Initial impressions of demonstration tents at the Monsal Meet

Gareth from Webtogs, Dave from My Outdoors and Ali from Terra Nova brought along some tents as mentioned in my recent post on the Monsal meet.  Terra Nova tents I know well, but the two Nemo tents which Gareth set up and the Mountain Hardwear and Snugpack bivy that Dave from My Outdoors brought along were ones I am not familiar with.

NEMO MORPHO TENTS

Morpho tent being erected by Gareth & family

Firstly the Nemo tents, Gareth brought along a number of tents, but pitched two which were of interest to us. Firstly the Morpho tents which features Air Support Ttechnology. The AST basically replaces conventional tent poles with inflatable poles, which are pumped up in seconds with a Nemo foot/hand pump.

Immediately we asked if this configuration would stand up to strong winds.  It was obvious as soon as we moved the air beams, as Nemo calls them, they effectively spring back, and therefore they should take more abuse than a rigid pole which could snap under enough force.  Literature suggests that the air beam poles are twice as strong as an aluminium pole.

I would think however that it would not stand up to heavy snow on the roof as the Air Beams would not spring back into position.  In fairness I am not sure that this would be the right tent in these conditions and I would prefer my Hilleberg Soulo as the photo below shows from last year’s heavy snowfall.

My Hilleberg Soulo standing up well to a heavy snow load last winter

The Morpho 2P is a 2 person tent and weighs 2.7 kg (6lbs) and the Morpho 1P, a 1 person tent weighs 1.8kg (3lbs 14oz) both using a single skin waterproof  fabric and has a large waterproof and breathable roof panel to fight condensation.  I observed a very large rear vent to cope with condensation, but I am uncertain whether in rainy conditions with the vent covered up with the fabric flap and the cross bow style vents how it would cope with condensation. Does anyone have direct experience of this ?

There is quite a large porch, where the groundsheet (groundcloth) can be rolled back to enable cooking during inclement weather.

Further details can be found on the Nemo website and Webtogs

NEMO OBI 2 ELITE TENT

Obi 2 with cut outs in flysheet to save weight

Obi 2 Elite with cut outs in flysheet to save weight

This was a very interesting tent with regards to space, weight and innovative design.  This is a tent for 2 people or a palace for 1. The tent which I believe is not available yet weighs just over 1 kg, but with bags of room. To achieve this whilst keeping the weight down, Nemo uses a tripod pole configuration which creates plenty of room without the need for an additional ridge pole as this photograph shows from the Nemo website.

Another innovation, which I have not seen before, is a raised waterproof bath tub floor allowing cut outs in the flysheet to save valuable weight, but also improving ventilation.

As the top photograph shows the tent has 2 porches and doors with a good amount of space and the narrow roof line suggests that it will shed rain and snow easily.  The Elite range – there is currently a 1 person tent has a yellow flysheet. I would much prefer the green fly found on the slightly heavier standard range as this allows for stealth wild camping.

Showing interior and one of the porch details

In summary, I think a real contender for a lightweight 2 or very spacious 1 person backpacking tent that can be used under UK conditions.

Details can be found at Nemo and Webtogs.

MOUTAIN HARDWEAR SKY LEDGE 2.1      

Again another well designed tent, which Dave from My Outdoors is really impressed with. The Skyledge is a free standing 2  person tent weighing 1.9 kgs (4lbs 4oz) with two doors and two porches.   One of the porches has a small window in it which is always useful .The tent has a deep bath tub and is made from 70 dernier material and has a coating of some sort making it I suspect pretty tough and hard wearing.

MH Sky Ledge 2.1

There are some nice touches with the tent, for example there are tensioners on both the inner and outer, rather like a lightweight version of Vango’s TBS (tension band system), which makes for a tight pitch. I counted 9 hanging points in the inner and there were mesh pockets all around the inner all making for a comfortable and well organised inner tent.  Both porch doors can be tied back, easily and shouldn’t unfurl as some tent doors do with a simple toggle.  The roof is rather flat, and I did wonder whether rain or snow might collect there.

Showing tension system

Details can found at Mountain Hardwear website.

TERRA NOVA Bivi Tarp

The only product from Terra Nova that I did not recognise was the Bivi Tarp.  This is a tarp with a mesh inner and a sealed groundsheet suspended underneath. This would be in my opinion a strictly fair weather option in the UK, because there is little protection from the wind or rain. I guess it is more suited to the USA market.  The Bivi tarp weighs 730g (26 oz). I think for an extra 270g (9.5 oz) I would personally use my 2 skin Vaude Power Lizard tent, which offers far more space and protection.

TN Bivi Tarp

Details on the Bivi Tarp can be found on the Terra Nova site

SNUGPAK IONOSPHERE TENT 

Snugpak Ionosphere Tent

A more substantial Bivy, than the Terra Nova Bivi Tarp weighing 1.5 kg and showing undoubtly its military origins.  It seems that Snugpak have a brought out a complete range of tents.  This Bivy is substantially made with DAC featherlite poles, polyester ripstop flysheet and an inner with No-seem-um mesh.  There is one door cut at an angle for easier access and all the seams are taped sealed.  Might be useful for a stealthy wild camp when you are low down and want to hide away.

Details can be found on the Snugpak website

Some interesting new or yet to be released tents with the Obi 2 Elite or the Sky Ledge 2.1 being my favourites and have good potential for UK backpacking tents.

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18 Responses to Initial impressions of demonstration tents at the Monsal Meet

  1. Robin says:

    Thanks Mark, interesting stuff. None of these would take me away from my Duomid or Scarp, though. A raised flysheet is interesting but a strong wind could get under it and cause problems. I think the air beam idea has a lot going for it, but the Nemo tents tend to be a bit heavy and I’m not convinced by small single skin tents in the UK.

