***An update review using the 2012 version of this tent can be found below***
The Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1is a freestanding solo tent for the avid backpacker. There is also a double version made with two campers, or more room, in mind, the Seedhouse SL2
The Seedhouse house doesn’t use the typical two pole design or even the arch designs that most solo tents use today. Instead you have a sort of loop of poles in the front that connect to a center hub, and then transition into a single pole that travels that length of the tent. This allows for a stable freestanding footprint, and a nice entranceway in the front of the tent. The tent uses mesh almost the entire way around the tent allowing for maximum ventilation and view on those clear starry nights. While it is a freestanding tent, you will have to stake out the two corners of the back to keep the tent from falling in a little bit. But if you’re in a pinch and there is no way to stake the tent down(rocks) then it should stand just fine without them. The Seedhouse is tall enough inside for most people to be able to sit up comfortably, however your pack will either end up under your feet, or outside the tent. There is enough shoulder room to feel comfortable and gives you room to move around and flop about in your sleep. The rainfly attaches easy, and allows for plenty enough ventilation but not as much as some other tents I have used. The rainfly even has a small clear panel on the rain fly for taking a peek out when the rain is coming down. The fly even has a decent sized vestibule so you could throw your gear or stinky boots out while keeping them dry. The tent pitches very fast. I had this tent up and pitched in less than 3 minutes my first go round. 2 more minutes and the rainfly was on and snug. This doesn’t include staking.
The Big Agnes Seedhouse is an interesting beast. At only 3 lbs. 10 oz. packed, it’s pretty light for a freestanding solo tent(the 2011 model is only 2 lbs. 13 oz.). It also packs up pretty small as well. The tent, refreshingly, comes with some impressive tri-sided stakes. They are not only durable but stay well even in soft or very hard ground. The floor of the tent comes up to a nice depth giving you that “bathtub” effect which helps keep water out in the rain. The poles are made of a sturdy, snappy aluminum. The tent walls are almost completely a nice mesh. The rainfly is made of a surprisingly heavy duty coated nylon, easily the heaviest part of the tent.
The Seedhouse SL1 stands firm, especially when staked out properly. Standing it’s ground even in strong winds the Seedhouse is impressively determined to stay up. The tent pitches tight and smooth. The rainfly properly reflects the rain and allows enough ventilation to combat condensation overnight. The poles are strong, and the stakes are the most durable I’ve used that have actually been included in a tent.
The Seedhouse SL1 represents and interesting and unique take on the average solo tent. Instead of being small, cramped, and unstable without stakes, it’s somewhat large pitched, roomy, and very sturdy. While not the lightest tent out there (the 2011 model on the contrary is very light for the quality) the tradeoff of sturdiness and ease of pitch is well worth the extra ounces. Retailing at 249, it’s not the cheapest tent out there but well worth the price tag.