Category: Gear reviews

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Kammok Mantis UL: An ultralight hammock kit

My first impression of the Kommok Mantis Ul when I got it in the mail was “Did they forget something? What is this wizardry” My Hammock of choice over the years has either been the Warbonnet ridgerunner or Henney hammock. Both are fantastic hammock systems that don’t weigh too much, but do take up some volume in my backpack. The Kammok Mantis is considerably smaller than either of the previous mentioned hammocks. The entire Kammok Mantis UL system is about the same size as just ridgerunner or just the Hennessy hammock minus tarp and pegs. Not much larger than a 1 liter Nalgene bottle. Keep in mind the Kammok Mantis UL is a complete system – you don’t have to buy anything else (well underquilt or sleeping mat). Tree huggers, Hammock, tent pegs, mosquito net and all guylines and stuff sacks needed. 

Setup: 

The Kommok mantis has a rather unique solution for it’s tree huggers, I can’t really explain in words, but kind of a ladder system that you feed into itself, rather intuitive and fast to use. Once the tree huggers are wrapped around a tree, you simply hook the hammock into the ladder system using a supplied carabiner, stake out the two hammock spreading guylines and your done with the hammock. The Tarp you simply pull tight the guylines, hook it into itself and use the supplied linelocks to tighten the tarp. Easy peasy. While not as easy to setup as the Hennessy Hammock, it’s not far off and on top of that weighs less that 500 grams that of the Hennesy explorer.

Weight:

On our scales the Kammok Mantis UL weighs just 1029 grams – with everything included in the weight. On top of this, it takes very little space in a backpack. One of hte lightest if not the lightest complete hammock system on the market. Atleast one meant for full sized humans. 

Size:

I am 190cm and 94 kilos. I find the Mantis UL to be a great size, I think I am on the limit though, and perhaps someone a little taller might want to look elsewhere. But certainly for anyone 190cm or under, the Mantis is a great size. I also find the Tarp to be a great size as well. On the Hennessy Hammocks, they often have a asym tarp that barely covers the hammock and just barely useable for anything other than light rain. The Mantis UL tarp is more of a flat tarp that covers the entire hammock and even leaves room over if you want to have a little camp in the rain. 

Overall impression:

It’s hard not to like the Kammok mantis UL. By pure chance I took it into the shop, but found that it’s such a high quality product that it’s going to stay in the shop for years to come. The mantis UL is the lightest complete hammock system in our shop and one of the lightest on the market. There are of course lighter hammocks, but usually a bit small, and weight starts to add up once you add a tarp, bug net, tree huggers, stuff sacks so on and so forth. I am also a huge fan of how easy the hammock is to setup, I’m not much a of knot guy, so I will gladly take linelocks and carabiners any day as it makes the Mantis idiot proof.. .. more or less. 

Plus: 

  • Very light system
  • Intuitive design and functions
  • Very small pack volume
  • Easy to setup
  • Nice size hammock and tarp
  • Full zip bugnet 

Minus: 

Review by Kenneth Shaw

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Soto Windmaster: A long-term review

My thoughts
I have been using the Soto Windmaster almost exclusively for over 2 years. Through Sarek, Padjelantaleden, Kungsleden, Island, Scotland and more. I have never needed a windshield and the Windmaster has never failed me. I have used it with dozens of different pots and pans without fail. Simply put, in my opinion the Soto windmaster is the single best stove on the market for pretty much any boil water and simple cooking needs. It is fast, efficient, lightweight and dependable. Even in high winds it is effecient and fast, rarely losing any of it’s performance. If there is one thing I think is a negative it’s that when I bought my Windmaster the tri-flex was included as well as the 4-flex. However, they have opted to sell those seperately now, which means that if you want the lightest most compact solution – the 3-flex. That must be purchased seperately. With that said, the 4-flex is an excellent, robust pot holder. I just prefer the tri-flex. 

Sizing
I am not too interested in physical diameter and height and so on. Instead I am interested if it fits in a single pot with gas tube. The soto windmaster fits nicely in pretty much all pots 600ml and more (with gas tube). This was always what was so convenient with the Jetboil kits – everything fit nicely in one pot. The difference between this and a jetboil are considerable – the Jetboil is not great in high winds, locked to one pot and in general considerably heavier than the Windmaster.

Weight
With the included 4-flex pot holder, the Windmaster weighs about 80 grams in total. Keep in mind, this is with a pezo lighter and no need for a windshield. So by any standards: Light.

Performance
This is where the Soto windmaster really stands out. For a long-time the Windmaster stood alone on it’s peak as the best performing stove on the market. Now it can be argued that the MSR Pocket rocket DLX shares the title. In anycase, whether it’s cold, windy or sunny: The Windmaster performaces with excellence. To show off to my friends on hiking trips it’s not usual for me to setup and cook my food in hard blowing winds while they all stand hovered around rocks and backpacks trying to cook their own food – only for the windmaster to be faster and more efficient. It really is remarkable. This of course also means that a can of Butane is going to last much longer with the Windmaster than pretty much anything else. 

