06 May 2013

New tent review

A couple of years ago I bought a new tent, a Khyam Sherpa:

The Sherpa is a reasonable size for a single person, despite being billed as a 3-man tent, but then they always seem to assume that people are happy to squash in like sardines and don't have any luggage.  However, I have to say that it is possibly the worst tent I have ever owned.  Despite my best efforts, and the efforts of several friends, I have never managed to get this tent to go up without some difficulty and, once erect, it has never been 'square'.  It always seemed to bulge out to one side and no amount of adjustment would put it right.  I have broken four poles on it, and the inner tent ripped on the very first use.  I am convinced that the poles are actually too long, as one needs the strength of Geoff Capes to get the blasted things into their respective holes.   Indeed, after a few pole breakages, a friend replaced the broken sections and made them an inch shorter, which did help quite a bit, but I am still very unhappy with the tent.  The doors are a stupid design, a pain to negotiate and if it's been raining, as soon as you open a door, a sheet of water pours into the porch.  It also leaks at the bedroom end.  When unzipping the bedroom door in the morning, condensation drips into the bedroom and all over your dossbag.  I keep the Sherpa in a holdall, because its original bag split the very first time I used it.

Anyway, with a new rally season upon us, I decided that I'd had enough of fighting with the Sherpa, and bought myself a new tent, a Vango Omega 350.  

The Omega's pack size is much smaller and lighter than the Sherpa and I can get the Omega into my topbox, which means that if, necessary, I could carry a pillion to a rally, although I have no plans to make a habit of that.

I used the Omega for the first time this weekend and it was superb.  It was quick and easy to erect and the lightweight alloy poles are so much better than the fibreglass ones.  Despite the smaller pack size, the tent is much bigger, being taller, wider and longer.  The pole sections are shorter than with most tents, which is why the pack size is smaller.  The tent comes with a 'bucket' groundsheet which clips into the porch so that it doesn't slide around.  If there's one thing I don't like about it though, the groundsheet clips are so strong that I couldn't get them undone again.  Three of my friends had a go at it and only one of them could undo them, and he hurt his thumbs doing so.  I intend to put some mini carabiners on instead, so that I have a fighting chance of removing them myself.

The O-shaped bedroom door is a great design.  It can be unzipped from the top or the bottom, which makes me happy; I like to unzip it from the top, but I couldn't do that in the Sherpa, because the zip only worked from the bottom.

Although it rained during the night, the inside of the tent remained as dry as a bone, both bedroom and porch.  There's lots of pockets down either side of the inner tent, big enough to hold my torch and other bits and bobs.  Other great features are the tension bands, which are designed to stop the tent bowing in high winds, the way that the bedroom door fits into a pocket to keep it out of the way when it's open and, best of all, the tent can be packed away with the inner tent still attached, making pitching quicker next time.

When it was time to put the tent down, I anticipated a battle to get it into the bag, yet it went in very easily.  Well, it did the second time I tried, once I removed my lantern from the bedroom.  Oops.

So, all in all, I love the Omega.  I hope to have many happy camping trips in it.  I should have bought a Vango in the first place; they've always had a superb reputation for quality and they are very good value for money. 

No comments: