Scarp 1 review

It is early days with the Scarp, but my first impressions are very favourable. You have to put this in the context of not very taxing weather. Every night was quite still and the breeze in the late evening on Saturday could be described as fresh rather than strong. With that in mind I really liked it. The main impression is of stability and space.

Looking good with a nice taut flysheet

The PitchLoc system is a stroke of genius and is the key the Scarp’s stability. The ends of the tent are very strong and stable and help to tension the flysheet across the span of the roof. The third leg is also crucial in keeping the centre line of the fly taut. This means the structural integrity of the tent relies less on the centre hoop than comparable designs. While you don’t have to use the guying points on the hoop, they are important to aid stability if the wind is blowing from the side. The Akto has two guying points either side of the hoop, which makes the hoop more stable. However, some movement might be beneficial in allowing the tent to sway with gusts of wind.

Revised end guys

Another advantage of the PitchLoc system is that the ends of the tent are tensioned by the guys not the flysheet shock cords. Again this is similar to the Akto, but the guys are attached to the top and bottom of the corners, eliminating any need for a pegging point on the fly itself. This means that, unlike the Laser Comp, the Scarp is much less fussy about the ground conditions as the crucial corner pegs can be positioned where the ground is suitable and the guys tightened accordingly. If you go one stage further and use my revised guying system, then you can pitch the Scarp with only four pegs if you want. Personally I would always use six, as I would use the hoop guys as well. While you can do the same with the Akto, the bottom of the flysheet would not be a secure. The contrast with the Laser Comp, which has six pegging points around the edge of the fly (three at each end), is that the Comp can be awkward to pitch if ground conditions don’t allow secure pegging points. Compared with both the Akto and the Comp, the Scarp is a lot easier to pitch well with a taut flysheet. A word of warning though, there is a temptation to over-tighten the end guys, which puts a lot of strain on the pegs and potentially causing them to flip out of ground and prejudicing the structural integrity of the Scarp.

Restoring the original end guys for strength

You are probably wondering if the revised guying system is worth the effort. I like it, as it enables me to peg out the Scarp with two less pegs in ideal conditions. If conditions are less than ideal, then the centre guy is easily restored, which is what I did at Llyn Llugwy when it was quite breezy. The sail rings (see above picture, left hand guy pegging point) are also worthwhile as they make it easier to tighten the guys, eliminating the friction of the guy line against the peg. They also prevent the guy flipping off the Easton pegs as the ring is smaller than the top of the peg. The Easton pegs themselves are very good. I think the long pegs are worthwhile as the structural integrity of the Scarp puts a lot of strain on the corner pegs.

I didn’t use the crossing poles. I have used them in the back garden. I think they make a very strong tent that should stand up to severe mountain and winter conditions. However, they are probably overkill most of the time. I can’t prove it, but I expect the Scarp to be better than both the Akto and the Comp in severe conditions without the crossing poles.

Ensure the threshold cord is looped around the PitchLoc strut

One area of controversy is the threshold cord. I know I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about this, but it is a key feature of the Akto, so I don’t understand why similar designs don’t have them. It takes away the stress on the door zip when the flysheet is tensioned. I think the Scarp also benefits from this tweak. However, be sure that the PitchLoc end loops around the PitchLoc strut (not the band that joins the struts) and at the centre pole make sure it loops around the end of the pole. When it’s set up like this, it really helps relieve the strain on the door hem and maintains the structural integrity of the tent when the door is open.

The system to raise the edge of the fly is very effective, but I prefer my tweak as it makes it neater. I was very impressed by the lack of condensation on two nights and a much reduced level on the night where there was a slight frost. I think the high level opposing vents are the reason for this. Again this shows good design.

A huge amount of room

The inner tent is a joy. It feels airy and spacious, particularly compared with the Comp. The ends are taller than the Akto. I can easily sit up without touching the inner at the mid-point of the inner. The height at each end is noticeable when lying down compared with both the Akto and the Comp as it doesn’t feel at all claustrophobic. Sometimes the Comp feels like sleeping in a coffin. Even the Akto feels a bit constricted.