Conclusion
The Windmaster is my favorite stove. Nothing really compares. There are lighter and smaller stoves – but once you add in the fact that you have to have both a windscreen and lighter, the Windmaster usually wins the weight war as well. The Windmaster is the “Ron Swanson” of stoves. Simple, effective and very high quality. 

Pros

  • Fast and efficient
  • Very good performance in high winds
  • Light
  • Small
  • Reliable

Cons

  • Tri-flex pot holder sold seperately

Review by Kenneth Shaw 17 February 2021

To buy the windmaster in europe check out https://backpackinglight.se/varumarken/soto/soto-windmaster-micro-regulator-stove

Video comparison

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Nordisk Lofoten ULW 2: A review

When I first reviewed Nordisk Lofoten a few years ago at the outdoor show in Munich, I couldn’t understand what it would be good for. Far too small for a tent, I wrote about it then that you might have it as a dog tent. Then I got some requests from customers who wanted to buy it, so I brought it home. Still, I wasn’t so keen to test it myself. Why should I? I don’t hate myself enough for that. I am 190cm tall and 95 kilos large. This tent barely accommodates a dog … or so I thought.

Then I brought home the Nordisk Lofoten ULW2 and tested it. First in the showroom then out in the wild. If I see it as a tent, well, then I think there are tents that are both bigger and better for most uses. But if I think “Bivy sack”, then we’re talking. Basically lighter than any waterproof bivy bag on the market, as well as with good ventilation and relatively good comfort compared to a standard Bivy bag. Beyond that, it is double walled, so you don’t get too much condensation in the tent or on yourself.

After sleeping in the Nordic Lofoten ULW 2 under various circumstances just over 6 nights from rain, sun and even snow, I can say that it is actually quite okay. I can also say that it is quite fun to use. I like the “big” awning, and its small footprint on the ground. One of the first nights I slept in it I couldn’t find a good spot to pitch the tent, it was raining and in the forest there was simply nowhere that a standard tent would fit. Then I found an extremely small area, basically the size of my body. In 5 minutes, the tent was set up, under two trees, near a beaver hole. Fun! No other tent I would be able to pitch in such a place with.

Then another night I woke up in the middle of the night because it was snowing and the whole tent sucked in on me, but shook the tent a few times and fell back asleep

The tent is small, no doubt about it. Both my feet and head Mush the inner tent, it was not easy to get in and out and trying to put on and off clothes in the tent was not so easy. Not to mention sitting in the tent and blowing up my sleeping mat and getting everything in order for bed. Basically things you want to do when it rains. But, I did it. And you can’t do that in a bivy bag. Sleeping in it is actually quite nice – you feel like a little sneaky spy hiding. It has good floor surface and a large pocket where you can have some things in.

Now I’m just talking about what it’s like to have the Nordisk lofoten as a standard tent, I don’t run mountain marathons for which it is really made. As a tent, I think it works well! And it’s something I will use more often when I don’t want to carry hiking poles.

Plus:

– Extremely small pack size. Does not take much room in the backpack
– Light weight
– Double walled bivy
– Good floor surface
– Large awning
– Easy to set up
– Fun to use
– Low condensation
– The best Bivy bag

Negative:

– Extremely small living space
– Not two-man tent
– Can hardly be counted as a tent

Specs

Weight: 500 grams

Material: 7d sil-nylon

Size: tiny

The Nordisk lofoten can be purchased in Europe at Https://www.backpackinglight.se

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My favorite 2-man tents for 2020

  1. Big agnes Copper spur HV ul 2 – There is a reason the Copper Spur hv ul2 is one of the most popular tents in history. This tent is a fantastic balance of weight, stability and living comfort. At just 1220 grams and freestanding, the Copper spur can more or less put up with anything the mountains can throw at it. Granted, my size at 190cm, I would rather pick up the HV UL 3 version instead if I’m sharing the tent. But I can say that with just about any two man tent.

Positives:

  • Fast and easy setup
  • Ultralight two man tent
  • Stable enough for most conditions
  • Great ventilation
  • Love the new awnings
  • Double entry and exits
  • Freestanding

Negatives:

  • Can be small for two people
  • There are lighter solutions – but not many
  • Outer tent and inner are pitched separately
  1. Hilleberg Anaris – A proper two man trekking pole tent from Hilleberg that can withstand anything the mountains throw at it. Fast and easy to pitch, this is a great two man tent for most people not looking for the lightest solution, but a long term solution that will last a lifetime and a great weight for two people at around 1309 grams ex tent pegs. The Anaris is also a very flexible tent which is why it kicks out several other similar solutions that might weigh less. Can be used as a simple tarp, or if you just want to pitch the inner, or half and half. Hilleberg is one of the originators of the trekking pole tent, in fact the design of the Anaris was more or less stolen from a tent they introduced in the early 70’s. Generous sizing and vestibules make the Anaris an excellent purchase.

