All posts by Kenneth Shaw

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Gear review: Gossamer Gear The One tent

This is not a review of the old Spinnaker cloth The one, rather of the new silnylon The one. And more recently the 2017 version (if there is a difference between 2016 and 2017 I don’t know). Anyway, the One has been a classic ultralight solo tent, and one that has been used and abused by many backpackers over the years until the Spinnaker cloth version of the tent was cut. Mainly from what I understand because Spinnaker cloth itself was no longer being produced. In anycase, not very interesting but gives me something to fill up my word count with.

Now, 2017 I brought in The One to Backpackinglight.dk webshop to sell, and like everything else if I can’t stand behind a product, I don’t bother selling them. So, I have been testing the One quite rigorously now for the last 5 months and this review will be a rundown of what I think about the One, it’s goods, bads and quirks.

Video Review: 

What is the One: 

The One is an ultralight, fully enclosed, complete single wall tent. Meaning, it has a floor, walls, bugnetting and everything else you need to be considered a tent. The one is easily setup with two trekking poles, or tent poles.

Weight:

On my scales the One complete with stuff sack, guy lines and seam sealed weighs just 618grams. Add 6 tent pegs and your upp to about 700grams.

Setup: 

Stake the four corners, stick in trekking poles, stake out the trekking pole guy lines and your done.. stretch and tighten accordingly. Takes a few setups but you’ll be an expert in no time!

Useage: 

Well, anywhere really. But should probably avoid winter camping and highly exposed and wet campsites. The silnylon and low 1200mm waterproofing means that it’s not a tent for week long trips in heavy wind and rainy mountain trips. For everything else it works great.

The Good:

  1. the one like most silnylon tents packs up nice and small – I know this doesn’t seem like it should matter, but the amount of volume a cuben tent can take up in a backpack is crazy. Silnylon on the other hand has about half the pack volume of a caparable cuben fiber tent.
  2. Big – unlike most ultralight solo tents, the One is fairly large and I feel that even for me at 190cm or 6’3″ The One is roomy. Definitely enough room to situp in and move around.
  3. Lightweight – at 618grams the One is hard to beat for size and comfort
  4. The One is a complete shelter – I don’t need to think about bug nets, bathtub floors, seam sealing or add-ons in general.
  5. Nice pockets on inside of tent
  6. Easy setup – takes about a minute to setup once you know what your doing
  7. I love tents that can open up large – the One offers a massive screen view when in the vestibule is rolled up. One of my favorite aspects of this tent.

The Bad:

  1. the 15D silnylon seems like it would rip quite easy. Though, I have not had this problem, and it’s more of a feeling than an actual gripe
  2. Silnylon – silnylon has it’s pluses and minuses. A minus is that it stretches – which means you have to tighten down the tent from time to time, and more so when wet.
  3. Tent peg intensive. Requires 6 pegs to setup. I don’t like having to use 6 pegs for setup. I like 2-4 for setup and 2-4 for strengthening.
  4. Because of the very thin silnylon floor, you really have to check where you put your tent – the nylon if placed on wet ground, will seep in water (bad grammar here) in anycase, if the ground is wet, the inside of your tent will get wet when applying pressure.

Improvements:

I really don’t see too much in the way of improvements, but I would like to see a tie out point in the middle of the tent side. Much like a Lunar solo with would give me the option of tieing out the side to give me more head/feet space, better wind protection and better overall stability.

A small zipper opening on non-vestibule side. This way I can extend the trekking pole from the inside when the material starts to stretch, or just place small odds and ends that I don’t necessarily need with me in my tent or under the vestibule

Conclusion: 

The One in my opinion is a great, relatively cheap ultralight selection for most people doing thru-hikes on something like the PCT or Appalachian trail, forest trails and so on. I don’t know if I would be comfortable using the One on a wide open site, valley and so on. I also setup my tents in the least exposed areas possible, and I certainly wouldn’t make an exception for the Gossamer gear One.

I don’t mention condensation in my review because I don’t really see much of a difference between this or any other tent. Camp selection, ventilation and outside temperatures are always the biggest determining factors when it comes to condensation. The One has great ventilation so in theory condensation shouldn’t be a problem – or atleast not more of a problem than any other option.