    • Robin, I am sure you are right regarding the tents you currently have. I had my first close up look of the Scarp at the meet – there was one there and it looked very good. I am interested in the design and potential technology that may be in its infancy with some of these tents, but maybe with modifications by the user and continuing developments by manufacturers will hopefully lead to better tents for us.

  2. Not convinced a tent with an inner that sticks out to the elements will work in this country in UK weather. There were over thirty of our trusted tents in the field last week, only one was a single skin, and the next night it was swapped as the thing leaked puddles the first night. The blow up tent, I like the idea but it wasn’t pulled off well, the vent on the back of it was pretty ridiculous, the netting was on the outside and the fly went under it, hence no chance of venting in the rain when you may need it most.

    • Jamie, thanks for dropping by . I agree the venting system for the Morpho tents needs to be sorted out for the UK. I guess without proper field evaluations it would be difficult to know for certain which ones would work or not. If anyone has used these under UK conditions I invite you to comment on their suitability.
      Thanks

  3. terrybnd says:

    Agree with most of the above. Particularly interested in the Morpho tent with it’s inflatable poles. I can see some big advantages with that shelter. But the rear vent looked suspect for UK use. All said and done, it was a proto/sample don’t forget.

    Gareth did offer me chance to try it out – and in a couple of weeks I may well take him up on the offer. I’d be interested to see how it performs on exposed pitches ya see (always a good sign of how a tent will perform naturally). Proofs in the pudding they say eh?

    I can remember folk slating Terra Novas Laser years ago when they first came out, then the Comp…..and though it’s not a great comparison – my point is to never judge a book by it’s cover 😉 LOL I can see great potential with that shelter…weights an issue for what you get mind 😦

  4. Peter says:

    I actually own a Morpho 1P but haven’t yet used it in really challenging conditions except during a serious downpour in my back yard (in which the tent remained dry). Condensation can occur in this tent, but I never had it run down the sides of the tent or anything. If you open all the ventilation and there is a little breeze, there will none or be barely any condensation.
    Note that besides the rear vent (which you can open wide if you don’t expect any rain) and the crossbow vents, there are also 2 small vents at the top of the entrance zippers. These vents (http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/7851/img2733rh.jpg ) are right above your head so if you open those, it helps a lot in minimizing condensation.
    Some more pictures here: http://img35.imageshack.us/slideshow/webplayer.php?id=img2733rh.jpg

    • Peter, thanks very much for your comments on the Morpho 1. These tents are pretty new to many in the UK . I take it you are located in the US ? I have no direct experience of single skin tents, as generally they are viewed as inappropriate in a rainy/humid climate such as the UK. However I take the view that you should not prejudge these things without some experience. Would be good to know if the vents would be sufficient in this climate or may be the Pacific North West area of US which I know quite well. Portland Oregon or Vancouver have a similar climate.

      • Peter says:

        Actually, I bought the tent at Webtogs and I live in Belgium which is also known for rather unpredictable weather, though usually slightly better than the UK 🙂
        The last night I used it was on a campsite in France with some small rainshowers during the night. I had opened all vents (not the zippers from the rear vent) and had no condensation. The nights before I did have some condensation but I had not opened the front vents.

      • Thank you Peter. Yes silly me I can see from your IP address you are from Belgium. Thanks for the update. Good to see that it is performing well for you.

  5. Gareth says:

    Great post Mark and some pertinent comments as well. I’ll be passing some of your feedback on to Nemo, but I also wanted to chip in on some of the points raised above.

    Condensation; I appreciate this is always going to be a concern with the Morpho’s, but in my experience I would agree with Peter that they perform well. I have been out in the 2P on the top of Fan Fawr in some “interesting” conditions, and despite heavy rain, it coped admirably. There is plenty of scope for ventilation with two side vents, two front vents and the large rear vent as well. More of a fair point I think is the weight, in their desire to make air beam technology bomb proof, they have perhaps made it a little too bomb proof with the additional weight that has resulted in. I would agree that it is perhaps not snow proof, but it copes better I think with high winds than some poled tents.

    As for the raised fly sheet on the Obi, testing it again in Wales for 2 days with steady rain for all of that time, the Obi 1P Elite we had was still totally dry inside. It is only a small section of the inner tent that is exposed, the rest is covered by the fly and it does ensure fantastic ventilation. I am hugely excited by the Obi 2P Elite as I don’t think that there is anything out there with as much soace for the weight. Now if only I can persuade them to get shot of that yellow fly sheet……

    • Gareth, thanks for your comments, which adds to the our understanding. I agree with you that the Obi 2 Elite is a very interesting tent and certainly for the weight it would be difficult to beat. Some good new developments out there.

  6. GeoffC says:

    The MH SkyLedge looks interesting, quite a good weight for the design and space too.
    The others look grim to me:
    Morpho 1P: 1.8kg and single skin?. Ugh!. The Air Beams are admittedly innovative,though.
    The picture of the OBI 2 looks odd to say the least, maybe the angle is deceiving!.
    Snugpack: quite heavy and looks very low.
    TN Bivi Tarp: what’s the point?. A LaserComp weighs only a little more.

  7. terrybnd says:

    I liked the look of that Snugpak, too. Good value for money shelter that – will take a hammering too due to low profile. More a glorified bivvy, mind – but that’s no bad thing if you’re OK with that and on a budget.

  8. Good stuff… that OBI 2 Elite looks very interesting to me. Especially at that weight (or lack of)

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