Positives:

  • Generous sizing – a proper comfortable two man tent
  • Great weight for two man tent
  • Very flexible solution
  • Easy to pitch
  • Can withstand the mountains
  • Will last a lifetime

Negatives:

  • There are lighter solutions
  • When pitched in “shit weather mode” the ends can be a little low
  • Would like to see a single man version of the Anaris
  • I hate the tent pegs. The three star top always cuts my hands when I have to use force
  1. Luxe outdoor sil Hexpeak f6a – Big, light and cheap. A great combination! Granted, outer and inner together make this the heaviest combination of my recommendations. But a Tipi this size normally doesn’t need an inner tent. Pitch it close to the ground and you’re not going to be bothered with bugs. The Hexpeak 6a in a generous sized two man tent that comes complete with inner tent and tent pegs. I have used mine in some seriously bad weather above treeline on a few occasions with zero issues. If you’re looking for a great Tipi solution for two people or one big and a bunch of kids, the Hexpeak might be the perfect tent for you.
Not a pic of the f6 – this is the Hexpeak v8.. Similar but not the same. This is also the winter version with stove jack. I couldn’t find my pics of the V6

Positives:

  • Comes complete with everything that is needed
  • Generous sized two man tent
  • Robust material will hold a long time
  • Great price

Negatives:

  • Heavy compared to the other tents on my list (if bringing inner tent)
  • Massive footprint. You need to find a camp spot big enough
  • Needs to be seam sealed
  1. Tarptent Stratospire 2 – A massive two man tent that can withstand anything, more or less. If you want lots of room, the stratospire 2 is hard to beat. Many of the reasons I loved the Stratospire 1 apply for the Stratospire 2. My only complaint? Its really big. This size has a cost when trying to find a good flat surface to pitch your tent on.
The Tarptent Stratospire Li – DCF dyneema tent. Weighs just 750 grams with tent pegs

Positives:

  • Big and light
  • Stabile in most three season weather
  • Massive vestibules

Negatives:

  • Requires a lot of space to pitch
  • Needs to be seam sealed

Alternatively you can get the Stratospires LI DCF version of the Stratospire at just 750 grams!

  1. Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2 – 471 gram alpine tent. I have used the Ultamid 2 and it’s bigger brother the Ultamid 4 year round above treeline. To say the Ultamid 2 is a competent tent in any conditions is an understatement. From being snowed in late April, to sunny hikes in Sarek the Ultamid 2 has never let me down. Now that 471g is the weight of the outer only, so if you need an inner add another 500 grams or so. The Ultamid 2 also makes for a great solo tent. If you are looking for the perfect solo tent that even works as an excellent 2 man tent, look no further than the Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2.

Positives:

  • Ultralight 
  • True all season tent
  • Big
  • Takes little room in pack
  • Fast and easy to setup
  • Easy to repair

Negatives:

  • Inner tent isn’t included in sale price
  • Single walled tents = Condensation is more obvious
  • Tent pegs and Trekking pole extender not included

Bonus Tent:

The Vargo No-Fly 2 man tent – I couldn’t possibly leave the Vargo No-fly out here, so I am cheating on my own list. Anyway, the no-fly 2 probably has the biggest living area of any of the aforementioned tents as the sides are steep, so you don’t lose any length or width because of hard sloping sides like you get in a pyramid tent. The No-fly is also for the most part freestanding, and I have pitched it on tiny broken sidewalks on the edge of a river with no pegs. Two big vestibules, extremely easy to pitch, great ventilation and a lightweight at just 1195 grams. Did I mention everything you need is included in the package? Seam sealed, tent pegs and carbon fiber tent poles. Excellent creation from the Vargo team.

Positives:

  • Fast and easy to pitch
  • Freestanding
  • Great ventilation
  • Complete tent
  • Lightweight

Negatives:

  • I would have liked to see a bigger side opening with the vestibules. Demands a bit of trickery to open up completely on sunny days
  • Included is 4 vargo ti pegs, I think 6 would have been better as it requires 6-8 if you want it completely pitched. 

Runner up: Zpacks duplex,

Zpacks Duplex: I felt a lot of internal pressure to include the Zpacks Duplex here. But for me personally the tent doesn’t work. My head and feet push hard on the outer tent, meaning I get wet. Wind blows through it, so on top of being wet I also get cold. The tent also loves condensation, so morning rain showers are common. However, if I were to hike warmer climates, summertime, then I would definitely look hard at bringing the zpacks Duplex with me. However for me, in the swedish mountains in most of the conditions I find myself in, the Duplex simply is a no go.

