Vaude Power Lizard UL

This is a guest post from Maz, who bought a Vaude Power Lizard recently and agreed to do a “first look”. Thanks, Maz, this should be very useful for those considering the Power Lizard UL. I’m in the process of writing up my notes (decorating has been the priority for the past few days). I will do a review of the Scarp as well. For what it’s worth, from the pictures, I think the Power Lizard might suffer from the same flapping that the Laser Comp has, which looks to be inherent in that design. The Scarp is a lot more solid because of the PitchLoc system at the ends. This allows a really taut flysheet, even without the crossing poles. I see on Chris Townsend’s blog that he has pictures of both tents. Perhaps he can give us a direct comparison ;)

The Vaude Power Lizard UL

Specifications (as weighed by me)

  • Weight of fly only: 388g
  • Weight of inner only: 401g
  • Poleset (including bag): 202g
  • 10 Vargo Titanium Pegs (and bag): 42g (comes with 8 titanium pegs, but I have replaced them)
  • Main bag: 15g (although could be replaced by smaller, cuben fibre stuffsack)
  • Total 1048g
  • Floor space of inner: 90cm x 228cm

To review the Vaude Power Lizard UL, an introduction is prudent to place this review in context as any criticism of the shelter may be tempered by my relative lack of experience. My inaugural foray into wild camping began with, in 2006, a Mountain Hardwear PCT 1, my first single person “lightweight” tent, secured from eBay for the princely sum of £80. It performed admirably on several trips to the Brecon Beacons but ere long I concluded, somewhat inexorably, that fast & light was my preference in the hills. I ditched my 50 litre Berghaus Crag for an OMM Villain MSC & appended to that a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1, stowing the PCT 1 in my rapidly expanding gear cupboard. At 1275g, with some Vargo titanium pegs, the Seedhouse is a great tent: roomy & light. It tends to be a touch fresh in the UK early Spring & late Autumn (the inner is all mesh above the bathtub groundsheet) & the apex of the tent is just far enough back from the entrance to make activity in the porch area slightly cumbersome for 6′ people. All those reasons, & to trim even more weight, are why I began looking at the Laser Competition. An excellent tent, no doubt (accepting its flaws), but as I was bidding on one on eBay, I was taken by the Vaude Power Lizard UL reviewed so deftly on backpackinglight.co.uk.

I instantly determined the interior space vs. weight balance to approach the perfect symmetry for me. Two people can easily fit in this tent, should an emergency arise. The purported strength under severe wind, given most camping would be above 600m, led me to consider this new tent, recently released by Vaude, worthy of a venture. I spent no small time picking Bob’s brains (at BPL) & after ordering, it arrived within days. It really does pack down small – smaller even than the Seedhouse – but to achieve its optimum pack-size, a smaller stuffsack would be necessary. MYOG that out of cuben fibre and not only would it be obscenely light but strong and waterproof too. Given a friend of mine works for North Sails, I am hoping to procure some.

 

That it packs so small derives from what is immediately apparent when picking up the tent: the materials used, the fly particularly, are almost ethereally diaphanous. The inner bathtub base seems more substantial & (contextually of course) ‘tougher’. I am not sure, on balance, that a groundsheet protector would be necessary. A much thinner, yellow/cream coloured nylon upper with small mesh areas for ventilation completes the inner. I am, I must confess, somewhat concerned about the ventilation in the tent but will report on that after a camp or three. The interior is palatial & when lying down there is none of the face-hugging criticism leveled at the Comp (for reference, I am 6’ tall and 80kg). Two small pockets just off the floor (next to the door at the ‘head end’ – just visible in the photograph below) are a nice touch for phone & specs, head-torch or whatever needs immediately to be to hand. There is enough space to sit comfortably cross-legged & deal with matters in the vestibule area, which is large enough to accommodate two pairs of boots, two rucksacks and perhaps other paraphernalia. There is a small loop at the highest point of the tent too.

Basic pitching is quite straightforward (flysheet first, with the inner actually left, when stuffed, connected to the fly) but fine tuning takes some practice, although this may be a product of my inexperience rather than tent design. This can be done, once the tent is pitched, via the line-locks at either end of the small poles (outside the tent) and via the straps at the two corners of the inner on the side where the door is located (which can be done from inside with some contortionist hilarity). There is also a line inside the fly, running with the main pole, that can be tightened.

 Beware though – and this is my only criticism of the tent as a whole – no matter how I pitch it, the inner, at the end where one’s feet would be, unfailingly, upon tightening the strap to make the inner taut across the bottom end, seems to end up listing to the left and touching the fly (photo below).

