Eureka Spitfire - The Best Ultralight Tent For Beginners
The first thing you'll notice when shopping for a lightweight 1 person tent is that you're constantly trading off cost and weight. The lighter the tent, the higher the price and the lower the price, the heavier the tent.
The Eureka Spitfire is the best balance between price and weight and is our top pick for entry level lightweight 1 person tents. The full review is down below but if you're just looking for the highlights take a look at our summary right below here.
Eureka Spitfire 1 Person Tent Summary
The Eureka Spitfire 1 is a fantastic lightweight backpacking tent and is our top choice in the under $150 category.
The inside of the tent is very spacious and allows for a full grown man to sit up straight without feeling cramped.
The mesh walls provide excellent ventilation and the rainfly does a good job of keeping you dry.
The only drawback to this tent is the small vestibule area and the weak stakes.
Long and Spacious
Most 1 person tents are pretty cozy (aka small) but the Eureka Spitfire is in a class of it's own.
When it's set up, the footprint of the tent is 9' long which is huge for a 1 person tent.
Not all of this space is usable. The ends of the tent taper down and the walls slope quite a bit so that space is only big enough to fit your head at one end and feet at the other.
I'm 6'1" and fit easily inside of the Eureka Spitfire. Here's an idea of how much space I use inside the tent:
The Spitfire can easily fit anyone up to 6' 6" tall. You'll be able to sit up as well since the peak height is 42" tall. The tent isn't exactly roomy inside, but it's definitely spacious enough for sleeping and hanging out.
The Eureka Spitfire 1 is one of the roomiest 1 person tents I've used and if you hate feeling cramped like you'd feel in most 1 person tents, the Spitfire is hard to beat.
Eureka Spitfire Weight - 2 lbs 12 oz
The Eureka Spitfire 1 comes in at 2 pounds and 12 ounces which is a little bit on the higher side for 1 person tents but at this price point is pretty reasonable. Once you add up all the stuff sacks, guy lines, stakes, etc, the entire kit weighs about 3 pounds.
When it's packed down, the Spitfire is about the size of two size 11 shoes placed end to end. This is pretty average for a 1 man tent. Ultra lightweight tents will take up less space but they'll cost a lot more. There aren't really any surprises here on the size, you get what you pay for and the Spitfire is pretty middle of the road as far as how much space it takes up in your pack.
Eureka put a lot of though into this tent and they optimized every part to be as lightweight as possible.
The Spitfire's rainfly has a nice vent on the top of it which you can see in the picture above. There's a stiff piece of plastic that uses velcro to keep itself open. The Spitfire does have a tendency to get humid, especially when it's raining, so you'll want to keep this vent open.
I never had any problems with rain coming in through the vent or underneath the rainfly. Even during storms, I stayed 100% dry inside the Spitfire.
Poles - The Spitfire comes with just 2 aluminum poles for setting it up and they both run perpendicular to how your body would be laying in the tent. This means the poles can be shorter and use less material which reduces weight. The aluminum poles are lightweight and collapse down nice and small so the tent doesn't take up too much room in your backpack.
The picture below shows the two sets of poles. The poles on the left go above the head part of the tent which has a much higher roof. The small set of poles on the right are the ones that go on the foot end of the tent. Size 11 shoe for size reference :)
Stakes - The stakes that come with the Spitfire are not great. They're stainless steel and they'll get the job done, but they're REALLY easy to bend. Here's a gif I made showing how easy they are to bend.
I'd recommend upgrading to some titanium stakes from Aliexpress. You can get 10 of them for $5 which is exactly how many you need for the Spitfire and it's rainfly.
Mesh Walls - The inside of the tent is mostly just mesh walls which is standard for lightweight tents. If the weather is nice, sleeping with the rainfly off is a treat and I'd highly recommend it!
There's a vent at the top of the tent that you can unzip to get some additional air flow. It's a good design choice since hot air rises and this vent funnels all the hot air through it. I leave this unzipped when I have the rainfly on; during the day I keep it closed just to avoid getting bugs inside.
