Tuesday, 17 October 2017 10:02

Force Ten Xenon UL 2 tested and reviewed

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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.

A classic 2 man tunnel tent from a company with a solid heritage, using the latest lightweight components, at an affordable price - what's not to like?

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What Force Ten say:

The Xenon Ultralight 2 utilises Gothic Arch poles combined with TBS Pro to create a stable two pole tunnel design which is quick and easy to pitch and strike. Perfect for those seeking greater headroom in the inner tent area, Xenon 2 also features a large vent over the door allowing plenty of airflow, and for UK trips, preventing the rain falling into the inner when the door is open. In a low weight, small pack size, Xenon 2 is a great year round performer.


All in one pitching - Flysheet and inner pitch together. Simple and quick to pitch and strike.

Gothic arch pole structure - Increases stability and assists water/snow run-off from the flysheet

TBS® PRO - Internal Guying System using an ultra-lightweight dyneema cord

ProTex® 15D Siliconised & PU Coated Nylon Flysheet - 3000mm

All flysheet and groundsheet seams are factory taped - Provides watertight seal

Groundsheet - 70 denier nylon fabric is a great balance between low weight and high durability. Waterproof to 6,000mm

Yunan SD70 Poles - High quality lightweight poles designed and made by Yunan in Korea

15D 28gsm breathable nylon inner tent

O-shaped inner doors - Easy to open with one hand

Part mesh inner door - Allows ventilation, whilst keeping bugs out

Flysheet door vent - Open from the top to ventilate porch

Internal storage pockets - Provides convenient storage within the inner tent. Keep essentials close to hand

High level pockets - Ideal for storage or to position a torch for light

Fast pack tent bag - Oversized opening for easy packing and compression straps to control pack size

Dyneema core guylines - Excellent strength to weight ratio

Mini Line-Lok guyline runners - Lock securely, simple to release and high performance in all conditions

Dyneema pegging points - Can be modified for use with skis or snow anchors

Weight – 1.9kg

On test with My Outdoors

The Xenon 3 ul is a classic tunnel design with two arched poles. I have become a fan of tunnel tents, due to their ability to shrug off high winds. Tunnels are a favoured choice of explorers of polar regions because they flex in gusts moulding to winds rather than trying to resist it. I'm not suggesting the Xenon is a full 4 season shelter, but it is robust to weather and offers excellent value for money when stood against a Nordisk or Hilleberg tunnel design. Weight wise, the Xenon sits in a lightweight bracket at 1.9kg. Certainly not the lightest tunnel on the market, but this is reflected in the price and build quality. I have found the Xenon 2 online for £220 new, which is excellent value for a two person tent of this standard.

xenon 2 2

I've used the Xenon on a couple of wild camping ventures recently and I like the space it offers. I've become accustomed to having space while out on my own, as I use pyramid shelters a lot. For a one person option the Xenon is palatial, for two people a manageable space for two decent sized mats and some kit on the floor. The bathtub floor, rated to 6000mm hydrostatic head, is of a decent height and should manage wet and winter conditions adequately.

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A thumbs up for the Xenon 2 is the huge storage pockets along both sides of the tent. I really like this option and think every tent should offer it in an ideal world; I can have everything at hand without fishing in bags for kit at night.  Suitable storage like this is also great for two people sharing in winter, as you always have more gear to keep organised.

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The inner has decent head clearance for people of average height and sitting up to cook in the porch is achievable without an issue. I use an alcohol stove most of the year so cooking like this or using a small gas stove is a safe option in poor weather. Ventilating the porch is easy, zipping down the top of the door. The porch is an adequate size, but only really fit for boots and bags.

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The inner door is oval in shape and is easy to use without snagging, has a pocket to the side to stow it into and offers a mesh vent at the top. There is a small mesh pocket which is handy for hanging a headtorch for nightime  Overall it is a pretty liveable space for a relatively narrow tunnel shaped tent.

Pitching is all in one which is an essential feature for a UK market tent in my opinion, especially when working alone in the hills. The inner will remove to offer a single skin option of flysheet only. Like most tunnels, pitching is straightforward and quick. The end pegging points on the fly have line-locks on Dyneema cord. These don't always stay put unfortunately and they are a bit prone to slipping. I hasten to add not every time I used the tent, but enough to make me leave the lines out a full length and just peg them like this. The line locks slipped when under higher tension as the wind picked up. This was my only niggle with the tent design.

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Another area which could be an improvement are the corner guy points. It is my experience that double attachments to the pole ridge then down to a single peg point offer better stability. The guy lines could also benefit from being a bit longer to really bolt the tent down.

xenon 2 9

The Xenon 2 ul is a great value two person tent. The fabrics and overall construction give me the confidence tio use it in all the seasons. The aerodynamic shape, pitched rear end into the wind, means the tent withstands reasonable amounts of wind and ventilates really well. Steep side walls mean it will take a bit of snow and it drains off nicely. A good offering from Force Ten and perfect for two people on multi-night trips in Europe.