 

This is annoying and would make condensation seepage a concern for me but I have yet to sleep in the tent and try it. At the other (head) end, as can be seen, even with a taut fly one ends up with a fairly loose inner across that end, but not the same listing effect (photo below). Once a sleeping mat, bag and other ‘indoor’ kit is inside the tent, I suspect the inner will even out a little.

A note of caution – the two small end poles should be 53cm in length. Mine, as supplied by error, were 54.5cm and this is too long and makes pitching extremely tough and puts undue stress on the fly. Were it not for BPL contacting me to tell me, there would be absolutely no way of knowing this. BPL replaced them through Vaude for me.

Across the middle of the fly are several clips. These are attached to the main pole, via the middle clip first and descending alternately on each side and then, when the pitching is finished and fine-tuned, the red tabs are clicked into place to hold keep the shelter robust in severe weather. I intend to locate the middle of the main pole and paint a mark on to assist me in poor light or bad weather.

Again, in consultation with Bob from BPL, I have drafted a crib-sheet for my own use which I reproduce for your edification, should it be of assistance. I should, at this stage, venture a commendation for the exceptional customer service I experienced at the understanding & knowledgeable hands of Bob & Rose at BPL. So unusual these days & gratefully received. I will update these initial observations after using the Power Lizard in the Carneddau in May. 

Putting up the Power Lizard UL

(i) Designate each point at each end of the tent 1, 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6 where 2 and 5 are the short poles and 1, 3, 4 and 6 are the corners;

(ii) Lay the tent out and peg 1,3 and 4,6 to keep tent on ground if windy;

(iii) Put poles into 2 and 5 but do not peg out guys;

(iv) Make sure inner/fly connecting tension adjusting straps at 1 and 4 are loose;

(v) Attach centre clip to centre of main pole and then work downwards alternately on each side;

(vi) Pull 1 and 3 taut so that sides of tent are tight as possible;

(vii) Pick up tent using points 4 and 6 and jiggle around/pull until the tent is taut at all four corners, then peg out 4 and 6 – check the inner at this point;

(viii) Peg out 2 and 5 through black ring then tension guy lines;

(ix) Peg out sides of main pole – you may need to observe the tent from the ends to see if the main pole is evenly space – sometimes it can list to one side and simply moving the tent by the nipples of the poles in their grommets is enough to achieve this;

(x) Pull inner tension line across main pole and mini-lock – need not be too tight but it gives strength to main pole;

(xi) Adjust tension straps at 1 and 4; and

(xii) Peg out guy lines for main pole.

Further comment from Maz:

I genuinely get the feeling that, having spent a few dodgy (but, ultimately, safe) nights in the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 that this will be a rather pleasant place to be even in the middle of seriously inclement weather. It’s clear to me now that I was pitching the tent somewhat incompetently to begin with and, with the proper sized poles and getting them vertical (Vaude’s website pictures are, it seems to me, misleading in this respect) makes the tent a taut, roomy proposition. I looked at the Laser Comp and the weight of it attracted me. That said, it was space in the PL that seduced me – not only would there me enough room for me at 6′ but, as a friend and I are doing the TMB this year, we decided a tent would be a necessary safety precaution (rather than a bothy bag). For 100g more, it seemed a sensible option. I will be camping above 800m on the 7th-9th May weekend in the Carneddau with a mate (using the Bag Agnes) so I’ll be submitting a new report after that. Given it’s pretty damned cold up there at the moment and frosty on the summits, it should be a good test.

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18 thoughts on “Vaude Power Lizard UL”

  1. Pitched again this morning to see if I could resolve the listing problem. It would seem that the trick lies in making sure the small end poles are as vertical as possible & ensuring the adjustment tensions straps connecting the inner to the fly at the two corners (1 & 4) are completely loose until the final adjustments are made. There is then no inner/fly touching & a more taut inner.

  2. Thanks very much for this review – I seriously considered this tent (before opting for the TN Solar Comp), and am still interested to hear more about its stability! It would make such a good tent if it can stand up to rough weather.

    1. I genuinely get the feeling that, having spent a few dodgy (but, ultimately, safe) nights in the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 that this will be a rather pleasant place to be even in the middle of seriously inclement weather. It’s clear to me now that I was pitching the tent somewhat incompetently to begin with and, with the proper sized poles and getting them vertical (Vaude’s website pictures are, it seems to me, misleading in this respect) makes the tent a taut, roomy proposition. I looked at the Laser Comp and the weight of it attracted me. That said, it was space in the PL that seduced me – not only would there me enough room for me at 6′ but, as a friend and I are doing the TMB this year, we decided a tent would be a necessary safety precaution (rather than a bothy bag). For 100g more, it seemed a sensible option. I will be camping above 800m on the 7th-9th May weekend in the Carneddau with a mate (using the Bag Agnes) so I’ll be submitting a new report after that. Given it’s pretty damned cold up there at the moment and frosty on the summits, it should be a good test.

