We are comparing three Snugpak shelters today. The Snugpak Journey Solo, the Snugpak Ionosphere and the Snugpak Stratosphere are low profile, 1 person shelters – ideal for stealthy wild-camping and backpacking. At first glance, the new kid on the block, the Journey Solo, looks very much like the Ionosphere, and the Stratosphere doesn’t look massively different either. So, how do they differ? Today we are going to do a quick Snugpak Journey Solo vs Ionosphere vs Stratosphere comparison to highlight the differences and help you decide between them. Firstly, let’s check out the specs.
Snugpak Journey Solo vs Ionosphere vs Stratosphere spec comparison
Note: There is the odd error on Snugpak’s site. For example, the inner dimensions for the Snugpak Journey Solo in their ‘Size Guide’ are not the same as the dimensions given in their sizing image. We have taken the image dimensions to be the correct ones, and therefore listed those. If this really matters to you (for example, if you’re tall and every cm/inch counts), it’s worth contacting Snugpak before you buy, to see which are the correct dimensions.
SNUGPAK JOURNEY SOLO
Bivvi tent. Double skin.
Tent. Double skin.
Bivvi. Single skin.
Note: the Width and Height dimensions are for the head end. All three shelters taper, both in height and width, towards the foot end.
Pack Weight: 2kg / 4.41lbs (Includes extra groundsheet 235g)
Trail Weight: 1.41kg / 3.1lbs (Fly, poles & inner)
Pack Weight: 1.52kg / 3.35lbs
Trail Weight: 1.2kg / 2.65lbs (Fly, poles & inner)
Pack Weight: 1.13kg / 2.49lbs
Trail Weight: 940g / 2.07lbs (Fly, poles)
Flysheet: 75D 185T polyester, WR, FR
Flysheet: 210T 100% polyester, ripstop, PU
Inner tent: 190T 100% nylon inner fabric, with a 50D polyester mesh. No-see-um-mesh 1600 holes per square inch
Groundsheet: 190T 100% nylon, PU
Outer Fabric: 50D 290T 100% nylon, ripstop, PU
Roll Away Mosquito Net: 50D polyester No-See-Um-Mesh in the front of the hood. No-See-Um-mesh: 1600 holes per square inch
Groundsheet: 210T 100% nylon, PU
Flysheet: 4000mm HH
Footprint: 5000mm HH
Flysheet: 5000mm HH
Groundsheet: 5000mm HH
Outer Fabric: 5000mm HH
Groundsheet: 8000mm HH
2x aluminium alloy poles
2x DAC® Featherlite NSL® anodised aluminium poles
2x 8.5mm aluminium poles with screw lock tip
58cm x 13cm / 23" x 5"
48cm x 14cm / 19" x 6"
31cm x 14cm / 12" X 6"
All in one
VESTIBULE / PORCH
Olive, Terrain, Coyote Tan (US only)
Snugpak Journey Solo vs Ionosphere vs Stratosphere – Key differences and features
- Snugpak Journey Solo
The Journey Solo is a double skinned bivvy tent with an inner and a flysheet. Snugpak have called it a “bivvy tent” because, well… it’s a cross between a bivvy and a tent.
- Snugpak Ionosphere
Again, the Ionosphere is a double skinned tent with an inner and a flysheet. We’re not actually sure why Snugpak have called the Ionosphere just a “tent”, rather than a “bivvy tent”, since it has such a similar structure as the Journey Solo.
- Snugpak Stratosphere
The Stratosphere is a hooped bivvy. That is, a bivvy with a pole ( or in this case, two poles), at the head end. There is no foot end pole. The Stratosphere is a single skin shelter – it doesn’t have an inner and an outer, just the one outer fabric with a part mesh inner. This means it is the lightest and quickest to pitch, but also the most susceptible to condensation due to lack of breathability, as we’ll discuss later.
Space-wise, there’s not a lot of difference between the Journey Solo and the Ionosphere. These are spacious 1 person shelters and there should be plenty of room for kit, particularly if you’re travelling light. The Stratosphere is the shelter that is noticeably shorter inside than the other two. None of these shelters comes with a vestibule. However, unless you have a huge pile of gear, there should be enough room inside the main body for gear. Most people would also leave some gear, such as muddy boots, wet jackets, etc outside the shelter, perhaps in a waterproof bag, or even just a bin liner.
