Author Topic: Best Touring Tent  (Read 20339 times)

6527richardm

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Best Touring Tent
« on: February 06, 2012, 07:31:49 PM »
I am looking to purchase a two man tent for cycle touring in Europe and the UK. What would you recommend bearing in mind that as I will include the West coast of Scotland it will need to be completely waterproof?

jags

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2012, 07:55:48 PM »
well hilleberg just brought out a new 4 season tent aimed at backpackers so its there lightest tent,and for the life of me i cant remember the name of it but just check out there website if you have a spare 500 euro  handy.

6527richardm

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2012, 08:08:31 PM »
Jags

Thanks someone I work also suggested the Hilleberg Nallo or the Nallo GT anyone have any experience of either tent

rualexander

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2012, 09:02:39 PM »
well hilleberg just brought out a new 4 season tent aimed at backpackers so its there lightest tent,and for the life of me i cant remember the name of it but just check out there website if you have a spare 500 euro  handy.
The new Hillebergs are 3 season versions of some of their 4 season tents :
http://www.hilleberg.co.uk/news/hilleberg-tentmaker-introduces-3-season-tents-2012

e.g. The Anjan 2 is the same design as the Nallo 2 but is 0.5kg lighter.

StuntPilot

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2012, 09:17:55 PM »
The Hilleberg Nallo 2GT is highly recommended and used by many cycle tourers. It is high quality and very well made, hence more expensive than others. There are many similar designs - I have a http://www.vango.co.uk/expedition/spirit-200+.html which is a very similar design and have found it great, and substantially less expensive. Used it all sorts of conditions without a problem. May be a three-season tent where the Nallo 2GT is four-season probably due to its better construction - well you get what you pay for.

Even for solo touring I would go for a two-man tent.

Both the Nallo 2GT and Vango Spirit 200+ have a large vestibule useful in Scotland during bad weather. The inner tent has a fly screen to protect against those midges! Not sure what the Nallo 2GT has.

The http://cascadedesigns.com/en/msr/tents/experience-series/hubba-hubba/product or http://cascadedesigns.com/en/msr/tents/experience-series/hubba-hubba-hp/product is also used by many. A extension porch is available which I like http://cascadedesigns.com/en/msr/tents/experience-series/gear-shed/product

A good quality 2-man tent from a major known brand and you can't go wrong! Shop around and you can get some bargains.

Good luck!


Danneaux

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2012, 11:04:47 PM »
For 30-odd years, I used an Early Winters Pocket Hotel, a double-hooped single-wall bivy with a free tail section and enough room inside to prop myself up on one elbow or change clothes in if I wiggled a lot. It died on-tour in 2010 (the Gore-Tex was still sound; the rubberized urethane coating on the floor and sidewalls failed) and I replaced it with a 1-person Coleman Xponent Dakota 1 (made to spec for the Dick's Sporting Goods firm here in the US; their model has a one-piece floor unlike some seemingly identical offerings by Coleman). At only a half-kg more than my Gore-Tex bivy, it is a double-wall tent I can sit up at the waist in or pitch as a bug-tent if I don't attach the fly. It was so cheap on closeout (USD$60), I bought three of them so I'll have a couple in reserve.  It has worked terrifically well so far, and I find the extra room to sit up, the side entry, and small side vestibule to be ideal for my needs. It feels like a hotel suite compared to the bivy. My HB bag fits in the tail cone, the front panniers on each side of my head, and the two rear bags fit in the vestibule. The build quality is surprisingly high -- on a level equal to many more expensive tents I have seen and used -- but I don't expect it to last forever. At $60, it doesn't have to. That's why I got three. ;) To be honest, the places where I use a tent on-tour are awfully hard on them, despite my always using a footprint or groundsheet beneath. Intense sun, high winds, hail and snow all seem to take their toll sooner rather than later. Packing a tent wet and riding all day is what really does them in; mold and mildew can start quickly and causes the urethane rubber coating to rot. I always let the tent dry when and as I can (witness 30+ years with the bivy!), but I won't delay a daybreak start to do so, and sometimes it has rained for days on-end, meaning the tent never fully dries for a week or so at a time.

