Operator incompetence

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.



13 thoughts on “Operator incompetence”

  1. I can’t comment on other tents, only ever having used an Akto; but I couldn’t praise the Akto enough. It is quite possible that other tents have theoretical advantages – eg are lighter – but when you really, really need a tent to come through for you, the Akto does. After a string of misfortunes and incompetences I once have to erect my Akto in the pitch black, with hands which went completely numb, at 800m. No problem. I wouldn’t swap that for anything.

    Fuller report here:

  2. Hi,interested to read your comments on the Laser Competition.I owned one back in 2007 but despite the weight advantage I didn’t think it was anywhere near as good as the Akto or Vaude Hogan Ultralight 1.So I sold it on E bay only to regret my actions as I needed an ultalight tent for doing a few days on Offas Dyke(Iwas looking to keep weight down to a bare minimum and the 500g made all the difference)So when the opportunity came to purchase one from Field And trek at £166,I went ahead and purchased one for the second time.I think its Ok if you accept its limitations but for camping in the mountains in really bad weather I would prefer the Akto or the Vaude Tent.The Hogan Ultralight 1 has only a small porch area but will stand up to gale force winds and torrential rain as my outing at Angle Tarn in 2005 proved.I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night but I now have every confidence in the tent.So its horses for courses.If I need to camp high up in the mountains with the possibility of bad weather then I would prefer an Akto or Hogan.Otherwise,I’ll give the TNLC another outing.

  3. It’s interesting how tents draw such disparate opinions.
    As some will know, the precarious positions I’ve put my Laserlite gives me the utmost confidence in it.
    I’d rather sandpaper the soles of my feet than use an Akto and yet folk love it.

    It’s one of those things that you can’t explain, something just suits you.

    I’m testing a new lightweight one man tent shortly and if feels like I’m cheating on my wife.

  4. Oh and by the way,I have also dumped the pole hood.It may possibly add a little bit of stability to the tent but is far too fiddly to mess about with.

  5. ptc*, I’m surprised you’re so anti-Akto. IMHO, it’s a better all round tent except that it’s heavier. As I said I will persist with the Comp. I’ve already thought of some mods I’m going to make, but most of all I need to practice pitching it!

    Trenthamwalker, the hood is a waste of time. Any stability it adds must be marginal. Much better to add a couple more guys. I’m also going seal the pole seam and make a rain guard for the zip, similar to the Akto with some spare fabric. Both those mods shouldn’t weigh more than the discarded pole hood.

  6. That’s my point though, it’s not an anti-thing. I just don’t need it. I’ve not found the limit of the LaserComp yet :o)

    The Akto is getting dated though, they could easily lose weight and keep the stability. Terra Nova are still developing the LaserComp for future seasons.

    What do I know, Big Agnes is my new girl!

    1. I now use a Scarp, which in my opionion is better than both the Akto and the Laser Comp (I’ve owned both). However, if you’re happy with the Akto, stick with it.

  7. I have had my laser comp 4 years now (about 200 nights camping in it) and wouldn’t be without. Plenty of room for me and my kit – it has seen hurricanes and even been completely buried in a heavy snow – I dont have a bad thing to say about the tent!
    I am surprised that you have ditched the pole cover though – if its more than a 20mph wind, then the tent is very unstable without it, and must be likely to get facefulls of tent regularly – at least in Scottish climes lol
    To cut out the fiddliness of the pole cover I have glued the ties to the tabs on the arch, and at either end I have doubled the size of the knot, so that it cannot come out of the tabs at either end. That way all I have to do is pull the strings and guy it out. Tent from rucksack to being inhabited about 4 minutes 🙂

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