The weather is looking good and I have no tents. That’s a lie, I’ve no tents that I’ll use. They’re all away their holidays and the only one person tent left is of a design that last weekend failed me badly and I’ll never take above 100m again. Ah shit, maybe I’ll sit on my arse or catch up on my correspondance, catch up on my reading maybe. Talking of which, I sat in the van with a Greggs festive bake and a cuppa today and had a flick through the new Trail, it was just like the old days. Except the music was coming from an iPod and not a compilation tape.
What I won’t be doing as intended is reviewing any of the current test kit, oh no, that’s for next week. My computer finger is worn down to the canvas and my gear gland needs cuppas and a chunk of Chelsea Whopper to chew on.

46 thoughts on “Tentless”

  1. Hi. First post after reading for a while. Just about the best outdoor content on the Internet, nice one.

    Which tent failed you? I’m pondering the Seedhouse SL1 and the Laser Comp at the moment. It’d be used in winter (on occasion). Trouble is, I’m 6’4″ and the Laser just looks like it might be a bit too cramped for my freakish body.

  2. Hi Johnny, thanks.

    Both the tents you mention are very familiar to me! I know at six feet the lasercomp is fine for me, but I’m not sure how much extra space there is. The on-paper dimensions don’t tell the whole story because the ends taper down. I haven’t used it for ages since I’ve had all these test tents, I’ll check when it comes back from getting its photo taken.
    The Seedhouse I’m sure is longer as Big Agnes size their tents to take their larger size mats and bags which do up to six foot six. The only drawback with the Seedhouse is that it’s noticably cooler because of the inner being entirely mesh.
    Both great tents though, and neither one was what failed me last weekend.

    Once the tent reviews are published in the mag, I’ll fill in the gaps :o)

  3. Cheers, I’m edging towards the Big Agnes. I know the McInnes boys who import them, so I’m happy to hand over the cash to them.

    I’ve got two American tissue paper tents myself already (a Marmot and a Black Diamond) and they know how to make decent kit. I’m figuring to make up for the mesh inner with an Exped mat and a nice downy jumper of some description.

    On that front, SynMat or DownMat? I’d normally think DownMat but I can see how blowing moisture into the down might be a bad idea in winter.

  4. Aye, nip into ISO Active and grab a box of Honey Stingers while you’re looking at the tents :o)

    The Synmat is okay on frozen ground, but I get the feeling it was getting near its limit last weekend. But I was warm enough. The Downmat is going to be warmer, but it’s huge and heavy, I’d try a foil sheet under the Synmat first and see how that went before I commited myself to the cost and weight. The new models don’t have a valve to blow in, they’ve only got that stupid internal pump thing, so no moist breath in there, just damp tent air.

    I’ve said that same thing before about the Seedhouse, just wrap up warmer, maybe take a warmer sleeping bag. And keep your water bottle in beside you.

  5. That’s interesting you say that. The chart, here:


    Indicates that the Synmat 7 and the Downmat 7 are more or less the same packed size and weight.

    I guess I need to see them in the flesh.

    I was thinking Syn/Downmat + some Big Agnes Top Bag + a LIM Barrier and maybe a LIM down vest.

    Much harder to decide all this stuff when you’ve got a limited budget and none of the outdoor shops stock any decent kit.

  6. Aye, maybe they were showing me the Downmat 9? In that case the only restriction is the price.
    The Big Agnes Two Track mats are rated down to -17C or soemthing, I’ve got one on test and it’s great on frozen ground. It’s thinner, more like a Thermarest, so there’s more feedback from uneven ground. The weight’s okay for the performance, but it’s got a huge packsize. ISO might still have an ex-demo long length one of those in the shop?

    You’re right about trying to track down the good gear, and when you find it the prices are frightening. I can vouch for the LIM stuff, but I’d try and track some down and try it on first with your height. The Barrier Pullover is just long enough to keep my lower back warm.

  7. The worst wind I’ve seen was at sea level – Glenbrittle – Easter, some years ago. The site was cmpletely devastated with about 50 tents wrecked, including all the ‘Force Tens’. The survivors were the Terra Nova Quasars, and a couple of North Face VE25s – mine was one of these, and that lost a guy line, torn across the fabric. Sadly my Phreerunner’s pole buckled as the tent’s occupant was being sociable in the VE25. I’d like to think that had that tent been occupied it would have stood up to the weather. I’m still using it with confidence 20 years on – and no doubt I will continue to wait for its replacement – a robust one-man single skin tent with breathable fabric….

