I’ll cut right to the chase – the Snugpak Ionosphere One Person Tent is currently my favorite survival tent for emergency situations.
Why do I like it so much?
Not only is the Ionosphere lightweight and very compact, but it’s also easy to set up, surprisingly spacious for its low profile, and extremely durable. All of that and it’s still quite affordable.
Today, I’m going to breakdown my personal experience with the Snugpak Ionosphere – including its ease of set up and take down, how it holds up to weather, its concealability, and so much more – to help you decide if it’s the right one-person survival tent for you.
I’ve taken this military-style bivy tent out into the field enough times to have a great feel for its performance in a wide variety of survival situations – here’s what you need to know.
I’ve always been a big fan of Snugpak and all of their products.
Based in the United Kingdom, Snugpak has maintained a stellar reputation since their birth more than 40 years ago in 1977.
Indeed, the superiority of their workmanship and keen eye for detail have led to several long-standing contracts with a variety of government defense agencies for a wide array of products – most notably, sleeping bags.
Although I haven’t tried out their full line of gear myself, I do have personal experience with their Jungle Blanket, Jungle Bag, Jungle Hammock, Tropical Hammock, Stasha G2 Shelter, and quite a few more.
Of course, I do like some Snugpak products more than others – but the quality of the materials and functional design stand out for all of them.
Quick Thoughts on the Ionosphere Tent
Out of the many Snugpak products I’ve used, the Ionosphere is hands down my favorite.
It’s obvious before even taking this one person tent out of its compression storage sack that it means business.
The compression sack itself is well made and durable. Three straps with buckles allow you to compress the tent down very small, which is a must in survival situations where you’re on the move – not at a permanent homebase.
Taking the tent out of the compression sack, you’ll find the main tent body, a full-coverage rainfly, and a small storage sack containing 2 tent poles and 16 tent stakes.
You’ll also notice a very small (yet extremely helpful) tent repair kit clipped to the inside of the storage sack for safe keeping.
Setting up the tent takes just minutes (breaking it down is even quicker). Once set up, you’ll see that the upper tent body is almost entirely no-see-um mesh which is excellent at keeping bugs out and providing breathability on very hot nights.
Personally, I almost always prefer to throw on the rainfly, even in hot weather. Not only does this provide a slightly greater sense of security (which, I admit, is a false sense of security), but it also helps increase the concealability of the tent.
The rainfly has a full coverage design for excellent waterproofing, even in heavy rain, with a small vestibule area to store your boots.
Last thing I’ll mention here before moving onto my more in-depth review is just how easy the Ionosphere is to enter and exit. Of course, it’s still more difficult to get in and out of than a dome tent, but the large door opening makes it much easier to enter/exit than most bivy tents of a similar size.
Pros and Cons of the Snugpak Ionosphere
In my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to using the Ionosphere tent in a survival setting. But it’s important to look at both before making your decision.
What I Like About the Ionosphere Tent
A few of the things I like most about this survival tent include:
- Compact – The Ionosphere packs down to just 19 x 6 inches and weighs just 3.4 pounds. It’s not the lightest tent in the world, but it’s more than light/compact enough for most survival kits.
- Easy Set Up – Take the time to read the Ionosphere assembly instructions before heading out into the field. Setting up the tent for the first time can be a little confusing, but after my first outing, I was able to pitch it in just a minute or two – even in the complete dark.
- Camouflaged – The tent’s rainfly comes in a subdued olive color or in a desert tan. It’s perfect for blending into wooded regions (olive) or desert regions (tan). If stealth is of utmost importance, you’ll want to spray paint on a camouflage pattern to reduce the risk of the solid color outlining the tent, causing it to stick out.
- Weather Resistant – I’ve yet to use the Snugpak Ionosphere in snow, but it’s held up very well in heavy rain thanks to the full coverage rainfly. The inside stays dry as a bone, even in a downpour, but it’s difficult to keep mud out since you must crawl your way in through the door. The low profile enables the tent to shed wind like a champ.
- Comfortable – Entering the Ionosphere is a bit tricky, but once inside it’s plenty spacious and comfortable for average height/weight men and women. It’s 94 inches long and 35 inches wide at the shoulders with a 30-inch peak height. There’s enough room inside to stash your pack without taking up too much space.