The oblong floor plan makes gear storage much easier. I stored most of my gear inside the inner, which is slightly ironic as there is plenty of space outside the inner with two porches. The porch depth is not as great as either the Comp or the Akto, but plenty big enough for cooking on a gas stove. I like the idea of having two entrances to allow for changes in the direction of the wind and two porches so that wet gear can be stowed in one, while the other can be used for cooking. I also like the facility to string up a line along the ridge to hang clothing or a light.

With Akto footprint

I tried both the team io Akto footprint and the Tyvek footprint. I think the Akto footprint is probably overkill. The reason I use the footprint in the Comp porch is to extend the useable space. There’s so much space in the inner in the Scarp, that this is not necessary. The Tyvek footprint is very neat and probably worthwhile if ground conditions are rough. Otherwise it is probably superfluous. In fact it is probably better to carry a sheet of Polycro instead as it’s much lighter. The seam sealant non-slip stripes proved very effective and worth using with any tent with a slippery groundsheet.

Second porch useful for storage

All is not sweetness and light, however. The supplied pockets at the base of the doors are far too small to be of use. Larger mesh ones at each end would be more useful. The inner door tie backs are poor. I don’t know why Velcro wasn’t used as it has been on the flysheet. However, my mod worked well. I’m in two minds about the inner door shape as well. I think an inverted “T” would be better as the whole side of the inner could be opened. The current configuration makes it awkward to reach part of the porch. I’m also not sure why zip pullers are not supplied as they make it so much easier to use the zips.

Overall I found the Scarp to be an excellent tent and the many advantages, particularly space and stability, trump the modest shortcomings. I was pleased with all the mods that I made. I think the Scarp is a better tent than the Akto and the Comp. However, the Comp is lighter. Henry has shown a willingness to modify the tent with regard to the flysheet. He might want to consider incorporating the mods that I have made as well. One further modification might be to make the doors diagonally opposite, making it easier to sleep either way round according to the slope.

Suggestions for improvement:

1) Diagonally opposing doors.

2) Change inner tent doors to inverted “T” with velcro tie backs.

3) Threshold cord for flysheet doors.

4) Zip pullers.

5) Bigger inner tent pockets located at each end.

6) Longer shock cord links between inner and outer tent corners.

 

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60 thoughts on “Scarp 1 review”

  1. Nice post. I am considering one of these as after 3 years of my Comp the lack of space inside (esp having the inner just above my face whilst sleeping) is getting a bit wearing…

    What did the cost come to with the customs charges etc?

    1. Cost: £241.19 (Scarp 1 + Tyvek groundsheet + 2 6ft lengths of cord, inc. shipping). Charges £29.25.

  2. I rate the cross over poles as well worth having in the pack on a trip. I used mine the other night when the wind got going and when the rain fell the Scarp did not move. My mate in his Laser Comp said it got bashed around a bit in the wind. I just dozed off.

    Diagonally opposing doors is a good improvement. Apart from that it is a superb tent.

    1. I’m sure the crossing poles are worth carrying as an option if camping high or if severe weather is forecast. I almost took them, but decided I’d like to see how the tent performed without them. In the end it wasn’t much of a test. I do like the flexibility of a light(ish) weight configuration and a mountain tent configuration. Overall, I’m very pleased with it.

  3. At the BPC AGM at the weekend I was chatting to a guy who had his Scarp1 along. He’d done some modifications including zip pullers, and end vent hooks. The one that caught my eye was that he’d replaced the way in which the crossover poles clipped to the tent, he had replaced the hooks with larger clips, that looked like they’d been canibalised from a frame tent!

  4. Thanks for an your review and the ideas for improvement. I’ve had my Scarp out a couple of times lately. One high pitch with the one pole in fresh winds and it was fine. The second time was an exposed pitch with the crossing poles the tent stood up to the wind and snow well until later in the night the wind strengthened and the gusts were hitting the tent from all sides. I had to go out in the blizzard and retighten guylines until about 3am When lack of sleep and fear of the tent collapsing saw me baling out and heading back to the car . The pegs holding the pitchloc end struts take great strain and one did come out in the night, Im not sure how much the crossing poles help in these extremly windy conditions because they do very little to hold the tent down as their end grommets are floating.
    I still think the Scarp is the best single pole one person tent available, I just know its limits now.

