As I have previewed, my first experience of the Laser Competition was not an unalloyed success. This is mainly my own fault. The only practice I had was in the back garden a few months ago. I was lulled into a false sense of confidence. When it came to pitching it on uneven ground in gusty wind, I failed the test!
The first picture on the left reveals the true level of my incompetence. In the other two, it doesn’t look too bad. The result was that the tent flapped furiously during the night and the inner pushed against my face a few times. Fortunately I had some ear plugs (silicone swimming ones, much less messy than wax), which enabled me to get a reasonable amount of sleep. The good news is that even if you do pitch it as badly as I did, it won’t blow away, at least in moderate winds. I suspect the key is to pull the end guys out more effectively.
As you can see with the pictures, I dispensed with the pole hood as it was too much of a faff to put on correctly. I’m not entirely sure it’s worth it, other than to protect the zip. As you can see, I have nice yellow Dyneema guy lines courtesy of the Bob and Rose emporium. I’m tempted to take a further line from the apex of the hoop.
Compared to the Akto, I found the tent ends a bit cramped. Even so, there was enough room for gear and the porch is surprisingly large. Also there is a fair bit of room between the inner and outer at either end to store boots and other bits and bobs. The one thing I much prefer to the Akto is the drop down door of the inner tent. It’s a shame there’s not a couple of loops to secure it. I miss not having storage pockets, although the Akto’s one is hardly capacious.
I know that the aim is to have the lightest double skin tent, but I’m not sure TN have got all the priorities right. I would trade the pole hood for a storage pocket in the inner, loops to secure the inner door, a protective rain flap for the outer door zip and a two way zip on the door. If you’re worried about leakage then some sealant should do the job and be lighter. I would also change the guying system on the pole to one that is more like the Akto.
I can’t really comment on condensation as it was quite windy, so there was little chance for condensation to build up. The mesh vent at either end of the inner enabled a good flow of air through the inner. I think a vent at the top of the outer door, like the Akto, ought to be a good idea.
Over the past twenty odd years I’ve got used to the solidity and ease of pitching of geodesics. I do find flapping tents a bit disconcerting. I suspect that if I pitch it better some of that will be ameliorated but never eliminated. It’s a shame that no-one has tried to resurrect the Phoenix Phreeranger, as I think that was the finest one man double skin tent ever designed and was remarkably stable.
Compared to the Akto, the Competition is noticeably less bulky when packed and two-thirds the weight, so if that is your priority, then the Competition makes sense. On the other hand, the Akto is more stable, easier to pitch and more roomy. For me, I will persevere with the Competition but I will use the Akto for longer, multi-day trips where space is important and when poor weather is likely.