UKH

Buying a 4 season tent, advice appreciated

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 TechnoJim 27 Feb 2021

As thread title.

I've recently inherited a small amount of money following the death of my Grandpa (few hundred quid) and I've also just passed the mark for four years off the booze, so I'm going to commemorate both events by investing in a top notch tent.

Want to spend the money on something of real quality that will last and last. Open to buying second hand.

Definitely needs to be 4 season (or a really butch 3 season) as most of my leisure time is spent in the mountains in the less clement portions of the year due to working all summer. I want something free standing, 1-2 person, and ideally not too far in excess of 2kg.

Terra Nova Southern Cross 2 and Hilleberg Soulo are at the top of my list, I love the pitching method on these and I'm a big fan of geodesic style tents. Both seem to be unavailable at the moment but I'm not in a mad hurry.

Less keen on inner-first pitching in case of bad weather but I've seen a Lightwave G20 ultra for a sensible price and it looks like a really nice tent.

Grateful for any feedback on these and alternative suggestions.

Ta.

In reply to TechnoJim:

I am sorry for your loss but think this an excellent way to spend the money you have received and to mark 4 years sober. Well done! I am 1 year in to living booze free and can't see myself going back.

My experience with my Hilleberg Akto is that, if you're going to be spending big on a tent, Hilleberg are absolutely worth the premium. 

I can't comment on the other 2 options though. 

BB

 Bribri 27 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Hillebergs are a lovely way to spent nearly a K. 
I use the Allak 2 as my solo tent allowing extra room for the dog. And the Nammatj when the wife comes long or for when the boys need a pub at 900m.  

Pitching the Hilleberg dome tents is a privilege and the main reason I won’t go back to another brand. Being able to pin out the corners and erect in-situ is a lifesaver in the wind. 
 

They out did themselves in after sales when I bent a set of poles on my Nammatj due to my own incompetence. Sent me new pole section and tension rope no charge. 
 

 One feels like a better person when inside a Hilleberg. It’s something that is difficult to explain ...but most likely a compensatory mechanism for the eye watering price.... 

 Bribri 27 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Oh. and the Soulo gets nothing but 👌👌👌 reviews. Plus, they now make it in a black label. 

 TechnoJim 27 Feb 2021
In reply to Bribri:

> Oh. and the Soulo gets nothing but 👌👌👌 reviews. Plus, they now make it in a black label. 

Ironic, given that the black label models are even more likely to put you in the red...

 TechnoJim 27 Feb 2021
In reply to bouldery bits:

I appreciate the sentiment, but no need for sorrow, he lived well and he lived long.

Congratulations on your own efforts.

When I was drinking I was spending the best part of the cost of a Soulo on booze/drugs every month, so it actually seems like quite a bargain really.

 JStearn 27 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Can't go wrong on the quality of Hilleberg tents but they are very expensive and tend to have huge pack sizes. Even the Soulo packs quite large for a 1 man. Where are you planning to use it? I am enjoying the simplicity (and relative lightness for a 4 season tent) of the MSR Advance Pro 2. It is comfortable for 1, tiny for 2. If I was going mainly in Scotland though (or anywhere as damp), I would probably stick to a double wall tent. The MSR is probably not quite as bombproof as the Soulo as it is has fewer crossing points but I've had poles on my Jannu break in Scotland anyway, and the MSR is lighter, cheaper and packs smaller. Might be worth a look?

 TechnoJim 27 Feb 2021
In reply to JStearn:

Aye, I spend lots of time in Scotland, so much so that I'm seriously considering a move north. 

I've been eyeing up the MSR Access but I'd not looked at the Advance until now. I notice the blurb says 'Professional Alpinists', whereas I'm definitely occupying the 'Chunky Punter' ability bracket.

 tehmarks 27 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

> I notice the blurb says 'Professional Alpinists', whereas I'm definitely occupying the 'Chunky Punter' ability bracket.

Probably not a tent to share then...