  5. Yes it was a wild night! I forgot to mention I managed to break a section of one of the crossing poles when frantically trying to get the tent down without it blowing away. I emailed Henry Shires and he is sending a replacement section out.

    I think I may use your idea of lengthening the end pitchloc guylines. From my experience I always put guylines out as far away from the tent as possible and they seem to give better support this way. I think changing the angle of pull will give the peg a better hold.

    I totally agree with you as regards the space in the Scarp, after a few years with the Comp I did not know where to put my gear in the Scarp there were so many options. The pockets are very small I forgot they were there.

    1. It’s definitely worth lengthening the end guys. As you say it changes the angle of pull, making the pegs more secure. Short guys mean they are pulling more upwards. I always carry extra pegs giving the option of double pegging.

  6. I have some 2mm Dyneema guyline spare I think its very similiar to the original guyline material, I will use that and lengthen the guys. I bought the Scarp because of its simple setup amongst other things, I really like single pole tents for solo use, I can’t see me using the crossing poles much at all now and I think it would have been easier to get the tent down in the storm if I had not used the crossing poles and maybe I would not have broken that pole section!. Those clips are quite fiddly to take off in cold weather especially alone and in a gale.

  7. If the cross poles have end grommets that are floating, what exactly do they do?. I thought that was the whole idea of them – to be pegged down and hence make the tent more stormworthy.

  8. The crossing poles make the tent freestanding, they give support to the flysheet under heavy snow ( see chris Townsends tests) and give a bit more wind resistance. The grommets are attached to the pitchloc guylines but do ‘float’, that is, are not anchored independently. I don’t believe the extra poles make the Scarp a ‘bomb shelter’ tent and in the conditions I was camped in I don’t think anything other than a Geodesic type type would have stood up to the wind enough to have let me slept and felt safe enough to have stayed.

    1. One reason I seriously considered the Suolo 🙂

      Although the Scarp is not in the same class, it does seem quite robust.

  9. I think the Scarp (without the extra poles) is the best compromise for me of stability, space, ventilation, ease of pitching and most importantly weight, thats why I chose it over the SL Voyager and the MSR Hubba HP. I have a Hilleberg Nallo 2 as well so I wanted a significant weight reduction in a 1 person tent, I think the Soulo is a good tent but its heavy for one person and about the same weight as a Nallo 2.

    1. I agree with those points. The Suolo is quite heavy and overkill except for extreme winter or exposed mountain situations. I still like it though 😉

  10. I wish I could try out all the tents that I like the look of! I did get the chance to see a Vaude Power Lizard pitched recently and it does seem to have extremely good inner space and porch space, however it also looks like it would flap just like a certain very similar looking tent….

  11. thanks for the review Robin -I almost wish you had poorer weather in Wales to give it a more thorough test but as I was up there too then perhaps not!
    Certainly looks taughter than the Power Lizard and the Comp’s I saw at the weekend!

  12. I would like to know more about the mod for the clips used to connect inner and outer tent. When it was cold I had indeed problems getting the inner tent loose, I almost froze my hands and it took me more than two hours walking before they warmed up to a decent temperature.

    1. I leave the inner and outer connected, so I haven’t changed the connectors. I have added an extra loop of shock cord at the corners between the inner and outer to ease the strain. I’ve always left inners and outers connected where possible to speed pitching. If the flysheet is wet with condensation, I mop it with a cloth.

  13. Hello Robin,

    I have been following your ‘blogs’ for sometime with great interest particularly after I had discovered that we both have made very similar successful modifications to the Laser Comp totally independently from one another. My other solo tent is the (in my opinion very under rated) Macpac Microlight which has always proved to be ‘bombproof’ and has been my favourite for a long time with just about the best groundsheet you could wish for. I took a very long close look at the Akto last year and decided that it wasn’t for me because it didn’t offer any improvements (I could only see drawbacks) over the Microlight despite the cost differential. However, I find myself rather excited about the possibilities of owning a Scarp 1 which appears to provide an almost perfect solution, with a few tweaks, as the ideal solo tent but wondered about the quality and durability of the groundsheet. Additionally, is it necessary to seal all the seams on the fly?