Where to buy:

If you live in Europe than in my own opinion Backpackinglight.dk is the best shop – in Sweden backpackinglight.se

 

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A night in paradise: video and gear list

Hammock glamping.. that’s right, glamping maxed out, and no shame at all. The first real day of spring has arrived in Stockholm so I did what any highly motived government employee would do: I ditch work early, packed my backpack and headed to the lake.. This particular area is called “Paradiset” – The paradise. I agree. I love this little area and it’s only about a 15 minute drive from my house in Farsta.

No long walk, no ultralight, no dehydrated fodder – just glamping. I made an awesome little lentils, carrots and broccoli casserole in a thick and heavy Trangia kitchen set along with freshly grinded coffee beans in a snow peak coffee press. I slept like a king in the REI quarter dome hammock system (assuming kings sleep well of course). All in all it was just a great night out and one that was sorely needed after the long and depressing winter.

Testing different editing options, I edited this video completely on the Ipad mini using Lumafusion. Not a perfect edit but good enough.

Full gear list:

https://lighterpack.com/r/8nul9i

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Fjällräven classic 2018 – A gear guide and list

I recently posted a videon on my youtube channel of the different gear I would probably bring with me on the Fjällräven classic this year if I were to do it. (I am not.. I’m doing the TGOChallenge, A couple of winter hikes, Zambia, and Jämtlandsfjäll).. This would however be some of the gear I would pack for the trip – granted i would use the HMG Windrider 4400 and not the ULA Circuit, also A few other changes I would make. This was kind of a budget run-down of gear selections that most people could make.

Reasoning behind the gear choices: 

Northern Sweden is a tricky area to plan “super ultralight” for, and honestly I don’t do Super ultralight. I do ultralight and comfortable (Notice the Helinox chair? yes, the 500grams are worth it for me). The reason for Northern Sweden being a little heavier and warmer is because it could be rain for days, followed by snow, then to sunshine. You could place your tent on snow and ice – which I have done during the classic, and the winds could just blow ice cold wind down from the mountains. With that, I usually try to plan for most of what I will encounter. I have done that trail several times with and without bug nets, with and without any real rain gear, with and without a proper sleeping pad, bag or tent. I suggest aiming for warmth and comfort at the lightest weight possible.

Here is another issue to think about – all my gear is heavier than yours even if we have the exact same gear. This is because I have to buy large and wide for everything 🙂

Also, keep in mind there are a few major ascents and descents – so don’t pack more than 8-10 kilos in your bag and bring walking sticks. I have seen countless heavy-miserables (the hikers with 20+ kilos) with broken feet, legs and bodies after three or four days along the classic) You will be given food in two day intervals and you don’t need to carry water as it’s everywhere.

Use lightweight mesh trail shoes with Superfeet insoles. Boots will kill you on this trail as there are quite a few water crossing and wading. Once your boots get wet, your trip is ruined. Trail shoes love water – and dry quickly.

Hope this little guide and packing list help you in your Fjällräven classic planning!

Most of this gear can be purchased in Europe at Http://www.backpackinglight.dk or in sweden http://www.backpackinglight.se

Item Ounces Grams
Packing  
Packing Pod L 1.6 45
Packing Pod S 1.3 37
Hmg Stuff Sack Pillow 1.4 40
Ula Circuilt 34.6 980
Shelter
Ti Tent Pegs 3.5 98
Tarptent Stratospire 1 W/ Solid 37 1050
Helinix Zero Chair 17.3 490
Sleep
As Tucas Sestrals Poncho 26.1 740
Xtherm 20.5 580
Cooking
Sea To Summit Long Spoon Ti 0.4 12
Sea To Summit Sink 4.6 130
Soto Amicus 2.8 79
Toaks 700ml W Lid And Case 3.5 99
Zefa Water Bottle 3.5 98
Clothing
Mld Waterproof Gloves 1.6 46
Wp 200g Pants 6.1 174
Wp 200g Shirt 8.1 229
Headnet 0.9 26
Haglofs Green Wind Jacket 2.3 65
Patagonia Alpine Rain Shell 6.4 181
Soft Shell Rain Pants 6.7 190
Haglifs Lim Puffy Jacket 6.7 191
Other
Murla Knife 0.7 20
Ul Teeth Care 3.1 89
Iphone 6s Plus Ink Case 9.9 282
Thermarest Repair Kit 0.5 14
First Aid Kit 3.1 89
Usb Cables 0.8 24
Globalstar 8.5 240
20100 Anker Battery Pack 16.2 460
Amazon Kindle 7.4 209
Gopro Hero 5 W/3-way 9.7 275
Sony Rx100 IV 8.2 232
Consumables
Butane Cannister Small 7.1 202
Toilet Papper 5.3 150
Coffee 3.5 100
Total 280.9 7966
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A reflection on backpacking