 JStearn 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Was on a climb recently and my partner brought his MSR Access, we used it up to around 3800m. Obviously it is a lot roomier than the Advance and it stood up well to some decent winds. It comes in green as well as the non-stealthy orange. On the downside, it is inner pitch first (once you have pitched a Hilleberg in a storm, it is hard to go back to struggling with an outer fly). I also am less confident in the single central pole compared to the proven Bibler design of the Advance Pro. I haven't used the Advance Pro in Scottish winter though, condensation might be a big issue. It is definitely on the minimalist side of things in terms of features and weight. The Soulo will be bombproof (my Jannu was still standing firmly in a gale with a broken pole!) so it depends if you want to carry the weight/bulk. Can't speak for the Terra Nova but it has a similar pole design to the Access, so really comes down to your priorities (strength vs weight vs space).

 TechnoJim 28 Feb 2021
In reply to JStearn:

I think losing the 10+kg I've put on during the pandemic is the priority in terms of weight saving.

I lean more towards stronger, durable kit. If it's a bit heavier, just get a bit stronger and fitter (I realise there are limits!).

 PaulW 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

My Hilleberg is still going, though coming towards the end, after 25+ years of moderate use.

 SouthernSteve 28 Feb 2021
In reply to PaulW:

My Southern Cross 2 is good, but is pretty small. I was a more content winter camper in my old three man tent when there were 2 of us (most of the time). It would be fine solo.

 scratcher 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Another recommendation for the Hilleberg Soulo from me. The way that the flysheet clips onto the poles makes pitching in strong winds so much easier. It is a bit heavier, but that's to be expected of such a bombproof tent.

It's rare to see them discounted, but I was lucky enough to get one in a sale at 20% off. If you're not in a hurry then your patience may be similarly rewarded. Good luck!

 TMM 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Hilleberg would be the default choice and if ever changed your mind the re-sale value is very strong.

As an alternative have you looked at the Tarptent Scarp with the optional crossing poles?

Fantastic amounts of space, flexible design allows you to drop weight of crossing poles if the weather allows, strong and much cheaper. 

 TechnoJim 28 Feb 2021
In reply to SouthernSteve:

Cheers dude. It would be for solo use, should have made that clear upthread.

 TechnoJim 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TMM:

Ooh. Now that does look interesting. Pound against the dollar is quite good atm, but I imported a toolbag from the states last year and got mullered by shipping and duty.

Anybody got experience of ordering one?

 Welsh Kate 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

I love my Scarp, though have to say haven't been out in conditions rough enough to warrant the use of the cross-poles, but just having the option is great. As TMM says, loads of space - having a porch each side is great as you can use one for kit and one for cooking, gazing at the view etc. Plus unlike some of the lightweight US kit, this is designed for a more 'Atlantic' climate with good length fly.

The only exciting thing about the shipping was that at some point in the US it got involved in a train wreck and became temporarily lost. I can't remember how much the customs guys demanded, but it was about 6 or 7 years ago and it wasn't a killer amount. I certainly felt it was worth the additional cost.

 Rockatt 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

I ordered a Tarptent Scarp 1 a couple of years back. I think it was £80 import duty from memory which was more than id expected. No regrets though, its been a fantastic tent. Ive no experience of Hillebergs so cant compare unfortunately. 

 deepsoup 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

> I imported a toolbag from the states last year and got mullered by shipping and duty.

I got into the habit of buying Caterpillar work shoes from the US a few years ago and bought about half a dozen pairs or so over about three years.  I really liked them, and including the shipping they ended up costing about the same as similar shoes closer to home - except the one time I was similarly mullered and presented with a bill for import duties and VAT, for no particularly obvious reason compared to the others.  Just pot luck I suppose.

I don't have any tent related info to contribute but from the other tent-related thread at the mo, if I were looking to buy an expensive tent just now I'd be tempted to drop Heike a pm and avoid buying from the same retailer she did..
https://www.ukhillwalking.com/forums/off_belay/faulty_tent_bought_online_-_retailer_not_refundin-731647

 MischaHY 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Based on what you've said I'd agree that either Jannu or Soulo is the way to go. There's a reason why they have the reputation they have! 

In four years of working for an outdoor retailer part of my role has been handling warranty for most of Europe and I have never once had to do a warranty claim for Hilleberg. That's not to say it doesn't happen, but it must be very rare considering the numbers we get through. 