    Best regards,

    Derek

    1. The Microlight has always looked like a good tent but there have been mixed views. I like the look of the new Alpkit tent. The Scarp is an excellent tent (so far). I’ll have more observations after I’ve been to the Lake District.

      The groundsheet is silnylon. There may be issues with hydrostatic head but I can’t give an answer at the moment. Chris Townsend and Martin Rye seem to think it’s not an issue. In terms of sealing seams, CT didn’t bother and had no problems. I sealed them because I thought I might as well. It’s also worth using some sealant as grip strips/dots on the groundsheet as the silnylon is very slippery.

  14. I’ve just purchased a Tarptent moment for summer use. Pitched it in the garden last week and put the hose pipe on it. It leaked badly around the top of the pole hood, which was a bit surprising. I’ve seam sealed the whole thing now though and it’s fine, but I wouldn’t risk using a scarp without seam sealing it first after my experience. I accept this could have been a one off though.

  15. Robin,

    you know you will end up getting a Soulo…. 🙂

    I still havent managed to buy a scarp despite umming and arring for 18months about it. With money being tight I cant justify getting it unless I sell teh Laser Comp and I am just not ready top do that yet. I still love it despite its minor failings

    For this year, I have been re-experimenting with high-end bivvy bags and small tarps although I havent been able to get out beyond small local hills this year yet. I have come to the innescapable conclusion that if worried about the tent collapsing in a force 10 gale….dont take one! I feel that in reasonable conditions a bivvy and tarp combo gives a nice compromise between shelter and airyness. In harsh conditions, the lack of a pole I think is an advantage although flapping material is a definite

    The Soulo is in a different class having said all that and is the only tent I have ever owned that i would cheerfully put up on a mountain top in a gale and not worry. Its also ludicrously easy to erect

    1. The Suolo is the ultimate bomb proof one man tent. The Scarp is not far behind with the crossing poles.

  16. What would you say the temp ranges are for the different inners with this tent?

    I have a tarptent Double Rainbow and I cannot stay warm in it below about 40 degrees. I was considering purchasing this tent sou I could use either the meshor the fabric inner when necessary.

    Thanks for your response!

    1. I don’t have any experience of tents with a mesh inner. Conceptually I don’t like them for UK conditions because they are draughty and give less potection against drips of condensation. My Scarp has a solid inner and has been quite cosy. One night in the Carneddau there was a light frost outside but the temperature in the inner didn’t drop below 5c (according to my ADC). Where there is a choice I would always go with a solid inner.

  17. This probably answers my question. I do most of my backpacking in the Smokies in the US. A lot of rain combined with somewhat colder temps (generally 32F and above). However, I do some summer camping where I need the full mesh. Good to know about the fabric liner keeping in some warmth. Sounds like the tent for me!

  18. Agree, i have a Rainbow 2010. Used it one night in the back yard at 3 degrees C with every sleeping bag liner and thermals i could muster. It was too cold. It’s on ebay now.

    Really like the light-weight of the Sublite Sil, but i think the Scarp 1 at twice the weight may be required for warmth.

  19. Robin,

    Thanks very much, and thanks for the review and the detailed blogs on modifications.
    Have been in contact with Tarptent and am going to order a Scarp 1 and carry out the mods you have detailed. In your Mods blogs you refer to cord etc: are these best ordered from Tarptent? 2 50ft coils I think.
    Also in the review there was reference to a material, Polycro, with which to make a footprint: I don’t have one from another tent, so may as well get some of that to make one. Any idea on a source for that?
    Again thanks for all your input.
    Gary

    1. Tarptent stock Kelty Triptease, which is the cord they use for the tent and you will need two packs of 50′, just to be on the safe side. If you don’t mind changing the colour, then you could use some 2mm Dyneema from Bob & Rose.