How Easy Is the Eureka Spitfire to Set up?
Really easy. Setting up the Spitfire 1 takes about 3-4 minutes from being completely packed to ready to sleep in.
Here's a rough outline of the setup process that shows how simple it is.
- Unroll tent and lay flat on the ground (preferably on top of a footprint).
- Set the tent poles up so the aluminum poles are snapped into the connectors.
- The small pole runs perpendicular at the end of the tent where your feet go.
- The longer pole runs perpendicular at the other end of the tent where your head will go.
- Clip the poles in so they're locked into the tent and stick each end of the pole into the grommet by the ground.
- Stake out the foot end and the head end of the tent. You only need 2 stakes to get the tent set up but we'd recommend using at least 6. 1 on each end and 2 on each side of the tent.
- Snap the rainfly in and stake it down if you're expecting wind or rain during the night.
Here's what it looks like after it's fully set up.
Weather Proofing/Rain Performance
One of the most consistent themes you'll see in any review of the Eureka Spitfire 1 is how well it performs in the rain. Despite having walls that are mostly made of mesh netting, the Spitfire doesn't let rain in even under harsh conditions like 50 mph winds and torrential downpours.
The rainfly does a great job of keeping the rain off the tent and channeling it away from the base of the tent.
The bathtub floor of the tent is pretty tall and will keep you dry in any storm as long as you don't have water pooling up under your tent. Here's a close up picture of the rainproof floor.
Other Features I Love on the Spitfire 1
In addition to these basics, it's nice to have a couple creature comforts. The Spitfire isn't as extravagant as some other tents out there now days that come with LED lights and multiple doors but it does have a couple 'nice to haves' that I've found convenient when I was in the back country.
First up, the ventilation flap on the rainfly. This is a pretty ingenious design that's easy to use and really sturdy. You can even use the ventilation while it's raining because of the unique design that funnels rain down and away while allowing air to move up through the vent.
Another convenient feature of the Spitfire 1 is the inside pouches. This is a pretty standard feature on most tents but the Spitfire does a nice job of offering 2 pouches that are right by your head which makes them really easy to use.
This is a good spot to store your phone, head lamp and water bottle during the night.
The inside of this tent is pretty roomy on the sides. Your feet won't have much extra room but there is a little space by your head and on the sides. Here's a good view showing my 6' 6" sleeping pad in the tent with all the spare room on the sides of the pad.
Downsides of the Eureka Spitfire 1
The first problem is that the vestibule area is very small. If you have a large pack (over 55L) you'll probably have a hard time fitting your pack inside the vestibule area. I have an Osprey Volt 60 and I usually just end up hanging it on a tree if there's one nearby. It does fit in the vestibule but it's not easy.
The second problem is that the included stakes are really weak and bend easily. If you're going camping somewhere with rocky terrain or really anything besides soft soil, you'll at least hit some resistance when putting the stakes in the ground and probably end up bending some of them.
This isn't a huge problem; you can always bend the stakes back to their original form. Just know that the stakes Eureka includes with the tent leave a lot to be desired.
Here's a really short video I recorded demonstrating how weak the included tent stakes are.
If I was just getting into lightweight backpacking and I needed a tent, the Eureka Spitfire is the tent I would buy. It's one of the least expensive lightweight 1 man tents on the market and is an excellent entry point into the world of UL backpacking.
My recommendation is to start with the Spitfire and take it out on 5-10 trips. By then you'll have a feel for what features are important to you and which ones aren't worth paying for.
Don't shell out $300 on your first tent because you won't know what you need and you'll waste your money. Play it safe and get this jack of all trades tent that covers all your bases without breaking the bank.
Eureka Spitfire 1 - Best Ultralight Tent for Beginners
The Spitfire is the best entry level lightweight 1 man tent on the market.
The small issues with the vestibule and stakes pale in comparison to the awesomeness that you get from this tent.
It's big, durable, and inexpensive. Stop researching and pull the trigger on this tent. You won't regret it.