MSR also good but sadly not holding that same vantage point in terms of warranty claims - mainly issues with poles and connection points from my experience. Not to say they aren't good but if you've got Hilleberg money to spend then do so - you can save weight on your sleep system instead. 

Love my Hilleberg Nallo 2 GT but if shopping again the Soulo would be on the list. I have a Tarptent Notch and can confirm Tarptent make really nice gear (the notch is probably a three season tent but I'm going to test as a four season sometime with the Nallo on standby and a  quick exit route)  

 waitout 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

I'm going to be the voice of dissent here to say I've not been impressed with Hilleberg for serious use. I've had 2 and am aware of all the stuff about being used in the Antarctic etc, but on mountains and in a lot of snow I find them terrible. The venting is hopeless, both of mine have had poles break from snow (Nammatij black & Soulo red versions) and they lack snow flaps for full on conditions. I also don't find them particularly light. To be fair, they are nicely made, but I don't get the hype nor certainly the value - maybe I've just had bad anomalies).

For my dollar and the tents I use for serious use - and this will also be divisive - are the Simond Makalu ones. Not the lightest (but lighter than Hilleberg), all the bits for serious-conditions use (flaps, vents, pitching, geodesic, pole sleeves) and good price point. Not fully free standing though.

 TechnoJim 28 Feb 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Thanks all very much for the input. Once all the gear shops are open again I'll start having a serious look.

Tarptent has really caught my eye now. Seems a good balance of weight, cost and durability (I know, I know, pick two).

Perhaps this year I will even be able to leave my lonely garrett and pitch up in the hills somewhere. 

 Emily_pipes 01 Mar 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

I'm another voice of dissent on the Hillberg. I had a Nammatj for about eight years. It spent most of that on weekend jaunts around the Highlands and the occasional Lake District foray. Once or twice per year, I did longer trips in it, ranging from one-to-two weeks. Point is, it wasn't pitched continuously for months and months. But the fly ripped in the wind, while camping at Girvan (of all the places) for a music festival. I bodged it with Tenacious tape and seam seal. Then I went camping in Reiff a week or two later. We were hammered by wind, and my repair held, but it suffered an even more serious, career-ending tear alongside it. Following that trip, I sent it to Scottish Mountain Gear for repair, and they said that the fly had too much UV damage -- it was too thin and brittle to take a needle, so they couldn't fix it. But they could get me a new fly for £600.

Not particularly keen on this, I contacted Hillberg directly, and they told me UV damage was not covered by the warranty. But they could send me a new fly for £800. Even worse! They also informed me that I should have pitched the tent under more trees, which are plentiful in the Highlands, or taken the tent down in the morning before climbing/walking, and putting it back up in the evening. Seriously, who does that? Sort of defeats the purpose of a base camp tent.

For the price of the bloody tent, I would have expected more than eight years of fairly moderate use, or more support when I didn't get that. My parents have a North Face tent that's like 25 years old, and it's still functioning.

I ended up buying an Alpkit Kangri for about £400. When the tent is set up for more than two days, I erect a tarp over it. And after three years, the thing still winds up with a hole in the fly due to UV damage! However, Alpkit sent me a new fly for free, so good on them. But I think the materials used for modern tents, even supposedly quality four-season ones, aren't brilliant. Tent manufacturers have sacrificed ruggedness and longevity to the craze of making increasingly lighter gear.

Post edited at 03:02
 TechnoJim 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Emily_pipes:

Crivens, that's not good. The Kangri is 4kg+, you'd hope it would be bloody rugged! That's definitely more weight than I'd want to be carrying solo too.

In reply to TechnoJim:

Not sure if you've decided but can I throw my vote in for a MHW Trango, my brother has one and it's epic. I cannot claim to have used it on Everest but the gnarly campsites I have visited I have always been very comfortable and never experienced any condensation issues or dodging pitching that I get in my slightly cheaper tent!!!