Some of my earliest memories in life are that of me and my family out camping – car camping of course as I was raised in the USA. I remember us driving around, setting up a tent, breaking out the coleman camping stove, grilling hot dogs, even remember the times our tarp was flooded out in Hawaii, or our car broken into in Utah while we slept in our tents. As I got older and in my teens, my camping trips started going towards shorter walks with tents, weed, beer and big ass bon fires. In my early twenties I moved to Sweden and my love for backpacking grew exponentially.

I bought my first tent in Sweden, my own personal tent when I was about 20. Before that I had just been borrowing tents. Me and my then girlfriend had this fantasy that we would travel around and sleep in a tent and explore Sweden. This worked for one time and the fantasy became mine alone and the misses stayed home. I soon realized that I didn’t have any hiking friends like I did in the USA, and out of necessity my love for solo hiking was discovered.

Throughout the years I have solo hiked thousands of miles, slept countless nights outdoors from Far above the arctic circle to deep in the Australian outback and everywhere in between. I have always loved solo hiking, I loved the deep contemplative beauty of it, the mental games of always questioning my own ability, or discovering a new idea. Solo backpacking is truly something I think everyone has to experience, I have grown as a person because of my solo hiking.

About 3 years ago I started to notice a change however, I started to find that I missed the comradery of hiking a trail together with a friend. Or discovering new friends along the trail. My solo adventures started to feel lonely and isolated. It wasn’t that I had nothing left to discover within myself, it was just that I wanted to discover other people and their loves or struggles. On my trek through Iceland in 2015, I felt a kind of loneliness that I hadn’t felt before, and it really took away from the total experience of hiking such an amazing landscape.

Maybe it was the birth of my son and the changes in the family dynamic after that, that made these other changes in me. Since my son was born, life seems so “solid” – love feels real, and my closeness to my wife has deepened in a way that is hard to explain. But on the flip side, my deeper meaning discussions with my wife have have been replaced by two word dialogs interrupted by a lovely boy that wants attention in one way or another. Perhaps his finger stinks because he picked his but and he wants us to smell, or maybe a meatball fell to the ground, or some other world shaking catastrophes that interrupts what little time my wife and I have for each other. So now we content ourselves with our little corners in the sofa with an ipad or iphone in hand and a TV on as background noise.

In other words, the isolation I so desired by hiking solo, has been filled by a 5 year old boy and an Ipad. So now, more than anything, I desire a grown up conversation about nothing, that is not interrupted in two word intervals. My love for isolation is now being or has been replaced, by a need to meet friends and new people. I’m not sure if there is anything better than just talking about nothing with a friend around a campfire. Last summer I made a pointed effort to meet somebody along the trail in Sarek and just hike with them. Ended up being one of the better trips I’ve had in a long time, and with that I made a new friend that I still meet up with from time to time here in Stockholm.

I keep trying to force myself to just go out and rekindle my love of sleeping in the outdoors by myself. I still go out 3-4 nights a month, and some of those nights are lovely, and others are less than optimal. But the best times are always with a friend or with my family. So instead of running away from this realization, it’s time to embrace it. Maybe I should start organizing little get together around Stockholm and around Sweden and everywhere else I happen to be travelling. Maybe little weekend groups here in Stockholm – I don’t know how this will take place, but I feel like it’s time to try something new. To embrace this new phase and need in my life, and I think it would be awesome to share that with new people!

