Monday, 8 September 2008

tent shopping

Some may know that I've been shopping around for (yet another) tent. The criteria for this tent is very specific. It needs enough head room for me to sit up in at the front, so that I can cook in the porch and under cover if the weather is bad. It also needs to have an inner and outer. And here's the killer criteria - weigh on or under 1500g.

Here's how the candidates measured up.

First up was the Big Agnes Seedhouse. I had big hopes for this tent as I'd heard good reviews from various sources. Off plan it had the headroom. However once set up it was clear that the maximum headroom was in the wrong place, to sit up and cook in the porch would require arm extensions.

Next up was the Laser Comp. Having measured my sitting back length I was sure that the internal height would do. I got something of a shock when I tried to sit inside and my head bumped against the hoop. Now it may be that the tent was not set up properly in the shop but I wouldn't have thought that would make much difference to the headroom.

After much trawling of the Internet I found the Mountain Hardware Helion 2. One of the outdoor retailers on Kensington High Street had one in stock, so I popped up on the tube over the weekend. One of the handy things about free standing geodesics is that they don't require pegs (or peg replacements) to hold them up. Well this tent ticked all the boxes and, as an added bonus, will sleep two (it's cosier than some two person tents I've owned however.)

I left the shop thinking job done... Until I walked into the next shop. In the middle of the floor in the area where they stock the tents was an Atko. Out of curiosity (a dangerous thing for cats, and me it seems) I asked a shop assistant to pitch it. Luckily they had those Velcro pegs that some shops use. With the tent pitched, I sat inside. I had room to sit up, there was space to store boots and rucksack, and space to cook. I now know why the Atko is such a well regarded tent. Off plan the headroom of this tent is 90cm, 5cm less than the Laser Comp, so given my earlier experience with the Laser I shouldn't have been been able to sit up in it. Then again I'm still wondering why this should be.

This left me with a bit of a dilemma. The Atko and the Helion weigh and cost the same. The Atko is a big amount of space for one. Oh dear! I kicked around the pro's and cons, and a decision was made.

I'm buying the Helion. Why? Well it sleeps two and the other person who'll be sharing it with me offered to pay half.

Look out for the obligatory gear review.

High street retailers please note; Velcro carpet pegs help pitch tents so that people can try them out. This is extremely useful especially when the stock advice to people buying tents is to try them out for size.


Martin Rye said...

The Helion breaks the 1.5 kg rule but hey 1.77 kg total packed weight ain't bad. Judy Armstrong moaned about it getting wet as she pitched it on test for the TGO. I'm sure with practise it will go up quick - so the inner pitch will not be a big issue. I would have waited for the Terra Nova 09 Voyager Super light at 1.45 kg to come out. The Akto has a very over rated porch design, so a wise pass.

Alan Sloman said...

Hey, Guess what!

I would have bought a Stephenson's Warmlite 2C (or 2R if two of you wanted to share it)

But then I adore my little Wanda...

Only weighs 1205 grams all up, you know.... and much more headroom and far more stable...I could go on... (I often do)

John Hee said...

Akto headroom seems to be a regular benefit over the TN's Laser. A case of lightweight being made at the cost of functionality

Martin Rye said...

John I have used the Akto, and own a Laser which has more head room - lots more room to be honest.

baz carter said...

Seems I've found out what makes outdoor bloggers sit up and post comments!

Londonbackpacker said...

I always felt the Akto headroom was to low; that's why I went for the Nallo, I also didn't like the way the inner opened.

Unknown said...

Hi Baz, it seems someone has to step up and put forward a case for the BA Seedhouse!

Now, I can't comment on the Seedhouse SL1 but the SL2 is as easy to cook inside the porch as anything I've known. On the Coniston trip I was forced to cook inside and you can reach pretty much everywhere inside the porch from a sitting up position at the inner door. Perhaps the Seedhouse SL1 is different however.

I'm 5'7" and I can sit up in any part of the inner bar the far corners (intended for feet) and it weighs in a 1550g for £275.

In the interests of not being too biased I'll concede that the Helion looks a bit more stable because of the geodesic design.


On a serious note though, I'd be interested in a review once you've had chance to use it.

baz carter said...

Hey Dude, welcome to the fray! The internal height is the same. The two person is just wider. The max headroom is in the middle and I just couldn't sit up at the entrance. I'm six one and a bit - at five seven you'd have no trouble with most tents.

What's interesting about this is that each of our experiences are different. I'm not sure how subjective these are but I'm wondering how factual the sizes expressed by tent manufacturers are. I've never taken a ruler to a tent, scales yes; ruler never. I use the sit in it and see way of measuring it. Hence my Laser vs Atko problem.