Advice on backpacker tent choice - finding it impossible!

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 LesleyS 22 Jul 2021

I'm recently back from my latest trip, 3 nights wild and 1 on a campsite. I've used my year-old Vango Force 10 helium on quite a few trips now, and I'd like to replace it with something which suits me better. 

Things I like about it:

Small footprint, easy to find a spot for it. 

Dark green, unobtrusive colour.

Easy and fast to pitch, all-in-one.

Light - 1.2kg.

Small packed size - fits in my rucksack side pocket. 

Things that are bugging me about it:

It's fine for sleeping in, but I'm finding I need more space for hanging around in the tent. 

It's flappy in the wind.

Although it is fast to pitch, I find it hit and miss to get it just right so it isn't too flappy, and too low at the head/foot ends. 

I'd prefer more mesh, there's only a tiny little window in the door. 

I'm hoping to sell it to help me fund a new one. But finding the right one is proving difficult, with my budget of up to 300 (350 at a push). 

I'm considering Tarptent Stratospire 1, Nemo Hornet 1 and Sierra Designs high route. All of them tick most of my boxes. But I can't find the tarptent for sale in the UK. I'd have to ship it over from the US then I'd have to keep it whether or not I like it, it's too expensive to send back. I'm not sure if the hornet takes up too much space or if there is option to bring the porch bit in closer to the main tent. I can't get my head around the space inside the high route at all.

I don't spend tons of nights out, but enough that I want a tent I'm happy with, that is good quality, that will stand up to weather. 

I have the helium in the meantime and it does okay so I have no urgent need. But I find myself stressing about this often! Does anyone have experience of the above tents? Or another tent suggestion to give me more options to obsess about

 crayefish 22 Jul 2021
In reply to LesleyS:

I don't know the US tents you're referring to (though I know some of the brands), but bear in mind that many US 3 season tents are designed for much drier conditions than we have in the UK, so often aren't suitable for crap British weather.  Things like low bathtub floors an ultralight mesh inners etc don't help in windy rain conditions.

Something that light for your budget will be tough, but am sure folks here will have some ideas.  I use a F10 Xenon UL 2+ with an extended porch for my solo camping.  Quality isn't great (you'll probably have noticed that yourself from the brand), the nylon fly tends to stretch when wet (annoying) but its only 2.2kg and has a tonne of space for sitting out bad weather... even if my gf comes alone.

 monzaman 22 Jul 2021
In reply to crayefish:

"... even if my gf comes alone."

comforting to know it's not just me who has to deal with this!

 AJK87 22 Jul 2021
In reply to LesleyS:

As you've said you can cope with the Helium for now, I would consider saving up for a bit and increasing your budget.

I know some people struggle with the idea of spending many hundreds of pounds on a small wild camping tent.

If you spend a bit more though, and get something that does exactly what you want it to, that is reassuring in bad weather, and robust enough to last many years then it is infinitely better value than getting a compromise that wears out quickly.

Also, the market for some of well known brands 2nd hand is very strong. If you buy a new tent and get a good deal, if you want to change it you can often sell on after a year or 2 and get nearly your money back.

 Andy Manthorpe 22 Jul 2021
In reply to LesleyS:

You can add extra guylines using these clips, or something similar, if that is any help.

Have you seen the details of the Alpkit Ordos 2 ? Perhaps a couple of hundred grams heavier than you want, but bigger than your existing tent and well priced.

 crayefish 23 Jul 2021
In reply to monzaman:

Lol!  Another classic typo...

 LesleyS 23 Jul 2021
In reply to crayefish:

My first tent was a Yellowstone - under 30 pounds from Tesco. So I noticed a huge step up in quality with the Helium!

I liked the mesh inner. Yes, it was cold. But I could pitch up, snuggle in and look out at the views while being safe from bugs. I didn't realise how much I was going to miss that. 

I'm going to keep looking for now. Thanks for replying. 

 LesleyS 23 Jul 2021
In reply to AJK87:

Yes, I'm going to set some money aside each month and look again next summer. There's just so many options, it's hard to narrow it down to figure oit what to aim for. 

 LesleyS 23 Jul 2021
In reply to Andy Manthorpe:

Well, those clips are genius - thanks for bringing them to my attention!

The ordos does look really good,  but I'm not sure about the door at the end rather than the side. I wish I had somewhere nearby I could look at various tents and get in and out and test them. 

 Tigger 23 Jul 2021
In reply to crayefish:

Unfortunately, I think even the more expensive Silnylon tents & tarps stretch when wet, not just Silicone treated ones such as the F10 range.

 Tigger 23 Jul 2021
In reply to LesleyS:

Just remember there will be import fees to consider if buying from America.

 Tigger 23 Jul 2021
In reply to Andy Manthorpe:

I've heard of folk making a few complaints about the Ordos, mainly condensation as there isn't a rear vent and that the mesh sections of the inner are very fragile. Otherwise it's got the potential to be a decent tent.