The Coleman has already proven to be completely waterproof when pitched with the fly. In heavy rains driven by high winds, some light misting of rain can be driven ender the edge of the fly, but not enough to wet me as yet.

My Dutch friend chose a Tatonka Alaska 3-person tent for his "luxury item", and won't be without it for solo tours despite a weight of 4.5-5kg. It is large enough to easily house his bicycle in the front vestibule, and I certainly enjoyed using it when we toured together in Europe, and I was able to pitch it quickly alone, as was he. Sleeping soundly at night makes a tremendous difference toward feeling happy and well the next day and all the days to follow on a long tour. Looked at that way, a 5kg tent is a pretty reasonable weight.

Richard's right -- Hilleberg is a name that rightly comes to light in many adventure tourists' journals, and their tents are built for stout while still being remarkably light for their sturdiness. I don't think you'd ever go wrong with one, but they are expensive, as might be expected of a high-quality, well-conceived, long-lasting design. That said, there are less expensive tents that have worked well, and it pays to examine your needs in light of the range of offerings and try a few owned by friends, if possible. Pitching the models yourself is a great way to gain insight, and a night in the backyard can reveal niggles and advantages unseen in the manufacturers' descriptions.

In the end, "best" is what's best for you. Polling others and asking what works for them greatly shortens the list of what might work for you. Overall quality is one thing, but so is the ease with which it can be pitched, weight, packaged size, and overall volume and livability.

Best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 09:01:09 PM by Danneaux »

6527richardm

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2012, 11:13:12 PM »
Dan

As always thanks for your helpful reply you are right that ultimately it comes down what is best for each individual i like your idea of buying 3 when they were cheap and at that price you can live without them lasting another 30 years. The Hilleberg appeals in some ways because you do get what you pay for but on the other side the extra cost could go towards funding another trip so one I will have to ponder.

jags

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2012, 11:53:21 PM »
have to say as the owner of the hilleberg akto if i had seen it pitched before i bought it (i didn't web buy) i would never have bought it,way  to small for me and i'm only a little fella ;D ;D
i bought another tent for 120 euro off a guy on another cycling site 2 man mountain hardware spear and imho its a far better tent than the akto ,well not so much better but loads and loads room which i find much  better. and it keeps out the rain .
looks like the vango 300.

in4

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2012, 10:42:32 AM »
I use one of these Mountain Equipment tents. http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/index.cfm/product/dragonfly-2xt/fuseaction/products.detail/code/72110194?cm_mmc=Google-_-GoogleBase-_-GoogleBase-_-72110194

I was fortunate to get it for a good price but that aside I'd have bought it anyway. It is a two man and has a great extension. It is very easy to put up and is relatively light weight. I think we easily get caught on the horns of a dilemma i.e. weight versus comfort. I am prepared to ride with a 3kg tent as it is a tent and not a crisp packet; it is of some substance and affords me a level of comfort. The thought of trying to stretch out in a glorified piece of cling film whilst winds from the devil's own b** howl around outside is most unappealing.


Fred A-M

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2012, 10:54:55 AM »
I'd recommend the Hilleberg Nallo which has served me well - I was fortuitous enough to get one in a closing down sale reduced by 40% some years back.

Although a two man tent, I justified this over the Atko because of the extra space you get to store stuff and it weights just over 2Kg  - for me the Atko would have just been too small, especially with 4 unpacked panniers - it also means that I can use it as a 2 man with my better half for non-cycle touring.   Had I not stumbled across the Nallo at discounted price, I would have bought a Terra Nova Voyager which is even lighter, and significantly cheaper, though still a bit on the pricey side.   
 

julk

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2012, 11:05:10 AM »
Richard,
You have some interesting choices to make amongst how much to pay, what tent features, living space and overall weight is acceptable.
As a general point, Scandinavian tents are made for a harsh climate and perform well in Scotland!