These tents can be purchased in Sweden at https://www.backpackinglight.se

In Europe at: https://www.backpackinglight.dk

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My favourite solo tents for 2020

Choosing a tent is always difficult. There is no such thing as the “Perfect” solo tent for all uses. My uses for the most part are rather specific. I want a tent that I can use both in the forest and above tree-line. Can stay comfortably in them for at-least two weeks in a go, fast and easy to setup, maximum weight of 1kg, fits nicely inside my backpack, has full bug protection and is built for somebody like myself that is 190cm tall. There are of course a lot of tents I have left out here, but not necessarily because I think they are terrible, but often because I just don’t like them as much as I like these tents that I mention. 

With that said, I test dozens of tents every year, so I never really get a chance to fall in love with a specific tent. I have to use them, abuse them, then move on to the next one. SO the tents I do mention here are ones I have used a lot and are the tents that I myself reach for when I am going on hikes for myself. 

1. Tarptent Stratospire – at 990 grams the Stratospire takes the proverbial cake for me. It’s massive inner space and vestibules, excellent above tree line performance, total cool factor. To me the Strotospire is as near a perfect solo tent as one can get. 

The positives:

– Big , there is no solo tent even close to the shear size of this tent.

– Stable above tree-line

– Double walled

– Dual entry, exit

– Two big vestibules

The negatives

– it’s big. Almost too big for a solo tent. Finding camp spots in forest or campgrounds can be a real problem because of how big it is. In my guestimation it’s the size of two Hilleberg enans side by side.

– It can be tricky to setup. Even after having set mine up hundreds of times over the years, I still find it a pain to setup. at-least 8 tent pegs are needed, a good internal understanding of geometry, and patience. 

The Stratospire 1 can be purchased in Sweden at: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/1-personstalt/tarptent-stratospire-1

In Europe at: https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/one-person-tent/tarptent-stratospire-1

2. Lightheart gear Solong 6 – As far as most liveable space, the Solong 6 is in a league of its own. This tent is designed with tall people in mind. it’s big, its light and it’s a fun tent to use. I have several tents I use and love but don’t have listed here for different reason. But one feature on any tent that I love is a big awning – the MLD Trailstar has the biggest, an open tarp is quite nice and the Tramplite shelter are all excellent tents with an awning. But the Solong 6 is the only “proper” tent with a nice big awning built in. With dual entries, a big liveable area and a massive awning, I just love this tent. This is a tent that you don’t really mind having to hunker down in for a long rain spell. 

The solong 6 is also a relatively easy tent to pitch, but does require some practice as the trekking poles are setup on the inside of the inner-tent which is somewhat unusual. 

The positives:

– Big and light

– Excellent awning function

– Double entry & exit

– Packs down small

Some negatives

– requires 6 tent pegs, two trekking poles, an awning pole and between the two trekking poles a PVC pipe.. 

– I don’t really like the concept of having to buy a “basic tent” and then to purchase all the add ons. I wish companies, even small cottage companies would just sell a complete tent with everything I need to pitch and enjoy. Lightheart gear take this to a new level with basically everything being extra. 

– Not sure I love the tent setup procedure. Would like to see a more optimised guy-line solution for the four corners. Not sure how much that PVC pipe is actually needed or if it could be scrapped in leu of a different solution. Like two poles and no PVC, or two poles and a simple strut that is sewn in place. 

The Lightheart gear Solong6 can be purchased in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/lightheart-gear-solong-6

In Europe at: https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/lightheart-gear-solong-6

3. Hilleberg Enan – I don’t always want to bring trekking poles, in fact I find more and more that I am moving away from trekking poles and opting to instead have my hands free for camera gear and so forth. If I’m not bringing my trekking poles, than a trekking pole tent is a rather pointless venture for me. So with this, I bring the Hilleberg enan. Mine weighs in at 960 grams (Kerlon 600). That is complete with tent pole and add an extra 50 grams for 6 TI pegs. That is a lightweight, small packsize tent that is actually quite comfortable for someone of my height. 

It also saves me weight by allowing me to leave my trekking poles at home – which together weigh around 350 grams. There is not a lot I don’t like about the Enan – it’s light, roomy, comfortable, double walled, easy to setup and fits in tight spots. I even love the fact that I can push my sleeping mat all the way to the top of one end and mush my pillow into place inside the inner tent. This is great for when I want to situp and read a bit, or at-least have my head raised. It’s the tightness of the tent that creates supreme comfort. 

Positives:

– Top quality

– I love the yellow inner-tent – the comfort it gives is indescribable

– No trekking poles needed

– Can withstand just about anything the mountains throw at it

So what don’t I like: 

– It takes 6 tent pegs for a good setup. I would have like to see this cut down to 2 like the Tarptent Moment DW. 