 Emily_pipes 01 Mar 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

That's the thing, though, isn't it? It isn't intended to be a light-weight backpacking tent. I did not buy it as a light-weight backpacking tent. I bought it for year-round car camping in wild Scottish weather. I imagine that most people who buy this tent have roughly the same idea. If you were buying a backpacking tent, you wouldn't get this one. It's even marketed as a "base camp tent." So why not add an extra kilo or two and construct it out of tougher material that would improve the longevity of the tent? Even if you needed to carry it, that extra kilo would be worth it. At least to me. I'll take the hit on lightness if I know the thing will last for a very long time, and I can't be the only one who feels that way.

As an aside, I prefer the geodesic design of the Kangri over the tunnel tent design of the Nammatj. The former is inner first, but once you've got the knack, you can pitch it very quickly. However, it's far less noisy and flappy in the wind than tunnel tents. Unlike the Nammatj, it's freestanding, so it's easier to pitch on shit ground, or move when you've realised that the ground is too shit. Because you can easily whip the fly off the tent, it doesn't trap as many insects and spiders between the fly and the tent. I might be the only person on the planet who sees this as a serious problem (especially when they are craneflies...yikes!), but I think it's some solid tent-buying advice.

Post edited at 22:07
 Ramblin dave 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Emily_pipes:

>  But I think the materials used for modern tents, even supposedly quality four-season ones, aren't brilliant. Tent manufacturers have sacrificed ruggedness and longevity to the craze of making increasingly lighter gear.

As I understand it, this is about the size of it. There doesn't seem to be any getting away from the fact that the thinner and lighter your flysheet is, the sooner it'll conk out from UV damage and I guess that when it comes to choosing a tent, the prospect of a longer lifespan seems a bit abstract and hard to quantify compared to saving of X amount on your pack weight, so the lighter-weight option tends to win out for a lot of people.

 TechnoJim 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Emily_pipes:

Oh aye, didn't mean to imply you were suggesting the Kangri as an all-year backpacking tent! 

I totally agree, at the end of the day I'd rather take a weight penalty for durability/strength. Hopefully ponying up a good wedge will get a bit of the best of both worlds, but thinner and lighter materials are always going to crap out sooner.

Bugs are fine. Snakes are the worry. I can't even look at a picture of a snake.

Post edited at 23:01
In reply to Emily_pipes:

I had very similar experience (uncannily similar) with a Macpac Hemisphere (when the company was properly owned and based in NZ). Went to Scottish Mountain Gear for repair and they also said the fly was too brittle and UV damaged to be repaired - though the fly was a bit "crispy" right from the time it was bought and hasn't faded in UV, so I'm not convinced, but have lost a bit of confidence. It is still being held together by Tenacious tape 2-3 years later and still functioning, but I'm pretty careful about not exposing it to proper 4 seasons use now - so spring, summer & autumn only. Mapcpac wanted £500 for a new fly, which I felt was too much. The tent up to that point had been great, with no issues at all.

I've no experience of Hilleberg personally, but probably would be looking at them as my first choice. Though I hope the reports from, Emily and others are a bit of an anomaly. The one manufacturer that I will in future avoid like the plague is Terra Nova. I have a 3 person, 3-4 season tunnel tent from TN and the quality of the stitching is just rubbish - unfinished threads everywhere. What has put me off them for life, however, is their customer service which was just atrocious when I had to send it back for a repair (a manufacturing fault in one of the seams, 2-3 years after it was bought and probably less than 2 weeks of use in total). They were patronising, tardy and extremely unhelpful generally. I'm more than happy to name and shame as the whole experience left me really disillusioned with them. The tent was bought through a well known retailer in the Peak, who themselves could have been more helpful - they basically washed their hands of the problem. I'm reluctant to use them now, but do so occasionally.

Post edited at 09:06
 Brian Pollock 02 Mar 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

I recently bought a Black Diamond Hilite 2P which may fit the bill. About 1.7kg, 4 season, single skin, free standing. I haven't had a chance to use it yet but it came very well reviewed and thoroughly tested by the previous owner who has a popular tent review website/ Youtube channel. 

You can also buy an extension for it which adds a large porch area and makes it more usable for 2.

