Monday, 13 January 2014

You will need... Pt.1

Salaries are annoying. They clutter up your bank account and raise the expectations of friends and loved ones alike. Your best bet is to treat your salary as a sort of financial 'hot potato' and move it along as fast as possible, to let someone else worry about.

What better way to do this than to invest in some high tech backpacking and camping gear? Don't let the protests of your significant other put you off, after all, these aren't just expensive toys, this stuff is bona-fide 'survival equipment' and as such no expense should be spared.

(For a handy guide to further excuses, check out the excellent 'Fat Cyclist')

Part 1. The tent(s).

Aha, the tent. Your home away from home for the days and weeks ahead. Or, alternatively, a fragile liability that you pack in your bag every morning after spending another night fending off vermin in some desolate bothy. Your choice.

There are several key decisions you have to make before buying one, however I just went for 'lightest' and let all other factors go hang. Therefore, for expert advice I'd maybe suggest visiting a shop.

So with all that tedious deliberating over with, let me introduce the Terra Nova Laser Comp, my faithful companion over the last three years.

Glen Quoich in the morning sun, after a night that involved 
collapsing the tent on top of myself to save it from the winds, 
and then wandering about in my boxers at 4am, barefoot 
in the frost trying to erect it again.

Lets cut straight to the chase. This tent is light. Sub 1 kilo light. And that's a tent with enough space for you and all your soggy luggage. It's also double skin, so you don't end up completely soaked with condensation the next morning, and yet it stays relatively warm on cold nights.

It achieves this weight by, amongst other things, only using one aluminium pole (and two very short carbon fibre ones). It also comes supplied with a packet of bright orange titanium toothpicks, which on closer inspection turn out to be the pegs.

It pitches easily, and surprisingly quickly, no matter how tired, wet or wretched you are at the end of the day.

The downsides? I've never quite grown to trust the tent in bad (read: windy) weather. It has never actually failed me, and I could undoubtedly pitch it better than I usually do, but none-the-less, windy nights are generally restless nights, listening to the tent flap around and watching the single pole deform itself into strange new shapes under the force of relatively light winds.

Over-all though, I love this tent. It is a ticket to recklessly optimistic route planning, and the key to needlessly convoluted trips into the hills.

The Other Tent.

This is the tent you don't tell your first tent about in case it gets jealous, the tent you buy because you just want something easy and reliable when you're not counting every gram or you want something for those less than perfect pitches on rocky hillsides, sandy beaches, flattened undergrowth or (my personal favourite) decks of ferries.

Or, more honestly, the tent you buy because you see it hanging in the shop window every day like the last puppy in the shop until you eventually crumble and buy it out of pity (no, my girlfriend didn't buy that excuse either...).

In my case, the utility/frivolous purchase tent was a North Face Tadpole 23.

 The trusty 'North Face Hilton' with sea view, as my fellow 
canvas enthusiast Jonny puts it. Note the satisfying use of duct tape
in lieu of pegs.

 San Joseph bay, complete with needless bear bag hanging 
(any bear hungry enough would just have visited the drunk kids 
having a BBQ further down the beach...)

The Tadpole is a very acceptable 2kg for a sturdy, free standing tent. For a little extra you can chuck out the pig iron pegs supplied with the tent and replace them with some smaller lighter pegs, this reduces the tent's weight by about 15% and makes you feel like a pro backpacker for 'customising' your tent.

I now use this tent for any trip where weight isn't an issue (i.e. short or flat backpacking trips or trips where I'll mostly be setting up a base camp and hiking from there). The Terra Nova is now saved for 'special ops' long or hilly trips, or just showing off, both equally valid uses.

Coming up in Pt:2 - Rucsacs and Packing

p.s. actual useful details about either tent supplied on request...

No comments:

Post a Comment