  8. Tiso have the Barrier, and it’s long enough. I don’t generally have a bother with tops, it’s trousers that give me issues. I have a 5 year old pair of Haglofs trousers that look like a precursor to the current Rugged that I found at West Coast that fit me but generally, most of them are an inch too short.

    I’ve got a 3/4 thermarest which does the job Spring to Autumn but it’s better suited to my 2 year old! That’ll have to do in the meantime. Culra bothy in a couple of weeks for me.

  9. Phreerunner
    robust one-man single skin tent with breathable fabric
    Big Agnes had that before eVent got canned as a tent fabric. After just using 16 tents from different manufacturers it amazing to see where their priorities are. Some are aiming for a price point or an ultimate weight, some are juat wanting flashy good looks to attact sales. But there are some who are trying to squeeze out as much perforamce as they can, but they’re all compromised in some way.
    I’d love to see a decent sized 4 season 1200g tent that’ll take my gear in the porch with room for cooking and not try to take off or tear itself apart when the wind gets up to 50mph. Some are close, but the desire to produce it doesn’t seem to be there.

    In that case, get the Barrier. It’s the lightest 60g-fill Primaloft top available in the UK this winter. But it’s £100 retail or something? Oof.
    Culra bothy sound magic, I just got a photo message from a friend travelling to Glen Coe, they’re on the A82, stuck behind the snowplough who’s clearing the road ahead.
    Exciting times!

    West Coast, still a much missed shop.

  10. Snowploughs, lovely.

    The day I walked up the Fort high street and found a big gaping hole where West Coast used to be, was a sad one.

    Culra bothy – mountain bike in; walk the 4 northside peaks; stay the night; walk Alder and Bheoil; mountain bike out.

    Hopefully, some of your weather luck will hold for me too.

    Right, off to Tiso for some socks, gloves and “fresh” air.

  11. The one you’ve got looks pretty badass. I’ve been testing a similar model to the other one, and like you say, wind is a worry. But their use of Epic fabric worries me more, it’s great stuff but will let water through under pressure. So great for the US and Alpine stuff but I dunno for the UK.

  12. A mate brought one of those BD Epic fabric tents back from the US this summer….
    He took it to the Lake District….
    He got wet! :))

  13. ptc*, what was the temp at which you thought the Synmat was about on the limit? I have Downmat 9 :-) but a big bulky beast it is; I used my Insulmat Thermo Girly Thingy in the summer, which I spect is about on a par with the Synful mat, and probably won’t do me in the winter.

  14. “a design that last weekend failed ” Would that be the green one your in all the photos :)

    Anyway there is all ways a nice bothy for a night. But here is a question. What you reckon to the new Scarp 1 from Tarp Tent? Looks good.

  15. Johnny, I was in one of those tents a couple of weeks ago (not everything goes on the blog!) and I liked it. It’s roomy, packs small and feels like a regular tent. If I’d had more testing time I would have got to the bottom of its weather resistance.

    Bobinson, in this weather if I took the bivy I’d have to tunnel out in the morning :o)

    Kate, the air temp was -8C in the tent at one point, and the water I’d spilt on the floor inside was frozen next to my mat. But I was in PHD heaven so I wasn’t caring :o)

    Aye Matt, fine for Nevada that Epic fabric…

  16. Hey Martin, the clue is indeed in the photies :o) I will reveal all in time though.

    I’ll away and have a look at the Scarp. I’ll tell you though I’m seeing tents jumping over fences in my sleep just now. This might be the killer blow….!!

  17. Interesting, looks like a cross between a Terra Nova Argon, a Lasercomp and it might even have Akto ends on it.
    That’s a pity I never spotted it, it would have fitted in well with the tent test.

  18. Ah you missed it. Maybe Henry will let you test one? I reckon the extra poles you can have make it some design. Two porches etc. I like the look of it a lot. Five inch bathtub as well will be handy.

    I am off to see the bank manager:).

  19. Thanks PTC
    Shame – seems I missed out on the Big Agnes eVent tent. The Phreerunner will therefore soldier on, together with a Nallo that’s been pitched for over 100 nights but not yet properly tested (you must have to deliberately choose foul weather!) and a Hyperspace which (having replaced the worn out VE25) proved superb in a gale on Ben Alder last winter.

  20. Aye Phreerunner, getting a tent you trust and are comfortable using is the business. But sure as shit they’ll discontinue it when you’re looking for a replacement.