      Polycro comes from Gossamer Gear. I got mine from Winwood Outdoors http://www.winwood-outdoor.co.uk/acatalog/Gossamer_Gear_Polycryo_Ground_Sheet.html , but they’ve not got any in stock. At the moment I’m using a cheap Gelert Space Blanket, which is just a s good and only weighs 50g.

    2. hi interested in scarp 1 just a few questions 1..any one in the lakedistrict got one i cud come and see in the flesh ? long shot 2..are the door zips two way ie can i leave the top open for vent in dry conditions 3 do they come witha solid inner or is that an option when ordering 4…..how much do they really weigh with a solid inner many thanks for any info great blog

      1. 2. The outer doors do not have two way zips, probably because the roof vents provide enough ventilation. However, the edge of the flysheet can be raised by about a foot by means of a cord and a linelok. The inner doors have two way zips.

        3. I believe the inners are now solid only, but you can check with Tarptent. Henry usually replies quite quickly.

        4. With all the tweaks plus more pegs, mine weighs just over 1.5kg. The tent as it comes weighs about 1.4kg, the weights can be found here: https://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/the-scarp-has-landed/

  20. Great review, thanks.

    I just received my Scarp 1 a week ago (2010/U/K. version) and took it out on a test run in the mountains this weekend, after much fiddling in my basement and back yard. The weather was mild, so I couldn’t really find out what it’s fully capable of though.

    I was mindful of all your suggested mod’s as I experimented with the tent. The more I delved into the intricacies of how the Scarp 1 works, the more impressed I am with the thought that went behind it. I’d like to address a couple of things:

    I like the inner door tie downs. I don’t think that velcro would be an improvement at all since it tends to fray bug netting, and when you roll up the inner door you have a good chance of having bug netting adjacent to the tie downs. The elastic tie downs work quite well, IMO. You just give it a quick overhand knot , cinch it, and forget about it.

    I lengthened the cords at the corner and middle supports by about 14 inches, using Kelty Triptease cord. I understand why Henry S. made the corner guys somewhat short. The geometry necessitates it when using the crossing poles, so there can be downward pressure on them. Those fat 8″ Easton stakes seeem more than capable of handling the pressure when pounded in at a 45 degree angle though, in anything but sand and snow Most of the time, I won’t be using the crossing poles, so the extra guyline length makes sense for me, since I can easily adjust them shorter when using the crossing poles.

    I like to put a second knot an inch back from the end retaining knot on all of the guylines so they can easily be secured with a gloved hand without trying to locate the end knot beneath the line tensioner. That was another reason for opting for longer guylines.

    The velcro that secures the crossing poles at the corners looked a little short to me. When secured, there was still a half inch of the “loop” side of the velcro remaining, and not a great deal of mating betweeen the hook and loop sections, but enough. I think that Henry should make them a little longer and also taper the ends so they slip neatly through the D rings without fiddling. This is particulalry important when it’s dark and cold. I don’t think I’ll do a mod, but I did find that rotating the D ring so the flat end faces the velcro helped a bit.

    Maybe Henry changed things up, but I find no reason for the theshold cord you mention. There is a quick clip at the bottom of each door zipper that maintains tension with the end of the tent. As long as the quick clip is secured before zipping or unzipping, I found no undue stress on the door zippers whatsoever.

    I’m not crazy about the way the end vents are supported in the open position. I’ll definitely do a mod there. A short length of stretch-cord and a plastic hook attached the to center guyline should take care of that.

    Someone hinted that since the crossing poles are somewhat free-floating, that they might not be as effective as they could be. I disagree. Since they rest on the joint of the PitchLoc struts They are quite well supported. I would have no qualms about snowfall. I also agree with others that there it is probably unnecessary to use the crossing poles unless you were expecting snow.

    I definitely added guylines to the side hoops, although I probably wouldn’t use them unless I expected high wind. I didn’t use plastic line tensioners, since a taught-line hitch knot performs as well, or better, with no additional weight.

    The ribbon straps and hooks that attach the crossing poles to the fly could have been engineered better, but I can’t think of anything better yet, I like the fact that the hooks on the upper and lower portions can be linked together to avoid flapping in the wind when the crossing poles are not being used. Any mod would have to replicate that. I’m not looking forward to securing those little hooks around the nylon ribbon when I’m cold and tired though. Practice, I suppose. They are completely functional and do the job at least.

