I’ve been thinking about back up for my aging Phoenix Phreerunner tent for a while, and Webtogs Ltd kindly lent me a Nemo Obi last year (sadly I returned it shortly before they went bust). The big advantage of Obi was that it fitted more neatly into my rucksack than the Phreerunner, though other features may have given rise to problems in stormy weather.
Anyway, I’ve now taken the plunge, and on Terry Abraham’s advice I bought this offering from Terra Nova. List price is £400, Sports Direct are selling it for £320, and Field & Trek have some in stock for £280 plus a ‘free gift’. (Anybody want a very large and heavy Sports Direct mug? It’s available for collection. I suppose they must own Field & Trek.)
The tent arrived very efficiently – almost within 12 hours of being ordered. Then it sat on our bedroom floor for a couple of weeks before I finally got round to putting it up on the lawn yesterday.
It’s designed to accommodate two people, and I’m sure it would do (as does the Phreerunner) at a push. In dry weather it might be nice to use the inner and not bother with the flysheet, but I doubt I’ll do that.
From the front it looks a bit like a cut down Nallo, but any resemblance to that tent ends with the configuration of the poles. There’s a ridge pole attached to A-poles at front and rear, so the tent should be pretty rigid.
It’s quite tall and thin, so pitching the tail into the wind will be important, and as you can see from the picture below a couple of extra guys will be needed to avoid undue flapping from the large expanse of fabric on each side of the tent. I’m not sure why Terra Nova don’t supply the requisite guy lines – they just supply two for the front and one for the back – although in calm weather none of these guys may be needed. The tiny titanium pegs may struggle in bad weather, so I’ll be supplementing those with some beefier ones.
Whilst it’s against the rules (Terra Nova’s advice, anyway), I tend to use the porch of my tent for cooking. There’s plenty of room here, and the front door shown below can be fully opened.
The tent weighs about 1.2 kilos, so I’ll be saving nearly a kilo over the Phreerunner, which given my plans for the summer (TGO Challenge/Pyrenees)will be quite handy.
I’ll report in more detail on my experiences with the tent in due course, but Terry has already used one extensively and has written an excellent review here. I commend anyone considering buying this tent to read that comprehensive review.
This is the full specification from Terra Nova:
Solar Competition 2 Tent
Offering a stable pole design and ample sleeping space, this
results in a performance tent for serious backpackers.
Season Rating Spec: 3 season backpacking
Free standing?: Yes (tent can be pitched without guying out)
Minimum Weight: 1.1Kg (2lb 7oz)
Packed Weight: 1.17Kg (2lb 9oz)
Pitch Time (estimate): 5 mins
Number of Porches: 1
Number of Doors: 1
Pitch Type: Inner pitch first
Packed Size: 40cm x 15cm
Flysheet: Si/Si Nylon R/S 5000mm
Floor: Si/Pu Nylon R/S 6000mm
Poles: 8.5mm / 8mm DAC H-pole
Pegs: 14 x 2g Titanium
Guylines: 3 x Reflective with Clamcleats
Compatible with Terra Nova FASTPACK system (fastpack weight: 705g)
Note: Due to the super light nature of the material used in the tents construction we are unable to factory seal the seams in a conventional method. However they are positioned and sewn in a way that minimises water penetration and it's possible to add further protection yourself, with seam sealer, to fully waterproof the tent.
New in 2011 the Solar Competition 2 is the perfect compliment to our lightweight Terra Nova range.
It is a simple, quick to pitch lightweight backpacking tent. The tent uses high specification DAC poles and Terra Nova Competition fabrics on the flysheet coupled with our durable lightweight groundsheet. With its stable pole design the Solar Comp 2 offers ample sleeping area and porch for storage, together with exceptional weather protection. Ventilation options front and back for comfort, a fast free standing pitch, and super light weight construction result in a fabulous performance tent for serious backpacking enthusiasts. For travel hot/dry conditions the free standing inner tent can be used on its own. Footprints to extend the life of the groundsheet and extra pegs for bad weather can be purchased separately.
Features: * Small pack size, * Full-length porch area, * Split-pole tail provides enhanced stability, * Innovative inner-tent shape creates
maximum space, * 2g Titanium pegs, * Compatible with Terra Nova Fastpack system.
PS I won’t be changing my pen name to ‘Solar Competition 2’ any time soon – perish that thought!
Update 1 – October 2013
The tent has now seen most, if not all, of its use this year – 10 nights on the TGO Challenge, and 15 nights in the Pyrenees. The biggest challenge was met on a calm evening in Scotland, when my mis-use of a fire steel nearly set the tent on fire. My repair to the resultant hole using a small piece of nylon and some seam sealer worked fine. I’ve slept well throughout those 25 nights, although none of them can be described as testing, there being insufficient wind and rain to slacken the guys enough to entice me out into the wet. I added two side guy lines and a front guy that got in the way, so I just used it occasionally as a washing line and kept it handy in case of the storm that never came. The tent is certainly nice and roomy for one person, and any condensation failed to do more than slightly dampen the foot of my sleeping bag.