 Siward 23 Jul 2021
In reply to LesleyS:

Maybe some options here?

The Phreeranger design is a classic

Also Scottish! 

 Nick_Scots 23 Jul 2021
In reply to LesleyS:

I have a small OEX 1 person Phoxx LV2.

First night I slept in it I realised how small it is for getting into the sleeping bag and although there are mesh panels on the inner at the head end, it is quite easy to build up co2 !

Those trekker tents look really good. Plenty mesh for avoiding condensation on the fly in the morning and light. 

 crayefish 23 Jul 2021
In reply to Tigger:

My Hilleberg Keron 3 doesn't stretch in the wet (at least not noticably).  Though for the price, one would bloody hope so. 😅  But its mostly used in Arctic conditions so not a problem either way.

My Xenon UL 2+ looks like a pair of granny's underpants when it rains and holds a lot of water too when carrying in the day time.  But for the price (ln discount) its pretty good and rather palatial for solo stuff.

In reply to LesleyS:

Durston X-Mid 2. I have posted about this tent before, so forgive the repetition - but it does exactly fulfil your wish list as best as I can see. The only problem is that they are very difficult to get hold of - they are made in small batches and the designer has an agreement he made to get them to market with a US site called who have spun off their outdoor arm so that it only sells via Amazon. The tents are released intermittently in fairly small numbers, until Dan can escape the clutches of Drop and Amazon and sell them himself from his own site. My only quibble with it is I would prefer a predominantly solid inner rather than mesh, but that's not what you prefer, so I suspect this is a very good fit for you.

Here's what I wrote on the other thread about it:

1.1kg, double skin, two large porches, room to sit up, 4 pegs minimum. Uses 2 trekking poles. The main point of difference is the designer has put a huge amount of care into the design to ensure e.g rain doesn't drip in when opening the doors, the ventilation works, the thing is built with much strength etc. It also copes well with snow and high winds. I haven't yet found a significant downside other than almost impossible to source as the production runs have all sold out.The inner is mesh and I would prefer a nylon or mixed version for lousy weather, but that looks to be a year until they are made up; the fact that the designer is actually going to make a solid inner based on feedback is a pretty good sign. He's also working on a DCF version which will probably sell out in a few minutes because of the number of over-excited americans asking for it!

Hope this helps,


(edit: corrected link)

Post edited at 06:07
In reply to ben b:

Hi Ben, I’ve looked at those a few times - is it pretty similar to this tarptent model do you think?

In reply to crayefish:

> My Hilleberg Keron 3 doesn't stretch in the wet (at least not noticably).

My Kaitum2 stretches like mad in UK damp/wet weather.

In reply to Dr.S at work:

Dan used a SS2 for some time and rates it highly - his review is here:

You'll note at the end "The SS2 is such a good tent that it got my brain-wheels turning on how it’s limited shortcomings could be further improved. After years of mulling it over, I ended up designing an SS2 competitor called the X-Mid 2P. It features the same advantages of the SS2 (e.g. spacious, light, stormworthy), but with a much simpler 4 stake pitch, no sag polyester fabric, no struts so it can pack up short/store horizontally, non-slip floor, factory seam taped, 6oz lighter, better wind and snow performance, and with larger vents that aren’t perpetually half wrinkled shut."

So the SS2 is indeed very similar, with the X-Mid 2 allegedly being better

However I haven't used an SS2 so can't speak from experience. They are actually available which makes them a better choice over the X-Mids if you need one now!



 LesleyS 18:04 Sun
In reply to LesleyS:

Lots more for me to think about! I like the Phreeranger. It isn't available just now, but I'll keep an eye on it. The x-mid looks very interesting too. I've decided to just enjoy the research phase while I save up, and hope that "the one" becomes apparent as I go. At least I won't be bored on the Internet in the meantime! Thanks for all your responses!

In reply to LesleyS:

> Lots more for me to think about! I like the Phreeranger. It isn't available just now, but I'll keep an eye on it. The x-mid looks very interesting too. I've decided to just enjoy the research phase while I save up, and hope that "the one" becomes apparent as I go. At least I won't be bored on the Internet in the meantime! Thanks for all your responses!

Enjoying the research phase is by far the cheapest way to buy tents!

 Babika 23:55 Sun
In reply to LesleyS:

I had a lightweight Vango for backpacking but like you I found it flappy and kept me awake at night, terrible condensation with two of us and not enough room

So i changed to an MSR Hubba Hubba and it's solved all the problems. Expensive, yes, but worth every single penny. I think it was £390 for the 2-person although they do a cheaper 1-person version.

 Glyno 14:54 Mon
In reply to LesleyS:

I'm in a very similar position in that I too use a F10 Helium. On the whole, I really love it, if there's one niggle, it's that I find the porch too small. I suppose that's a consequence of it being so small, compact and just over a kilo in weight.

I'm constantly on the look-out for alternatives (more out of an obsession for buying new gear than anything else), but struggle to find a feasible alternative without an increase in weight.

I'll be watching this thread with interest.

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