Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:45

Vango Force 10 Arete tested and reviewed

Written by Wim Stevenson

The Force 10 series represents Vango’s top-flight technical camping range, intended to take you to ‘…the edge of your adventure’. 

They are designed in Scotland by their sponsored athletes.  A cursory read of almost any expedition report from the Greater Ranges will tell you that when conditions get really bad is is almost always referred to as ‘reminiscent of Scottish Winter’, so a perfect testing ground.

F10 Arete 6

What Vango Say:

The Arete has a sharp profile and delivers superb stability that will literally slice through strong winds in the wildest of weather.  Despite this, it also offers remarkable headroom making living in this tent more comfortable.  Designed and tested by the F10 technical team in Scotland, the ultra-lightweight Arete is designed for you to make the most out of the mountains!

Specifications:

Sleeps: 2

Season Rating Spec: 4

Entrances: 1

Weight: 1.54kg

Trail Weight: 1.35kg

Pitching Time: 5mins

Pitching Method: Inner first

Packsize: 47.0 x 14.0 cm

Features:

-        1 inner tent – 15D 28gsm breathable nylon with 70D Nylon 6000mm groundsheet

-        Inner tent measurements: 205x105x105cm

-        Inner pockets conveniently positioned

-        1 flysheet – Protex 20.SRN – 42g/m2 is extremely light, ripstop and waterproof

-        Flysheet has factory taped seams and multiple reflective points

-        Outer tent measurements: 280x150 (at widest) x 110cm

-        Flysheet O-shaped door vent opens from top to ventilate porch

-        Single Porch

-        F10 Series Hub Pole Structure – connecting poles at cross over points with F10 Hub

-        Yunan Eco Alloy Poles – Light and good quality, made with acid free processing by Yunan.  Designed to withstand high winds.

-        Weather tested beyond the European standard EN5912 by certified test centre

-        Fire retardant fabrics – exceeds European EN5912 safety standard.

On Test:

The Aretes aspirations – and importantly, price tag (RRP: £320), put it smack bang in the middle of territory dominated by technical big-hitters such as MSR’s Elixir and Vaude Taurus.  As such, this has to be able to perform.

Like many, Vango tents have in many ways formed the backbone of my outdoors life, but my experience of the brand is still heavily influenced by the chaotic misery of early trips as a young teenager and, most typically, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.  Wrestling with clunky, old, unintuitive tents bearing the Vango logo in awful conditions with god-awful kit and a leaking Trangia means even over 15 years later I still approached my first pitching of the Arete with in trepidation.

F10 Arete 3

However, pitching the Arete is a doddle and very reminiscent of other high-end inner-first tents; make a skeleton of poles, clip the inner tent in (making sure it is the right way round), chuck over, Velcro down the flysheet, and you are just a few pegs away from being all sorted. 

F10 Arete 2

Once pitched, it is a great size for 2; the stash pockets are intuitively placed, the height in the middle and steep sides makes manoeuvring easy, and the rear vent keeps air circulating whilst retaining a comfortable latent air temperature. 

This is handy, as getting in and out – especially with a second person and two people’s kit in/around the porch – can be tricky.  However, once you are in you quickly forget about this.  In many ways, this lies at the heart of what the Arete is all about – it isn’t for holidays and jollies, it is a serious mountain shelter.  As such, you need a small opening to keep as much of the outside where it belongs.

F10 Arete 4

Where this tent really comes into its own, however, is when it is in your pack. It packs down small enough, but weight is the great surprise. Weighing in fully-complimented at just over 1.5kg, it is significantly lighter than many of its competitors.  Personally, I will happily forego a slightly uncomfortable entrance or trouser-donning experience in exchange for an easier time during the day.  Any compromise in tent strength was not noticed by this tester, though due to its shark-fin-esque design it was found sensible placement in the wind made a big difference once inside, and during the takedown.

F10 Arete 5

The real crowning achievement of this tent came from a friend who was a volunteer at a local ultra event.  The wind was so strong at his checkpoint it had already crushed 2 of the race’s expedition tents.  I lent him the Arete, because that’s what friends do.  Not only did it withstand the punishment, but it was simple and intuitive enough that someone totally inexperienced with that model could put it up in bad conditions.

It is immensely satisfying when high-performance informs an inherent usability like this and is indicative of the Arete’s quality and versatility.  For all its fancy poles and lightweight materials, everything clicks or clips together, and there is only one type of peg.  Everything is rational and simple.  This gives a sense something greater is at work.  A benevolent force running in the background with capabilities that far outreach your own, yet still makes what you are doing easier and better.  You get a similar sensation with MSR tents.  The difference however being the tactility of this sensation – MSR’s feel like they have been built by NASA, whilst the Arete seems more the biproduct of half a century’s worth of incremental gains.  You get the sense a more experiential knowledge is at play, which is very reassuring.
 
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