1 man, 1 pole

Big red machine

I currently own one tent, a Vango Banshee 300. This tent tips the scales at around 2,600g and is billed as a three man tent but realistically it will accommodate two with kit. It features two doors, a very small porch on one side and a little vestibule at the head end. I’m not going to go into full review mode right now but I would say that, despite its shortcomings, I am fairly happy with this tent and intend to keep it… but I don’t really want to carry it up 3,000 foot hills. I want a lightweight one man tent.

Recently I set about researching the options for a smaller, lighter replacement and in doing so I’ve laid out the following criteria with the aim of sticking as closely to them as is practical in order not to compromise my comfort in camp:

2 skin – condensation, insects and protection from the ground all make me want to steer clear of single skin offerings
Simple pitching – I’d like a one man tent that can be put up in around 5 minutes by one man. Pitch as one or fly first is essential and the option to remove the inner when packing the tent wet would be welcomed
Wind and weather resistant – I will be taking this tent out in Britain in Spring-Autumn but having something that can stand up to wintery conditions would be a bonus, although not necessary. Wind resistance is a tough ask for a lot of these small, single pole tents but it seems that some perform better than others
A good sized porch – as a place to cook when the weather turns foul and somewhere to store gear
Lightweight – not my number one priority but any one man tent I do buy must weigh considerably less than the Banshee whilst achieving the criteria listed above

I have come up with the following options:

Force 10 Helium 200

in alpine green

2 skin – check
Simple pitching – easier than the Banshee. Vango estimate 7 minutes to pitch
Wind and weather resistantterrybnd reviewed the Helium 100 and praised it’s performance in inclement weather but also commented that the fly will ‘flap like a plastic bag in the wind’. The 200 has a very similar design and is likely to suffer from the same ailment
A good sized porch – the porch on the Helium is tiny and can only be enlarged by unclipping the inner. This is not practical and is a deal breaker for me
Lightweight – 1,300g is very reasonable for a tent of this size, but not the lightest around

Terra Nova Laser Competition 1

in red

2 skin – yes
Simple pitching – other than the pole cover it looks very straightforward
Wind and weather resistant – copes well with wind and rain but the silnylon fly can sag a little after it rains
A good sized porch – excellent sized porch as shown on Summit and Valley
Lightweight – at 930g the Laser Competition is very light and packs down to 40x12cm

Hilleberg Akto

in green

2 skin – yes
Simple pitching – very simple to pitch
Wind and weather resistant – designed as a four season tent the Akto even deals well with 79mph wind, the fabric sags quite a bit though
A good sized porch – very generous porch that’s big enough for all my kit
Lightweight – the Akto weighs around 1,600g

Tarptent Scarp 1

image from munro-madness.com

2 skin – yes
Simple pitching – can be set up in less than two minutes
Wind and weather resistant – pitches very taut and Tarptent offer the option of two additional poles to increase wind and snow stability. Has been known to withstand a foot of snow on top of it!
A good sized porch – two decent porches and good room inside the inner too
Lightweight – at 1,400g the Scarp isn’t feather light, but given the space on offer that is quite reasonable

Akto and Scarp 1

My decision comes down to the Akto and Scarp; they both ticked all of the boxes so I looked to Twitter to get a few first hand opinions. After a healthy discussion with Chris Townsend, Robin from Blogpackinglight and a number of others I’ve decided to opt for the Tarptent Scarp 1. This shelter met all of the criteria I laid out at the start of the post whereas others, aside from the Akto, fell slightly short.

The decision came down to the additional advantages the Scarp one has over the Akto:

Wind and weather resistance – single pole tents naturally suffer more from loose, rattling fabric than multi-pole or geodesic designs when it’s windy. The option of carrying two extra poles that add a huge amount of stability is very appealing if I’m expecting high winds or even snow.

A good sized porch – the Akto has a palatial porch which is probably the best in class, with a great hood to prevent rainwater from dripping inside. The Scarp has two porches which gives you one for gear and one for cooking when the weather’s bad, whilst still maintaining a generously sized inner.

Price – the P word was something I was trying to avoid in all this because I don’t think price should dictate a decision of this type; as mqhiker says, you should get the best product for the conditions you are most likely to be using it in. The RRP on the Akto is £400 but with various discounts it can be had for ~£350. The Scarp 1 is only available directly from Tarptent but costs just £245 including shipping from the states.

I won’t be ordering my Scarp 1 until the new year, but I’m already really excited about the prospect of owning and using one. I’ll be sure to review it when it lands. Thanks to everyone that helped me make this tough decision.



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  5. hillplodder · October 13, 2014

    I have good news for you – you CAN get a Scarp without importing from the US. Get one here: http://www.backpackinglight.dk/product_info.php?cPath=87&products_id=228 Obviously the price reflects the fact that they have imported it from the US and borne the duty etc. Even so, postage from Europe should be less than from the US (Henry @ tarptent charges $60 delivery).

    I’m also delighted you chose the Scarp. I had many of the same tents on my shortlist a couple of years ago. I ruled the Akto out quickly as the Scarp beat it in every category that I cared about. And I can confirm the Scarp will withstand a foot of snow – it did just that last year on a winter trip to the Lakes.

    PS thanks for following my blog – it was the email I got from WordPress that alerted me to your blog.

  6. rcbprk · October 14, 2014

    That’s a good alternative Scarp source for Europeans who want to avoid the hassle of paying import duties and waiting 3 weeks for deliveries and customs. I ended up paying £301 including crossing poles, seam sealing, shipping and duty – but the amount of great nights I’ve had out in it more than justify the cost.

    I’ve not been out in the snow yet, but definitely plan to this winter. Cold weather camping gives me an ideal excuse to go gear shopping too, which is something I haven’t really done for a while. Out of curiosity, other than clothing, how does you gear change for winter trips?

    P.S. I’ve actually been following your blog for a couple of years now but for some reason I’ve never committed to pressing the ‘subscribe’ button! Keep up the good work.

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