I have several Hilleberg tents (and a large family), the lighter Nallo has a slightly less robust nature and fewer useful facilities like entrances and ventilation points. That said it is the tent of choice for lightweight cycle camping amongst my sons.
If you will be camping in any weather then definitely go for a size larger than the occupants, eg 2 man for just yourself.
Multiple entrances pay dividends when the weather changes and what was pitched facing down wind is facing heavy rain later, the downside being extra weight and cost.
Pitching inner first is a bad idea in the british weather, outer with inner attached is quicker and the inside stays dry.
Use of a footprint adds weight but extends the life of the tent built in groundsheet and on a muddy pitch keeps the tent cleaner.
Having the inner height to sit up is a bonus when living in the tent for any length of time, sleeping mats with chair conversion kits are a boon.

My favourites amongst my Hillebergs are a Stalon Combi 2 (no longer made) and a Nammatj GT 3.

I have recently purchased a Helsport Ringstind Light 2, a Norwegian tent, similar to the Hilleberg Akto, but that bit larger for extra comfort.
It is lighter than any of my existing tents and I am looking forward to trying it out this year.
Julian.

stutho

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2012, 12:16:42 PM »
After 18 Years of VERY Hard use my Terra Nova Ultra Quasar finally needed to be replaced.  I have never counted the number of nights that I have used this tent but I would guess that It would add up to at least a solid year  including many nights on the side of a mountain with the wind blowing a hooley!  (I am a Scout leader and a Schools Expedition Leader so my kit gets used a lot!)  Without any hesitation I went and  bought the same tent again.

However my needs are slightly different to you.  I have toured with my Quasar and it is a great tent for that too but... it is a bit too much tent.  It is designed with very high winds in mind so is heaver that a lot of tents of the same size (3.12kg 2.5 man).  If I was choosing  a tent sole for bicycle touring I would probably go for either:

A variant of  Terra Nova Voyager Tent, there are a few, the lightest being the superlight at (1.95kg) but I would probably go with the XL (2.43kg)

Or

as others have mentioned a Hilleberg Nallo 2 (2.3kg) or  Nallo 2GT(2.7kg)

Not directly relevant to you but I also own a Terra Nova Laser (0.72kg  1 man)  I use this when going fast and light but I wouldn't recommend this tent to anyone unless minimum weight is their only priority.  I understand that Terra Nova how have a version of the laser down at 0.56kg!!!!  My Gortex coat weighs more than that!

« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 12:19:01 PM by stutho »

freddered

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2012, 03:54:51 PM »
Both the Nallo 2GT and Vango Spirit 200+ have a large vestibule useful in Scotland during bad weather. The inner tent has a fly screen to protect against those midges! Not sure what the Nallo 2GT has.

I've been contemplating the Vango Spirit 200+ (+ = vestibule) for about 3 years.  You can pick old stock up for less than 200 right now (winter) and it seems like a lot of tent for that price (170 in some places).

I'm very interested in reviews of the Vango.

There's no way I'm getting a touring tent without such a vestibule, they make life so much more bearable if you are stuck in bad weather.
 

Danneaux

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2012, 04:55:13 PM »
There's also livability, the ways you'll most likely be using a tent, who you'll be traveling with and where you'll place it...

Consider is how much time you will likely be spending in the tent. If you tend to layover several days in storms, then it is well worth having some extra interior room to do so. If, however, you use the tent only for sleeping and are the type to get out and ride through bad weather (me), then you can get by with a considerably smaller tent. Other posters raise an equally important point -- will you often be bringing all your bags inside, or just your handlebar bag, leaving the rest on the bike as a kind of bureau chest? This will partly depend on where you are touring. I can leave my bags outside and exposed because I often camp in the wild/wilderness (and winch the food-containing bags high into a tree in Bear Country. The bike-mounted alarm wakens and alerts me if something is bothering the locked bike and its mounted gear). Around people, I'd feel far more comfortable with the bags inside to deter theft and reduce opportunities for pilferage. In that case, some extra room is very welcome. I can just fit everything but the bike inside, though it is crowded. For a night at a time, it is fine, but people vary in how much room they prefer or require. A few of my friends "size-up" by one person-rating when getting a tent -- two people often have more stuff than one in proportion to tent size, so the couples I know tend to favor 3-person tents to ensure they can bring all their bags inside as well. Tall friends often go up a size and sleep diagonally to get the length they require. You want to also watch the slope of the inner tent's roof and sides so there is a little room between them and your bag to prevent wetting-out from condensation. Ventilation is important to prevent condensation in the first place.