Are the Snugpak Journey Solo, Ionosphere and Stratosphere suitable for tall people?
We would say the Journey Solo and Ionosphere are best suited for tall people. They both have inners of 235cm/93″ and 240cm/94″ respectively, which, even when you consider the sloping ends, should be enough for most but the tallest of people. The inside of the Stratosphere is 220cm/87″ which we don’t believe will be that suitable for tall people, and you can’t sleep diagonally in a bivvy, as you can in a tent, as there simply isn’t room. We’d recommend the Journey Solo and Ionosphere if you’re over 6′.
Don’t forget though that you can’t really sit up in these types of shelters. You don’t want to be getting undressed in the rain, nor do you want to be wriggling around inside, trying to get changed. If it is raining you might want to erect a tarp and throw a groundsheet down so that you can get dressed/undressed and cook somewhere out of the rain.
There’s quite a difference between these three shelters, as you can see from the table above. The Snugpak Journey Solo is the heaviest, followed by the Ionosphere with the Stratosphere being the lightest, as you’d expect due to it being a bivvy. If you’re counting the grams then this is probably important to you. These shelters are not exactly ultralight, but for stealth-camping and short backpacking trips that perhaps doesn’t matter so much. You’re paying less than you would for an ultralight tent, and weight is the trade-off.
The Snugpak Journey Solo is all polyester, whereas the inner and groundsheet on the Ionosphere are nylon. The Stratosphere is all nylon. Polyester is cheaper, but heavier. Nylon is, in general, a better tent fabric. The polyester in the Journey Solo probably contributes to its weight. However, being made entirely from polyester means it is cheaper.
All three of these shelters should prove fine for changeable wet weather, such as in the UK. They are all built well and have good HH ratings. However, the Journey Solo and Ionosphere will likely perform the best:
- The Snugpak Journey Solo has a 4000mm HH fly and a 5000mm HH groundsheet, plus taped seams. It also comes with a footprint that also has a HH rating of 5000mm which will boost the overall waterproof rating of the shelter.
- The Snugpak Ionosphere has a 5000mm HH fly and a 5000mm HH groundsheet, plus taped seams.
- The waterproof rating of the Snugpak Stratosphere is the highest coming in with a 5000mm HH fly and a 8000mm HH groundsheet, plus taped seams. However, since there is no foot-end pole, your feet will be touching the fabric which could lead to water ingress in persistent rain. The Stratosphere is also single skinned which means it’s not that breathable, leading to more condensation than the Journey Solo and Ionosphere.
So, we’d say the Stratosphere is the one that will perform the worst out of the three in inclement weather, simply because it has a single skin and is a bivvy, as opposed to a double skinned tent.
However, you’re probably best avoiding any bivvy in cold, wet weather due to condensation and water ingress (they are worth carrying for emergencies though, even if you’re using a tent in winter – just in case your tent gets trashed). If you’re likely to be out in the cold and wet, then you’d be better off with a tent, and the Journey Solo and Ionosphere should be ideal, particularly if you erect a tarp over the top. Remember, it’s not just about build quality, hydrostatic head and taped seams – you also need to consider things like space to cook, getting changed out of wet clothes and storing wet, muddy gear.
The Snugpak Journey Solo has the largest pack size and the Stratosphere has the smallest. This is probably to be expected as nylon tends to pack down smaller, plus the Stratosphere is single skinned.
Both the Journey Solo and the Ionosphere are inner pitch first. The Stratosphere is single skin so it’s the quickest to pitch as you can throw it up all in one. Some people don’t like inner pitch first tents as the inner gets wet if it’s pouring with rain, however you can get around that to some extent by first throwing up a tarp where possible.
The Journey Solo comes with a footprint whereas the Ionosphere and Stratosphere don’t. The Stratosphere’s groundsheet has a hydrostatic head of 8000mm, so it might not need a footprint from a waterproofing point of view, but a footprint is always useful to protect the built-in groundsheet from thorns, sharp stones, etc.
