Last Updated on 27/08/2023
Alpkit Soloist Tent Review
In this tent review, I tested the Alpkit Soloist over 12 days while walking Alfred Wainright’s Coast to Coast Walk in the UK during July of this year. I think it is my new favorite tent for solo camping trips and backpacking. If you want a super compact freestanding tent for 1 person then this is one of the tents you should be considering, especially if you have a limited budget. Here’s why.
Why I Chose the Alpkit Soloist
When looking for a new solo tent I wanted something with lots of headroom that would withstand heavy rain, wind, and also work in the heat of summer. When I saw somebody else using the Alpkit Soloist I liked the shape of the structure and my interest was peaked. I would describe the shape as like a blade because it is tall enough to sit up inside, has steep walls to shed rain, and cuts through the wind when pitched into it. When I returned home I did a bit of research into semi-geodesic tents for 1 person.
As I looked through all of the top-of-the-range options as well as the cheaper brands I found that if you wanted to get a tent weighing closer to 1 kg than 2 kg you needed to spend a lot of money. The Soloist is more than 3 times cheaper than other options in its class and in my opinion, is just as good if not better.
Also, many other lightweight tents are single-walled which means you have to endure condensation issues and less weather protection. The Soloist is double-walled as opposed to single-walled and has an optional footprint available which makes it very weatherproof. It has a very strong reputation online with other reviewers and I decided it was time I treated myself no some new camping gear. Here is what I found when using it for the first time.
Having just tested the Alpkit Polestar, I was very happy to find that both the inner tent and outer shell remain very taught once the poles are in. After pegging out the guy lines I was even more impressed and any doubts about its strength in wind disappeared. While it is designed to be set up inner first, I had no problems pitching the outer first and then clipping in the inner afterward. The single-pole creates tension as soon as it is inserted into the four corner slots of the groundsheet, attaching the inner and outer very quickly and easily.
Having laid down inside for the first time I found that I had plenty of space to stretch out and even keep my backpack inside as well as having space in the porch to keep my boots. This tent ticked all the boxes of what I was looking for and I couldn’t be happier with my latest purchase. Let’s have a look at the specs and features that led me to this tent in the first place.
- Total Weight (excluding footprint): 1200 g
- Footprint (optional): 128 g
- Pitched Size: 270 cm x 100 cm x 100 cm (length x width x height)
- Internal Space: 200 cm x 95 cm x 95 cm (length x width x height)
- Packed Size: 42 cm x 12 cm
- Flysheet: 20 d Silicone coated Ripstop Polyester with PU backer, 3,000 mm HH
- Mesh: D33 Mesh
- Inner: 20 d Nylon Breathable Ripstop
- Groundsheet: 20d Ripstop Polyester PU 5,000 mm HH
- Pole: 7001-T6 alloy
- Pegs: 11 x Alloy Y beam pegs
- Zips: YKK size 5 zips
- Footprint (optional): 20d R/s Polyester PU 5,000 mm HH
- Lightweight and compact pack-size
- Tall enough to sit up in
- Free-standing semi-geodesic structure
- Quick and easy to pitch for one person
- Useable porch space for muddy boots, internal stash pockets, and a hanging loop
- Multiple pitching options with just the inner or flysheet and footprint combined
- Also available in a longer length option
- 3 Year Alpine Bond
The Alpkit Soloist performs excellently in all weather conditions and I would give it a solid 9.5 out of 10 for 3 season use. During my 12 day test I camped in a bit of a heatwave however there were 3 days where it rained and multiple nights of strong wind in exposed alpine conditions. Let’s look at how it performed in sun, rain, and wind.
In full sun, the Alpkit Soloist tent does get hot, just like any tent, but it doesn’t feel like an oven and can be adapted for better airflow. There is a single vent at the front of the tent which can be opened with a rigid velcro strap that helps to prevent condensation overnight. One night I forgot to leave this open and the tent did get some condensation but when it is open you only get a few droplets on a morning.
On the warmest night, I didn’t even pitch the outer shell and slept under the stars which were amazing without any light pollution to dull the night sky. Overall, I would say this tent is ideal for warm weather, and because it can be pitched without the shell you can really adapt to the climate you are in easily.
In the rain, the steep walls shed water more effectively than most other tents and you will never suffer from water pooling on top. The bathtub floor of the inner tent provides plenty of waterproofing when camping on wet ground but I also used the groundsheet which adds double the protection. I don’t think the groundsheet is totally necessary to stay dry, but I wanted some extra protection against thistles to avoid punctures because I use an inflatable airbed.
The only issue I had was that getting in and out of the tent in rain leaves little protection for your boots and gear in the porch area and because the entrance is fairly tight, I found that my back got wet as it touched the door on the way in/out. I solved this by always giving it a good shake before entering or exiting in the rain.
Many other users were concerned about the Soloist’s structural integrity in the wind, which I was a little worried about before pitching it for the first time. As soon as I fastened out the guylines and pegged it down I realized that this concern was unwarranted. Even if you pitch sideways in the wind, the strength and shape can withstand high winds without a problem. I would always try and pitch it straight into the wind for the most aerodynamic position and also to provide a wind block for cooking on the porch. Sometimes though, this wasn’t possible and I had to peg the outer tent as low to the ground as possible to stop the wind from getting underneath and causing too much flapping.
