The Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum Tent (13 oz / 369 g, $349.95) is a single wall, single-entrance, trekking pole-supported, silnylon, one-person tent by Big Agnes. It is one of the lightest shelters in its class.
This shelter features steep sidewalls, a minimal eave-style vestibule, and a front entry.
About this Review
This Limited Review is based on five days of overnight backpacking experience in the Pacific Northwest during the fall, winter, and early spring of 2019-2020.
Specifications and Features
- Claimed: 13 oz (369 g)
- Measured w/o Stakes: 13.2 oz (375 g)
- Measured with Stakes: 16.9 oz (479 g)
- Packed Size: 16 in x 4.5 in (41 x 11 cm)
- Floor Area: 16 ft² (1.49 m²)
- Head Height: 41 in (105 cm)
- Footprint Weight (sold separately): 3 oz (85 g)
- Material: silicone treated nylon rip-stop with 1200 mm waterproof polyurethane coating
- Number of Seasons: 3
- Number of Doors: 1
- Single wall
- Supported by two trekking poles
- Pole sleeves allow for tip down setup
- Taped seams
- Mesh vents
- Pre-cut guylines
- Vertical side and end-walls
- Interior loops for gear lofts and accessories (sold separately).
Since this is a Limited Review, a detailed performance analysis based on long-term use will not be presented. Instead, performance observations and issues are noted below.
|Observations and Issues
|Despite the Scout 1 having tiny dimensions, it is pleasantly spacious for the minimalist style it employs. The peak height is somewhat low, but its placement at the door makes it very usable for moving in and out and sitting up inside the tent. The floor stretches seamlessly into the walls before transitioning into the fly via mesh venting.
What this means is that the width of the floor conforms to the weight inside the tent, making usable floor space quite large and relatively flexible. This design does sometimes add tension to the sides of the tent that may change the tautness of the pitch. However, when you get used to this it becomes quite natural.
|The Scout 1 sheds water well, and in vertical rain, all of the venting is well protected. In situations where precipitation is combined with wind or if significant splashing is likely, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some water striking the mesh vents and possibly passing through.
The side venting is predominantly protected by an interior flap but air flow is significant, cooling the tent and introducing some moisture in inclement weather. The foot and headwalls being vertical can cause wind striking them to travel upwards. In some situations, this may bring rain in contact with the mesh panels.
Note that this movement of air is a positive in warm weather when high ventilation is desirable. A taut pitch helps to alleviate any of these problems and they may not become noticeable except in exposed, stormy conditions. Something noteworthy in this area is that the design of the tent requires consideration of wind direction when pitching, meaning that if the wind direction changes, the tent can become both less stable and less resistant to any precipitation.
|Ease of Use
|The Scout 1 requires nine stakes for a basic pitch. With some shelters, this can be laborious. However, when pitching the Scout 1, the stakes are used in stages that allow for easy adjustment and it remains an easy pitch for a single person.
Trekking poles fit easily and securely into the sleeves provided and tension down nicely. The tent packs with incredible ease, simply rolling the body up with the carbon foot stay. The silnylon material lends itself to easy compression into its stuff sack. The tent also has a quite small footprint and can be pitched in a confined area, particularly if guy lines are used carefully.
|Condensation is something that comes up a lot regarding ultralight sleeping. A big reason for this is that one of the most common choices in ultralight shelters is a single wall versus a double wall. The former can come with significant weight savings but often at the expense of ventilation.
With the Scout 1, Big Agnes has addressed the condensation issues of a single wall tent with relatively large mesh areas that increase air flow. There are mesh panels at both the head and foot of the tent. These panels cannot be closed but are protected by awnings of the fly. Additionally, the floor is connected to the fly via mesh on both sides, and the air flow through this side mesh can be adjusted somewhat with the height and tension of the pitch as well as the side guy outs.
|The Scout 1 is made of a silnylon fabric with a polyurethane coating. One of the main drawbacks of silnylon is that it stretches with temperature fluctuation and precipitation. This sort of sagging can be troublesome, particularly in adverse conditions. Through some basic tests with temperature drops and moisture, the Scout 1 sagged slightly, loosening the pitch and causing the body to flap more. The Scout 1 is easy to tension, however, and can be adjusted quickly when needed.
A number of other companies opt for silpoly in some of their tents as this avoids the issue of sag without increasing weight. One of the drawbacks of this material is that it does not have as much strength per weight as nylon fabrics do.
As an ultralight shelter for three seasons, the Scout 1’s use of silnylon seems to fall within its directive. The particular silnylon used is thin (read: very thin), and while it held up well with my experience with the tent, long term durability and resilience remain to be seen. While Big Agnes hasn't necessarily pushed boundaries of innovation with their materials in the Platinum line of tents, their application in the Scout 1 is impressively sleek and remarkably light.
What makes the Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum Unique?
Big Agnes is a longstanding company in the outdoor world. They are mostly known for their shelters and sleep systems (i.e. sleeping bags and sleeping pads). They have recently broken into the ultralight scene with their platinum and carbon series tents.
