The ones I have described above are the big, canvas skinned and wouldn’t look out of place in a Wild West movie. There are also a range of tipi’s of different sizes and outer skins. This year they brought out a smaller, packable version: The Olivin 2.
This immediately sparked my interest, I have seen shelters/tarps of this shape perform very well in high winds, the Olivin is a twin walled tent with a fully enclosed inner. In my experience the Scandinavians know how to make outdoor gear and it’s always normally robust.
It is slightly weighty at 3.4kg book value, which 1.5kg is the inner tent. In practice it is possible to manpack but I would suggest only small distances and split down between the occupants. If it were being put in a kayak or pulk/sled in winter it’d be a great overnight base tent.
Once it is unpacked the material quality is evident, the burgundy outer is ripstop, silicone coated and feels sturdy. The yellow inner is lighter, however will take a good amount of wear. The built in groundsheet is relatively thick and well-sealed, it has reinforced corners to strengthen the pegging points. On its many outings none of the materials had any issue with water ingress or wear.
Pitching is easy: throw it out, peg out the corners and stick the centre pole in, then adjust, bang its up! Well once you figure out how the centre pole fits into the peak and the bottom pocket to allow the chimney adjustments to be made. There is a couple of further guy points higher up the ridges (which stow away nicely) which assist in more blustery conditions.
The foot print is huge though so be prepared to look for a big plot of land to pitch, just over 3 metres in diameter. Though this is reflected inside, it’s billed as a 2 person tent, you could sleep 3 or at a push maybe 4. The site says 4 can sit inside comfortably, this would be easily done.
The centre pole is what restricts the amount of horizontal tenants, with both mats either side there is acres of room for gear either side. Which is good as there is no porch in the set up.
Throughout the inner there are areas for ventilation. A ‘D’ shaped zipped mesh panel will allow through draught to the cleverly designed chimney opening, described below.
There are 3 guy style cords that the centre pole sits into. There are line locks which when all 3 are pulled equally will retract the cone shaped hood on the peak of the outer providing venting and updraft to escape. Combinations of string length will allow defence from prevailing weather and venting at the same time.
In practice it is great for temperature and condensation regulation. When the sun hits it in the morning it can get quite warm when it’s all closed in, as I found when I woke up in the Lakes one morning.
The door to the inner has two layers to it. It can be fully enclosed or have an insect barrier/vent when the inner part is unzipped and rolled back as the picture shows below.
I don’t know where I went wrong in the pitching, as the picture on the site shows the snow skirts to be lying flat in the ground which will obviously allow it to seal when there is sufficient white stuff to do so. When I pitched it the outer seemed to be quite taught, as it should be, and I couldn’t find a way to bring it down. The centre pole is a fixed height so bringing the peak height down isn’t an option. Tightening the pegging points forced more tension onto the ridges. There are pegging points on the skirts so it can be easily secured, it just takes a lot of pegs to do so.
This then leads to be something that was a bit of an annoyance, the main door on the outer becomes a nuisance to open and close (especially from the inside) at the horizontal seam of the skirt due to the tension. Adjusting the pegging points at the front eased it off but there is a line between the outer becoming too slack and difficulty closing the door. It is difficult to see from the picture below, stretching out from the inside beyond the inner and past the seam can be a bit of work, especially when you are pressed up against the inside of a damp outer skin.
Tentipi highlight in the Olivin’s features on the site that the inner can be used on its own in warmer seasons as a bug shelter, with the venting and internal mesh this would be a great option. I think it may also be able to use the outer only as a shelter in pretty much any condition. The only work of warning I would give would be plan for this in advance.
I did plan to use the outer on its own on warm evening one nighter, the problems came when I tried to separate it just before I left the car park. The chimney venting system which connects the outer to the inner is very tedious first time round. So I didn’t separate it in the end and went for the full bombproof version.
The pegs that are provided with the tent are Y shape stakes, they are solid.
As mentioned above there is no porch, so cooking is either with the door open and out on the ground in front or, in poorer weather, open the chimney and done carefully inside. I don’t have an issue with the cooking factor of having no porch, what it does however cause is when the outer door is opened from the inside and there is water lying on the outer it tends to fall straight in to the opening area of the ground sheet. It’s not a huge issue but there is no bridge between the inner and the outer allowing for boots to be taken off and protecting the cocoon of the inner from the investable bad weather the UK brings.
I had this up on a windy night in a camp site in the Lakes, it was the first night I had it pitched. I did my initial adjustments put out only two of the upper guys, climbed in and sorted my gear out inside. The outside conditions didn’t cross my mind once I got the zip done up. Because of its shape I could then decide what direction I wanted to sleep, got my head down and thought nothing else of it.
In the morning when I got out, I looked around the site to see a number of tents battered and hanging together (except of course his big brother which was pitched just a bit down the campsite shown in the photo above) and when I looked around the Olivin there was no sign of this carnage. A couple passed by me on the way to the showers and the gentleman stopped to congratulate the tent on how it deflected the high winds, which he noticed when he was out fixing his through the night.
The shape of the Tentipi, across its full range, lends itself to the conditions of the UK. The shelter is robust and has been designed in to perform that way. It’s not light it’s true, it’s not designed to be. But if you look at some of its peers on the market it is pretty much on the money. It will perform all year round in the UK and I’d be confident if it went to the colder more extreme conditions that it would stand still against them too.