– While I love the tightness of the tent, I don’t really like getting caught in bad weather with it. Because of the tightness – in bad weather every tent shrinks (psychologically speaking), and the Enan just because a hassle with the size and condensation in bad weather. 

The Hilleberg Enan can be purchased in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/hilleberg-enan-rod

In Europe at: https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/hilleberg-enan-red

4. Tarptent Notch – Everything I like with the enan I can copy and paste for the Notch, with the added bonus of it being lighter and easier to setup. With the notch you just need 4 pegs and two trekking poles and your done. The Notch has also great ventilation, double vestibules and entry/exits. The Notch is simply a superb solo tent. They even make this beast in an even lighter DCF version weighing just around 550 grams. That’s a double walled tent. The standard notch has a total weight with solid inner at around 770 grams. Perhaps the main drawback of the Notch is that the actual sleeping area of the inner tent is a rather tight fit. Cozy as some people might describe it. Where the Enan makes use of a little bigger inner-tent and one vestibule, the Notch cuts back on the inner-tent and instead makes room with two vestibules. I’m not sure which of the two I prefer. 

Some pluses:

– Fast and easy setup

– Great weight at just 770 g for standard, 550 g for DCF

– Great ventilation

The negatives:

– small inner-tent

– can get drafty in certain situations 

The Tarptent Notch can be purchased in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/varumarken/tarptent/tarptent-notch

In Europe at: https://backpackinglight.dk/brands/tarptent/tarptent-notch

5. Sierra designs High route FL – I get the question, often, If I could only choose one tent what would it be. This is such a difficult question for me because I am not limited to just one, so I can choose the one tent that best matches the situation I am likely to find myself in. With that said, one tent that usually passes everything I want or need to do is the High route FL. I love this tent, as easy to pitch as a pyramid tent, can be pitched with both inner and outer tent together, can easily remove the inner, comes complete seam sealed with tent pegs, big enough for me, and can withstand just about anything nature can throw at it. Granted the 2020 model is a little smaller and doesn’t have the dual entry & exits, it is considerably lighter than the previous model. 

There is a lot of talk about the x-mid by Durston, for me the High route is a more useable tent. The x-mid is just too small for my needs, the high route is just right. I also find it an easier tent to pitch and more flexible. (Though still testing the x-mid, and I can say it might be just right for your own needs) What I liked most on the Lightheart gear Solong6 is the big awning, the High route has two of them. It is also the cheapest of all the tents that I rank as my favourite solo tents. 

Some positives:

– Fast and easy setup

– Big, roomy tent – even the updated version

– Lightweight at under 800 grams

– Two vestibules that easily convert to Awnings

Some negatives:

– I think it sucks they got rid of the two entry and exits.. Ok, admittedly I rarely used both at the sametime, but the flexibility of it was nice. 

– Not sure I dig the color scheme so much. It works, but I kind of miss the red they had on the earlier model 

– The actual vestibule space is tight – I usually try to pitch with awning for more room

The Sierra designs High route FL can be purchased in Sweden: https://backpackinglight.se/talt/1-personstalt/sierra-designs-high-route-fl-1-talt

In Europe: https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/one-person-tent/sierra-designs-high-route-fl-1-tent

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Thermarest vesper quilt 32 Review

The Vesper quilt is a new line of quilts released in 2019 by Thermarest. They are Ultralight by all means using some of the lightest materials on the market to achieve an excellent weight to warmth ratio. using high quality down 900 hydrophobic treated to help protect against moisture and using small lightweight straps to tie down to your sleeping pad.

Full video review:

Weight:

The larger wide version of the Vesper quilt 32 comes in at just 489grams and has a warmth rating of around 32 degrees. Now like all companies do, they market the limit ratio instead of comfort. Comfort on this bag is around 37-38 degree F or 5 degrees Celsius. The medium or standard length of the Vesper quilt weighs under 450grams.

Warmth:

In my opinion any bag that markets itself as a 32 F bag and you freeze at the temp, just isn’t worth the money. Luckily, the Vesper quilt does a good job at keeping to it’s comfort temp and limit. I would say the comfort temp is around 37-38 F or 5 degrees Celsius. Limit is 32. Though I would say there are warmer 32 degree bags, but certainly not as light or packable.

Comfort:

The Vesper quilt is designed for being light over everything else. This is a simple quilt. Period. Two straps and, a clip around your neck and a foot box. That’s it. I find the large big enough for me who comes in at 190cm and 92 kilos, or 6’3″ and 210lbs. I can move around nicely and it keeps me warm down to about 5 Celsius.

Versatility:

It can be used as a summer and three season quilt. That’s about it. I wouldn’t use it as an extra quilt for warmth in the winter as it might be too tight for that function.

