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
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.
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.
NEMO OBI 2 ELITE TENT
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Details on the Bivi Tarp can be found on the Terra Nova site
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.