Good day. Are you a lone traveler? Less popular than Bigfoot? Do you cry yourself to sleep every night? No friends, love interests or even cats? Well listen up. It’s Jack, the crazy bard from BicycleTouringApocalypse.com and I’m here to tell you that cats are overrated anyway! Hushhh…stop your crying and pay attention. In the past the best form of lightweight shelter for the solo explorer has been the tarp, and there can be no question that this beautifully simple shelter remains a fantastic option for bikepacking. However, with an armada of extremely lightweight one-man tents available it begs the question, why settle for less? Thus, with nothing left to lose…no friends…no lover…no cats…I decided to take the plunge and commit to one such lightweight tent. As you’d expect from a freelance travel journalist, I’m rolling in the dosh! I burn fifties for fun, buy Ferrari’s to crush with my tank and travel with no less than two supermodels on each arm. Therefore, my budget was an almighty…£150. Ok, so I’m pretty broke. I’d like to say I live hand to mouth, but in recent months even that seems like a luxury. In all honesty I already have a two man Hilleberg (I know, Billy no mates, who was I kidding) and thus couldn’t justify another premium tent. So you can only imagine my shock when I got a tent that rivaled Hilleberg build quality for under my budget. Snugpak-Ionosphere.docx-.jpgSnugpak was established in the 1970’s as a small UK based company. However, over the years their high quality equipment has gained recognition as some of the best outdoor gear on the market. Consequently, Snugpak are now used globally by the US, European and Australian militaries. The company produces clothing, sleeping bags, rucksacks, camping accessories and other outdoor essentials. The brand has a range of tents from 1-4 persons and includes a solo shelter, the Stratosphere and a one-man tent, the Ionosphere. The Stratosphere (1.13kg inc pegs) is basically a waterproof coffin. I actually think it’s pretty cool, but it really is just somewhere to sleep, don’t expect any guests! Whilst the Ionosphere is only slightly heavier at 1.5kg, yet is a proper tent with plenty of room for gear and even a second person…providing you’re happy to spoon! The Stratosphere is an excellent option for a short weekend trip or where basic shelter is the only necessity. However, my traveling arrangements require a little more space than Dracula so I opted for the slightly heavier, but more versatile, Ionosphere. The Ionosphere can be ordered from the Snugpak website (www.snugpak.com) for £149.95 and quite frankly that’s an absolute bargain. There are lighter one-man tents out there, but for the price the Ionosphere is hard to beat. The Ionosphere was delivered to my parents’ house meaning I only had one chance to test it out…the night before I left for my tour…in the front room. I have to say my folks genuinely looked concerned for my mental health as I casually pitched the tent in the lounge! The tent arrived in a very compact box and I couldn’t help thinking it was going to be tiny. The pictures below give you some idea of the tent’s packed dimensions. However, once pitched the tent took up the whole front room. I was seriously impressed; my parents were not. The Ionosphere really is spacious, I’m six foot two and there’s more than enough room for me. Moreover, the tent has loads of space for all my gear or a second person at a squeeze. Snugpak-Ionosphere.docx-.jpgOnce the waterproof outer layer is secured there’s enough space between the inner mesh and the outer section to store shoes/helmet if needed. There are also two small pockets built into the inner mesh, which are very handy for essentials. Snugpak-Ionosphere.docx-.jpgThe tent is incredibly easy to pitch and uses just two poles. Snugpak-Ionosphere.docx-.jpgThe outer waterproof layer is simply placed evenly over the inner mesh and secured using lightweight aluminum pegs. Once erect the tent provides a seriously stable and weather resistant shelter with excellent ventilation. On my trip the Ionosphere took torrential rain and gale force winds in its stride. I can imagine the lower profile may frustrate individuals who are used to more headroom. However, the smaller dimensions make the tent more streamlined in strong winds and more discreet when wild camping (the Ionosphere only comes in Olive, a colour that clearly reflects the brand’s military links. As a result the tent offers excellent woodland camouflage). Snugpak-Ionosphere.docx-.jpg Snugpak-Ionosphere.docx-.jpgThe two-layer design does have its drawbacks, especially in wet weather. If it’s raining it’s very difficult to pitch the inner mesh quick enough to prevent the entire tent becoming waterlogged. Thus, I would have personally preferred the inner layer to be built into the waterproof outer layer. I endured a great deal of wet weather in Europe and at times I longed for the Hilleberg’s all in one design. That said, with practice I did develop a technique, which involved laying the waterproof layer over the inner mesh as I inserted the poles to prevent waterlogging, but it wasn’t foolproof. Nevertheless, once pitched the tent is truly superb in the rain. I had several days of torrential downpours that lasted all night and I remained perfectly dry with the exceptional light dusting of moisture when the rain was hitting the tent like bullets. The Ionosphere has one entrance and I’d recommend getting in feet first to avoid a hilarious three point turn on all fours! The zips are very well made but I would advise caution when using the outer layer zip as it has a tendency to catch on the loose material that covers it. The Snugpak Ionosphere is a great value, lightweight, high quality, easy to pitch one-man tent that provides excellent shelter even in torrential rain and strong winds. The traditional tarp remains an incredibly useful shelter for bikepacking and is perfectly adequate for long weekend rides in moderate weather. However, on longer trips and in more demanding weather conditions there can be no question that one-man tents like the Ionosphere provide more dependable shelter from the elements. So there you have it, a quick round up of the Snugpak Ionosphere, perhaps the best tent for loners like you and me. Oh and if by some miracle you find someone who’s willing to embark on your crazy bikepacking adventures with you, Snugpak do a lightweight two-man option! Snugpak-Ionosphere.docx-.jpg

