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Pup Tent: A One Man Operation

Single pup tent in the mountains
Single pup tent, high in the mountains

The rain tapped the roof of my pup tent’s small rainfly with a wonderful rhythm. The sun’s approach turned the world around me a ghostly blue and I nodded off again. Only the dripping water on my face woke me up to a lighter sky and a promising day.

I was asleep in a pup tent on the banks of Orchard Lake campground. it was Prepper Camp 2019 and I was taking the weekend on in a single-man tent. It lightened my load and made my trip much easier to manage.

However, the rainfly was not stopping the morning rain and I had to note that as an improvement I would need to make. It was far from perfect but it served me well and kept me from setting up a big tent for this little solo trip.

Carrying a pup tent can radically lighten your load. What is a pup tent? Where did they come from and when do you need one?

What is a Pup Tent

Despite what a modern-day Google search will show you, a pup tent is a small tent designed for one person. These tents were the creation of soldiers in the Revolutionary and later Civil Wars here in America. They were designed to use minimal materials but to make a shelter for the soldier. The name was military slang.

In the early days, the soldiers used their rifles or trees to prop the tents up. These tents were also made with very cheap materials that could not withstand the burden of keeping the soldiers dry. In harsh weather, the tents would all but disintegrate and flood the soldier within. They were not an ideal emergency tent.

Pup Tent
Older, basic pup tent

Through the coming wars, the pup tent would still remain the field housing for the soldier. In WWII the pup tents got a serious upgrade with real poles to frame the tent and better base material for dealing with weather. Though these tents were still open-ended and let most of the cold, weather, and bugs creep in.

Not until Vietnam did the US military really get a hold on what the modern-day pup tent would look like. These tents used two stakes on either side of the tent to hold it up. They were made from better materials and even utilized a bug net to deal with the mosquitoes.

Only modern pup tents have a built-in floor. The built-in floor was a game-changer for the modern pup tent and made it more useful to the average person looking to lay a Coleman sleeping bag and have a weekend camping trip.

The One Man Operation

The pup tents are not carried into battle anymore. However, the old military surplus tents can be popular among historians and survivalists. There is still a growing need for a lightweight tent to shelter someone on their own solo adventure.

Wilderness adventure like camping, hiking, and even hunting has kept the demand for modern pup tents high. Not all modern pup tents have that same A-frame design. The solo tents created by companies like Mountain Summit Gear use the highest quality materials and are designed to weigh next to nothing!

Larger tents often require bulky bags to carry their poles and the desire to wander and explore the wild places demands lightweight gear. Modern versions of the pup tent are perfect for this because they have been redesigned as modern camping tents.

The pup tent can also act as an emergency tent when you are away from that larger base camp tent. There are inherent risks to heading away from camp to hike that peak or to fish or hunt. If you get lost or hurt, it’s good to have another lightweight easy to set up shelter on your person.

small tent
A pup tent makes a great emergency tent

3 Great Modern Pup Tents

Six Moons Designs 1 Man Tent

The Skyscape Scout is a purpose-built single-man tent. The roll-back vestibules are designed to allow for exceptional views. This is the tent you pack if you are camping under wide-open skies or if you are on the lake. You wanna see all of that in the evening and maybe first thing when you wake up.

If the weather turns then this modern pup tent also comes with a waterproof rainfly.

The setup for this tent is interesting because it actually doesn’t come with support poles. Like the classic pup tent, it is designed to be set up with your trekking poles! If you do not use trekking poles then you can purchase the aluminum supports for the tent that are sold separately.

The fact that this tent can become a simple supported net tent gives it the edge over any pup tent as it allows you to enjoy a warm summer night and the stars above.

Mountain Summit Gear 1 Person Tent

This 1 person tent is built to protect you from the harmful effects of UV light and the elements outside. It is waterproofed and comes with a nice big door so you can get in and out of the tent easily. This 1 person tent is one of my favorites on the market.

The single hub aluminum frame is all it takes to set this tent up. If you find a level piece of ground then you will have the ability to establish your base camp with this single-person tent. Inside the Mountain Summit Gear tent, you get a bathtub-style floor that is durable with seamed seals. You are gonna be dry in this tent.

The whole tent packs down into a tight sleeve that can be stowed in your backpack until it’s time to set up camp. When you are choosing your pup tent, one of the biggest sticking points is how the tent stores and travels.

This tent also comes with a bag of stakes so that you can secure this tent and its rainfly to the ground to fortify your entire setup.

Eureka! Timberline Backpacking Tent

If you are looking for a tent that looks something like a modern pup tent and has that kind of feel then the Eureka! Timberline Backpacking Tent is for you. This tent is an interesting take on the A-Frame tent. This tent does not use the stakes on the outside of the tent doors but a pole runs outside the entire tent.

The internal frame is made of aluminum to add serious stability to the whole setup. Which also allows this tent to standalone wherever you might need shelter.

This tent is 36 inches tall and makes for a very basic backpacking tent but sturdy! It features flies in the front and back for maximum airflow and also uses a rainfly to keep the tent waterproof in the rain.

This durable tent is one of the best examples of an emergency pup tent on our list.

Tips for Pup Tent Success

These new pup tents are nothing like the classic pup tent of old. You will be buying a legitimate camping tent. However, there are a few things to remember when you are preparing and using your new pup tent or single man tent.

Tip #1 Waterproof the Tent

This is an easy step and with a smaller tent, it can be done quickly. Remember my story in the beginning? That was because my rainfly was not waterproofed. Sleeping in a tent in the rain is a joy until it starts to drip on you.

Tip #2 Don’t Let Repairs Linger

Your single-man tent will get damaged during your adventures. Take care of repairs quickly when you return.

Tip #3 Clean After Every Adventure

The better you care for this tent the longer it will last for you.

Tip #4 Dry Your Tent

Like any other tent, you want to put this tent away dry. Do not put your tent away wet or you will cut the lifespan of the tent considerably.

Sit Amongst the Stars

A pup tent under a starry night
A pup tent under a starry night

Earlier pup tents were nothing like what is available today. The materials and the frames were weak. However, years of innovation have given us the ability to stow incredibly effective tents in our backpacks to complement our lightweight backpacking adventures.

The military is responsible for a lot of the innovations in camping and outdoor gear. The pup tent is an example of innovation at the soldier level that worked its way up to the civilian level and has now become something fashionable that people are using to get back in touch with the natural world.

If you have never slept in a pup tent or a single man tent in the outdoors you should get your hands on one of the models above. Head out on a solo journey and sit amongst the stars and the fire at night.