Gossamer Gear DCF One Tent Review

Gossamer Gear DCF One Tent Review

The Gossamer Gear DCF One is a one-person, single-wall ultralight trekking pole tent that weighs 15.3 oz and costs $539. It has an all-mesh front door and vestibule and requires two trekking poles to set up. While it has a Dyneema DCF rain fly, the floor is made with a 7 denier Sil/PU coated nylon, an innovative combination that reduces the price of the shelter and makes it less bulky to pack, while still giving you the sag-free performance and superior waterproofing associated with DCF rain flies.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 15.3 oz (433g) – includes guylines
  • Dimensions (bathtub floor) –
    • Length – 81″
    • Head Width – 31″
    • Foot Width – 21″
    • Height – 45″
  • Minimum number of stakes required: 6
  • Trekking poles required: 2 (regular carbon fiber poles also available for purchase)
  • Packed Size: 14″ x 4.5″
  • Materials:
    • Rainfly: 0.51 oz/yd2 Dyneema DCF
    • Bathtub floor: 7D sil/pu nylon ripstop
    • Guylines: 1.8mm reflective nylon sheath 1 mm dyneema core
    • Vestibule zippers: #3, waterproof
    • Tensioners: lineloc 3 tensioners on all main tie-outs
  • For complete specs, visit Gossamer Gear

Tent Design

The Gossamer Gear DCF One has a hybrid construction with a Dyneema DCF rainfly and 7d Sil/PU coated nylon waterproof floor instead of being made entirely of Dyneema DCF like the Zpacks Plexamid or the Tarptent Aeon Li. This has a number of benefits, not the least of which is reduced cost because only half of the tent is made with Dyneema DCF, which is quite an expensive material.

The DCF One has a Dyneema DCF Rainfly has a front vestibule with a waterproof zipper.
The DCF One has a Dyneema DCF Rainfly has a front vestibule with a waterproof zipper.

In addition to its light weight, people buy Dyneema DCF tents because they don’t sag when they get wet and because DCF is vastly more waterproof than tents made with conventional fabrics. However, the downside of all-DCF construction is that tents that are made exclusively with it are surprisingly bulky to pack. By combining the materials, DCF and Sil/PU coated nylon, the DCF Two rolls up comparatively small, making it much more manageable to carry in a low volume, ultralight backpack.

The right hand side of the vestibule has plenty of coverage for a large backpack
The right-hand side of the vestibule has plenty of coverage for a large backpack

The DCF One has a single door and vestibule which is split down the middle with a waterproof zipper, allowing you to roll back one or both halves of the vestibule for ventilation.  In a break with convention, the ridgeline guylines run inside the vestibule when it’s zipped shut, rather than over it, with one half of the vestibule clipped to the base of the guyline with a buckle that decouples it from the tension on the ridgeline.

The other half of the vestibule does not connect directly to the ridgeline but is held in place by the zipper connecting the two halves of the vestibule. If you just want to roll back half of the vestibule, you can only roll back the side corresponding to the left (head end) of the tent because it doesn’t have anything to hold it closed and staked out if the half with the buckle is rolled back. This isn’t the end of the world, but it’s important to know that the two halves of the vestibule behave differently, since it’s a key point of differentiation with the Zpacks Plexamid.

The waterproof vestibule zipper is a size #3 which is a potential source of concern because it’s so small. Mountain Laurel Designs and Seek Outside now use more robust #8 zippers on all their zippered shelters for increased reliability. I also raised this point in my Gossamer Gear DCF Two Review. It’s a concern because the vestibule panel without the zipper can’t be staked closed if the zipper becomes inoperable.

You can also roll back both doors for ventilation and views
You can also roll back both doors for ventilation and views

The DCF One requires 6 stakes to pitch, 4 in the corners and 2 for the ridgeline guylines. It also requires two trekking poles to set up, one for the front vestibule and one for the back of the tent. Both of these poles are angled out so you get more shoulder height width. The tips of your trekking poles insert into grommets along the sides of the bathtub floor while the handles fit into the tent’s two reinforced peaks. You might think that this makes the tent harder to pitch but it really doesn’t. It’s actually a piece of cake. This tent requires very little fiddling with guylines or adjustment to set up.

There is a mesh window at the top of the back wall to promote better cross ventilation

The back wall of the tent is a solid wall of DCF, except for a small mesh window near the peak that enhances cross ventilation. Behind that wall, on the exterior of the tent, there’s an inaccessible, but covered area where you can store extra gear. It’s too bad that it can’t be accessed through a hatch from inside the tent.