 

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Video: Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 4 – Review

Ok, it was cold, shitty and hardly any snow – in other words a typical winter day in Stockholm. Stockholm is known for it’s absolutely horrific and pointless winters. With that said, it’s a good enough place to test different gear for upcoming winter trips in the mountains. So I went out to test some gear including the hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 4, The soto muka multifuel stove, my winter quilt system and a few other pieces of equipment that I plan on using on a winter trip in Jämtland in a few weeks.

If you haven’t seen it already I posted a video of the Soto muka stove that you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKt7adKB9rg&t=3s

What is the Ultamid 4

The HMG Ultamid 4 is a massive 4 man pyramid tent from Hyperlite mountain gear. Here is Hyperlite mountain gears description of the Ultamid 4:

Providing maximum coverage at a minimum weight, the UltaMid 4 pyramid tent is stripped down and dialed in to meet the exacting requirements of passionate, goal-oriented adventurers. This ultralight four-person tent takes harsh conditions in stride all four seasons of the year. It handles, wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail better than traditional tents with much smaller footprints.

Weight: 

A tent this big surely must weight a ton you say.. no. The Ultamid 4 weighs just 618grams – without all the guylines, so around 700 with. The pack size is not too bad either, about two liters in total volume.

Size:

The Ultamid 4 is massive – in the video I show myself more or less standing up in the tent, slightly bent of course, but still. It’s easily a four man tent. Most four man tents might fit two, and two man tents are excellent one man tents. The Ultamid 4 however is a four man tent, and an excellent two man, and a palace for one.

actual dimensions are

  • Width: 111” (281.9cm)
  • Length: 111” (281.9cm)
  • Height: 75” (190.5cm)

Overall conclusion:

I have been a fan of pyramid tents for years and have used them all over the world in various conditions. The Ultamid 4 is by far the largest of all the pyramid tents that I have and would bring with me. I like the sturdiness of the Ultamid series in general – as both the Ultamid 2 and Ultamid 4 have a ton of tie outs and are built to be used and abused. Easily all around, year round tents. If you are looking for that one tent that can be used everything and have cash to burn, then you can’t go wrong with either the Ultamid 2 or Ultamid 4.

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Soto Muka stove review – a video

I’m back! again.. with yet another gear review.. again. Out in the wilds, again.. It’s what I do! This time around I was out sleeping in tyresta again here in Stockholm, Sweden. Middle of winter so temperatures got down to around -10 celcius, which means it’s time for me to drag out my Soto muka multifuel stove. Yes, yes I know that a true “ultralighter” brings a gas canister and sleeps with it to keep it warm, what can I say? I cheat – I like to keep things simple, so white gas it is. No need to keep the fuel warm, no need to think about different insulations for the gas canisters.. just pump, light up and boil.

 

What is the Soto muka multifuel stove

The Muka Stove has revolutionized common understanding of a gasoline stove’s characteristics such as becoming dirty with soot, cumbersome preheating, and maintenance before and after use. This gas stove combines a reliable, powerful output and ease of care. Muka is not a simple gasoline stove but the next generation of stove. Includes hose, pump, maintenance tool and a carrying case. Wide mouth Fuel Bottle sold separately.

Weight:

160 g without pump 320 g including pump

Specs:

  • Vikt: 160 gram (320 gram inklusive pump)
  • Mått: 8,0 x 6,5 x 8,0 cm (13,5 x 13,5 x 8,0 cm utfälld)
  • Brinntid: ca 56 min med 480 ml bilbränsle
  • Effekt: 4000 kcal/h / 4650w / 15800 BTU

Now just take a look again here at the BTU – yes 15800 BTU! that is insane. For reference a Jetboil has a 4500BTU, the Svea 123 has 2800BTU. This, this monster has 15800 BTU! this is melt your TI pot kind of heat.. so be careful. Now there is a good explanation for that kind of heat – the Soto Muka is a non-soot producing stove, even when burning unleaded gasoline. The heat needs to be high inorder burn gasoline cleanly, in other words, the high BTU output is the reason there is no soot.

A quick rundown: 

Out of all the available multifuel stoves available, nothing quite compares to the Muka Stove. The lightest of the bunch, non-priming and extremely high output. If you need a multi-fuel stove, this is the one to buy.