Overall:

I find that since I started using the Vesper quilt it has become one of my go to quilts as it does what it’s suppose to do. It keeps me warm, it packs down really small and is one of the lightest 32 degree quilts on the market. What more could I ask for?

Plus:

  • Ultralight
  • Well rated
  • Comfortable
  • Sidelong baffles means it keeps the down in place and minimizes weight

Minus:

  • Straps can be a little flimsy – easy to lose

The vesper quilt can be purchased in Europe at:

https://backpackinglight.dk/search/Vesper

And in Sweden at:

https://backpackinglight.se/sok/Vesper

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Zpacks Plexamid – an overview

Last year I bought the new Zpacks tent – after much internal debating, as I’m not a huge fan of the duplex (too small, too exposed for my tastes), I was a bit slow to pull the trigger on the Plexamid. However, after seeing a few initial reviews of how big the tent was, I decided to go for it. I don’t normally worry too much about cost as it easy to get the money back when selling.

My initial impression when I received the tent was “damn this is light” – followed by, shit it’s going to be too small. After setting up the plexamid and playing with it for about 20 nights out and 7 months later, I can say that it’s not too small. In fact, the tent gives me more liveable space than the Duplex. Even when I slept in the Duplex diagonally, it was too small for me. Meaning I had to basically use the entire internal space of the Duplex, just for my sleeping pad. Kind of sucked.

Anyway, this is not a review, but simply an overview of the Plexamid, as I want to give this tent a thorough beating before I give a true review.

A video overview:

What is it:

The Plexamid is the newest ultralight solo tent by the Florida based cottage company Zpacks. Zpacks specialises in ultralight, dyneema made gear. The tent weighs just 439grams on my scale, with guy lines without tent pegs and center pole.

First impression:

It’s a big solo tent – I’ve actually slept with my son in the tent a few nights and there is plenty of room for us.

Performance so far:

One of the reasons I am not willing to do a proper review yet is that the weather and conditions I’ve had the Plexamid in have been relatively mild so far. 15mps winds (34 mph) and two days of rain. In those conditions, it has held its own, and the size of the tent makes the heavy rains bearable. Though, in prolonged rains, the condensation does become an issue. However, as the tent is quite large and the sides sloped as they are, the condensation just runs down the sides and out through the mesh onto the ground – and not onto your gear and sleeping bag.

Sitting straight up and down on a sleeping pad with plenty of room to spare. For reference, I am 190cm tall and 90kilos

Conclusion:

I have used this tent enough to confidently say that If I were to do the PCT, the Plexamid would be the tent I bring – no doubt. I am confident enough with the tent to have it as my only tent for the next 6 months while in Zambia. It’s big, light and stable.

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Gear review: Sierra designs High Route FL

Where to start – The High route FL is a weird tent. Or at-least that was my first impression. An impression that was both negative but hopeful, I mean, how could I not be hopeful, it was designed with Andrew Skurka. In short, it’s a boxy, weird, half pyramid tent half something else that uses trekking poles and looks like it would be rather shit in heavy winds. That was my first impression, than I got it home, and I wanted to love it, but couldn’t as it was too much of a pain in the ass to setup. Not the process itself, but my poles would never sit in place. Unsatisfied, I sold the tent and moved on.

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I came back to the tent again by chance, I finally secured a European distribution for the tent for sales at backpackinglight.dk, and I decided to give it another shot. Or rather, I needed to show it off during an outdoor show here in Stockholm. So, regretting having to set it up again, I pulled it out of it’s (new) stuff sack – as I noticed right away that the stuff sack was different from the version I had earlier which was a direct import from the USA. Than I started setting up the tent and noticed it was much easier to setup this time around. So I don’t know if it’s official or something I dreamed up and my competency in setting the tent up actually increased over the time period. In any-case I believe that the version of the High route I bought for retail in Sweden was actually a better, stretchier sil-nylon that makes the tent easier to setup.

Since I gave it another shot, the tent has kind of grown on me and one I truly enjoy using. I have used the High route for many trips throughout the summer ranging from mountain trips to forest trips. In all about 30 nights which I feel is a fair amount to give a decent review of.

I even did a video review of this tent earlier this year that you can watch here:

Size:

First off, considering Andrew Skurka is a rather small guy, the High route FL is large, I mean, Large. I fit very comfortably in this tent. For reference I am 6’3″, 200lbs or in the more comprehendible metric system 190cm 90kg. Most tents are too small for me, and this has led me to believe that tent designers by and large are tiny people who simply don’t understand the concept of “tall”. When it comes to “ultralight” tents, the disparity is even greater. Ultralight tents usually equate to coffin.

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The High route is a comfortable tent. I can situp, stretch out, have my gear in the tent with me and because of the non-centered trekking poles, the height is extended beyond just the standard center. This is where pyramid tents really lose some of their utility, is that you only have space to move around in the exact center as the sides slope hard.