There is a covered open space on the back of the DCF One which is not accessible from within the tent
There is a covered open space on the back of the DCF One which is not accessible from within the tent

Interior Space/Livability

The DCF One has a tapered bathtub floor that’s wider across the shoulders (31″) than the feet (21″) and 81″ long. This is smaller than the non-DCF versions of the One from 2020 and 2021, something to be aware of if you’re trying to decide between the different versions.

  • Comparison of dimensions (head width x foot width x length; weight)

While the tops of my feet don’t touch the ceiling of the DCF One when I’m lying on a 4″ inflatable sleeping pad, the ceiling is just a few inches over my face and a little closer than I prefer. I’m 5′ 11″. If you’re a tall hiker looking for a long tent, I’d snatch up a 2020 One before they’re gone forever. I reviewed a 2016 model of “The One” in the past and the 88″ length made the tent a dream to use. The bathtub floor length of “The One” has been reduced in the 2021 models, presumably to shave weight.

There is enough clearance for my toes when I’m lying on a 4” thick inflatable sleeping pad and a 15 degree bag
There is enough clearance for my toes when I’m lying on a 4” thick inflatable sleeping pad and a 15 degree bag

The current version of the DCF One does not have panel tie-outs above the head and feet to help increase foot and head clearance (like the DCF Two), although this is planned in the next manufacturing run, according to Gossamer Gear. They recommend the current 81″ long DCF One for people who use an inflatable sleeping pad and are up to 6′ in height or who use a foam sleeping pad and are up to 6′ 1″ in height, which sounds about right based on my experience.

A band of mesh between the floor and rainfly helps to prevent footbox condensation.
A band of mesh between the floor and rainfly helps to prevent footbox condensation.

Height-wise, there’s plenty of room to sit up inside the DCF one, change your clothes, and hang out without contortions. Getting in and out of the D-shaped door is easy, although you’ll want to zip and unzip it with two hands because there’s so much give in the lightweight 7D floor material.

Internal ventilation is also good because the tent has a band of mesh that connects the head and foot ends of the floor to rainfly, in addition to the mesh window on the back wall and the all mesh front wall inside the vestibule. Internal condensation is caused by a temperature differential between the inside of a tent and the outside and this extra venting at the bottom of the fly is a great idea. While the extra ventilation can make the tent feel cooler, it helps reduce any temperature differential and evaporate any condensation on your gear that might occur.

Mesh at the head end of the tent between the floor and rainfly helps vent water vapor from your breath.
Mesh at the head end of the tent between the floor and rainfly helps vent water vapor from your breath.

The only livability issue with The One is the translucency of the DCF rainfly fabric. While it is opaque enough to block anyone from seeing clearly into the tent, the canopy lets a lot of light into the interior. This can be good or bad, depending on your to light sensitivity. If you like to wake up at first light and get an early start, the translucent fabric will be a win. But if moonlight lighting up the inside of your tent bothers you, you may be less thrilled. Just be aware that it’s a potential issue with this tent, and with most DCF shelters.

Durability and Maintenance

The DCF One is very well made with seam-taped seams and excellent sewing. But it is gossamer thin on purpose and you’ll want to treat it kindly and maintain it after each use. For instance, the 7 denier floor is very thin and I’d recommend using a lightweight footprint with this tent if you camp one on the packed-earth or rock dust tent sites commonly found on prepared tent sites. Gossamer Gear sells a plastic sheeting called polycryo for footprints that is super lightweight but extremely tough and I’d recommend getting a 1 or 2-pack if you buy a tent from them. You’ll quickly become a convert for life. The stuff is incredibly useful.

I’d also avoid putting too much tension on the #3 zipper on the vestibule door when staking out the ridgeline and recommend cleaning and lubricating periodically, and more frequently if you camp in sand. Gear Aid sells a great zipper lubricant stick for this purpose and it lasts forever. I’ve been using the same one for over 10 years and it’s still going strong.

Comparable One Person, DCF Ultralight Tents

Recommendation

The Gossamer Gear DCF One is an innovative one-person, single-wall, trekking pole tent that breaks the ultralight DCF tent paradigm by cleverly coupling a DCF rainfly with a nylon floor. The result is a tent that’s significantly less bulky which is important if you want to carry a lower volume ultralight backpack. If the 81″ long bathtub floor sizing is appropriate for your height, I think that you’ll really enjoy using the DCF One. It’s much easier to set up and get a tight pitch than the Zpacks Plexamid and packs much more compactly than the Tarptent Aeon Li. But all of these tents have their pros and cons depending on your priorities and most people would be happy to own any of them.

Disclosure: Gossamer Gear loaned the author a tent for this review.

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