Pondering A New Tent

Having just spent a long weekend living the life of a campsite, I’ve found myself pondering about one or two new purchases. I’ve already sorted a new sleeping mat and pillow. But I was looking at buying a new tent ahead of the trip. So, I thought I’d put some current thoughts down on paper. Or screen!

Let’s start by looking at what I currently have.

(When I talk about tents and camping in this post, this is for camping trips, staying at a recognised campsite and where I’ll have the car close by at all times.)

Vango Ark 200+

I bought this tent from Blacks in 2018. Not that long ago and it was a physical step up from the Vango Alpha 200 that I started off with, four years before that.

As time has passed, I’ve moved in to a smaller flat, with limited storage space, insufficient drying space(!) and the inconvenience of having to cart my gear up and down several flights of stairs (previously, I was living on the ground floor – albeit without a parking space nearby).

(Photo taken from millets.co.uk, without permission)

(Vango Ark 200 Plus at Millets)

I can hardly fault the performance of this tent. After three years of camping between spring and autumn; from sub-zero temperatures to torrential rain; I can say that it has never once leaked. That extra-long porch space is of huge benefit. It came with your typical cheap wire pegs but they can easily be replaced. As a tall person, I can sit inside the porch area quite comfortably (as much as I find sitting cross-legged to be uncomfortable). You can also pitch and pack away the inner and outer as one.

On the other side of things, it has quite a large pack size in its carry case (which is easy to fit in to) and, at more than 6kg, it seems like a lot of weight to lug around for a single item. Again, being tall, I sometimes find that the 2.15m length of the sleeping area is a bit short for my 1.85m frame. Unless I sleep on a slight angle across the tent, I can end up with either my feet or my head just touching the fabric.

Good:
-Spacious porch area.
-Can be pitched and packed away without detaching the inner.
-Very reliable. Hasn’t leaked in three years.

My concerns:
-Heavy at more than 6kg in weight.
-Sleeping area may be slightly short for very tall people.
-Like other tunnel tents, it does flap about in strong wind.

With all of that in mind, let’s look at the first option I was sizing up before my recent trip to Shropshire… (Which you’ll soon be able to read about)

Vango Mirage Pro 200

(Photo taken from gooutdoors.co.uk, without permission)

(Vango Mirage Pro 200 at Go Outdoors)

My first thought then, was to go for something more compact and lightweight. I shopped around, looking at different brands and websites, not wanting to spend close to or more than £200.

I was intrigued by the Mirago Pro 200, as it’s also marketed as a backpacking tent. I’ve hesitated over this one because I would instantly lose the porch space that I have in my Ark 200 Plus.

(Photo taken from gooutdoors.co.uk, without permission)

Its bedroom area is slightly longer (100mm) than what I currently have, while it doesn’t sacrifice much (100mm-150mm) in the way of vertical height inside. With its semi-geodesic design, it is said to be very resistant to strong wind.

Good:
-More compact than my current tent.
-Weighs about half as much as the ark.
-Semi-geodesic pole design.
-Extra length in the sleeping area.

My Concerns:
-By comparison, the porch is tiny. I’d struggled to sit in there.
-It costs about three-times the value of my current tent.

Vango Omega 250

More recently, I’ve started looking at another tent from Vango; the Omega 250. It has a similar design to the Ark and yet, it weighs a good 2kg less.

(Photo taken from vango.co.uk, without permission)
(Photo taken from vango.co.uk, without permission)

(Vango Omega 250 at Vango)

Good:
-2kg lighter than the Ark. tent.
-I like the colour green.
-Maintains the head height inside and large porch.
-A smaller pack size than my current tent.
-Extra points for stronger guy lines.

My Concerns:
-Costs more than £200
-Still only 2.15m of length along the sleeping area floor.
-Porch groundsheet not included (I could just buy a tarp).

Wild Country Hoolie Compact 2 ETC

This is one I only recently discovered, after having considered the Omega 250 and potentially upped my budget.

(Photo taken from terra-nova.co.uk, without permission)

As a company and manufacturer, I’m already aware of their excellent reputation in producing tents for all purpose, including backpacking. I expect it would be made to a very high standard – certainly, a step up from Vango.

(Wild Country Hoolie 2 ETC at terra-nova.co.uk)

(Photo taken from terra-nova.co.uk, without permission)

A good length of floor for sleeping on. It weighs even less than the Omega 250. An excellent pack weight and size but… I am concerned it would be around 100mm shorter inside the tent… Again, I’m 1.85m tall and with long legs. It might be fine but I have certain doubts.

Good:
-Weighs just over 3kg.
-Good pack size.
-Reputable brand.
-Floor space in the sleeping compartment.
-2 year guarantee (when purchased as new).

My Concerns:
-Floor to ceiling height could be too low for me.
-Costs more than £200.
-Porch groundsheet not included (but again, I could buy a tarp).


Luxe Hex Peak F6A

You may know already, that I used the Luxe Hex Peak V4A for multi-day backpacking and camping trips. Well, this this model is the next step up in sizing.

(Photo taken from backpackinglight.co.uk, without permission)

It weighs in a good 500g heavier (with the two-person inner) but it is recommended for people taller than 6ft. I am 6ft1in and have found the one person inner of the V4A to be a bit close to my face and/or toes when lying down inside.

(Luxe Sil Hex Peak F6a at Backpacking Light)

(Photo taken from backpackinglight.co.uk, without permission)

There is an appeal in the fact that it is lighter than my current Vango tent, more spacious than my current Hex Peak and it would be easier to pack away, dry and store at home.

(Photo taken from backpackinglight.co.uk, without permission)

Unfortunately, it is only available to purchase with the two-person Duo Nest. Otherwise, I’ve look at buying the outer as an upgrade from my V4A. If you do want to use an inner nest with this shelter, you’re advised to go with the V4A’s inner… So, I’m not sure I’d really be gaining much in the sleeping area; just in the surrounding porch/vestibule space.

Good:
-More spacious than the V4A
-Lightweight and packable
-A brand I know and trust

My Concerns:
-At £250, it is over my budget.
-There’s no option to purchase the outer fly only.
-Single person option still uses the V4A inner.
-I may also need to buy another support pole.

Decision time?

With all of that in mind… If I was placing an order to buy the tent today, I would opt for the Vango Omega 250. I do feel I could put up with the “short” sleeping area (as I have done for three years now). I would have gone for the Wild Country tent, as it is not too much more expensive. But I am concerned with the stated 900mm ceiling height.

I like the idea of upgrading my Hex Peak to the larger F6A outer shell. But I’m not prepared to spend £250 when I don’t particularly want the Duo inner. But I feel I might still choose this one in a head-to-head against the Mirage Pro 200.

Whichever one I choose, I am going to have to deal with the issue of drying each tent after a trip. Sometimes I overthink things. It’s not as if I have to live in this tent every day or even, every week. This idea of drying a tent without a garden, doesn’t have to be as big of an issue when it’s required so infrequently.

But I’m not buying today. I don’t “need” a new tent immediately and I’m never sure of how many times I’ll head off camping in a typical year. Speaking of which, I’m off again soon and will surely be using the Ark one more time!

Thanks for reading.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

One thought on “Pondering A New Tent”

  1. Hi Olly.
    Why not let your dad buy it for you, that way you would’nt be restricted by budget! Buy the way he wont take no for an answer!
    So let him know when you are back. Good luck on your camping trip. 👍

    Like

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