The year of prudence

Prudence is likely to be the watchword for many this year, including myself. The overconsumption of yesteryear is over. We all have to live within our means now. One blogger is suggesting not buying any more gear this year. Once we have the basics, most outdoor gear is discretionary. Over the past few years, I’ve built up a portfolio of tents, rucksacks, sleeping bags and clothing that could easily last me through the next decade without adding to. The only thing I might need to replace is footwear.

If we all stopped buying, it would be a disaster for outdoor retailers and manufacturers and we might rue the destruction of choice in future years. Perhaps careful consumption is more appropriate. To be honest, there are very few new products that interest me at the moment.

However, the new SPOT 2 Messenger is one. Mark is currently using one and has posted this review. It seems to me that this is a very useful device for solo walkers (like me!), particularly in wilderness areas like Scotland.Β  Version two is appreciably more compact and lighter (147g) than the original. One thing puzzles me, though. Why is there no GPS read out? If it could double as a GPS, it would save carrying a dedicated GPS. Maybe I should wait for version 3!

The other bit of gear I have my eye on is the Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 tent. The details have just appeared on the Terra Nova website. The price is a somewhat eyewatering Β£430. Hardly in line with the theme of prudence! However, it potentially looks like a very strong contender for best lightweight tent. It’s only 1kg, but theoretically a two-man tent. For a solo walker it should be palatial. It is also virtually free-standing and looks very aerodynamic. I would prefer the door to be half mesh rather than fully mesh. If anyone has seen it in the flesh, I would be interested in their views.

Apart from the Spot 2 and the Solar Photon 2, I can’t see much out there that I would like and nothing that I really need. So, apologies to my retailing friends, but I’m not going to be a source of much business this year.

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21 thoughts on “The year of prudence”

  1. Only downside I could see to the ‘Solar Photon 2 Tent’ is the front entrance/porch. I had a coleman boa 2 man tent and although superb in weather performance (16 hours on Mull in torrential down pour – likes the locals had never seen in years – whole camp site flooded) when entering the porch in wet weather the inner takes a soaking. This is worse when exiting the tent in similar conditions whereby it takes longer to manoeuvre yourself out letting the weather flood in!

    I prefer the side entrance tents and if well positioned they thwart this off having a not so long opening!

    Anyway, personal preference I guess.

    Re: Spending – Outdoors show is coming to the Excel this week and that can only mean one thing…. Gear acquisitions!

    1. Interesting point on the door configuration.

      The exhibitor list is very disappointing for the Excel outdoors show. Not sure it’s worth going.

  2. Robin, I entirely agree with you re the half mesh door. It’s exactly the same thing that put me off in the Big Agnes tents. Mesh and Fabric weigh the same, so why do such a silly thing? It can’t make that much difference to ventilation, but it certainly gives you a cricked neck in the morning with all the draught coming your way at night!

  3. Good post, Robin.

    To be fair, on the TN Solar Photon – I don’t think the mesh door is a problem. Going by it’s structural design, it’s not exactly bomb proof. So, it looks more of a 2/3 season at best tent, to me.

    So, a mesh door on wih all that nylon would be needed perhaps?

    Who knows – looks good but no way I’d pay Β£430 for it. They’ve lost the plot Terra Nova on pricing.

    More so, as I know what the retail cost is for most of the tents πŸ˜‰

    Perceived value? Not quite. Rip off.

    Retail cost price for a TN Laser Comp is very close to what Field & Trek were flogging them at for a day or so a while back πŸ˜‰ Yet the RRP is twice the amount! At least!

    Saying that, the Laser Ultra aint that cheap for retailers – which leads me to TN and their madness with these prices.

    There is much competition when it comes to lighter shelters nowadays – to the point where there’s not much difference between them on many levels.

    I expect some good deals on TN tents (as much as I love them, don’t get me wrong) in the coming months

  4. The design of the Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 is very similar to the Vaude Hogan Ultralight 1 tent which I used to own.(My very first backpacking tent)If it’s anything like the Vaude in performance then it will be really really strong.I survived a terrible night at Angle Tarn under Bowfell in gale force wind and rain and it performed superbly.Only downside was the small porch and weight close to 1.6Kg.The Photon is larger,much lighter and more spacious but that RRP of Β£430 is just so very steep.They are apparently manufactured in China just like so many other things today.

  5. Forgot to mention that the only other piece of gear which I may be interested in is the lightweight titanium Jetboil which I think is due to be introduced a liitle later in the year.Had an original Jetboil which I got free when applying for Trail Credit Card and will be interested to look at the new models when they become available.

  6. Thinking about it more and looking at the specs – thanks Robin! πŸ™‚

    The TN Solar Photon 2 would make an ideal tent for me and my new living.

    Spacious, light etc – strong? I suppose you make a compelling point Trenthamwalker.

    It’s not too disimilar to the Wild Country Sololite design (except lighter and larger) and that’s proven. Not without faults mind.

    My gripe on the latter being it’s exo-skeleton at the rear. The poles in ‘serious’ winds can unclip itself. Granted, a bit of string or duck tape sorts that issue out if things are really bad – but on this Solar Photon 2, the poles being under the fly should give an inherently stronger capacity to deal with high winds.

    Which then leads me to think – what’s the strength and durability of the flysheet etc.

  7. Terry, I don’t where you camp normally, but if you summit camp, even in the summer it gets pretty cold at night and a mesh door is just silly. It’s not clear whether there’s a mesh at the foot end but in my experience a half mesh door and a small mesh triangle at the foot end is all you need for ventilation of the inner. There’s a vent on top of the fly door, so I really can’t understand what’s the thinking for a full mesh door given that there’s no weight saving in that.

    Other than that it looks like a cracking tent but I won’t buy it, and not because it’s expensive!

  8. I’m baffled why most of you here think this tent would hold up well to wind. To me, it’s clear it would compress easily under moderate winds from the front or the back. With wind from the sides, things are going to be even worse.

    I think the Voyager Superlite is more bombproof than the Photon 2, and the Voyager 2 is not very bombproof:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/themuss28#p/a/u/2/AaF0VkcCWa4

    I think the most efficient way to be able to withstand strong winds is with the guylines parallel to the direction of the wind, and the guylines should come off perpendicular from the poles. (Dyneema guylines are extremely strong for their weight.) A tunnel tent or a design like the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 are close to this optimum design for withstanding wind from along their long axis.

    1. The Vaude Hogan is a similar design and is very storm worthy according to those that have used it. So is the BA Fly Creek.

  9. Robin, I hope you are enjoying your retirement as much as I am mine. I agree with you that prices for gear have gotten appallingly high. Perhaps a boycott is in order to send a message. This can’t go on.

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