In most situations the solo backpacker has a few options for shelter. Tarp, bivvy, hammock, tent, or some combination of these. While the tarp may be the tried and true ultimate in simplicity, it leaves much to be desired in protection and insulation. The bivvy bag provides more protection, but is often very compact and restrictive. Hammocks provide luxurious comfort and support but sacrifice protection and insulation. A tent provides a fair compromise between all of these options and is the preferred option for many travelers.
Consistent with my value approach to product selection, Snugpak produces some of the most affordable quality gear on the market. For this reason their products are used by the US, European, and Australian militaries. This comes as no surprise, as “mil-sec” products are the definition of high quality, low price. As you would expect, Snugpak stuff is pretty bomb-proof. Anything both issued and willingly chosen by soldiers in the field has got to have some value to it.
Most tents come in two setup styles: freestanding and secured. Freestanding tents employ the use of poles that can stand anywhere without being secured to the ground. Secured tents require cordage, poles, and/or stakes to construct. The Snugpak Ionosphere provides the best of both worlds here. Because it’s a two piece construction, it can be setup freestanding or secured. The inner partition is a freestanding bugnet with a bathtub style floor liner. The outer rainfly can be staked to the ground from various locations.
Because the inner and outer sections are separate; the Ionosphere allows for maximum ventilation and breathability without sacrificing insulation or protection. The bathtub liner and rainfly will shield you from the most extreme elements. Yet the mesh interior allows for ventilation and complete insect protection. These characteristics almost completely eliminate interior condensation.
One of the toughest choices when selecting a tent for your pack is its size. One man tents can be uncomfortable and restrictive. While two person tents add extra pack weight. Fortunately, the Ionosphere is a balance between the two. This tent will fit grown men and their gear inside with room to spare. Because it is large for a one man tent, it can fit two people as long as you’re okay with spooning. Most choose to stow their gear at the head of the tent, where up to two packs, boots, and additional items can be stored.
Broken down, the Ionosphere is small enough to fit in the bottom of a pack without hogging too much room. Keep in mind, it is bulkier than your average “ultralight” tent. It’s a fair trade-off considering its durability and double-wall construction. In fact, it may just be the perfect balance. More specialized travelers may choose to opt for a lighter tent for extended missions however.
As stated above, the Ionosphere will keep you perfectly dry through torrential downpours. Thanks to its effective double-wall construction, condensation is kept to an absolute minimum. Advertised as a 3-season tent, it may not be heavy enough for snow. However, it remains rock steady during high winds. True to its military use the Ionosphere is built with impressive quality and durability. This tent should serve will for years and years to come. For the price, it might just be the best solo tent available.
- Structure: 2 poles, stakes
- Poles: “Featherlight” anodized aluminum poles
- Pack weight: 1.2 kilograms
- Dimensions: 2.4 X 0.9 meters
- Capacity: 1 person comfortably
- Emergency maximum capacity: 2 persons