/ Whatever happened to the ridge tent?

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KellyKettle - on 27 Aug 2013
Earlier I pitched my X2 in the garden to check the replacement parts i'd ordered were correct (70mph winds, not a problem; drunken man stumbles onto tent as you're pitching it, surprisingly damaging), and I was struck by how it occupied a simmilar amount of space as my dad's 2-man tent (Robert Saunders Fellpine C/I) which feels much smaller, so I pitched them side by side (Photo: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3788/9606082995_9581091428_k.jpg ).

The footprint is nigh identical, the interior space is slightly less in the fellpine due to the tapered shape, and the crux wins hands down on usable headroom... but I was struck by how good the 34 year old tent was in comparison to modern ones, and from my fathers recolections at least, it stood up pretty well in the elements, I'd hazard that the crux would outperform there, but assuming both were pitched with their back to the wind, I'm not sure there would be a huge amount of difference.

I also found that it took a fraction of the time to pitch a ridge tent compared to a geodesic and also slightly less time than a tunnel tent; moreover even with heavy steel poles and pegs, the fellpine is still lighter than most of the small two-man tents I've handled, my bet is that with aluminium (or more exotic) poles, nylon rather than cotton inner, and modern pegs, it would compete on weight with many of the one hoop tents on the market, whilst being a measure more resiliant.

So, what is it that killed the ridge design? I'm assuming that they don't deal with side winds awfully well, hence their being supplanted by geodesic designs for 4/4+ season tents, but for lightweight backpacking tents etc, I can't see why they faded out.
Trangia - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle:

Ulitimately I think it boils down to internal space. Do a cross section of the two and you will find that the "semi-circle" has a march larger area than the "triangle"
Garbhanach - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle: The geodesic near upright sides are also giving more interior space and sheds snow better, wondering if in high winds if the give in the geodesic poles would mean less chance of the poles breaking or the tent material failing allowing for a lighter tent that can handle high winds if the fly is Kerlon.

You can still buy ridge tents but they appear quite heavy http://www.blacksofgreenock.co.uk/acatalog/Force_Ten_Ridge_Tents.html
They get some good reviews.



ice.solo - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle:

Still about reincarnated as mids and YL tents. The yanks love em.

I use an MSR twin brothers and agree with all you say.
BigBrother - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle: Internal space and the pole in the way of the door. And fashion of course. A-frame ridge tents like the Phoenix Phortress were probably the strongest mountain tents made. Sloping sides shed wind very well whereas vertical sides, like on your Crux, need the multiple crossing poles and guys to provide strength. Rigid alloy poles were much stronger than bendy ones.

Many of the lightweight backpacking ridge tents of the 80s would still be considered light today despite the heavier materials used.

Modern ultralight tents and tarptents using trekking poles to pitch are often closer to the ridge tent design and with modern lightweight materials can be very very light.
pneame on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to Garbhanach:
Good grief. I'd never have guessed that you could still get them.
Expensive.
I see they've ditched the Mk 2 - I wonder why?
abr1966 - on 27 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle: That's making me nostalgic for my old Saunders tent....Robert Saunders tents were something special...
Toccata on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle:

Still love the old Vango F10 Mk3 but I afraid the Terra N UQ wins hands down.
Dr.S at work - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle:
Got my Mk3 force 10 out for a car camping trip recently - really nice to sleep in, and at least as good internal space as a TN voyager - I do remember carrying it when the canvas was soaked though......
Pyreneenemec - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle:

I still use occasionally my Ultimate Tramp 1, bought in 1980. The A-pole design was very strong and has resisted extremely strong gusts of wind. Using only the fly-sheet is a more comfortable alternative to a bivvy bag, for similar weight and carrying space.
Siward on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle: I still use my trusty Phoenix phortress tent for winter camping when a reliable refuge is required from the worst of winter weather. It is perhaps the ultimate development of the ridge tent, twin A poles in sleeves and absolutely rock solid. I am confident in saying it is more resilient than any modern geodesic thing.

Chris Townsend says of it "I reckon the strongest tent of the many I've used - several hundred at least! - is the Phoenix Phortress, a double A pole tent that pitches flysheet first and dates from the 80s. It's the only tent I've used where I've woken in the morning, thought it was a calm day and had my head practically blown off when I stuck it out of the door. The Phortress is heavy and doesn't have the space of a geodesic or tunnel but it's certainly incredibly strong."

a lakeland climber on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle:

One point that hasn't been mentioned is the difficulty of keeping the inner and outer separate across the large side panels.

As for strength - geodesic work in a different way to the rigid A-frame ridge tents - they flex in the wind then bounce back rather than resist it. The poles have to be high quality though as cheap ones don't flex as well. I've had the roof of a Wild Country Supernova slap me in the face, the tent flexed that much.

ALC
Clint86 - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to Toccata: My poles keep breaking on the Terra Nova quasar. That's their weakness.
In reply to KellyKettle:
> I can't see why they faded out.

Like others say, they haven't really - they're just back in a myriad of slightly different forms and called "tarps" now.

