mostly by virtue of its aerodynamic shape; point the tapered toe-end into the wind and it can withstand a gale or even a sudden snowstorm. And the whole package weighs just three pounds, six ounces.

The Sierra Designs Divine Lightning is a weather-worthy shelter that's also easy on the back--only two pounds, two ounces, which is less than many sleeping bags, not to mention other tents. It's a one-and-a-half-pole design, with one pole buttressing the roof and a short, nonstructural pole propping open a mesh vent at the foot-end. The Divine Lightning is a bit snug--only 18.5 square feet of space--which makes it somewhat pricey real estate at $350. Yet it's tall enough at the shoulder to let you sit up, the shell is well constructed of lightweight polyester fabric with a brushed lining that helps disperse conden- sation, and setup is elegantly simple--it requires just two stakes and a few moments to get it habitable. All of which is sure to earn admiration from bicycle tourists and camping ascetics.

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