The old Svea 123 is a gas stove that I have used for years – and love it. It doesn’t require much other than a bit of priming; which is the process of pouring a little white gas on the primer plate under the burner, on top of the brass gas tank. The fire balls are awesome on the Svea 123, the thrill and excitement of wondering if this was the last moments of my life every time I light it. The Soto in comparison requires pumping, and while there is still a fireball, it doesn’t seem as life threatening – so the that’s a bonus, I guess. The weight is about the same as the all brass Svea 123, complete weight with fuel bottle is about 530grams. Heavy, but still one of the lightest mutifuel stoves on the market.

Watch the video for full review!

 

The stove can be purchased here: https://backpackinglight.dk/stoves-and-kitchen/multi-fuel-stoves/soto-muka-multifuel-stove

 

Eller i sverige: https://backpackinglight.se/friluftskok/multifuelkok/soto-muka-bensin-kok

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Cumulus Teneqa 850 winter down bag review – demonstration

 

Ok, so this weekend starts the ISPO Munich 2018 convention – worlds largest convention for outdoor and sports gear.. I going to Amsterdam instead. Maybe I will make Munich next year 🙂 With that said, I have been busy going through a bunch of new and old gear, trying to put together more videos and so on for ULcomfort.com as well as backpackinglight.dk. I have also moved all the inventory over to a new fulfillment center that will improve shipping times, minimize mistakes and make shipping cheaper for Backpackinglight.dk customers. So, for me, Amsterdam seems like an awesome weekend getaway.

With that said, I put together a quick video of the Cumulus Teneqa 850 winter down sleeping bag. It’s rare that I would chose a single bag option in the winter over a layered system, for example a down quilt, with a synthetic quilt on top. I just find a layered system to be good enough and cheap enough solution to solve my winter needs. However when I got the Teneqa 850 in the mail for a customer I decided to buy one for myself and give it a good testing throughout the winter season. I haven’t gone on any long winter artic expeditions or anything like that, but a few cold nights at around -5 to -17 and the bag has held up very well. Honestly, I am rethinking my winter layering system, as a single, fully enclosed mummy bag is certainly warmer for harsh winter conditions than something like a layered quilt system. I sleep snug as a bug in the Teneqa 850, and props to Cumulus for making such a high quality down bag at this price point (400 euros)

What is the Cumulus Teneqa 850:

It’s probably our biggest star, which we are extremely proud of, although it’s only 3 years old. This sleeping bag is filled with 850 g of the highest quality 850 cuin Polish down. When laid out, it is really impressive – it may even be said to be beautiful. A revolutionary, advanced winter sleeping bag, weighing only 1330 g. Made of Pertex Quantum fabric weighing 35 g/m², equipped with advanced V-chambers, which gives it a big advantage over the competition. The Teneqa 850 is a combination of Japanese technology, Polish down and Polish innovation which has led to the creation of a great product.

Specs:

  • Total weight: 1330 g
  • Down weight: 850 g
  • Weight of unfilled sleeping bag: 480 g
  • Comfort temperature: -14 ˚C
  • Limit temperature: -22 ˚C
  • Extreme temperature: -44 ˚C
  • Maximum user height: 190 cm
  • Length: 210 cm
  • Width (top/bottom): 85/59 cm
  • Stuffsack’s dimensions (height/diameter): 32/21 cm
  • Stuffsack’s volume: 11,1 l
  • Number of down chambers: 37

Size – My view: 

If there is one issue I have with Cumulus bags, and sleeping bags in general, it’s that they are made smaller than rated. For example, the Panyam 600 is rated at a user height of 190cm. I am 190cm and I would say the bag is rated for someone at 186cm. It’s just too small for me. It squeezes around my shoulders, my feet are crunched at the end and I can’t fit the mummy hood over my head and tighten around my shoulder – I just doensn’t fit. So I resolved myself into buying a bigger Panyam. With that said, the Cumulus Teneqa 850 standard size is perfect for me. Good room around my shoulders, I can toss and turn all-night without the entire bag following me everywhere, My toes just barely touch the footbox, which is exactly how I like it. It’s just a great fitting bag. In really cold nights I could easily fit inside with a few extra layers of clothing if I would need to. Again, cudos to Cumulus for making a great fitting bag.

