It is now 3 years since I started walking in the hills and mountains again, after a long break through work and family commitments. I have done many day walks in the winter period, but I have only started to do backpacking in the last year and none past November. Whilst I have a considerable amount of kit and certainly the correct clothing for winter, I cannot say that my current gear will be sufficient for winter backpacking.
It seems to me that I will require additional/replacement kit for this period. I have purchased my winter stove, the Primus Express Spider and tested for cold conditions by sticking it in the freezer see Cold Test post
Looking at the gear list, the big three – shelter, sleeping and backpacks is a natural place to start with. This post deals with shelter.
My current backpacking tent is the Vaude Power Lizard, which although has had some issues and I have modified it- is a good very light 1+ backpacking tent which packs small in my backpack, the OMM Jirishanca. I don’t know at this stage whether it is up to winter backpacking as the model only came out this year. Although I have slept in it in the snow several times at home – this is no real test for mountain conditions. It is clear that a number of bloggers do use similar design tents in the winter period, I am unsure what conditions they have encountered, particularly in relation to snow and strong winds.
My natural inclination is to be cautious – better safe than sorry, belt and braces type of chap I am. So it suggests to me that a single hoop is not right for the period (with the exception of the Scarp 1 by Tarptents which has the crossing poles for extra security and snow capabilities) and that a free-standing tent would be more suitable. Weight is important, but a safe, secure and restful night is more important.
So I am looking at three possibles -
Scarp 1 tent
Lots of useful reviews of the tent, the tent seems to be stable, can be pitched as tight as a drum, good amount of space, not as much as the Power Lizard, but adequate and has the option of the crossing poles. Looking at the design of the tent and reading reviews it seems that the crossing poles help with snow, but as far as I can see they don’t offer very much in helping against strong winds as the ends are not anchored to the ground. I have added up the weights of the tent, some heavier pegs and crossing poles and it looks like a total of around 1.9 kg. The cost, even with importing from the USA seems good value.
Soulo from Hilleberg
Hilleberg tents can be viewed at http://www.hilleberg.se/default-e.HTM
If I am following my belt and braces inclination, this seems to the tent. Bomb-proof, stable, easy to pitch, good space, free-standing, therefore good for snow – a tent you could take anywhere – well that’s what I have read. I have also read the spec – 2.2 kg – more than double the weight of my Power Lizard. However it is only 300g more than the Scarp 1 when you include the weight of the crossing poles. Great on paper – can I live with the weight and pack size ?
Nallo 2 from Hilleberg
This is another option from Hilleberg. On occasions, one of my sons comes with me on backpacking trips, so this would be an ideal 2 man winter tent or solo option. At 2.15 kg it is a little lighter than the Soulo. However, is the tunnel design as strong as the Soulo ? – probably not, but is it adequate ? I will have to do further research.
So which one ?
All three have good positive reasons for buying them with little downside. I am going to think a bit more about it – but I am moving towards the Soulo – it is that belt and braces option after all !!
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