The new tent is here! It came astonishingly quickly – less than forty-eight hours between ordering online to it popping through the door.
New kit is always exciting, even if it’s only a cheap tent. I have a one-man tent I take to Iceland every summer which has to be small enough to fit in a bag to take on a plane and my two-man mostly only comes out for Guide camp these days, so I really don’t need anything high-tech. Don’t let outdoors enthusiasts or magazines or anything shame you into buying expensive specialist equipment that you don’t need. For most people, the likes of Millets is plenty good enough.
The new tent is a Eurohike Tay Deluxe. It’s a two-man tunnel tent with a massive porch and it’s indisputably blue. My dome tent is at the centre of a fifteen-year uncertainty about whether it’s blue or purple.
The Tay Hotel (the new tent’s name) comes in a smaller bag than my current two-man dome, which is impressive considering it’s quite a bit bigger. Tent-packing technology has moved on in the last fifteen years.
The top one is the old tent. I can’t capture it in a photo but it’s noticeably larger than the new tent.
I’ve never put up a tunnel tent before and the internet had suggested it was a bit difficult. It’s not. Either that, or the difficulty is exclusive to large tunnels. I had three colour-coded poles which was lovely and easy and the only minor trouble was that the tent won’t stand up by itself as soon as the poles are in, unlike my dome tent. Most of it stood up when the two hoops in the bedroom compartment were pegged down and it was only the porch that required the guy ropes for support.
Considering the size of the bag, this tent is astonishingly spacious. It feels more spacious because the walls are more vertical and the ceiling doesn’t swoop up to a central point like a Gothic vault but it also is more spacious – this I know for a fact because when I laid out my bed and lay on it, my feet didn’t touch the far wall.
I tested this in the porch as well and discovered that it alone is almost the size of my dome tent. I reckon you could squeeze two in the porch and have two comfortably in the sleeping compartment and it becomes a four-man. I like the porch – I like that I finally have somewhere to leave wet wellies that is neither outside in the rain or soaking the interior of my sleeping compartment. And I like the way the built-in groundsheet hooks up to the outer, making it nice and smooth and flat and actually fitting the space – I despair at the way the Rangers and Guide think their porch groundsheets fit. The outer has a sod cloth in the porch and the groundsheet sits nicely on top of it, making the entire porch fully lined.
What else do I particularly like? I like that all the zips have a little neon yellow tag attached – a teeny-tiny luxury that my fifteen-year-old tent doesn’t have. I like that I can close the outer doors from the inner with one hand. I like that there are proper windows in the porch. I like that there are vents in the bedroom and I really like the outer vents.
It’s hard to see in this photo but there are little stiffened bars inside the vents with velcro on the end which you can use to prop them open just like on real windows. Or, in bad weather, I can velcro them shut. I can’t tell you how genuinely impressed I am with this little bit of engineering.
I haven’t learnt the art of folding the thing up. It went back in the bag but only on the third attempt, with thumbs left quivering through the effort of forcing the zip closed. How do you fold a tunnel tent? It doesn’t have an obvious middle to fold it around.
Only using it for real will tell what it’s like to actually live in it for a few days. I imagine it’ll be about as waterproof as my dome tent – which has always been waterproof enough for my purposes, give or take letting water in when I open the main door because it doesn’t have anything resembling a porch. Since it’s so palatial, maybe I’ll have to find a weekend in early spring to go camping on my own, rather than waiting until Guide camp next summer. I only have three free weekends between now and Christmas and two of them are in December, which is not optimal camping season.