Solo Shelters: Tents for the Compulsive Weight-Watcher

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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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