Tents like the Fly Creek have been popular for backpackers and bikepackers for over a decade. The new lines, however, have employed new technologies and designs to make what the Big Agnes is calling “crazylight” shelters.
The Scout 1’s weight is perhaps the most striking and unique aspect of this shelter. At 13 oz (369 g), the Scout 1 is the lightest one-person tent on the market. The only other tent I’ve found with lighter claimed weight is the Scout 2 Carbon. There are certainly a number of other tents very near to the Scout 1 in weight, but for a silnylon shelter this is clearly a huge point of interest.
The Scout 1 hits this weight with thin materials and small dimensions. That being said, it does manage to perform as a tent and not just a bivy. Additionally, the paper-thin materials have reports of being effective in the Scout 2 Platinum and shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you are in love with the other features of this shelter.
The Scout 1 is a non-freestanding, trekking pole supported tent; some users may be more familiar with freestanding styles (relying on poles) or semi-freestanding tents (e.g., Fly Creek). A freestanding tent often offers a more versatile pitch, however, the trekking pole approach of the Scout 1 and other similar tents offers significant weight savings (and sometimes more livable space). In the case of the Scout 1, it doesn’t seem to sacrifice significant stability or ease of setup. For those more accustomed to freestanding tents, a trekking pole pitch can be an adjustment, but one you get used to quickly, particularly in combination with the 13 ounce weight.
The Scout 1 has a unique shape compared to most other shelters on the market (see the comparison to the Flylite below). The two-pole setup at the head of the tent creates a sort of tunnel that differs from the more dome or pyramid styles in many shelters. Big Agnes has done a great job executing this style, and it proves to be easy to set up, take down, and use.
The biggest benefit to this steep-walled design is a large amount of livable space – especially for an enclosed shelter of this weight class.
The Scout 1 has a fairly unique appearance but does share some key features with the MSR Flylite 2 (discontinued). The visual similarities illustrate some of the functional components of the Scout 1. The Flylite received mixed performance reviews and I wanted to use some of its shortcomings to highlight features of the Scout 1.
The main complaint from users of the Flylite was that it was prone to precipitation collecting on the top of the fly. The Scout 1 seems to avoid this issue with both a sharper and narrower peak that sheds precipitation from its sides more readily. Users of the Flylite also had issues with its zipper. The Scout 1 seems to have quite durable zippers which are sealed by storm flaps, rather than the waterproof zippers that in my experience fail more readily. The dual zipper system is also very convenient for opening the door and sliding gear in and out.
Tarptent currently offers a relatively similar single wall tent called the Protrail. The Protrail is also a one person, two trekking pole, silnylon tent and is also marketed towards fast and light style users. The design and specs differ somewhat but these shelters may well be considered as closely competing alternatives.
Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum vs. Tarptent Protrail
|The Scout 1 comes in at half of the weight of the Protrail. That being said, both remain very lightweight shelters and much of the weight comes down to denier of the fabrics.
|Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum
|Both shelters come in at good price points compared to their specifications and intended uses. The lower price of the Protrail ($229) may be a significant benefit for some over the Scout ($349.95).
|The Scout 1 is particularly minimal when it comes to space. The Protrail is wider, has more headroom, and has a vestibule for gear storage. The Scout 1’s lack of vestibule will be particularly concerning for backpackers in rainy environments that like to vestibule cook.
|The Scout 1 uses thin (7d) materials while the Protrail uses thicker (30d), more conventional silnylon. While certainly more durable, experiences seem to be mixed as to whether the thicker material is required for weather protection. One separate benefit of the Scout’s thin materials is that they make it a very bright and airy tent.
|Tie: Material use in the Protrail makes it more durable, material use in the Scout 1 makes it lighter (and airy feeling).
|Setup/Ease of Use
|The Protrail benefits in setup by requiring fewer stakes. The Scout has a broader, more square door and both trekking poles on the side, making entry and exit a little easier than the Protrail - an important consideration for a front-entry shelter.
|Tie: Tarptent Protrail is easier to set up, Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum is easier to get in and out of.
|Condensation Management and Visibility
|The mesh paneling of the Scout is simple, fuss free, and effective. It is however, inflexible and doesn’t offer the same amount of venting, adjustment, or outward visibility as the Protrail.
- A remarkably light shelter at a reasonable price point with a small footprint and easy setup (worth practicing for optimal pitch).
- Good condensation management for a single wall tent.
- Despite somewhat small dimensions, liveable space is pleasantly surprising.
- Based on my experience with the tent, it seems best suited for fast and light style trips with relatively mild weather conditions below treeline.
- Keep in mind the lack of vestibule type storage.
- Durability of the thin materials remains to be seen – but they seem to be sturdy and hold up to all use thus far.
- Not ideal for high wind and exposure during weather.
- Requires adjustable hiking poles.
- We reviewed the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 Carbon last year. Andrew thought it was a well-made, if somewhat limited (not to mention incredibly expensive) shelter. Check it out!
- Our community has been discussing this shelter for a while.
Where to Buy
- You can buy the Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum here.
DISCLOSURE (Updated November 7, 2019)
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