 

Warmth and comfort:

To me, a warm bag is not always a comfortable one to use. Especially winter bags that have a tendency to get a little too warm if it’s not freezing outside. I find the Teneqa 850 to be a good balance between warmth, weight and comfort. At -15 rating I’m not going to be sweating my ass off when the temp is hovering around 0 – I just open up the footbox a little. Also, if the cold drops to -30 I can fit in with a few extra layers of clothing. It performs very nicely at around -10 to -20. For reference I am a very cold sleeper.

Overall feeling: 

Overall I like the Cumulus Teneqa 850 – warm, light, cheap-ish, excellent form and fit. If there is anything I would like to see improved for later version it would be a plastic zipper flap like the Western mountaineering bags – such light materials like those used on the Cumulus bags, easily get snagged in the zipper without the flap. Of course WM bags are twice as expensive, but I wouldn’t say they are twice as good. In fact, as far as make, fit and quality I would say Cumulus give WM a run for their money.

Will it replace my panyam 600 and as tucas sestrals poncho winter layering system? Probably not for my longer winter trips where I will be out for a week or soon in the Arctic, but certainly for trips up to 4-5 days I could see myself bringing the Teneqa 850. Perhaps, I could see myself replacing the Panyam 600 with the Teneqa, and then layer with the As Tucas. – Warmer and a little more flexible – however, heavier of course.

Where to buy:

https://backpackinglight.dk/sleeping/sleeping-bags/winter/cumulus-teneqa-850

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Gear Review: Black Diamond Firstlight tent

Ok, the black diamond is not the worst tent available, it’s bad but not the worst. For alpine conditions: Dry, windy and lots of snow – it’s perfect. For anything else it’s terrible. I have been using the Firstlight and sibling Hilight for about 5 years in varying instances. This video is a rundown of the tent and my review of the Firstlight.

 

What is it:
The Black diamond firstlight is a freestanding two man alpine tent. As per Black diamonds website (spelling errors and all… come on Black Diamond, spell check does exist… contructed? what the hell is contructed?):

A compact two-person, four-season tent built for weight-conscious climbers, the Black Diamond Firstlight is based on the I-Tent’s expedition-specific design with steep walls and a simple floor shape to optimize living space and increase headroom. For durability, all seams are double sewn and the stress points are reinforced. With two equal length DAC Featherlite poles that fit inside the tent with hook-and-loop wraps, it’s easy to set up—even from inside. For cross ventilation, both the small rear window and the door are covered with no-see-um mesh. The canopy is contructed with water resistant, breathable NanoShield fabric. For interior organization, the Firstlight has two interior mesh pockets.

Weight:
at 1,5kilos the Black diamond is light for a two man winter alpine tent. A bit heavier as a single man winter alpine tent and completely pointless for any other purposes.

Size: 
The Black diamond firstlight is marketed as a two man alpine tent. It’s not. It’s a one man alpine tent, and more to the point, it’s a one-short man (woman or kid) alpine tent. The actual dimensions are: 208 x 123 x 123 x 107 cm (82 x 48 x 48 x 42 in) – 208 is the length. My 196 sleeping pad stretches out the floor of the tent. My head and feet both push out the sides of the tent. I get wet from my bag squishing against the side.  For me, the firstlight is a one man tent.

To the point:
Watch the video for a full review. The firstlight is a tent I both love and hate. For the intended conditions it’s a “good enough” tent. It’s freestanding, light-ish, and I definitely have confidence in it even under the most brutal winter conditions. For everything else, it sucks.

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Nemo Apollo 3 – really a 3 man tent?

I this video I setup and show off the Nemo Apollo 3 – advertised as a 3 man tent.. but is it really?

 

What is the Apollo 3:

The Nemo Apollo 3 is advertised as a three man, lightweight backpacking shelter. It is in fact a more or less pyramid tent that is complete with tent pegs and center pole. A great value for money, but is it any good?

Weight:

595grams without center pole, 704grams with.