These 3 articles first appeared in the Uncle Wacko’s Gear Corner column of Wanderlust, our ATC Club magazine, in May 2019, June 2019 and May 2020 respectively.
They are repeated here as a potential tramping gear resource for NZ conditions.
Warning: Uncle Wacko has strong views and may challenge tramping assumptions and sensibilities!
Quick links to the articles:
She’s a big subject this one, so let's rip right into your education.
Single vs double wall
First you need to decide between single and double skin. Single skin are lighter, cheaper and pack smaller, but colder and you need to know how to manage condensation and maybe "misting".
With an inner and a fly, double walled tents are warmer and give better overall water protection. But they’re bulkier, heavier and cost more.
Double skins are where you should start, and they’ll suit most people most of the time. Uncle Wacko reckons you should get a truckload of backcountry trips under your belt before tackling single skin.
Some manufacturers are using materials more flimsy than a bride’s negligee and damn near as see-through. The result is they’re producing shelters that simply aren’t robust enough or waterproof enough for NZ conditions.
In persistent rain or on a boggy site, water will pond under your tent. With a flimsy floor, your body weight can force that water right through it. Uncle Wacko reckons your floor should be 5000 mm hydrostatic head – any less and you need a groundsheet. 10,000 hh is the gold standard.
And your fly should be 3000 mm, ideally 5000. Any less, and prolonged rain can come marching right through it. Wet sleeping bag, anybody?
You’ll find heaps of tents with lower specs than this. They’ll work fine 95% of the time. But you may just come a gutser when you really need your shelter to do what it’s supposed to do … you know, actually shelter you. Like in the sort of storms we can get in the hills in NZ, any time of year.
If you want to take that risk, go for it. But Uncle Wacko reckons you’re more addled than a kereru gorging on rotting puriri berries.
1.25kg max for double skin, 800g for single. Anything above that is just extra weight you don’t need to be lugging around.
Some tents come with rubbish pegs. Swap them out for Groundhogs or Mini Groundhogs if you want you shelter to stay put in a decent blow.
What to buy - doozy double skin, 1 person tents
So you want your personal palace to look the part, stand up to the elements and not weigh too much? Then here's what to buy.
Hilleberg – the Rolls Royce of tents
The Hilleberg Enan is a work of art. Beautifully constructed, 1.2 kg, 12K hh floor, 5K outer. Uncle Wacko reckons tents don’t come much better than this. But you sure pay for that quality. Pick one up at a snip from the NZ dealers for a mere NZD1154. Yeah, I know ... or find one online.
Vaude – consistently excellent
The Lizard GUL 1P is the go, but potentially a tad tight for those of Uncle Wacko's herculean proportions – it’s 600 wide, 75cm headroom. But get this: 10K floor, 3K outer, 690 grams. NZD600 - 700 online.
Vaude have 2 other killer tents, BUT with 3000 hh fly and floor (consider a groundsheet). The Power Lizard SUL 1-2P is spaaacious for 1, genuinely Ok for 2 - Uncle Wacko can attest to this after spending a stormy night in one on the tops with a bony-elbowed sheila following an unfortunate incident with another tent. 1.16kg.
And the Hogan SUL 1-2P, front entry, 1.25 kg, also a cracker tent.
Terra Nova – pommy perfection
You see plenty of Laser Competition 1s about and they've been a cracker tent in NZ conditions over many years. 6K floor, 5K fly, 970g. Or for more room, get the (so-called) 2 person at 1.23kg.
Prices for all 3 vary - hunt around and pick one up for NZD500-700.
Nordisk - Europe's favourite
The Telemark 1LW is 850g, has an 8K hh floor but borderline 2K fly, NZD600 - 700 online. The roomier 2 LW is 970g, and there’s an ULW version saving a few more grams for extra cost. Not bad eh! No wonder they're so popular in Europe.
So there you go – 4 ripper brands and a bunch of cracker 3-season tent options that'll see you right in the hills.
Next month – single skins.
Right now I’m off to catch up with that bony-elbowed sheila you reminded me of.
Hunters just wander up, sling up an acre of plastic between some trees, chuck down a groundsheet and that's their shelter. Works for them.
But trampers won’t always have trees around, want a shelter that’s light and packs small, and generally aren’t keen on being ravaged by mozzies. So a shaped fly with built in floor and bug netting is the way to go.
And these fantastic shelters from reliable outfits are exactly that – don’t let Uncle Wacko see you even thinking about buying anything else!
The Lunar Solo from 6 Moons Designs
The Lunar Solo is a ripper – spacious, robust, well-designed and cheap. The only negative is its 3000 hh floor, so consider a groundsheet. Fly is just OK at 2,500. Silnylon with single trekking pole setup, or buy separately. 740g (excluding stakes & pole). A bargain at USD200 + seam sealing USD30.
Tarptent Aeon Li
The Aeon Li is new - and sensational! Cuben fibre, single trekking pole setup, 496 grams (excluding pole). It has two great innovations – a structural peak strut, and a raised back wall with corner vents – giving way better wind stability, more living space, better ventilation. If you’ve got USD535 to spare, don’t hesitate.
The reigning king of cuben fibre until Henry’s Aeon Li came along and bumped it off its perch. The Plexamid is still a great tent though - 420 grams (excluding stakes and pole), single trekking pole setup, USD549.
The Protrail is a great silnylon option if you use 2 trekking poles. Front entry setup with a shortened pole at rear. Like the Lunar Solo, floor isn't ideal at 3000 hh, but fly is 5000. 737g (excluding poles), USD229 + seam-sealing USD35.
So that’s your shelter done and dusted – crazy light, eh. Next month we’re on to sleeping bags – don’t miss it.
Now Uncle Wacko steered you to some cracker tents a few months back.
But a few of you have apparently balked at their cost. So what do you do if you’re a bit squeaky in the back pocket area and don't want to part with too much dosh?
Well you sure don't dive into The Warehouse where everyone gets a bargain. Or buy from some dodgy Chinese or Ukrainian website.
Instead you go to InTents Outdoors, an Auckland-based online retailer.
Now Uncle Wacko has met Len the owner and he's a decent bloke with a genuine interest in good tent design and manufacture.
He uses good materials and as far as Uncle Wacko can tell after a bit of a jiggery poke with a couple of his products on a gentle outing or two, they look to be well made. And they're certainly very well priced.
He's got quite a range, so take a gander at these ones:
Indie 1 person silnylon ultralight, 990g, $249. Dimensions: 73cm wide at head/foot, 95cm max width, x 210cm long x 110cm max height.
Ultrapack DW 1 person, 900grams, $182. Smaller: 50 - 80cm wide, 215cm long, 110cm max height, so only buy if you’re a bit of a weed petite.
Both these tents set up with a single trekking pole (or buy separately), and have 3000mm hh fly and floor, so consider a groundsheet.
Odyssey Silnylon ultralight 1 person, 900g, an excellent pyramid-style shelter, 3000 hh fly and 5000 hh floor, single trekking pole set up, $229.
Check out their website and give Len a call – he’ll see you right.
And be sure to tell him you're from ATC.
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