- Breathable – The entire upper tent body is made from no-see-um mesh. Use without the rainfly for awesome breathability in the summertime heat without worrying about creepy crawlies.
- Durable – The craftmanship on this tent is top-notch as are the materials. If you treat this tent right, there’s no denying it will hold up for years of camping, even as a long-term survival shelter.
Out of all of these benefits, the one that stands out most to me is durability. When SHTF, you need a portable shelter you can trust – and you can trust the Snugpak Ionosphere.
What I Dislike About the Ionosphere Tent
A few of the things I don’t like about this survival tent include:
- Lighter Options – Sure, the Ionosphere is lightweight at 3.4 pounds, but there are far lighter options available, especially if you go with a bivy over a tent.
- Slow Break Down – Breaking down the tent is easy but it can’t be done in less than a minute or two (especially if you pack all the pieces away). This makes leaving in haste difficult, unless you leave the shelter behind.
- Must Use Stakes – The Ionosphere is not freestanding. It must be staked down to hold its shape. This somewhat limits its use. Pounding in the stakes is also a noisy endeavor which is risky in situations where stealth is key.
- No Ground Cloth – Although the tent bottom is robust (bathtub style 190t nylon with 5000mmPU coating), the lack of a separate ground cloth is my one complaint in the durability department. It’s surprising just how much a quality ground cloth extends the life of a tent, especially for long-term use. Luckily, making a DIY ground cloth is easy.
- Difficult to Attach – The Ionosphere is compact enough to carry in, say, backpacking-style backpack, but it’s difficult to attach to the outside of a rucksack or assault pack.
To me, none of these negatives are deal breakers, but they’re definitely worth considering during your search for the perfect survival tent.
Snugpak Ionosphere 1 Person Tent Features & Specs
Here are the most important features and specs for the Ionosphere one-person tent:
|Capacity: 1 Person||Packed Weight: 3.4 lbs|
|Packed Size: 19 x 6 Inches||Floor Length: 94 Inches|
|Floor Width: 35 Inches (Widest)||Peak Height: 39 Inches (Tallest)|
|Poles: 2||Doors: 1|
|190t Nylon w/ 5000mm PU Coating Floor||210t Polyester RipStop w/ 5000mm PU Coating Rainfly|
Visit Snugpak.com to learn more about the Ionosphere tent’s features and specifications.
Is the Snugpak Ionosphere Tent Right for You?
Shelter is absolutely crucial to survival.
In fact, I believe every prepper should add a portable shelter to their survival kit, whether that’s in the form of a tent or a bivy sack.
Although a portable survival tent isn’t right for all preppers, it’s certainly my go-to option and the Snugpak Ionosphere is my current go-to survival tent.
It’s a fantastic tent for prepping beginners or survivalism experts.
Obviously, the Ionosphere tent isn’t going to be a permanent shelter, but it’s an excellent option for when SHTF until you can establish a home base.
It’s a bit too large for a true bug-out bag, but the Ionosphere is perfect for a slightly more substantial wilderness survival kit where you can pack more than just the emergency basics.
This Snugpak tent is great for a more controlled environment where stealth isn’t key – but it’s definitely not the best option (although it will do) in a hostile situation.
Simply put, the Snugpak Ionosphere is my current go-to portable shelter in my survival kit. I recommend it to just about all preppers, although it’s a bit too bulky for some.
In my opinion, the added comfort, weather resistance, and durability of the Ionosphere far outweighs any negatives due to its size/weight.
Aside from survival situations, the Ionosphere is also an awesome tent for backpacking or normal solo camping.
Because of its low profile and subdued color, you could probably even get away with using it for stealth camping in a tent.
Alternatives to the Snugpak Ionosphere
The Ionosphere is far from the only portable shelter for survival. Here are a few other options.
A tarp shelter is one of the best simple survival shelters you can make.
They’re an awesomely lightweight option for your bug-out bag to use in emergencies. However, I don’t personally like them as a long-term shelter.
The Snugpak Stasha G2 is an excellent option for those that prefer a super lightweight tarp over a survival tent for shelter.
It weighs just 13 ounces and is 96 x 64 inches which offers excellent coverage. It’s 100% waterproof and very versatile.
