Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 – initial assessment

I used my new F10 Nitro Lite 200 for two nights on my recent trip around the Northern Fells in the Lake District. This is very much an initial assessment rather than an extensive review. It’s impossible to have a definitive view after only two nights.

DSC00439

Easy to pitch

Usefully, the weather was very different each night. The first night was quite cold (–4C in the tent), the second was wet and windy. I measured a 20mph gust before retiring for the night. The weather forecast said 30–35mph gusts.

Without pegs, the weight is about 1.4kg. I took a selection of Eastons and titanium pegs, which added about 190g. The minimum number of pegs needed is nine (five for the guys, four for the tent). On the four corners I added a loop of dyneema cord to make pegging easier.

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Additional cord loops to aid pitching

On the second night, I was very pleased with the Nitro’s performance in the wind. Pitched tail to the wind, it was quite stable, helped by the tension band system on the front hoop. The wind shifted slightly so it blew obliquely onto one side and it coped well. I was concerned that it might flap and be noisy, but it seemed to be quite well controlled. It’s certainly a lot less flappy and noisy than a Laser Comp.

In terms of coping with rain, there were no discernible drips on the inner. However, some drops were driven onto the mesh on the fly vent at the rear. None came through to the inner, but I’m not convinced that in higher winds it would be totally watertight. I may make a cover to protect the mesh in extreme conditions. If there weren’t a matching mesh panel on the inner, I’d be less concerned. In my experience mesh panels on inner tents are vulnerable to penetration from water.

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Sheds wind well

On the first night, it was quite cold with only a light breeze as I was in a sheltered spot. The outer tent iced up and there was a fair bit of condensation on the inside of the fly. There was also a very light coating of condensation on the inside of the inner. I think this was a combination of the sub zero air temperature, the tight weave of the cloth and the fact that I didn’t vent the inner tent adequately.

As usual with a silnylon fly, the moisture induces the fly to sag somewhat in the night. This meant that the inner and outer were touching at the foot end. Consequently, the foot of my sleeping bag was damp. I don’t think this is a tent for tall people, even lying slightly diagonally.

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Condensation at rear can be a problem

I am going to add an extra pegging point on the hem at the centre of the rear panel of the fly, which should maintain the separation of the fly and inner at the rear. Around the rest of the tent, the gap between fly and inner is quite large, so there’s little chance of moisture transfer.

The materials used are some of the thinnest I’ve encountered. The inner is almost see through. The fly is also thin but the seams are tape sealed adding waterproofing and strength. Additionally, the fly is hemmed with a thicker nylon to add strength.

I think care is needed with the inner tent. I will replace some of the bungees connecting inner and outer as they are too short and risk over stretching the inner. Also, the hook connectors between the inner and fly can become disconnected on the rear pole arch when pitching.

The groundsheet seems quite robust given how thin it is. Both nights I was pitched on grass, so it wasn’t tested for abrasion. There was no water ingress.

Overall, pitching the Nitro was very easy. Pin one end down. Insert the poles. Pull out and peg. The pole arches are not easy to centre perfectly, but that doesn’t really matter. Some care needs to be exercised inserting and extracting the poles as the pole sleeves are flat. However, it would be difficult to pitch it badly.

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Very spacious for one

For such a light tent, the internal space is amazing. Two can sleep side by side (although, as I mentioned, it’s not a tent for tall people). I like a bit of space to be organised and the Nitro certainly didn’t disappoint. It was also a joy to have long mesh pockets on both sides of the inner. There’s a hanging loop for a light at the foot of the inner and one for the porch suspended from the fly.

The inner door is an almost complete “O”, with a closable mesh vent on the top quarter. The fly door is an inverted “J” with a double ended zip for venting options. There are two loop and toggle attachments to secure the door when it’s open.

The porch is a good size for storage and cooking. It’s also very protective against wind for cooking. The tension band system slightly compromises the porch but can easily be unclipped. In practise, I didn’t have a problem.

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Porch is a good size for storage and cooking

Overall, I really liked the Nitro, despite having a damp sleeping bag foot on the first night. I was impressed by the spaciousness and overall storm-worthiness.

I guess the million dollar question is how it stacks up against the Tarptent Scarp. I still think the Scarp has the edge, despite being slightly smaller. The overall stability of the Scarp is better, especially as it sheds wind from any angle.