The tent did make a bit of noise when camped on exposed locations but no more than any other tent and certainly not as much as the Polestar. If I knew I was going camping in windy conditions I would pick this tent over most of my other tents because it is so solid and I know it can handle it. I have zero complaints about how the Alpkit Soloist performs in wind and was pleasantly surprised by its durability.
The Alpkit Soloist is available in both a regular (which I have) and an XL model which adds an extra 20 cm in internal length. At 5 ft 10 inches I found that my head and feet were very close to the limits and would suggest that anyone taller than 6 feet should opt for the larger version. I never felt uncomfortable inside the tent and there is plenty of headspace to sit up fully inside so I don’t regret my decision to get the regular size but I do wonder if the larger model would feel more comfortable to stretch out in.
The most uncomfortable thing about the tent is the small front entrance which involves climbing headfirst on your hands and knees and then turning around once inside. This isn’t much of an issue if you are flexible but becomes more tricky in the rain and you are trying not to touch the outer material. Getting in feet first is also an option but means you would need to kind of crab walk in which isn’t too fun after walking 25 miles. Still, this isn’t something that bothered me at all.
In this Alpkit Soloist tent review, I found it to be very comfortable to sleep in and prepare your gear however I opted to leave my backpack in the porch vestibule as it got a little cramped inside otherwise. When compared to other 1 man tents, I find this tent is better than average for headroom and internal living space even though the entrance is on the small side.
As mentioned above, the Soloist performs well in all weather conditions and has a very solid semi-geodesic construction. The material is thin but strong and at no point have I felt that the tent would be compromised by brushing against it with a hiking pole or camping close to trees. You can pull the guylines as tight as you like and this only improves the strength.
I did manage to bend two of the pegs when pitching on hard ground but that was mainly because I was using my boot to push them in. I did get the storm flap on the entrance stuck in the zip a few times but just pulled it out and saw no signs of wear or tear. The Soloist is a very solid tent and it would take some serious misuse to damage it in my professional opinion.
The first time I pitched the Alpkit Solist tent I did so without any instructions and it was ready to go in under 5 minutes. Over the course of the 12-day test, I got much better at this and in a group of 8, I was the first to have a fully pitched tent every single night. The way I set up is by constructing the tent pole first and then attaching the footprint which creates the overall shape with enough tension to just sit there without any pegs.
I then add the internal tent which just slots into the same 4 slots as the footprint and then hooks onto the pole at the top. Lastly, I add the outer shell which again just fits into the 4 attachment loops. This creates a freestanding structure that can then be pegged out.
I then stretch out the four corners and peg them down before securing the sides and back of the tent. After this, I make sure the entrance is fully zipped up and peg that out with sufficient tension. The last step is to peg out the two side guy lines and that’s it. All in all, this takes me about 2-3 minutes in ideal conditions.
This method obviously means that you are pitching the inner first which does open the potential for getting wet if it is throwing it down with rain. You can however pitch the outer first and then attach the footprint and inner once you have your waterproof layer up. To do this is a little more tricky but easily doable in extreme circumstances.
You can also pitch the tent as just an outer shell if you want to save weight or just the internal tent if you want to sleep under the stars and stay protected from insects as I did.
One of the main reasons I chose this tent was its lightweight design and compact pack size which is about as good as it gets. At just 1.2 kg without the footprint, I managed to knock over 1 kg off my pack weight by choosing this over my Vango Banshee Pro. The way I pack this tent is inside my backpack with the pole and tent pegs were taken out of the carry bag. This allowed me to stuff the material sections into the base of my backpack and tuck the pegs and poles down the sides and into the corners.
I used the Osprey Exos 48 liter backpack and found that I could fit my tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag in a row at the bottom of my bag. This allowed plenty of space for my cooking equipment, clothes, food, water, and toiletries to sit on top for easier access during the day.
You could strap the packed tent to the outside of your backpack quite easily but I have always preferred to pack my tents on the inside of my backpack. For this purpose, the Alpkit Soloist I reviewed was perfect and incredibly easy to compress into small spaces. Apart from the Alpkit Polestar, this is the most compact and lightweight tent I own and for solo campers, it is almost unbeatable for the price.
For this Alpkit Soloist review, I tested the tent thoroughly in varying weather conditions and exposed locations without any issues whatsoever. I was very impressed with just how solid the tent is in windy conditions as well as rain and sun. The size is perfect for 1 person whether you are weekend camping or on a long-distance thru-hike like me.
The pack size is ideal for smaller backpacks and because it is so lightweight you won’t feel like you are carrying much weight on long hikes over mountain summits. For the size, weight, and price, I feel like this is at the top of its class for performance and reliability and I challenge anyone to show me something better.
Thanks for reading my Alpkit Soloist Tent Review, search our site for more Alpkit product reviews including the Polestar tent and Dumo sleeping pad.