There are a couple of colours available for the Journey Solo (olive and orange) and the Ionosphere (olive and terrain, plus Coyote Tan ), whereas the Stratosphere only comes in the olive – which, we have to say, is a good colour anyway, and probably the one that most people would go for. The orange of the Journey Solo may be useful if you’re camping somewhere where you might want to be spotted if you got into danger, such as on the top of a mountain in wintery conditions. However, when it comes to colour choice, it really is each to their own.
That just leaves the price. At the time of writing, the Journey Solo is the cheapest. The Ionosphere is the most expensive. The Stratosphere sits in-between. Given the weights, fabrics and other differences we’ve mentioned, we feel this makes sense.
Snugpak Journey Solo: CHECK PRICE – AMAZON.CO.UK
Snugpak Journey Solo: CHECK PRICE – AMAZON.COM
Snugpak Ionosphere: CHECK PRICE – AMAZON.CO.UK
Snugpak Ionosphere: CHECK PRICE – AMAZON.COM
Snugpak Stratosphere: CHECK PRICE – AMAZON.CO.UK
Snugpak Stratosphere: CHECK PRICE – AMAZON.COM
Snugpak Journey Solo vs Ionosphere vs Stratosphere – Summary
There you go… three really good shelters – the Journey Solo, Ionosphere and Stratosphere.
One feature we like is that you can remove the flysheet on both the Journey Solo and the Ionosphere, leaving just the mesh inner. This is great for summer nights and warmer climates – it really gives you that ‘connected to nature’ feeling. You could also put a tarp over, to protect you from the odd shower. A tarp will also give you more of a feeling of security, whilst you’re sleeping out in the open.
All three of these shelters can feel a little claustrophobic to some campers. The Stratosphere is probably the most claustrophobic, simply because it is a bivvy. However, there are many people who don’t have a problem with this type of shelter at all. Some campers, who were initially claustrophobic in a bivvy or small one person tent, have found that they do get used to it after a bit. If you don’t like the idea of your feet poking through the fabric of a bivvy (ready to be nibbled by a passing animal) then you may want to go for the Journey Solo or Ionosphere which both have the pole at the bottom end of the tent to lift the fabrics away from your legs and feet.
The similarities between the Snugpak Journey Solo and the Ionosphere are there for all to see… to the extent that we wonder if the Snugpak Journey Solo is actually going to replace the Ionosphere, with the Ionosphere being phased out. Time will tell.
There are, of course, alternatives to these Snugpak 1 person shelters. For example, Jack Wolfskin’s Gossamer tent. For a comparison check out our Snugpak Ionosphere vs Jack Wolfskin Gossamer article.
All three of these shelters are much loved by wild-campers and backpackers. They are compact; relatively light; quick to pitch and low profile – ideal for hunkering down for the night behind a wall, in the trees or on a mountainside. Also, if you like tactical and military style gear then one of these shelters is certainly worth considering.
If you love your Snugpak gear, check out the Snugpak Special Forces sleep system article we did a while ago. It would go perfectly with the Snugpak Journey Solo or Ionosphere and provide you with a robust 4 season wild-camping set up.
Snugpak Journey Solo vs Ionosphere vs Stratosphere – which should you choose?
If weight is of the greatest importance to you, then the Stratosphere may be the way to go, especially if you’re not too tall and you’re not camping in cold, wet weather. However, if you’re happy to carry a bit more weight you will get more room with the Journey Solo and Ionosphere, and these two shelters are more suited to tall people or simply people that prefer a little more room. These two shelters are also a better choice if you plan to camp in cold, wet weather.
In terms of choosing between the Journey Solo and the Ionosphere, well, it may come down to colour preference and weight, with the Journey Solo being the heavier – weighing about 250g more than the Ionosphere (excluding the Journey Solo footprint). There just really isn’t a lot in it. The Journey Solo hasn’t been around long enough for any long term use reviews – so whether it will live up to the Ionosphere’s good reputation is yet to be seen. If push came to shove, for us, the Ionosphere just has the edge over the Journey Solo as it is a bit longer; weighs a bit less; has a nylon inner; has a higher hydrostatic head; packs down smaller and we like the terrain pattern (some of that is personal choice of course). Hopefully, this Snugpak Journey Solo vs Ionosphere vs Stratosphere article has helped you choose between them too.