Weight:

With that said, the size of this tent, and the fact that it uses standard 20denier sil-nylon, means that it’s going to weigh a bit. Which it does, for a trekking pole, lightweight one man tent it weighs 1,1kg. Which isn’t bad for the amount of space you get, but there are lighter solutions. However, if you just use the outer fly and can’t be bothered with an inner-tent, than you are looking at around 600grams – which would give you much more room in the tent, making it very much so, a two man tent with far more usable inner space than any two man pyramid tent that I know of, with perhaps the exception to the Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2.

Usability:

At first glance it’s easy to get blinded on one detail: It has no vestibule. But in truth, it does have a vestibule, and not just one, but two, on both sides with the double entry ways. It might not have a useable vestibule if your used to using something like a Hilleberg Kaitum GT, which you can park a car in. But it certainly has two very useable vestibules for any lightweight or ultralight backpacker. Also, don’t forget that it’s easy to stake out the entry ways for ventilation and for creating an even bigger vestibule if the need arises. Of course, you could just always bring your gear in the tent with you, which is what I do, and I just park my backpack in the vestibule and cook food in it.

So far I have not experienced anything this tent hasn’t been able to handle in the way of bad weather. Heavy rain: no problem. Heavy winds: no problem (for reference I’ve had it in 14m/s or 48 feet per second wind – it certainly shook, but the trekking poles act as an extra shield for keeping the fly off of you). It’s actually rather competent in most conditions.

Of all the tents I have used, the High route FL probably has the best ventilation possibilities – from the two large vents up top, to being able to open the side doors completely, to being able to stake them out at different levels. All of this enabling a tent that is highly flexible and useable in different situations.

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Conclusion:

I get the feeling that Andrew Skurka approached Sierra designs and said something like this “Guys, I have this awesome Idea for a tent, I want it to be the greatest tent ever made for the kinds of conditions I would want to use it in” – Sierra designs said “great! but you should do it like this and this and this..” and the end result is a tent that is excellent in design and function, that takes a lot of inspiration from a standard pyramid tent. But does have noticeable compromises. It has the ease of setup (nearly) as a pyramid tent, better rain protection than pyramid tents, more useable space and has the added bonus of being both a simple tarp with fly only and includes an inner tent. On top of this it has double entry and exit’s, packs down small, relatively light and relatively cheap.

The high route FL is something special, unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, Sierra designs are releasing a newer version of the tent next year and discontinuing the current model altogether. They are getting rid of the double entry way, making it overall smaller, and changing the color to blue. I’m sure that the 700grams total weight will have a bigger audience, but for me, the High route as it is, is a near perfect tent. It’s big, easy to setup, great ventilation, lot’s of useable space, can be setup in different configurations depending on what you prefer, and it packs down rather small..

A side note:

I often see the tent justice warriors of the world say the High route is a direct copy of the Tarptent Stratospire or the Yama mountain gear Swiftline. Honestly, I don’t see the resemblance, I want to, but it’s just not there. The only thing they have in common is the asymmetrical pole setup and sil-nylon fly. I would say there are far more differences than commonalities in these tents. I just thought I would write that here to avoid my comments section to be filled with these kinds of comments.

With that said, I love my Stratospire, and I can’t really choose between the two which one I prefer as they are both great tents. Though, I will say that I tend to take the High route as it uses less volume in my backpack.

Update: Sierra designs is now saying that there is a difference though its not USA and European, it’s just an updated version with a lighter Silnylon – which explains my thoughts on why it’s easier and strechtier material. This gives a total difference in weight between the older and newer version of the tent to about 200grams.

If your in Europe this tent can be purchased here:

https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/one-person-tent/sierra-designs-high-route-fl-1-tent

Eller i Sverige här:

https://backpackinglight.se/talt/1-personstalt/sierra-designs-high-route-fl-1-talt

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Nemo Hornet 1 – A tent review

“Damn this is a tiny package!”… Literally the first words out of my mouth when I opened the box with the Nemo hornet 1. The Nemo Hornet one is probably the smallest tent package I have ever seen or held. The tent literally fits in the palm of my hand. And light, did I mention the Nemo hornet one is light? This of course led to my next thought “there is no way in hell this is a full size one man tent”. I am always suspicious of one man “ultralight-tents” by major producers. They usually prefer to sacrifice size and usability for weight.

What is the Nemo Hornet 1

The Nemo Hornet 1 is a semi-freestanding one man tent from Nemo equipment. Or in their own words:

If you’re looking for the master of ultralight tents, look no further. The Hornet offers the ultimate in livability and comfort. The 2-Person has two doors and two vestibules for two pounds, and the 1-Person weighs in at an ethereal 27 ounces.