    Moggy, it’s frighteningly tasty. aslo mine was jus out of the oven and crunchy on the top…I’m hungry…

    Johnny, it’s a fantastic tent. It’s available in the UK (£250 I think)and if I can’t get the test sample back I’m going to buy one. Here it is…
    Not again...

  21. @bobinson, everything else being equal, I’m probably going to ignore the inner first issue. Weight, packed size, weather protection, space (do I fit in it?) are the most important things to me. After that, ease of pitching, inner first, price, durability, porch size, are secondary.

    I’ve got a Marmot Eos 2p, which is a similar design, and it doesn’t take too long to put up.

  22. With you there !
    That Heilberg I was in last weekend was awesome but expensive and heavy !
    We will just have to wait for PTC to write up his tent test.

  23. Aye, I cannae give too much away…
    But, after a few goes at it, the Hubba HP pitches really quickly. One of the few tents whe inner first pitching isn’t an issue for me.

  24. And cheaptents.co.uk have it for 212 notes. I’m going to have to find a reason *not* to buy one now. Shame I’ve got a big pile of Haglofs LIM gear and a lightweight bag/pad combo to get hold of too. Bonus season can’t come soon enough.

  25. It’s a bitch when you need kit all at once. My head says “prioritise” my heart is just excited at the though of sitting at camp, cozy with a brew with new gear :o)

  26. I’ve ‘survived’ with inner-first pitching tents for over 25 years so they can’t be that impractical…. provided they pitch quickly and the inner is made of good stuff to repel the bit of moisture that gets onto it. The exception is an inner with a lot of mesh – that way lies puddles on the groundsheet! :(

  27. And *need* is a very relative term. The only things I’m really lacking are decent lightweight waterproof trooz. But that’s such a dull purchase – I rarely wear them in winter. If I’m walking, it’d have to be p!shing down to wear waterproofs. If I’m winter climbing (which I’ve abandoned for the timebeing), I’ve got some heavier weight items that work.

    The only thing that I’m completely missing is the 1p, 4 season tent. It feels slightly wrong to own 3 tents though.

  28. We are using TNF Vario now as a lightweight tent, single skin, but we live with a bit of condensation, withstood serious wind and rain in and have no fear on taking it out in blizzards. pitching is minutes thanks to the external frame and clips. Good size rear vestibule for the packs, and a second good size vestibule for cooking and gear we may use. The lift technology certainly stablises the tent in wind.
    Two man sub 2 kilo, with great pack size, due to the standard compression bag supplied by TNF

  29. Aye, the Vario looks good, thet dome design will be rock solid. TNF do some great tents, the one I had for the test was a bit odd though.

    Johnny, owning 3 tents is sensible, that’s planning ahead that is.

  30. Planning to have five by the summer. Though I could stand to lose one, which I don’t see the need for. Bivy, 1 man lightweight, 3/4 person car camper, family tent. Don’t need a 2 person lightweight.

    eBay I think, unless you know anyone who wants a Marmot Eos 2p?

    I’m wearing my xmas present from my wife – Haglofs Treble Hoody. V. nice. Recommended. Oh, and I just got hold of a pair of Icebug Speeds from Germany (fastnlight didn’t have my size). I tried Salomon Fastpackers but they didn’t fit (too snug).

    Just bursting to get out and enjoy the snow now but can’t until the 14th. Boo.

  31. Anybody wants Johnny’s Marmot tent, mail me through the contact form, middle column near the top and I’ll swap your details.

    I’ve got a review of the Haglofs Treble coming up at some point, it’s a nice bit of kit, Powerstretch is great for winter, top and bottom. As long as I don’t photograph my legs, I am 40 in a couple of weeks after all…

    I haven’t had the Fastpackers on for a while, I got all enthused with the new Montrails. That’s a bummer that they were duff. I wonder if it’s a one-off or a Raichle style generic fault.

  32. In those 10 miles I was less and less enthused about the fastpacker, give me XA’s or Speedcross2. The sole started making some really bad creaking & farting noises, like the most worn out runners, and the padding was definently not feeling so good. Who knows, could have been a duff pair, I took my cash, had no faith in them!

  33. The XA’s and Speedcross have been great, but second pair of Salomon boots to go bad, the fabric on my Revo SCS ‘shrank’, and I know of another pair that did the same, just got progressively tight after getting wet lol

  34. I wanted to like the Revos, but they just never felt right on my foot. A lucky escape maybe.
    I’d wear my XA’s every day, such a good shoe. I’ll keep writing to Santa asking that they put the Speedcross sole on the XCR version.

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