Eureka! Solitaire AL Tent Review (Is it worth the money?)

The Eureka! AL single-person tent is one of the best-known and loved tents in the world. It’s a fresh upgrade with an important makeover from the original Solitaire FG tent so loved by many.

I’ll let you know what I found while reviewing this tent and if I think this tent is worth the price!


Spoiler

In a nutshell, the Eureka! Solitaire AL tent is a welcome upgrade from its older (but capable) sibling, and for the price, this tent is hard to beat. It may not be better than a $400 competitor’s tent, but for the money, this is without a doubt the best bargain for any wilderness solo canoeist, camper or hiker.

But, what are you really getting for your money and how much will you pay? You’ll want to check out what we discovered!

Why Would I Choose the Eureka! Solitaire AL tent over other single-person tents?

The first thing to note is that I buy ALL the products I review with my own money! No one gives me any incentive at all to review their products, so my reviews are real and unbiased!

That said, when I was cruising the internet looking for a solo tent, I was unimpressed with names like Nemo and MSR who offered similar tents to the Eureka! but they were close to $500. Were they really that much better than the Eureka!?

By studying their features, my opinion was that they were not significantly better than the Eureka! They were simply four or five times more expensive while offering only some small feature advantages over the Solitaire! I like to spend as little as possible when buying anything!

The other reason I went with the Eureka! is that I recognized the brand name as being one of the higher-end camping accessory companies on the planet! This was a no-brainer!

Yes, I know it’s not new to the market and it’s been out for several years. However, it’s new to me and it might be new to you too! (noo-too-yoo-too?)


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The Solitaire AL is only 21 inches long and 6 inches in diameter

Feature List

  • Sleeping Capacity – 1
  • Floor Size – 8′ x 2’8″
  • Interior Maximum Height – 2’4″
  • Weight Without Poles – 2 lbs 10 oz
  • Weight With Poles – 3 lbs 2oz
  • Packed Size – 21″ x 6″
  • Floor Area – 21.5 square feet
  • Storage Pockets – 2
  • Poles – 7000 Series Aluminum
  • Body and Rainfly Fabric – 68D 185T Polyester Taffeta 1500 mm


Is This the Best Backpacking Tent?

While it’s impossible to choose the “best” tent for all canoeists, campers and hikers, in this reviewer’s opinion, it’s the best “value” overall. I found that other tents costing 5 times as much did not offer 5x the value.

While some 1-person tents weighed in quite a bit lighter than the AL, it’s my opinion that even with that weight difference, it wouldn’t make as big an impact on your pack as you might think. Also, lighter tents often compromise on some quality such as durability and weather protection.

It’s worth noting that the Solitaire AL is an upgrade from the older Solitaire FG. Both tents were similar aside from a few notable differences.

The FG was black and orange, and it featured fiberglass poles that were known to break. The tent material of the FG was a bit thinner and potentially less durable.

Also, while this is not a huge thing, it is another little attention to detail we appreciate; the zippers and guy-line attachment loops (in other words, the parts that would need your attention for proper function) are colored a very visible blue to attract your attention. The FG model had nothing like this.

It featured a black zipper on black mesh which makes it hard to know it’s there – especially if you don’t use it often.

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Pros

  • Great Price
  • Small Size
  • Fairly Light
  • Looks Cool
  • Capable Rain Protection
  • Upgraded (aluminum) Poles are Stronger
  • 3-Season Rated
  • Blue zipper and guy-line attachments
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Cons

  • Poor Floor Material (not totally waterproof)
  • Can’t Sit Up (no headroom)
  • No Vestibule

Hands-On Review

Interior Space

I was thrilled to find very ample space inside a tent made for only one person. I had nearly 2 feet of extra space at my feet beyond the end of my mattress and sleeping bag. There was also several more inches than I expected on either side of my mattress to ensure no touching of the tent sides.

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Excellent Interior space makes this tent a winner!

Versatility

The tent can be used without the rain fly. This is nice if you want to enjoy a bug-free zone on a nice day but don’t want to get sweated out of a potentially hot and stuffy space (especially during a wet season in the middle of August in the sun).

The mesh that surrounds you without the fly features a zipper in the top to offer a second option of entering the tent.

Guy wires are included to add support to the already well-supported structure. In my test, I did not apply the guy lines, but they are included in the package and the attachment points are easy to spot (attachment points and zippers are colored blue, and contrast easily against the light green and black tent body).

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Included guy-lines make this tent even more secure in high winds or bad weather

The tent itself can be used as a bug shelter for a comfortable afternoon nap in the sun with lots of ventilation. The screened part of the tent has a zipper on top for entry/exit if it’s easier for you than crawling through the main opening at the end, but since it’s not accessible with the fly on, I suspect it’s not an entry portal that is used often (at least it won’t be for me since I will almost always have the fly activated)

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The bug screen has a zipper on the top to allow for easy entry/exit, though it’s not really useful if you have the rain fly covering the body of the tent.

Water Repellent

I left the tent on my lawn for a 90-minute fairly heavy rainfall. The exterior fly beaded water like it was coated in oil (to be expected with a new quality product), and I also did an interior touch test.

I rubbed my hand against the inside of the wet rainfly to see if water would come through (like it always did on my old tents from the 1980’s) and it did not leak!

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The rainfly beaded water just like oil would and didn’t leak even when I touched the water and fly from both inside and outside.

Key Takeaways

This tent is, in my opinion, the best single investment I’ve made this season. I could have found cheaper tents, but none with so rich a list of features and sewn and assembled in such a high-quality fashion.

It’s light (though not as light as some insanely expensive competitors), good-looking, multi-functional, water-repellent, and very affordable. It has a high-end brand name to stand behind its product (not to mention that we all like to have a well-known high-end brand for all our possessions if were only possible).

The upgraded Solitaire AL with its aluminum poles (that’s what the “AL” means if you haven’t already figured that out!) is a welcome upgrade from the older Solitaire FG version and will outlast the FG (and many competitors) because of it.

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One Cautionary Note

The floor of the Solitaire AL is the same nylon material as the rest of the tent. That means that it is technically waterproof from rain or dew, but a nylon floor will NEVER be as waterproof as plastic like older tents’ floors used to be.

Because of this, it is advisable to have a groundsheet to protect from ground moisture soaking into the bottom of your sleeping pad. However, even a groundsheet will not protect you from the heavy streams of water that will run down the edges of the tent during a storm and end up ON TOP of the groundsheet (and end up soaking into your mattress or sleeping bag).

With this one caution in mind, I think it would be prudent to consider a groundsheet made for this tent. Here’s a EUREKA! one person fitted groundsheet made for this tent:

For about $135 USD, you can get a very high-quality, excellent brand solo tent with a custom-fitted groundsheet for extra protection. We don’t believe you can find all those qualities (brand, quality, customized features) in any other brand at a better overall value than the Eureka Solitaire AL 1-person tent!


Video Review of the Eureka! Solitaire AL 1-Person Tent

Best bang for your buck? You decide!

Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Pete Stack

After 40 years of experience canoeing, camping, fishing, hiking and climbing in the Ontario wilderness, Pete is eager to combine his love for the outdoors with his passion to write. It is our hope that his knowledge can be passed on through this site and on Rugged Outdoors Guide on YouTube.

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