Eureka Backcountry 1 Review

Eureka Backcountry 1 Review

The Eureka Backcountry 1 is a freestanding, 1 person, double wall, tent that assembles in minutes, and boasts a roomy interior. When I say freestanding I do mean “truly freestanding”. You can completely erect this tent without using any stakes or guidelines.

A little background: I have a soft spot for Eureka products as their outlet center – was located in Binghamton, NY, not far away from where I grew up.

The Eureka Camping Center outlet was the first place I would salivate over the newest gear I could not afford. It also provided a wide array of factory seconds, discontinued items, and returns that were very affordable. These items had mistakes that did not effect performance. A mis-stiched logo patch, a tent with a rip in the no-see-um netting that had been mended, and bins full of items that could be pieced into working, functional equipment.

My first tent was a Eureka Dome tent that I pieced together in four separate visits. My first back pack a ‘Camp Trails’ Eureka brand. I would own many Eureka, Camp Trails, and Jack Wolfskin products over the years and use them on small expeditions in the woods of Upstate NY with my friend Zess and my Brother. To make it even better my oldest Sister worked there and could provide a heads up on when large amounts of gear would be available and an additional 15% off.

At this point in my life I can afford any tent I want and was leaning toward a cuban fiber ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tent but a trip into Eureka’s outlet turned up a Backcountry 1 for the princely sum of $112.00. I couldn’t resist buying it and paying homage to a company that helped to inspire my love of sleeping outdoors and adventuring. I believe the Eureka Backcountry 1 is out of production since 2009 but I see them available on ebay, campmor, and amazon from time to time.

So this is am emotional, nostalgic gear choice that many may not agree with. I figure I OWE Eureka enough consideration to give the Eureka Backcountry 1 a thorough testing during hunting season, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For the time being this is my go to shelter. I will also be carrying a bivy sak to add a little warmth and additional rain protection because I know that no tent is 100% weatherproof in certain conditions.

Let’s look at the specs:

Eureka Backcountry 1 Review

Now that we have the specs let me call out what I think are the weaknesses of this tent based on zero testing.

Eureka Backcountry 1 Weaknesses:

Right off the bat the negative side of this choice is apparent: it’s a little heavy, a bit bulky, no vestibule, and the rain fly looks like it may need to be extended to truly keep the rain off of the user.

Weight: – 3 pounds, 14 ounces – The ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tent would come in at about 19 ounces with a complete cuben bathtub footprint and carbon fiber pole.

Pack size: – 6 by 15.5 inches – That is bigger than my sleeping bag – totally unacceptable.

Fly Size and Shape – No Vestibule and Rain Extension – At first glance one tends to wonder if the fly extends long enough to prevent rain from blowing into this tent. Where will I put my gear I need to keep dry with no vestibule?

Eureka Backcountry 1 Strengths

The strengths are based on a 4 day field test.

Completely Freestanding and Ease of Set Up

Eureka Backcountry 1 Review

The first thing I like about the Eureka backcountry 1 tent is that it is completely freestanding and that includes the rain fly. There are a lot of one person tents that ‘claim’ to be freestanding yet they need six to seven stakes to properly tension the fly.

I camped 4 nights last week in the wilds of my parents back yard [look for the fence in the background of the photos] with only two stakes to properly seat the fly and stayed dry in two large downpours.

This could be set up in cheap hotel room in Mexico as easily as it could in a forrest in the Yukon. I didn’t need to use the two stakes and even with them I set the Eureka Backcountry 1 tent up at 11:30 at night in less than 5 minutes. That’s as easy as it gets and being able to use this as a bug screen inside a seedy motel room is a plus for versatility.

Stealthy Profile

Eureka Backcountry 1 Review

Look at the way this tent blends into the foliage. With it’s ease of set up and blendable colors this is a Stealth Camping machine! I hate orange tents. You could be camped in someones backyard [I was in these photos] and they wouldn’t even know it. The above photo is taken from about 30 feet away from the tent. The cover is thick enough so the tent blends in nicely. You can make out the silouette if you are looking directly at it but if you were making a quick scan you would miss it.

Eureka Backcountry 1 Review

This is taken from about 15 feet away from the tent. The sun hitting the fly gives away the tent silouette.

With a little effort in placing this tent I think that it makes a great Stealth Camping tent. It’s easy to set up, easy to break down, and it blends into the foilage exceptionally well. If you were camping in an area where it’s not green you might have an issue.

Factory Taped Fly with Bathtub Floor

Eureka Backcountry 1 Review

I used no water treatment on this tent and it stood up to an upstate NY torrential downpour that dumped 2 inches of rain onto already saturated ground in less than a couple hours. Water beaded up on the fly like it would on a freshly waxed car. I did not use a groundcloth and the bathtub floor also kept out any moisture.

The fly and it’s lack of extension does not look like it will have any issues keeping me dry. I also carry a bivy sack that I could employ inside the tent if additional warmth was required or if the tent was seeing rain entry from areas not adequately covered by the fly. A makeshift door cover/flap could be macguvered with a rain jacket easily if need be.

Bottom line – I spent two nights in the tent during fairly heavy rain and did not get any leaks or blown in precipitation. I’m confident this tent can handle 95% of the weather conditions that my trip will throw at me and I think the bivy combined with the tent can cover 100%.

Living Space

Eureka Backcountry 1 Review

This is a roomy tent and well ventilated. At 24 square feet [8 feet by 3 feet] of floor size I would be able to completely strip my bicycle of all gear, bring it inside the tent, and still have plenty of room to stretch out for a comfy snooz. I can also completely sit up in this tent. Things like map reading, changing clothes, even washing up would be easy with this space this tent provides.

Two full panels of the tent are no see um mesh with an additional panel at the top of the tent and a window in the door. The tent did not suffer any condensation and was breezy and cool with the fly on in the most humid of conditions.

Eureka Backcountry Workarounds:

So I am okay with having no vestibule and I am satisfied with the rain-proofedness, but how will I justfy the weight and pack size:

Weight: – 3 pounds, 14 ounces – I think that with the right set of stakes I can trim this down to 3.5 lbs and the addition of a tyvek groundcloth that is up to almost 4 lbs. My last tent was Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight CD that weighed about the same if not a little more, was more difficult to set up, packed larger, and was a bright blue in color.

In comparison with this tent that served me for 12 years I think I am ok with the Backcountry 1 at 4lbs. I think that 4 lbs is not such an issue on a bicycle as it would be in a backpack and that I have truly never suffered from not having a real ‘ultralight tent’.

It’s ease of set up, stealth color, and versatility trump the carry weight in my mind.

Pack size: – 6 by 15.5 inches – Okay so 6″ X 15.5″ packed in it’s stuff sack is easily adaptable. I cannot change the total volume taken up but I can use a longer, thinner stuff sack and pack the tent differently. I plan on carrying my complete camping set up in a relevate designs handlebar harness. By extending the stuff sack length by 4-5 inches I can cut down the diameter of the pack size by 2 inches. I can also remove the poles from the stuff sack and strap them on the outside of the harness. I think I can reduce the pack size to 3.5″ X 20″.

I want to be able to roll into my camp area and deal with one bag in getting my shelter up. I believe that the Eureka Backcountry 1 will help to make this scenario possible.