I mention it as there is one on ebay just now for a very good price, which I nearly bought myself. 

 Emily_pipes 02 Mar 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

The flys on most good tents seem to be made out of that paper-thin nylon. Your cheap Decathlon tents are made out of heavier material, but may not withstand high winds as well, and poles and stitching and stuff can break. You can't win.

The Hillberg was like a bug rave. Over the years I had it, that space between tent and fly got invaded by baby spiders in Ireland, black flies on South Uist, and midges all the time. And I don't mean a couple spiders or whatever. I'm talking a few hundred. I don't get why it was so attractive to arthropods, but they loved it.

Has anyone ever used one of those North Face tents? Summit VE or something like that? They look hardy, but I've not met one in real life.

Graham, that sucks re: MacPac and Terra Nova. One of my friends has an ancient Quasar that just keeps going. It must be 20 years old. The fly is faded, but it hasn't ripped on him yet. This isn't the first time I've read that the quality of Terra Nova ain't what it used to be.

 thlcr1 03 Mar 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

If its any help I used to have a TN Southern Cross 2 and now have an MSR Access 2 so can offer a comparison. I used to find the SC2 difficult to put up in windy weather when on my own. The problem was the central sleeved pole which was difficult to get into its sleeve and always seemed to cause the tent to end up like a partially erected sail with me hanging on to it for grim death. how I didn't snap the pole I don't know. Secondly it has ventilation at either end of the fly which can be closed with velcro but if you do so you cant use the end guys! On the inner tent matching these vent are triangles of mesh with a closable solid fabric hatch. The trouble is the hatches are held closed with little patches of velcro and would just blow open when it was windy. In short it was a cold drafty place in windy winter weather, and really cried out for a mod to add zips to the hatches. After about 6 months one of the webbing straps and clips in the corner of the groundsheet pulled out of the seam it was sewn into while I was putting the tent up. I jerry rigged it to put the tent up but later in the night a second one failed. In both cases the webbing simply shredded at the ends and pulled out of the stitching. I'm guessing it wasn't heat sealed properly. It also caused the internal ground sheet tape sealing to fail at those points. I contacted Cotswolds who has supplied it and they said to bring it back and they would see about getting the inner repaired or replaced. However I was worried by reports that this failure was common so decided to check the rest of tent carefully. On close inspection I found the main fly seam across the top was starting to pull apart at both ends in the area where the centre poles form a Y shape. This area has a clip fro the fly to the external pole and is under a lot of strain, and the stitching was failing and the internal sealing tapes had torn open. Faced with a replacing both the inner and the fly I took it back to Cotswold who agreed to refund me in full. After a bit of searching in the group they found me an MSR Access 2 for a very reasonable £320, so much less than I'd paid for the SC2. I've now used the Access for 2 years during which time it has been fault free and performed very well. My impression is that the Access is much better made than the SC2 with lots of reinforcements and much better stitching. Surprisingly I'd also say it much easier to put up than the SC2 because you can peg out the inner fully and build it from the ground up. It is possible to put it up fly first with the footprint but in 2 years I've never felt the need to do that because its so quick and easy to put up. Overall internal space is similar on the 2 tents as is stability in the wind. Id say that the Access is probably better in extreme conditions as its Syclone composite poles are ultimately stronger than the SC2s alloy poles and are to all intents and purposes nearly unbreakable. Ventilation is not the Access strong point as it has no vents in the fly. however you can open the fly zips from the top and wedge them open (I use some little tubes of foam) which gives ventilation corresponding to the mesh at the top of the doors in the inner. Overall I've not noticed the Access being any worse than the SC2 for condensation but its certainly a lot less drafty. All In all after using both I vastly prefer the Access 2 to the Southern Cross 2.

Lee

 tehmarks 03 Mar 2021
In reply to thlcr1:

I empathise; my enter key is knackered too.

 TechnoJim 03 Mar 2021
In reply to TechnoJim:

Thanks to all who have added fresh info.

There've been a couple of recommendations now for single skin tents. I'd always thought of these as a bit specialist - high altitude, hard routes in far away places type thing.

Are they good for a UK punter thugging about in all seasons?


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