Tents for Claustrophobic Backpackers

Cyrus asked me to suggest tents for claustrophobic backpackers.  Cyrus will be attending my upcoming Intro to Backpacking event at Harriman State Park.  It’s an even that I’m hosting with Hudson Valley Hikers, the largest outdoor Meetup group in the world.  Cyrus asks:

What are the lightest tents and with the highest height? I need high heights as i get a little claustrophobic.


Tents for Claustrophobic Backpackers

I’ve made a list of two person tents and ranked them according to height:weight ratio.  I selected only two person tents for your case because I assumed this would be favorable for a claustrophobic person. Usually I recommend solo backpackers to use a single person tent.

I included some other information that will be helpful:

Single Wall vs Double Wall

Tents come in two main varieties: double wall and single wall.  Single wall tents are usually lighter, but double wall tents deal with humidity and condensation better.  If you’ll be doing most of your backpacking in humid or rainy environments like the Northeast, I recommend a double wall tent.

How Many Seasons?

I’ve also ranked each tent by how many seasons of use you might get out of it.  I went with my own rankings, not the manufacturers recommendations.  Keep in mind that it is ok to use a 3 season tent in mild winter conditions.  My list does not include any tents suitable for major winter expeditions.  Finally, I included the cost of each tent.

Free Standing vs Trekking Pole

Many modern backpacking tents make use of trekking poles for support. This is an example of the “dual use” principle of ultralight backpacking.  While it helps to save weight, it does have a few disadvantages.  Trekking pole tents are difficult to set up when you can’t put stakes in the ground. This could be a problem where it is rocky or if you’re setting up on a platform.  Trekking pole tents are also highest where they are supported by the poles, but slope off in every other direction. This reduces the overall volume inside the tent.  If you are looking for a tent that can be setup anywhere or are concerned with headroom, you may consider a free-standing tent.

The Tents:

Evaluated Tents

CampingJay’s Recommended Tents for Claustrophobic Backpackers

Tarptent Statospire

My personal recommendation is the Tarptent Stratospire 1.  This tent really hits a sweet spot when it comes to height, weight, cost and performance.  While the Stratospire is not a true two person tent, it has an adjustable width floor that provides ample living space.  The Stratospire can be set up as just a Tarp, saving weight and adding space.  It also comes with a choice of two inner sections for summer or winter.  The Stratospire 1 is a Trekking Pole tent.  If you don’t use poles or expect to have problems setting it up, it may not be right for you.

Stratospire 1 from Tarptent

Six Moons Haven

The Six Moons Haven is my runner-up.  It is a true 2 person tent and has a lot more interior space than the Stratospire 1.  If you want a lot of interior space, the Haven might be right for you. A minor disadvantage to the haven is that you must order it as two parts: the tarp and the innernet.  Like the Stratospire, the Haven Tarp can be set up without the net for extra space and a lower weight.

Six Moons Haven

Zpacks Duplex + Duplex Flex

The Zpacks Duplex is my highest rated single wall tent, but it is very expensive.  I don’t like single wall tents, but I have several friends who use them with no problem.  The Zpacks does feature optional arch poles that make it free-standing at a cost of 11 extra ounces and $125.  The Duplex is made of an advanced material called Dyneema Composite Fabric.  This material is partly transparent, which may be a benefit for those suffering from claustrophobia.

Zplex Duplex

Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform & Big Agnes Scout

The Big Agnes Scout and Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform DW Dyneema also rank really well, but they use an A-Frame design that I don’t find to be effective against heavy weather.  Like the Duplex, the Cirriform DW Dyneema is made of nearly transparent Dyneema Composite Fabric.  ***See Update***

Yamma Mountain Gear Cirriform 2P DW Dyneema

Big Agnes Fly Creek

I can’t leave the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 off this list, as it is the most popular tent on the Appalachian Trail.  At 40 inches, it isn’t that tall, but the 2 person version does offer ample living space.  The big benefit of the Fly Creek is that it is mostly free-standing. While you do have to put in a few stakes, it will stand on its own with no trekking poles. This could be a big advantage in some situations.  This may be the best option for a spacious self standing tent that won’t break the bank.

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2

Update: A-Frame Tents

The Cirriform, Scout, and the Tarptent MoTrail all share an A-Frame or “dog house” design.  These tents have a great space:weight ratio, but one end of each is much higher than the other end.  Getting into this style tent can be a little like crawling into a cave. I also find that these tents take up a lot of space and they can be difficult to set up.

Tarptent Protrail
The ProTrail is the little brother of Tarptent’s MoTrail. It is lauded as a 1.5 person tent.