Camping solo is a superb way to enjoy the solitude of the mountains. The downside to solo backpacking, however, is that you have to bring all of the same gear that you would if you were camping with friends, but you don’t have anyone to help you carry it.
As a result, many solo campers try to trim down their packing lists in any way possible. That often leads them to question a lot of their gear choices, such as whether they really need a 2 person tent or if a 1 person model will suffice.
So, is a 1 person tent worth it?
A 1 person tent is worth it if you’re going solo backpacking and you want to keep your pack weight as light as you possibly can. But there are drawbacks to opting for a 1 person shelter. This includes the fact that these tents don’t have a lot of extra space for your gear and that they lack versatility if you want to backpack with friends in the future.
Choosing the right shelter for your backpacking trips is challenging, and finding the right tent for your needs can seem like a daunting task. Up next, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we hear from folks who are in the market for a solo tent so you can decide what’s best for your next adventure.
Should I Get a 1 Person or 2 Person Backpacking Tent?
Solo backpackers often face a dilemma when packing for their adventures: should they use a 1 person tent or a 2 person tent in the mountains?
While the answer to this question may seem simple (if you’re just 1 person, it makes sense to use a 1 person tent… right?) there’s actually more to this debate that you might think.
That’s because 1 person tents, while small and lightweight, simply aren’t as comfortable or versatile as their 2 person counterparts. In particular, most 1 person tents are very small on the inside, so they don’t offer much room for storing your gear or for simply lounging around. But if you opt for a 2 person tent on a solo trip, you’ll be carrying around more weight and bulk than you need.
So what’s a backpacker to do? Should you get a 1 or a 2 person tent for your camping trips?
There’s no one answer to this question as both options can work just fine depending on your camping style. To decide which kind of tent is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to keep my pack weight at an absolute minimum?
- Am I okay with not having a lot of room on the inside of my tent for gear storage?
- Do I generally go camping solo?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, you’d probably do just fine with a 1 person tent.
However, if you answered no to at least one of these questions, a 2 person tent is likely the better choice. Answering no to any of these questions means that a 1 person tent probably won’t be spacious enough or versatile enough for your needs. So you’d almost certainly be happier in the long run with a 2 person shelter.
Can 2 People Sleep In a 1 Person Tent?
You can have 2 people sleep in some 1 person tents, but doing so isn’t recommended unless it’s an absolute emergency.
As their name suggests, 1 person tents are designed for just 1 person, so trying to fit a second human inside isn’t exactly comfortable. In most cases, you probably wouldn’t be able to fit 2 adult-sized sleeping bags and sleeping pads into a 1 person tent anyway, so you’d both likely spend the night sitting upright, which isn’t exactly comfortable.
That said, a 1 person tent can sometimes work as a 2 person tent for 2 kids. Whether or not this will work highly depends on the tent in question as some 1 person models are larger than others.
How Heavy Should My Tent Be For Backpacking?
Every backpacking tent is different and there’s no “ideal weight” for a backcountry shelter. The right tent weight for your needs will really depend on your backpacking style and what kind of tent you’re buying.
For the most part, a quality tent that’s designed for 3 season use will likely weigh between 2 and 3 lbs per person. That means that a good 2 person tent normally tips the scales at around 4 to 6 lbs while a 3 person model might weigh 6 to 9 lbs.
Keep in mind that if you’re going winter camping or mountaineering, your tent will likely weigh quite a bit more than 2 to 3 lbs per person. Car camping shelters and other base camping-style tents are often fairly heavy, too.
Alternatively, if you’re an ultralight backpacker, you might want a solo tent that weighs less than 2 lbs. These ultralight tents (like Gossamer Gear’s ‘The One”) normally use your trekking pole for their structural support, which is one of the ways that they cut weight from your pack.
All of this is to say that there are many, many different types of tents out there and they all have slightly different weights. None of them are inherently better than the other as far as weight is concerned as it’s up to you to decide if you’d rather prioritize weight savings, durability, affordability, functionality, or something else entirely in your gear.
The absolute lightest tent we could find was the Zpacks Plex Solo at just 13.9 oz.
Are 1 Person Tents Worth It?
A 1 person tent can certainly be worth it, but only if you’re someone who enjoys both solo camping and lightweight backpacking. The main benefit of using a 1 person tent is that it cuts weight and bulk from your pack, however this comes at the expense of comfort and versatility.
For most people who are only going to buy 1 tent, a 2 person model is normally the better investment. Of course, if you have room in your gear closet for multiple tents, there’s nothing wrong with having a 1 person shelter, too. But if you need just 1 shelter that you can bring on most of your adventures, it’s usually best to get a model that can fit both you, a friend, and all of your gear for maximum convenience.
Up Next In Backpacking:
(featured image: gossamergear.com)
David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.