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.