New for 2014 the F10 Ion 2 is new this year and after a couple of months of testing it's already becoming a real favourite. At 2.65kg it's the lightest free standing tent in the F10 stable and while we've had some issues with some recent designs coming from Glagow based Vango the Ion2 starts off making positive impressions and then gets better. It's one of those tents that the more you use it the more you appreciate what you've got.
Following on from the Argon and Helium we take a look at Force Ten's latest inert-gas monickered offering - the Xenon 2 in its UL, or Ultra Light manifestation.
Jack Wolfskin are makiong a big push to grow their market presence in the UK and as part of that a group of journalists were invited to their new UK HQ in Northamptonshire last month. Overnight accomodation was their Skyrocket II dome tents, which we then took away to fully test.
The stability of a 4 season tent with a mesh inner to keep the weight down. One of the easiest tents to put up quickly thanks to its moulded clips and although it's not as light as some options the weight includes purpose built poles rather than using trekking poles. Light and spacious feel inside thanks to the choice of fabric colour, mesh inner and external window. A lot of money for a 2 man tent, but you're getting the latest technology on a proven design and with real attention to detail.
Real World Test
The Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2.1 is in many ways a typical new generation tent, a combination of lightweight fabrics around a weight reducing mesh inner and with obvious origins from across the pond. What you get with the Skyledge 2.1, though, is that extra bit of innovation and attention to detail that seperates the big boys from the also rans.
Snugpak are renowned for building solid, military grade, shelters and sleeping bags and in the latest offering, the Journey Duo, they've gone back to basics to produce a value for money, reliable two man tent. It's not lightweight, but to compensate for the extra weight you get a well designed and durable shelter that's ideal as a 3 season step-up from entry level to serious backpacking.
When is a tent not a tent? When it’s a Tipi! Tentipi are a maker of tents that have Nordic roots and are produced in Sweden. You may have seen them set up at events like Keswick Mountain Festival. I have seen other brands use them as show spaces and folk bands play in them with bales of hay for seats. There is also a young lady who lives in one full time in the lakes.
The Flite is the latest in Tentsile's range of tree tents and hammocks, bringing a 2 man option that's light enough to carry for a wild camp.
Terra Nova are probably best known for their range of ultralight and competition tents these days but that's ignoring a huge heritage in solid 4/5 season tents like the Quasar. The new Southern Cross 2 is the latest addition to this line and looks set to become another classic.
Vango's new Chinook is a bit of a mixed bag. Solid and stable in the wind and having the distinct advantage of twin entry doors but at a cost both in terms of weight and money. Ideal for site based camping where space is more important than weight.
Real World Test
The Chinook is a new addition to Vango's range for 2011 and part of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Recommended Kit List. Free standing, pitch all-in-one and the extra height provided by a semi-geodesic combne with Vango's traditional build quality make the Chinook 200 a comfortable and well specced tent capable of withstanding the UK climate.
There's no getting away from the fact that the Flux 200 uses airbeam technology instead of poles, it jumps out at you instantly, but a true review shouldn't make any concessions to the choice of pole system beyond whether it works or not - so this review will be based on how the Flux 200 works as a tent rather than how the technology works.
Airbeam is a straightforward concept, using compressed air rather than poles to create the arched supports usually made by poles, and in the Flux the system works well. Apart from some issues we had with the pump guage the hoops went up simply and smoothly - just a matter of attaching the correct nozzle to the pump tube and setting it to inflate, then a dozen or so pumps and the Flux sprung upright. We had to guesstimate the pressure, however, as the guage needle just swung wildly from 0 to 7 as you pumped air in then flashed back to zero almost instantly making it impossible to abide by the numerous warning of being sure you didn't exceed 3 PSI.