Two more tents

I think tents are magical. It’s the concept of some bits and metal and fabric that keep the wind and the rain out that appeals. I love it when I’m tucked up in my sleeping bag inside a tent and the wind is blowing and it’s tipping down with rain. Magic.

Over the summer I bought two more tents. One was a necessity, one was a whim. The Force Ten Vortex 200 was a necessary replacement for my late lamented Marmot Thor. I thought long and hard about buying another Thor. It is still available from Ellis Brigham, despite being discontinued by Marmot. However the Vortex 200 was available at a substantial discount (£230 vs. list price of £350) at The Complete Outdoors. A replacement Thor would also have been £350. The whim was to buy a MLD Duomid and net inner.

Force Ten Vortex 200. I don’t have any photos of the Vortex yet as it was very gloomy when I put it up in the garden. My initial impressions are that it is a sturdy and well made base camp tent. Erection is easy, although the flat pole sleeves require a bit of patience when threading the poles. Once the poles are in, it is very easy to erect. The two pairs of poles are easy to differentiate as one pair has an arch.

The colours may not appeal to everyone. The outer is a green and black patchwork, while the inner is a dark orange. This makes it considerably darker inside the tent than the Thor. The outer tent has six guying points that add to the stability of the tent. There are four mid level vents to allow air circulation. There is a door and reasonable sized porch at either end of the tent. The top of the door can be used as a further venting option as it is protected with a wire hooped cover. The porches also have snow valances.

The inner feels slightly larger than the Thor and is spacious for two and palatial for one. The inner door is brilliant. It is virtually a complete “O” shape and can be folded away in a small pocket on one side. It has a mesh vent with a zipped cover. Opposite the mid level vents on the outer there are mesh vents on the inner. The vents on the flysheet have a flap of material that can close them off to prevent excessive draughts. There are large mesh pocket along the length of both the long inner walls as well as a small mesh gear loft.

The pegs supplied are a mixture of alloy pins and “V”s. The guys have linelok runners. As usual with Vango tents, there is a useful repair kit. For £230, it’s a bargain. It’s not quite as solid as the Thor, but with the guys extended it feels very robust. I’ll give some further feedback after I’ve used it this week, but at first blush it seems like an ideal base camp tent.

MLD Duomid. I have to admit this was not such a well thought out purchase. I was attracted to the Duomid after the various favourable reviews as a potential way of reducing my pack weight further. Generally I’m not that keen on single skin tents for the UK as they are potentially draughty and condensation is an issue. However, I wanted the opportunity to try something different. As well as the Duomid, I also purchased the net inner.

One of the first things you notice about the Duomid is that it is very well made. Like ULA, MLD has a very high standard of finish. The first job was to attach the guys to the various points around the perimeter of the tent and on the side panels. Instead of the supplied cord, I used some rather attractive red dyneema that I purchased a while ago from backpackinglight.co.uk, which looked a lot smarter.

Erecting the tent was easier than I had anticipated. I pegged out the rear corners, then one of the front corners. As a pole I used my Leki carbon fibre poles, joined by one of backpackinglight’s ingenious pole connectors. I estimated that the right length was about to the bottom of my chin. Next I inserted the pole to the apex and pulled out and pegged the fourth corner. I then adjusted the four corners to make the fabric reasonably taut. Then it was a case of pegging the midpoint guys (both at the hem and part way up the panel).

Even on a slope, I found it reasonably easy to get a taut pitch. While I’m sure the Duomid wouldn’t collapse in a strong wind, I suspect it would distort and flap considerably. My feeling is that this is generally more suited to sheltered pitches rather than exposed mountain sides.

There’s not much to explain that hasn’t been covered in other blogs. I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of features though. The door zip is waterproof but still quite free running. There is also a double set of poppers half way up the doors so that the zip can be opened for venting.

The net inner is easy to secure. The four corners attach to shock cord loops on the flysheet. The apex has some shock cord that attaches to a hook at the apex of the flysheet. The groundsheet is silnylon and quite slippery, so I’ve added some lines of seam sealant to stop a sleeping mat slipping. I have also sealed all the seams on the flysheet with a tube of McNett silicon sealant that was supplied with the tent. One thing I don’t like about the net inner is the door. It only opens half the side of the tent. I would prefer an inverted “T” so the whole side could be opened.

Overall, the Duomid is very well made and easy to pitch. While I will be taking it to the Lake District with me tomorrow, the weather forecast is a bit mixed. If it’s too windy, I probably won’t use it.

Here’s a slide show of photos:

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9 thoughts on “Two more tents”

  1. I love tents – out of all the kit I possess or have been able to experience, the shelter, in all its forms, personifies backpacking the best – it guarantees the ability to walk far and then camp somewhere, secluded, protected and ready for the next day. It is, in every sense, the truest exponent of adventure. Why have you got a base camp tent though? Any future plans…?

    Secondly, and I’ll have a search through your blog shortly, my friend got some Leki Carbonlite Makalu poles in Champex on the TMB and I was rather smitten with them too. Have you posted on poles and your thoughts on them? I am researching them but wondered what recommendations you had on them…

    1. I like to have a base camp tent to leave at a camp site with my car. If the weather is bad it’s nice to have a bail out position. I don’t like leaving the car in a public place, so a secure camp site seems like a good idea. In the past I’ve also done day walks, making it a handy base. I don’t mind paying a bit extra to have it pitched. I’m off to the Lakes tomorrow for a week.

      I do have Leki Makalu carbon poles and I like them. My only criticism is occasionally the locking mechanism works loose. I prefer carbon fibre poles as they don’t seem to transmit the shock of hard ground as much. With metal poles, I find my elbow aching. Obviously they are lighter as well 😉 I tend to use them going down hill and for stream crossings. Occasionally I’l use them on the flat if I want a bit of extra propulsion.

  2. I do like the DuoMid. But it is not a Scarp in the wind or a perfect UK shelter. Still it is good and I am looking to use it again but not to have to need a bivy or the mesh inner. Just a light (very light) ground sheet.

    1. I like the Duomid much more than my Scarp. In fact, I think I’ve gone off tents altogether this year. It’s not just the weight, but also the spaciousness and the flexibility. True, the Duomid can be a bit fussy to set up on non-level ground, but the Scarp is even more fussy with it’s odd fly-end supports. The parallel system on the Atko is much more elegant (IMHO). If you combine your Duomid with a UL bivy bag that has a head net, then you can discard the net tent, and be assured that you’ll remain dry and warm even if there is condensation or wind.

      1. While I can see where you are coming from, I think the Scarp is a much better mountain tent, ideally suited to the wet and windy weather that we get in the UK. I doubt whether the Duomid would have been better on my recent trip to the Lake District. In more sheltered conditions, I can see the Duomid being a good shelter.

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