The single pole construction allows for lightning quick setup, free-standing support, and minimal pole weight. Triangulated volumizing guy-outs increase interior space up to 15%, making your home on the trail even more livable. Hornet’s smart design and fabric set make it the ultimate ultralight experience.

 

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Weight

Since nobody actually understands ounces and pounds or really any of the imperial system (really, 32 degrees is freezing? what the hell is that.. not to speak of 212 for boiling.. WHAT THE HELL!) the 27 ounces literally says nothing about it’s weight. So, with my rant out of the way, the Nemo hornet 1 weighs just 780grams trail weight. I have it at about 800grams complete. That’s damn light for the usability of it. To put that into perspective, the Hilleberg enan weighs 1,2kilos complete, the Tarptent Notch weighs 800grams and the MLD Duomid with inner-tent weighs around 1kilo (minus weigh of trekking poles)

Livability

While the aforementioned Notch has the livability of a coffin (for me), the Nemo Hornet 1 is surprisingly roomy for even somebody as tall as I am 6’3″ or in a more comprehensable measurement of 190cm on the metric scale. Though, I would say that my height is probably the limit – anyone taller would probably be touching the ends of the tent. With that said, for me it’s more comfortable living space than the Terra nova 1 laser competition.

Height 102cm, length 221cm and width at 102cm

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The Nemo hornet may not be the largest one man tent on the market (that honor probably goes to the Tarptent Stratospire 1), but it’s certainly not the smallest. It has about the livability of something like the Terra nova laser one, but with it’s steep sloping walls it actually feels bigger than something like the Terra nova laser and Hilleberg Enan.

Extremes

I remember when I hiked Iceland a few years ago, that was the first time I ran into the Nemo Hornet 1. I don’t remember who I talked to or anything like that. But I remember talking to a guy who had been using the Nemo Hornet 1 for sometime and he was super happy with it. He did mention that in real heavy winds the hornet faulters if the extra guylines are not staked out. I can say that I had pitched my Duomid fairly close to his hornet and that night the winds were howling down the mountain side and my duomid was shaking pretty hard. I got out to re-stake some of the guys and took a look at his tent – it held up. Perhaps not as well as the Duomid but it certainly held it’s own.

I am mentioning that experience as I normally don’t pitch in exposed areas so I can’t really give an honest opinion about that on the Nemo Hornet 1. I will say that for everything I have used the tent for, it has held up really well.

Rain

“But that big gap on the back, it just has to let in a lot of water”.. No, no it doesn’t. That is however something I read about alot online, and found after a lot of research nobody that actually owns the tent that has had that problem. I myself have not had the problem when the tent is properly pitched. So, my conclusion is that with the very tall bathtub floor, I just don’t see how rain would be a serious problem.

Pitching the tent

Back in the early days of my hiking life I used to only want tents that would pitch the inner and outer tents together. I.e the Hilleberg pitch. Don’t get me wrong, in areas where it’s only raining for days and weeks on end it’s probably to be preferred. But these days I do prefer pitching the inner and outer separately as it allows a little more flexibility in setup and tear down. The Nemo hornet 1 is pitched with a separate inner and outer tent – which for me is excellent. I like being able to pitch only the inner if the sun and bugs are out, while being able to separate the outer from the inner on tear down during a wet period is also quite nice. I can keep the outer on the outside of my pack, while keeping my inner tent on the inside of my pack nice and dry.

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To say the Hornet 1 is easy to pitch is an understatement. It can be pitched in a minute needing only the minimal of brainpower to setup. This tent is in other words idiot proof.

Conclusion

Ok, so the Nemo hornet 1 is roomy, light, double walled and relatively cheap. It’s easy to setup, holds up well to most weather conditions and if you don’t use trekking poles is just a damn good solution for most solo hikers in my opinion. Downfalls then? Of course a tent this light means that it’s going to be using much lighter materials that probably won’t hold up to the test of time. My guess is that the Nemo Hornet 1 is good for a few good seasons of relatively easy usage. But, it the wind picks up and really starts to batter the hell out of it, well, all bets are off. I don’t know what the tear strength is of the 15 denier sil-nylon that the Nemo uses, but if I compare it to the other 15 d tents I’ve had, I would say it’s good for a few seasons but not much after that.

Of course, most of us buy and sales tents several times over the course of a season.. so.. there is that.

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To buy this tent:

https://backpackinglight.dk/tents/nemo-hornet-1p-ultralight-backpacking-tent

Disclaimer:

Nemo doesn’t pay me to write reviews of their tents, I don’t get these products for free from Nemo. Instead I have a very priviledged position in life in that I run and own a Backpacking gear shop here in Europe called Backpackinglight.se. I have the honor of being able to try and test gear before importing and selling. In other words, if the gear is crap, my shop is not going to sell it.

 

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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