    2. Hi Leigh,
      I am apparently in the same situation you were in a while ago, I am hesitating between the Vaude Power Lizard and the TN Solar Comp.
      I already saw the Power Lizard in a shop, so I know a bit about this tent. For the solar comp, it is much harder to see it in a shop (I live in Germany), and there is not a lot of reviews out there.
      Are you happy with your solar comp? COuld you comment shortly on condensation, wind stability and inner space? My main concern with the solar comp is the length, how does it compare to the laser comp? (I am 6’2” (187cm), and the laser comp was not long enough for me).
      Cheers.
      Fred.

  3. Just bought one and awaiting delivery…

    Apparently a lot of retailers are waiting for an incoming shipment of green PL UL’s now due into UK on 7th June.

    I had two failed attempts to purchase before finding a retailer who still has good stock levels… however, all come with the longer poles and a promise to replace with the correct ones when available.

    Apparently good availability of the Mustard Yellow version.. I wonder why ;-)

    Have bought this to undertake my ML Assessment in Snowdonia in a couple of weeks time – so hoping it holds up to the task… will let you know! :-)

  4. OK – tent arrived and then exchanged due to a stitching error. (small pocket for end pole had not been stitched properly. 6 pegs missing and round black plastic ring on end guy missing).

    After exchanging (and then another set of main poles being swapped due to first set being bent… beginning to think this was a Friday afternoon build!)

    I finally got to undertake my first wild camp on Moel Siabod in Snowdonia on Friday 04/06/10 (link to photos to follow). Here goes the feedback…

    Easy to erect – but may struggle single handed in high winds as it would flap about alot – recommend pegging at least one end guy down first to keep the tent on the mountain!

    Plenty of space for one – but you do end up sleeping with you rucksack in the tent unless you wish to leave it outside in a plastic sack (not ideal or very tidy really).

    I used a runner’s silver ‘space blanket’ shoved under the groundsheet once erected to help give some protection to the groundsheet. This may or may not prove to be a good insulator or heat conductor.

    Tent held up well once pegged down and adjusted don’t miss tightening the internal adjuster cord just inside the door. Mesh and zips on inner tent seemed to be pretty midge proof – which was lucky that night!

    On awaking in the morning I found the tent had sweated out badly – the inside of the fly-sheet and top of inner was soaked in condensation whilst the outside was dry! hmmmmm…!

    Quick to de-camp and pack away.

    So… great little lightweight tent for 1 person back packing – seems pretty sturdy. Watch out for build quality when taking ownership – check carefully! Over-long short pole issue not a major crisis – but should be rectified soon by your retailer sending out correct replacement poles.

    If I was travelling as two – I would stick with my 20 year old Saunders Snowcat for space, comfort and build quality.

    Go, have a play, enjoy and I look forward to reading your responses too. Happy camping. :-)

  5. OK

    Just got back from Snowdonia. First week was great – walking, scrambling, rope work practice and learning the upland flora and fauna as well as the over-night wild camp as described above.

    The second week was a veritible besting around the Moelwyns on my Mountain Leader assessment in clag and rain.

    Vaude PL UL used on the two nights of wild camp. First night in high winds, second night calmer.

    Tent stood up well to the winds and held its ground after extending the peg loops with boot laces and anchoring down with rocks (couldn’t get the pegs into the bedrock that we were camped on).

    Using a lightweight runner’s space blanket as a ground sheet protector worked well.

    But boy does this tent wet-out badly inside. I may be a heavy breather but this was truly soaking. I woke with my face stuck to the side of the tent and water (condensation) trickling over my head. Might try sleeping with the flysheet door open next time!

    However, tent is light to carry, easyish to erect and easy to de-camp as before and I must say I quite like it (even if you have to live with your rucksack inside the tent). Just wide enough to put sack across bottom of tent for more head room.

    At least the assessment is out of the way and I am now a qualified Mountain Leader :-)

    Happy hill days to all – hope to see you out there one day.

    1. The Laser Comp is pretty bad for condensation. One reason I like the Scarp is that it seems to have better ventilation and avoids heavy condensation. Thanks for the feedback.

  6. Hi! I just purchased one of these tents on ebay and had the same problem with the twin poles, one of them being 54.5cm instead of 53. I was wondering if anyone knows who to contact to order a replacement pole? Do Vaude have a customer services number?
    If that’s not possible, would cutting the pole to the correct length damage it?
    Thank you!

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