Though a delicate subject, a surprising number of people camping in colder conditions prefer to toilet inside using a jar ("pee bottle") as a receptacle for that purpose (label it to prevent accidental drinking by companions; I've seen it happen). That can require a bit more room to maneuver inside the tent, especially for couples and can be wakeful for both. I have always gotten out and away from the tent to do my business, and consider the view of the night sky to be an added bonus when camping. I've seen meteor showers and the eyes of wild animals I never would have seen otherwise. It is a great way to notice early changes in the weather, and has changed a few start times for me as a result, meaning I could pack and break camp in the dry instead of the wet.

A one-person tent provides me with some additional options for ledge camping, where there often is no room for something larger, and being solo means I can move my little domicile away from snoring companions. This is one reason why I bought extras -- if friends don't have tents of their own, I can take a spare, and we can each have the freedom to wiggle and thrash, snore, and adjust ventilation individually. Some folks are territorial and others tend to expand their holdings in the night till the other is squeezed into a corner. Not everyone sleeps the same way, and even an issue like "too hot" or "too cold" or "more" or "less" ventilation can make a difference toward <ahem> interpersonal harmony over the course of a tour.

Bottom line: Ya gotta sleep or things don't go well. Whatever it takes to accomplish that is well worthwhile.

I am scared to death to cook anything in a tent, having spent some time in the healthcare field and seen the results of tent-fire mishaps. I cook outside, no matter the weather. Other folks feel far more comfortable with the idea, and think nothing of brewing a pot of tea or even a meal beneath the vestibule while warmly enconced in a warm sleeping bag inside the tent. To each his own, but cooking habits are better accommodated in some tents than others, so your own preferences are worth considering.

More and more (tunnel) tents are coming with side entries instead of end-entries.  I lived for years with my end-entry bivy, but it got old, winching myself in and out inchworm-style on my elbows and heels and was tough when it was wet and muddy or snow was on the ground. The side-entry on my new tent is terrific -- I just roll in and out and can even go sitting-to-standing if I wish. Unfortunately, it is a different "handedness" than my sleeping bag's zipper, but is still convenient and rarely matters in the warmer months when I use the bag as an open quilt or duvet in the tent. A double entry can be a real convenience when camping with a companion; one person doesn't have to crawl over the other to enter or leave the tent.

Stakes vs. freestanding is another issue. Freestanding tents can be pitched on any surface, though stakes are needed to secure them in wind. Staked tents can require some extra care in choosing a pitch, and are not well-suited for hard surfaces like pavement or concrete. I can secure mine stakeless using my loaded panniers and the bike as deadmen, and also bring along titanium needle stakes for when the desert playa is just too hard for the wider alu stakes I need and use in damp, loose forest duff and pastures. Staked tents require a bit more forethought than freestanding, but it is still possible to use them in a variety of places. When I camped at parks in Canada years ago, one had to remember nails and a hammer -- the tent sites were usually wooden platforms! Closely related is the matter of lines. I prefer fewer to more, as they seem to tangle unless extra care is taken. On the other hand, lines add a lot of versatility. Rock in the way? Just shift that line a few centimeters either way and it is no longer a problem. I get by adding short little lines to my staking tabs. Sometimes you have to personalize a tent.

Finally, consider amenities. A small loop to hang a flashlight adds greatly to livability, though it is easy to add your own or simply use an LED headlight. Mesh wall cubbies or a gear loft help organize small items, prevent loss, and get them off the floor, increasing effective living space. I added glow-in-the dark zipper pulls to mine so I no longer fumble trying to remember where I parked the double-zip. I'd suggest trying the zippers on any tent you're considering. A rough-runner tends to get worse, even with the application of bar soap or lubricants, while smooth-running zippers seem less likely to snag and catch over time and are a bit more dirt-tolerant.