Please see all the exact specifications and features from Snugpak themselves below. Thanks for reading and keep riding!

Details:

The IONOSPHERE™ by Snugpak® is an extremely small and compact 1 person shelter. The IONOSPHERE™ has a very low profile and is great for those looking for a 1 person shelter to keep out of the elements. Just like THE BUNKER™, the SCORPION 3™ and SCORPION 2™, the IONOSPHERE™ also has a 5000mm PU Coated Fly. The IONOSPHERE™ has a single entry point, No-See-Um-Mesh and all seams are seam taped. A very impressive small compact shelter by anyones standard.

Features:

• Flysheet is a lightweight 210t Polyester RipStop with a 5000mm waterproof polyurethane coating • Inner shelter constructed of 190t Nylon with Polyester Mesh • 50D Polyester No-See-Um-Mesh Mosquito Net. • 190t Nylon PU 5000mm groundsheet • Flame Retardant • DAC® Featherlite NSL® anodized poles with pressfit connectors • All DAC® Poles are made from TH72M aluminum • 1 Door • All seams are taped sealed • Alloy Stakes (14 + 2 Spare Stakes) • Available in Olive Outer with Black Inner only

Specification:

Colours Available Olive
Weight Trail Weight – 1.2kgs (Fly, Poles & Inner Tent) Pack Weight – 1.52kgs (Fly, Poles, Inner shelter, Stakes, Guy Ropes & Stuff Sack)
Pack Weight 48cm(L) x 14cm(W)
Dimensions 265cm(L) x 100cm(W) Front Pole Height – 70cm Back Pole Height – 40cm
Origin Imported
Seasons Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Barcode Ionosphere – 8211659381606
 

Technologies:

Outer Fabric 210t Polyester RipStop with a 5000mm waterproof polyurethane coating
  Inner Fabric 190t Nylon with Polyester Mesh
     

3 Comments

  1. awesome article! more like this please…..i want that tent

  2. i bought this tent ,, first night rained got wet.. second reason why i never used it again it had no area to cook imagine benign stuck in your tent in cold raining day .. third reason why not to buy .. is no way to set up the tent in the rain with out getting it wet you got setup inner first … try using the tent in the hot country in raining season it can breath at all …

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