Paul F - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to BigBrother:
> (In reply to KellyKettle) Internal space and the pole in the way of the door. And fashion of course. A-frame ridge tents like the Phoenix Phortress were probably the strongest mountain tents made.

I wish I had kept mine. :o(

I replaced it with a Wintergear Sapphire (which became the Quasar when made by Wildcountry/terra nova)

TMM - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to Pyreneenemec:

The Tramp was my favourite two-person backpacking tent from the late 80's. Very stable, a pleasure to pitch and ideal for two. I think I replaced it with a Saunders Backpacker 2 (light, but felt comparatively flimsy). This was soon replaced by a Wintergear three pole tent (essentially an early WC Voyager). For solo use the Phoenix Phreeranger was the usual option being much cheaper than the Saunders Spacepacker. That triangulated guying system could end up in right mess!
TMM - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to TMM:

Going a little misty eyed thinking about my old tents! Such an amazing object. The tent represented freedom to my teenage self. Where has all that freedom gone now (family, job, mortgage, 'responsibilities')?
Paul F - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to TMM:

The 'industry standard' ridge tent is still made though…..

http://www.forcetentents.com/classic-tents.html
Shearwater - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle:
> So, what is it that killed the ridge design?

They're dead, now? I think they've just evolved a bit ;-) http://tarptent.com/stratospire2.html is a lovely bit of gear.

Anyway, I suspect that the geodesic/tunnel design scales better, because you can have much larger tents without also needing huge areas of flappy unsupported fabric or having to festoon your campsite with guylines and pegs. This doesn't matter so much for small 1-2 man tents, mind you. The vertical sidewalls in geos and tunnels also keep your footprint smaller for the same useable tent volume.
TMM - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to Paul F:
> (In reply to TMM)
>
> The 'industry standard' ridge tent is still made though…..
>
> http://www.forcetentents.com/classic-tents.html

Never understood the attraction them, seemed more like and instrument of child (or teenage) cruelty.

I often seemed to be at a campsite where a bedraggled group of DofE teenagers would arrive, struggle to put up a Force Ten and find out that they were missing the crucial 'A' piece from the poles.
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marsbar - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to TMM: The attraction being that the force tens lasted pretty well despite the abuse of groups of teenagers, and you could get spares when they lost bits.
TMM - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to marsbar:

Aaaah, thanks for the explaining that.
ben b - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to TMM: Good grief - I never remembered the MkIII being that light - 7.1kg! Must have been weighed when dry.

b

marsbar - on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to TMM:

If it makes you feel any better about the tortured kids, I once trusted my Venture Scouts to bring a tent to camp for me. I ended up in a force 10 with no ridge pole, held up with extra guy ropes.

Surprisingly enough it fell in on me during the night *wanders off reminiscing about the good old days* :-)

Jenny C on 28 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle: Had many a happy holiday in a ridge tent and I know they are heavy but a proper canvas tent is soooo much quieter to when it's windy, plus they don't suffer as much from condensation. Suffered some awfull winds in ours and never yet had it fall down - although have had pegs pull out of the ground!

Advantages of geo/nylon are that they are smaller/lighter to pack, also the extra internal volume (head height) is a real bonus - anyone remember the old frame tents? TBH I think the fashion for private bedrooms and a shared living space also plays a part in why the traditional ridge tent has gone out of fashion.
ben b - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to marsbar:

> If it makes you feel any better about the tortured kids, I once trusted my Venture Scouts to bring a tent to camp for me. I ended up in a force 10 with no ridge pole, held up with extra guy ropes.

Having been caught similarly before, I made a group check, check again, and promise me they would bring 4 (same sized) legs, a longer ridge pole, 2 A frames, the fly, the inner and the pegs or there would be no food.

The little sods turned up with the inner of a (3 man) Mk 4 and the outer of a (2 man) Mk3. It was like the world's worst canvas TARDIS.

Never underestimate their capacity to stuff up :-)

b
TMM - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to ben b:

That was my one and only experience with Force Ten!!

I was supposed to be camping with another group and had to rely on someone else's kit. I was due to carry poles, pegs and the stove whilst the other guy had the tent. It was a miserable day and we had to pitch in fierce weather after dark. We quickly became aware that the last idiots to pack away the kit had put a MkIII inner with a MkII Fly. How I laughed.

Additionally how can anything SO heavy have SO little space? Any they smell of festering teenagers.
thin bob on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to KellyKettle:
Not so much headroom in a ridge tent - getting dressed in one was a performance! I sold my force 10 'lightweight' a couple of years ago (lightweight as it tapered at the foot end). Lovely for camping without much walking or split between two. quiet, strong, cool/warmer than nylon.

Nice cheery orange colour and campfire -'resistant'....but heavy compared to todays tents.

Although it has no porch, a proper tent is a Black's Good Companion bell tent :-) http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/tents/p/1845
marsbar - on 29 Aug 2013
In reply to ben b: I've always packed my own tent since! I think that we only had one size so they didn't manage the tardis trick.

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