Best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 05:40:01 PM by Danneaux »

Pavel

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Re: Best Touring Tent
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2012, 07:20:24 PM »
Tents are a journey for me and thus far I'm not sure I've picked the right set of compromises.  I started out, as always, with dreaming big.  I feel that the bike wheels, the tent and the sleeping bags should be where money is spent.  Well, you could add a Rohloff to that list now.  I did compromise on the tents however.  It was not that I did not think a Hilleberg would likely be the best/toughest tent but rather I thought that I'd be best off experimenting on a cheaper scale first to see which factors are the important ones here where I live.

The hilleberg seems the toughest in terrible wind.  I live in the Southeast of the USA however and winds are rarely any kind of factor.  heat and humidity are.  So I looked for a tent which had netting all the way down as much as possible.  I also thought that a shorter set of poles may be desirable. 

Then I was a tent on sale, a Kelty Grand Messa II for ninety dollars.  Bingo - I thought.  The tent is nice because of the simple way it is put up in about two minutes.  It has enough headroom so that I could sit up and being two a two man tent means that I can sit up without the netting touching each side of my cheek.  It was great for the first week.  Then I realized that the sleeping bag I had was too confining for my six foot frame and so I went out to REI and bought a "long" size bad and mattress. Now all of a sudden I was touching my feet to the wall and my head was pressing into the front.  North Carolina is beautiful at the coast.  I did however notice that they don't seem to play around with any breaking of the rules out on the outer banks however.  There are warnings of $5000 fines if you are caught sleeping on other than campgrounds.  What was I doing?  Stealth camping.  Nervous stealth camping.  On the second night I stole into a closed deserted campground under a full moon.  That is when I noticed that under the glow of a full moon - the white fabric of my tent glowed better than neon yellow!  Strike two.  My 11 year old daughter now has that tent.

So now I wanted a longer tent and one that has colours that dont' advertise. I chose a Big agnes copper spur two.  it has a full 90 inches of space front to back so I have room to spare and my bag does not get soaked with dew.  It has a door on either side for good cross ventilation as well as a ventilation flap so all of a sudden there are no drops on the inside in the morning waiting to shower me and wake me up real fast.  Nice!  The color is a light green/beige with semi-subtle orange trim - not perfect but a welcome improvement.  I didn't like it however.  Here I need to ask a question of those more experienced in stealth camping than I.  Do you find the width of a tent a major factor and a hindrance when you look for a spot to sneak some sleep?  I don't know, but I imagine that a narrow tent must be a great advantage.  What I don't like in the copper spur is the fact that it is almost as wide as it is long.

So my next tent was a big agnes seedhouse sl2.  It is the best color - a muted light green and it, being a front entry tent, is the nice and narrow for its two man size.  It is ok to sit up in, but just ok.  I imagine it will be nice a cool, or as cool as can be, short of using a hamock,  here in our steam-bath summers. It however missing the same thing as all of the tents I've had so far have missed and that is a large vestibule which you can cook under.  Dan's post has me a bit more concerned that before about cooking now after reading it.  The current tents I have can simply not be cooked in at all while heeding any modicum of safety sense.  I thought that cooking under a vestibule such as the one under a Nalo GT would work fine though with a bit of care.  I've not been stuck under rain at all yet, much less three days worth.  What do you all do under conditions such as three days of steady rain?  I can't imagine cooking outside in it.  Do you use tarps ... or vestibules.  In other words am I going to have to spend more money for a tunnel tent and how are tunnel tents in hot, hot, humid, humid, HUMID weather?  Hmmm.

I'm grateful for threads such as these.  I know that I may be with the wrong gear ... but I'm no quite sure if different gear or different techniques are called for. It is nice to have the guidance of the experienced here.

Cheers.