Monday, 19 August 2019 20:28

Vango Cairngorm 200 tested and reviewed

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Vango make a bewildering array of tents, particularly since their innovative airbeam ranges were introduced, but where they've always excelled is the entry level to mid range affordable tents.

On paper the Cairngorm 200 looks a very interesting tent, hiding away in their trekking range. At 2.05kg for a 2 man tent it sits well within the lightweight range, and at £150 it's very competitively priced. Up close it turns out to be a good attempt at the impossible compromise of low weight, durability, and low price. There are obvious compromises like the single porch but balanced out by a better than expected groundsheet. 


Vango Cairngorm 1

What Vango say::

The Cairngorm is perfect for those backpacking and trekking, utilising a lightweight, single hooped structure which features TBS®II system for extra stability. Cairngorm pitches quickly and, through careful design, provides more internal volume and less weight than similar styles.

 

Features:

  • Flysheet: Protex RS - Strong, durable fabric, now with a ripstop weave providing 13% more strength. Waterproof to a hydrostatic head of 5000mm.
  • Yunan Eco Alloy Poles - Extremely high quality poles made with acid free processing by Yunan. These poles provide excellent strength in high winds as well as being very light.
  • Hybrid tunnel tent - Maximising inner space to weight ratio
  • Flysheet and inner pitch together - Quick and easy to pitch and pack
  • Patented Vango TBS® II Tension Band System - increases tents performance in adverse conditions, especially in strong, changeable winds. When tensioned, the bands brace the pole at 3 points, and prevent sideways movement. Adjust TBS® II to remove slack. Do not over tension, as this may deform the poles. Can be stowed away in calm weather
  • Walking pole attachment eyelet in door - Prop up the door with a walking pole to create a sheltered porch
  • 70 denier, 6000mm lightweight polyester groundsheet - Waterproof, durable and reliable
  • Breathable polyester inner - Allows condensation to pass through, for a comfortable night's sleep
  • Rain stop flysheet doors - Structured so that rain will not drop into the inner when opened
  • Twin flysheet doors - Allows easier access for two or more occupants, and/or additional storage
  • 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
  • Inner pockets - Conveniently positioned pockets for organising essential items
  • Fast pack tent bag - Oversized opening for easy packing and compression straps to control pack size
  • Line-Lok guyline runners - Lock securely, simple to release and high performance in all conditions
  • Multiple reflective points - On pegging points for visibility in low light
  • Vivid reflective high strength guylines - Provides high visibility in low light
  • Factory taped seams - All flysheet and groundsheet seams are factory taped, giving a water tight seal
  • Weather tested beyond the European standard EN5912 by certified test centre
  • Fire retardant fabrics - Exceeds European EN5912 safety standard

 

Cairngorm 200 on test:

From the moment you start unpacking the Cairngorm 200 you immediately get an idea of the degree of thought, and compromise, that's gone into the tent. Instead of the usual ultra-thin, single toggle, bag a lightweight tent comes packed in the Cairngorm comes with a nice oversized bag with compression straps. It may add weight with the excess material, straps and buckles, but when you're trying to compress your tent back into its bag in the middle of a downpour you'll really appreciate it.

Vango Cairngorm 2

 

 One of the keys to the success of Vango tents over the years has been their stability and in the Cairngorm tents, also available in 1 and 2 person variants, use the Twnsion Band System to provide stregth. For those unfamiliar with the TBS it may come as a bit of a surprise to find straps on the inside of the flysheet running from the centre of the pole to each side wall, but their use is optional and even when fully tightened in strong winds they don't restrict the available space.

Vango Cairngorm 3

The Cairngorm 200 arrives with flysheet and inner seperate but after first use it makes sense to leave them connected and pitch as-one on subsequent  trips. The first pitch, however gives you an instant understanding of where the weight's been saved to keep the 2 person version down to a weight of just over 2kg. In most 2 man tents you sleep side by side and shoulder to shoulder with the foot end tapered, but in this tent the two people sleep head to toe beside each other. Like many lightweight 2 person tents you only get a single, usable, porch, but unusually you get inner and flysheet doors on both sides. It's an unusual layout but has some distinct advantages - particularly for the person on the "far side" from the porch who can enter and exit without having to climb over either the other occupant or the gear in the porch.

Vango Cairngorm 4

 For two people's kit the storage space on the porch side is somewhat limited, but the ability to hold the flysheet door up with a walking pole does make cooking under cover both easier and safer.

Vango Cairngorm 5Porch side

With the inner attached and the TBS straps tightened attention moves to the other 2 poles. These two short poles go at ech end, slotting into place in reinforced sleeve and square off the ends. A triangular flap not only provides a guy point for pegging out but also provides rain cover for the ventilation panel built into the inner.

Vango Cairngorm 6

 Note how the pole stands vertically

Vango Cairngorm 7

In practice the vents work very well in combination with the inner doos, even in the nightmare coditions of a high humidity summer night and several hours of contunous downpour. 

In terms of space the Cairngorm 200 is a little tight with its single storage area, despite a decent internal pocket, but it uses the space it has very well. The twin entry system has definite benefits and after a good soaking and wind in testing there's no doubts about its stability. There's the little touches like the peak to divert rainfall off the doors that you'd expect on a much more expensive tent and in many ways that's what the Cairngorm 200 is about; you get more quality and thought than you'd expect of a tent in this price bracket.

For the new wild camper it's a great introductory tent, light enough to be usable as a solo tent with extra space and at 2kg and £150 the Cairgorm 200 is as good a bargain as we've seen in a long time.

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