Although the Stasha G2 is better than nothing in inclement weather like rain or snow, it performs best in somewhat mild weather. Do note that there is no built-in mosquito net, so you’ll likely want to bring your own form of bug protection.
A pup tent is another similar option.
Although I wouldn’t want to use one outside of an emergency situation, an ultralight emergency bivy is an excellent addition to any bug-out bag.
My favorite is the SOL Emergency Bivy. Specifically designed for use in survival situations, this bivy weighs just 3.8 ounces and packs down smaller than a 12-ounce soda can.
This SOL bivy keeps you warm by reflecting back 90% of your body heat. The exterior material is waterproof, windproof, and tear-resistant.
One possible downside to this particular emergency bivy is its bright orange exterior. This is ideal in an emergency situation where help is on the way and you want to be as visible as possible. But it’s a huge disadvantage in situations where stealth is essential.
You can also use this bivy inside of your normal sleeping bag to greatly increase its warmth and insulation.
A slightly more substantial bivy sack is yet another alternative to the Snugpak Ionosphere.
Personally, I like the REI Shell Bivy. It’s super lightweight (just 1 pound 3 ounces), completely waterproof, and has a built-in bug net.
Unfortunately, the REI Shell Bivy suffers slightly in the breathability department. You’ll likely experience condensation, especially in rain or humidity. This particular bivy performs best in dry weather, although it gets the job done in all conditions.
The Snugpak Ionosphere is the best bivy tent I’ve personally used, although it’s far from your only option.
The REI Superlight Bivy is another one-person bivy tent I’ve tested myself. It’s quite a bit lighter than the Ionosphere at just 1 pound 6 ounces, but it’s also slightly less spacious and has one major flaw, in my opinion.
This REI bivy tent features a single-wall design unlike the Ionosphere which has a separate rainfly. This greatly reduces breathability in warm weather, although the Superlight Bivy does have a small mesh bug panel window for ventilation with a structured visor to keep rain out.
If you’re not overly concerned with weight or minimalism, a backpacking tent makes a great survival shelter.
Since they’re built for backpacking, these tents are constructed as lightweight and compact as possible. The best models are also incredibly durable to stand up to the wear and tear of regular hiking and camping.
I’d recommend a backpacking tent to any prepper that wants a slightly more substantial shelter – you can usually even sit up inside of a backpacking tent, which is great for those rainy days at camp.
Unlike the Snugpak Ionosphere which only comes in a one-person model, you can find countless backpacking tents designed for two – or even three – people to use together.
This makes a backpacking tent a great choice for survival prepping for your family.
The North Face Stormbreak 2 is currently my go-to two-person backpacking tent for survival.
Surprisingly, I don’t see hammocks mentioned very option as a suitable survival shelter. But, in my opinion, they’re one of the best and most versatile options, especially for ultralight preppers.
Not only are camping hammocks incredibly comfortable to sleep in (most utilize an asymmetrical design for a flatter lay), but they also incorporate bug nets, rainflies, and sometimes even underquilts into their design. The Snugpak Jungle Hammock is an excellent example.
Of course, the main disadvantage of a bug-out hammock is that you can’t really use them without two trees an adequate distance apart.
To get around this, it’s smart to select a survival hammock that you can use a makeshift tent on the ground. Say, using two hiking poles or large sticks as supports.
Snugpak Jungle Bag
The Snugpak Jungle Bag is another awesome alternative that combines “shelter” with a sleeping bag.
It’s a lightweight hooded sleeping bag (best suited for nighttime weather no colder than 45°F) with built-in mosquito netting over the head opening.
Obviously, this isn’t the best option for a long-term shelter – and won’t provide much use in inclement weather – but it’s a decent temporary bug-out option.
Throw it under a tarp shelter (like the Snugpak Stasha G2) to keep rain at bay and zip up the mosquito netting to keep creepy crawlies out of your bag.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Jungle Bag, check out my full Snugpak Jungle Bag review here.
If you’ve read this far, then you know I’m a big fan of the Snugpak Ionosphere Tent…
I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a portable survival shelter, especially those that want a step or two up from a tarp or bivy.
Although the Ionosphere isn’t right for everyone, it’s hands down one of the lightest, most durable, and easiest to use one-person bivy tents for survival situations.
Buy the Snugpak Ionosphere from Amazon.