Review of the Eureka Solitaire

While writing this review of the Eureka Solitaire one person tent, I tried to be as impartial and honest as possible. The tent was bought from Academy Sports and Outdoors in Beaumont, Texas and was not supplied by anyone. The first part of the review was setting it up in the yard and the the second part is taking it on a camping trip.

After about 15 years of use, I decided it was time to retire my Wenzel Starlight tent. The replacement had to be light-weight, fit into an medium ALICE pack or large MOLLE pack, easy to strap to the top or bottom of a pack, easy to setup, easy to take down, good for hot weather camping, bug proof,,,,,, just the typical stuff.

Fitting into the medium ALICE and large MOLLE pack are important – due to where I like to carry my tent.  Since the tent is the last thing I setup, it usually goes in the bottom of the pack.  When the tent is strapped to the outside bottom of the pack, there is a slight chance of sticks poking a hole in it when the pack is dropped.  To prevent this, I like to keep the tent inside the pack, and at the very bottom.  Because of where I like to carry my tent, it helps if the tent is no wider then the pack.

The first tent I bought to replace the Wenzel Starlight was the No Limits Sunlight Peak One Man Tent. But one of the tent poles split after the first camping trip, and it was returned to the store. With the store credit from the No Limits Sunlight Peak tent, I bought the Eureka Solitaire.

Before the solitaire was taken out on its first trip, it was setup in the yard – this was to make sure that all of the parts were there and to test how waterproof the tent is. Some thunderstorms were rolling through the area, so why not test how waterproof the tent is before it was taken out on a real camping trip.

The Eureka solitaire sets up like any other 1 person tent – 1 pole in the rear and 1 in the front. The 2 poles are different lengths, because the pole in the front is longer so you have more head room – as compared to the height of the tent in the rear. The 2 tent poles being different lengths allows the tent to have a slope, so rain water runs off towards the rear of the tent.

To enter the tent, just crawl in from the front. The mosquito netting has a zipper on the top of it, but you have to have the rain fly off to access it, and unzipped, it does not provide very much access to the tent. Unless your kinda skinny, do not plan on entering the tent from the top.

There is no vestibule, and the tent is too small to have your pack with you – unless your hiking ultra-light and your pack is only about 2,500 cubic inches or less. So bring a spare rain poncho, and strap to hang your pack from a tree.

This is not a free standing tent, so your going to have to stake it out. If your hiking / camping in a place with a lot of rocks, be sure to take that into consideration.

One of the things that I noticed, was that the floor seemed a little thin.   When the tent was setup in my yard, the stickers in the grass felt like they were going to poke a hole in the bottom of the tent – but they didn’t.  Before the solitaire was taken out on its first real camping trip, 8 foot by 6 foot tarp was purchased for a ground cloth. Folded in half – the tarp fit under the tent perfectly.

On June 18th, 2010 my son, my nephew and I went camping on the Angelina River – which is close to Jasper, Texas. The Army Corp. of Engineers has some primitive camping spots on the river that are only accessible by a boat. So we loaded up the boat and headed out.

Once we arrived at the camping spot, setting up the tent was a cinch. A nice flat spot was picked out, sticks and gum balls were removed, the 6 foot by 8 foot tarp was folded in half, and the eureka solitaire was setup. Total assembly time was around 5,,, maybe a couple of minutes more.

The 6 wide tarp – folded in half – fit under the tent perfectly. There was very little hang over, it was like the 2 pieces went together like peas and carrots.

The sleeping pad that I used was a Magellan, which fit well into the tent.

During the middle of the night, I was able to unzip the mosquito netting in the front of the tent, unzip the front rain fly, and fold it back to allow some air into the tent. The camping spot was in the bend of the river. The Eureka solitaire was setup with the front pointing towards a stretch of the river – that way a breeze can come off the river and right into the tent. When its 80 – 90 degrees at night, any breeze is a good breeze.

One of the benefits of having a tarp – you can string it between a couple of trees and use it as a detached rain fly. And then roll the rain fly back on your tent to allow a cross breeze.

One of the things that I did not like about the tent – the stuff sack does not have anything on the draw cords to keep the sack closed. Its no big deal, because the cords have enough slack to tie a knot. So I guess it depends on how you look at things. Do you “really” need a built in way to keep the stuff sack closed, because you can just tie a knot.

The stuff sack also has plenty of extra room, so your not having to cram the tent into it.. This is really nice so you can include a few extra tent stakes, or some 550 cord for guidewires.

One thing about camping on the river – when the bugs come out, they come out in force. Its like those mosquitoes are playing Ride of the Valkyries from little loud speakers. Regardless of how much mosquito repellent you have on, they will land just long enough for you to feel it. In situations like this, a bug proof tent is an absolute must. If there is the slightest hole in the netting, its going to be found, exploited, and you can expect to spend a miserable night “trying” to sleep.

When the tent was taken down, the tent poles retained a little curve to them. I guess its good that the poles are thin enough so they bend easily, but hopefully their strong enough not to break after a few uses.

Lets Review:

Does not cost a lot of money – for less then $100, it seems to be a good quality product.
Bug proof
Easy to setup
Easy to take down
Rain fly can be rolled back for a cross wind in hot weather.

Not free standing
Tent poles seem a little thin
Floor seems a little thin
Stakes are cheap – might want to place them or carry spares

There are some things that might be considered a con – but that is just the nature of a one man tent. Its a little cramped, there is not a lot of room for your gear,,,, but that is just the nature of the beast.

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