    Enough nitpicking. It’s a great tent. Once you spend a night in it with those high vertiical end walls and dual vestibules (porches – I’m trying to learn the U.K. lingo) you’ll be glad you bought one.

    Thanks again fior your great review. It was very useful and informative.

    – Ross

    1. Thanks for your comments, which are almost a review in themselves. Interesting point about velcro perhaps attaching to the netting. My loop and cord lock system works well. On the threshold cord, I understand the clip on the hem takes the strain, but when the door is open there is no connection between the end pitchlock and the centre pole so this gap can widen, which, in turn can put stress on the zip when the door is closed. Hence my idea of the threshold cord. The Akto uses the same sytem. On the end guys, I have separated the the guy that holds the end of the crossing poles from the “>” shaped guy attached to the pitchlock strut. Hence I can have long guys for the tent ends, but shorter ones for the crossing poles. As you say thye don’t need to touch the ground as they are supported by the end struts.

  21. Your modified guyline system is quite impressive; I might have to give it a try. I like simplicity, and the elimination of two staking points apppeals to me.

    How did you apply seam sealant? I found that the rubber/vinyl reinforcement patches for the topside of the fly tabs and PitchLoc struts reject the silicone/mineral spirits mix. For all of those points I made sure to apply sealant on the underside of the fly as well. Based on others’ suggestions, I also made sure to fully seal the hoop seams and upper vent areas, both inside and out. I haven’t tested any of my handiwork with water yet, but I think it will be O.K., particularly since the inner fabric is extremely water resistant, from what I gather.

    1. I used McNett sealant and applied to the underside of the patches. I think the only real weakness is the crossing pole hoop. If you seal that properly, I can’t see any other problems. The inner is very water resistant, the only place where drops could get through is the mesh.

  22. Hi robin merry Xmas we’ve had good snow so far,but has thawed up to 650m today, more due later in week 🙂 still not bought a scarp yet but Santa made a donation to MY funds so soon I hope did you put that sealant on straight out of tube or did you thin it ? Quickie would you buy w scarp again ?

    1. I didn’t thin it (couldn’t be bothered!). Make sure you get the right sealant i.e. SilNet ( http://www.mcnett.com/SilNet-Silicone-Seam-Sealer-P143.aspx ) as I used some SeamGrip by mistake ( http://www.mcnett.com/Seam-Grip-Seam-Sealer-Outdoor-Repair-P133.aspx ) and it peeled off, so I had to re-seal it with SilNet. Doh!

      Yes I would buy the Scarp again. I view it as a “better” Akto. If the Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 comes out this year I will have a look as it is only 1kg for a two man free standing tent with a strong frame.

  23. Robin, did you get a chance to have a look at the TN Solar Photon 2 ? I understand that TN sold out fairly quickly though. I was attracted to the Vaude
    Power Lizard as low weight, but concerned about reported flapping.
    The Solar looks a lot more sturdy and slightly lighter and tougher.

  24. Is the Scarp easy to set up? I’m torn between the Scarp 1 and the Terra Nova Solar Comp which is freestanding. The Solar Comp is smaller space, but weighs a pound less…

  25. Robin, I just sold my Moment (single wall) and am buying a Moment DW with the ripstop inner for use as a 4 season tent. I’ll get the optional carbon fiber X-ing pole and shorten it to run INSIDE the fly, as I did on my original Moment. This gives maximum support to the fly for snow and wind loading. A Scarp 1 is too heavy for my likes BUT I have a moded Scarp 2 . Go to the BPL website, under Winter Hiking you’ll see two threads on my extensive mods including putting the two X-ing poles inside (yet again)..

    1. Again, an internal crossing pole seems a good idea. You should try my tension band system to stabilise the main pole. It’s a copy of the Vango system.

      1. I saw that cord tension setup in your photos. I’ll try it. Looks like a good way to keep the door zipper working well as well as make a negative tension on the main pole for high winds.

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