Friendly Confines

The solo tent has become a roomy palace of personal space

Single-occupancy shelters—once cramped, claustrophobic dens for the lonely and misanthropic—are now a brilliant way to go fast and light, get a peaceful night's sleep, and enjoy the benefits of group outings without the downside of forced intimacy. What's behind this happy evolution? Smart design. Tent makers are finally taking full advantage of the latest featherweight hardware and fabrics to reinvent and dramatically expand the interior architecture of solo tents.

THE PRAGMATIST Kelty Crestone, $100
Field Notes: It took just a minute or two to pitch the Crestone on a moonless night high in Utah's La Sal Mountains—and that was without a headlamp. Credit the fumble-free clips that marry the tent body to this shelter's two ultralight aluminum poles. Factor in the blue-light-special price tag and you end up with the most sensible model in this lineup. There are no bells and whistles to futz with or pay for—just solid performance with plenty of interior space at three pounds and change. But: You can't erect it without staking it out. Contact: 800-423-2320, www.kelty.com

REI Roadster & Mountain Hardwear's Waypoint

THE ORGANIZER REI Roadster, $129
Field Notes: The Roadster's open floor plan appeased our inner neatniks better than any other solo shelter tested. Thanks to the foot-high corners, you can easily take stock and organize your gear stash. Meanwhile, big mesh windows invite views and ventilation. The three-pound-three-ounce tent is also tough: With fly attached and guy lines snugged, it can withstand relentless winds and even a light snowstorm. But: People taller than six feet will have to cram into this coupe. Contact: 800-426-4840, www.rei.com

THE SPACE MAKER Mountain Hardwear Waypoint 1, $195
Field Notes: With its voluptuous space-to-weight ratio—20 square feet of comfort weighing just two pounds three ounces—and puny size (it stuffs down to a parka-size bundle), the Waypoint 1 will appeal to sea kayakers, bike campers, and others with limited cargo space. This single-walled palace uses a parachute-thin, rain-shedding nylon to replace the rain fly and save bulk. But: Dirty boots have to go inside—unlike the other tents here, the Waypoint has no vestibule. Contact: 800-330-6800, www.mountainhardwear.com

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