Will Renwick picks 11 tents that make a perfect home away from home during wild excursions
Before I introduce my pick of the latest tents for backpacking, let’s just quickly take a look at what to look for when choosing.
Tents come in a variety of different designs. Geodesics are often considered the most stable, as the poles cross one another. Domes tend to provide space but they aren’t quite as stable as geodesic tents. Tunnel tents usually have a good space-to-weight ratio. The number in the title of each of these tents indicates the number of people it will comfortably fit.
Tunnel tents tend to be the easiest to pitch, whereas geodesics (with their multiple poles) can take longer. Colour coded poles and tents that pitch as units help with this. A key consideration is whether a tent pitches flysheet first or inner first. In wet weather, a tent that pitches flysheet first will save the inner from being exposed to rain while you’re putting it up.
Large porches are useful for storing gear, particularly if it’s wet, and they can also be very useful for cooking in if there’s good ventilation. Tunnel tents tend to have more porch space.
Wild Country Helm 1
Brand new for 2017 and also available in two and three-person sizes, this is a free-standing , two-pole tent that pitches outer first. It has a large porch, plus a little back storage porch that can be accessed via a zip door in the inner. The alloy poles are colour coded to make pitching faster and easier. It’s roomy for one-person, but this means it’s also slightly on the heavy side as well at 1.87kg.
Vango F10 Xenon UL2
Part of Vango’s new F10 range of tough tents. It has a tried and tested two-pole tunnel design with a porch and sloped back wall. The flysheet, which pitches first, is siliconized and PU coated and its seams are taped for reliable protection. The inner combines a 70 denier nylon footprint with a 15 denier top mesh. Also worth noting is its large vent over the door, high level internal pockets and oversized stuff sack.
Exped Mira 1 HL
Brand new for 2017. It’s an interesting tent with an ‘endoskeleton’ design involving one main single hoop pole and two minor ones that allow it to stand without pegging down. There’s plenty of height so you can easily sit up in it and it has a wide, lengthways porch for storage. The fly is a 20 denier ripstop nylon and the inner, which pitches first, is a 15 denier nylon mesh.
Vango Mambo 300
At 5.5kg this good value three-person tent is probably best as a basecamp rather than as something to take backpacking, unless it’s split between a few people. It’s a three-pole tunnel design with a large porch (with windows) that can be used for lounging in and an equally spacious sleeping area with a dark mesh that can block out early morning light.
Vaude Terra Hogan 2
This is a resurrection of the classic Hogan tent which was originally launched in 1990. It retains the same offset dome design which creates plenty of headroom near the door for cooking, and now features mini poles that are stitched into the fly that help to boost internal volume at the foot of the tent. All of the tents in the new range – which includes a three-person version of this tent – use fly fabrics that are PVC-free.
Robens Red Rock UL 2
This is a sturdy two-pole tent with a good space-to-weight ratio. The flysheet is a 10 denier nylon with a silicon layer, and the inner, which pitches first, has a 10 denier nylon mesh upper with ripstop footprint. It provides plenty of cooking space thanks to its extended porch. It’s a good tent, but the cost is high.
Terra Nova Superlite Voyager 2
This has been around for a number of years now and it’s become something of a classic. It’s semi-geodesic, pitches inner first and it’s free-standing so it can therefore be pitched without the need for pegging down – useful for when camping on tricky ground.
Nigor Kamau 2
Price: 849.95 Euros
Brand new by Nigor for 2017, this is a high cost by high spec tunnel tent designed for three-season backpacking. Its fly, which is made of a 10 denier siliconized and ripstop nylon, pitches first and it comes with DAC Featherlite poles and superlight aluminium J stakes.
Fjällräven Abisko Lite 1
This four-season trekking tent pitches like a tunnel tent so there’s plenty of space to sit up, and it also has mini poles that insert at each corner to create extra foot or head space. It uses top quality materials including DAC pegs and poles and a 40 denier PU floor. The two-person has a standard, two-pole tunnel design.
MSR Hubba Tour 2
This is an amazingly light tent considering the space it provides. It’s designed specifically for cycle touring, with an overall floorspace of 27-cubic-feet, including a porch that will fit plenty of equipment – perhaps even a bike or two. It’s also available as a solo tent.
Nordisk Lofoten 1
Nordisk reckons it’s set a world record with this new release for 2017, claiming that it’s “probably the lightest tent in the world.” As well as its amazingly low weight of 490g it also has a tiny pack size of just 11x22cm. It’s designed with adventure racing in mind and uses high spec materials including a 7 denier ripstop and silicone coated fly, 7.5mm alumiunium poles and titanium pegs. Also available as a two-person.