This tent was given to me, free of charge, by Go Outdoors. All opinions are my own.
I love tents so I was quite excited when Go Outdoors asked me to review the Hi Gear Soloista. My main backpacking tents are a Hilleberg Akto and a Terra Nova Laser Competition – tents which cost over £300 – so I did have some pre-conceived ideas about the £30 Soloista. However, for its price I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far.
Out of the bag
The tent as supplied weighed 1686g, as compared with the stated weight of 1.63kg. So about the same weight as my Akto and not too much to carry when backpacking. The tent comes in a simple carry bag which is big enough to allow a bit of leeway when repacking.
This is an inexpensive tent and the low price is achieved by using lower quality components than a tent costing ten times the price. The poles look particularly cheap. They have elastic running through them but they don’t snap together sharply like more expensive poles. They are not made of one continuous material but have a dark resin/plastic middle section with some sort of alloy end-piece/joint. I have similar poles in my Lidl beach shelter and have never had any problems but would question their resilience in foul weather.
There are 20 pegs, which is the most I have ever had for one tent. The pegs (without peg bag) weigh 364g; this is as heavy as it sounds but there’s probably little weight-saving to be made by replacing them unless you happen to have 20 Ti pegs spare.
A few years ago, Argos were selling a cracking little one-man tent called the Pro Action Tigerpaw for £30. The tent gained a cult following amongst bargain-seeking backpackers and I still use (one of) mine for campsite camping. The Soloista is very similar to the Tigerpaw. It has two hoops, one long and one shorter, from which the inner tent is hung. However, the Soloista has one significant improvement; the longer pole is part threaded through a sleeve, rather than just being connected to the inner via plastic clips, and this means that the inner stays tauter and the clips don’t end up being overstretched and distorted. However, it does mean that you wouldn’t be able to unclip the inner from inside if you needed to.
With an internal height of 64cm, I knew that I would not be able to sit up in the tent. The Vaude Bivi 1 has a internal height of 50cm and I can just about prop myself up on my elbow. However, the extra 14 cm height and the greater width of the Soloista should give more wriggle room than in the Vaude.
The pitching instructions are sown into the carrying bag, so can’t easily be lost. They didn’t make perfect sense when read on their own but were clear enough when I actually pitched the tent.
It took about 20 minutes to pitch the tent for the first time, although I was taking my time and stopping to take photos. I reckon I’ll easily be able to pitch it in 10 minutes next time.
The tent is very squat, reminding me of a huge grey toad. This should help with stability in strong winds, and the distribution of pegging points around the flysheet should also keep the tent well anchored when the wind gets up.
Some of the stitching is untidy but the tent is pretty well made. The inner tent is nearly all mesh and there is one large pocket. There is plenty of room for dry gear at the head end and to the sides, but I cannot sit up. The inner and outer doors both have toggles and loops to tie them back, although these are all a little loose. There is not enough space to stow a large rucksack between the inner tent and the flysheet, although there is space for boots and possibly other wet gear.
One strange thing is the amount of space between the inner and outer tents on the non-door side. This space cannot be accessed from the inside, although the flysheet could be unpegged and gear pushed into the space from the outside. On the plus side, this large separation between the inner and outer should help with ventilation and rainproofing.
As expected for a tent of this price, the guylines are awful. They have the cheapest type of slider which easily snag on the low quality guyline which will almost certainly swell up when wet. Also, the guys are black and not easy to see in daylight. They may have reflective flecks in them; I’ll check when it’s dark.
This is a good tent for its price and would be suitable for overnight camps but not for longer trips where spending long periods in the tent would be necessary. Compared with the Vaude Bivi 1, I would imagine that this tent would be more comfortable for either a long, winter overnight camp or for an overnighter in the rain – although the Vaude Bivi 1 is lighter and much quicker to pitch. The extra height at the foot end means that I can get dressed/undressed and move around, eg to reach for kit stored at the foot end. The cheaper components may cause me some concern in really wild weather, but the squat design should reduce the risk of catastrophic failure in high winds.
Overall I think it’s a nice little tent which is good enough as it is but could be easily improved with better guylines and lighter pegs – although the total weight of 1686 g means that even the heavy pegs aren’t too much of a weight penalty.
I’ll post again when I’ve used the tent.
The Hi Gear Soloista is available from Go Outdoors for £29.99 with Discount Card (£50 full price).
A few snaps