With a target weight of 7.5Kg and a budget of £500, the key word that springs to mind is compromise. In general terms, the lighter the piece of kit, the more expensive it becomes. Therefore the trick is to get the balance right, as lightweight as you can possibly afford.
I was browsing one of the local outdoor shops – these places hate me, I never buy anything from them as a rule – I use them to see what fits, what’s comfortable, how things feel and then I go home and order the particular item on t’Internet, normally saving a good few quid into the bargain. I’m also still waiting to find the one shop that stocks all the different brands of kit that I’m interested in. Different stores seem to align themselves to different manufacturers, so you need to go from shop to shop to get all the things you need. Hell, I may as well do that from home! If indeed you can find what you want in the high street at all – but thats another story.
Anyway, I was browsing one of the local outdoor shops and I noticed they had an upstairs mezzanine level chock full of tents, all erected and pegged out. I spotted a little 2 man (or rather 1 full sized man and 1 midget) lightweight tent going for £120. The weight is what impressed me – it was only 1.95Kg and it looked pretty roomy – even once I got in it! So true to form, I went home and googled it and found some fairly positive reviews on it, even one from a specialist lightweight site in the US:
Okay, it wasn’t going to stand up to the worst winter conditions, but I only needed it to be a 2 or 3 season tent at best, so no problems there. Next I froogled it and was even more impressed when the best price I could find was £160 from some unheard of Internet shop.
I went back to the shop a few days later to have another look. The pile of tents beside the erected one had dropped significantly, so obviously people were buying them. This was a comforting feeling, if other people (and quite a few of them) were also buying it, that suggested it wasn’t a complete dud, didn’t it?
I went home and did a bit more research – I ain’t shelling out £120 on something I’m not 100% sure on! – it turns out that the tent in the shop is the 2005 model. The 2007 model has an extra pole at the foot of the tent to support the foot end and stop it flapping in the wind (one of the points picked up in the review). I froogled the 2007 model and prices started at £200. Perhaps I was onto something here? I’d lain down in the tent in the shop and although I’m 6′ 4″, there was room for me to lie full length – just.
I went back to the shop – the car knows the way now, I can have a snooze on the way! The pile of tents was reduced to 5. 10 minutes later it was down to 4.
It’s all about compromise. I have a 1.9kg tent (when you lose some of the unecessary stuff sacks and one or two surplus pegs) that I can sit up in and lie full length in for £120. It’s a major brand name and it goes up in under 5 minutes. The £80 I saved on buying the 2007 model will pay for my sleeping bag. Or the £200 I saved on buying something like a Hilleberg Akto, which is 500grams lighter and probably one of the best lightweight tents you can buy, will pay for a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat, a rucksack and a stove. Sorted!
Next on my shopping list is a sleeping bag…..