Although the porches are smaller, having two gives a lot of flexibility. The Scarp is also more flexible in terms on sleeping position. You can sleep with your head at either end, meaning that it’s easy to pitch door away from the wind, but still have your head uphill. In the Nitro, you have to sleep with your head at the door end, which can be restrictive in terms of the combination of slope and wind direction.

The ultimate test for me are which tent I could chose if I could only have one and, at the moment, the Scarp still wins, although the Nitro is a good tent and a worthy competitor.

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Looks rather nice too!

Suggestions for improvement:

1) cover for rear mesh fly vent.

2) reposition inner mesh vent with closure option.

3) additional hem peg point for rear fly panel.

4) better hooks for the bungee attachments between inner and fly.

Disclaimer: this tent was purchased with my own money and I have no relationship with Force Ten or Vango

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14 thoughts on “Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 – initial assessment”

  1. Good review Robin. Looking at the rear end i would agree with you that a central tie down at the bottom would help.
    Also, not sure if you use walking poles or not but if you did then it might be worth using one on the existing rear guy rope. The rope could then come away from the tent in a horizontal or even slightly inclined angle which would ensure that the outer has as much gap as possible from the inner. (Hope that makes sense).

    I still think the Scarp1 has the edge. I like the looks of the new TT Moment as well apart from the shape of the inner doors.

    1. Good idea. Will try next time.

      Trying to persuade Henry to do a Moment with a solid inner 🙂 unfortunately he seems to have a thing against T doors 😦

  2. I know Henry is very busy just now but i also have something in the offing for later in the year. No clues yet, sorry. I think he would do you a solid inner later on, after the rush.
    Yes H has good reasons for not choosing a T zip but i think he should have curved the zip inwards away from the apex on the new release. That apex area IMHO is totally wasted and detracts what otherwise is a superb tent.

  3. Hi Robin –

    I’ve been doing a lot of research into biggish one person tents and seem to end up on your blog every time, so I think you might be the person to answer my question (especially as I think you’ve had all three of the tents I’m looking at!):

    My options are:
    (1) Vaude Power Lizard: advantage is that I already own it but have never tried it, as if I pitch it I can’t then sell it as new (when was the last bone dry day we had where you could pitch a tent and not get it up to the eyes in mud or snow?)
    (2) Laser Comp 2: can get one for £229 posted. Has two doors which I’d much prefer.
    (3) Scarp 1: would be £350+ with duty, postage etc but again has two doors, gives a tauter pitch, etc.

    Based on your experience, would you say the Scarp 1 is worth the trouble of selling the Vaude and putting the extra cash towards it? Or is the Laser Comp 2 a better tent than the Vaude without needing to spend extra cash?

    I’m 6’1 and prefer space over outright weight saving.

    Appreciate any advice you can give.

    1. I don’t have direct experience of the Power Lizard and I’ve only used the one man Laser Comp. The Scarp is the most storm-worthy of the tents plus it has the flexibility of two porches. If both those features are important to you, then get the Scarp. The Scarp is still the best one man tent I’ve used.

      1. Sorry Robin, I noticed afterwards that your friend had the Lizard, not you. I think you’ve confirmed what I probably already knew in my mind re the Scarp though. Many thanks, and keep up the great work with the blog.

  4. Robin I was camping with Terry the other week in Rothiemurchus Forest and I had a chance to have a good look at Terry’s Force Tent. Impressed with it – plenty of space for the weight. Look forward to a longer term review of it.

  5. Hello. I just bought one of these for a backpacking trip with my son in NW Scotland next month. I find the low weight incredible, especially as my first tent, bought in 1985, was a Force Ten Mk 3CN, which weighed about 5x more! (And yes, I carried it over quite a few Munros.) I’m a bit concerned about the groundsheet on the Nitro Lite, though. Seems that it could easily tear. My current plan is to put foam sleeping mats under the tent (instead of inside it) to avoid this. Any other evidence / thoughts on durability of the groundsheet? Difficult to know how much confidence to have in these incredibly thin materials.

    1. I’ve not used it enough to say. Terry Abraham has used it a lot without problems. On grass I don’t see an issue but I would be cautious. Using mats underneath is one solution. Another is using a survival blanket under as a footprint. Weighs very little. I’ve used one under my Scarp as a matter of course and now have one for the Nitro.

  6. Hi Robin, would like to know your final thoughts on the nitrolite, as I can pick one up for £240.00 in two minds to go ahead with the purchase already have an Akto, Trailstar, and Hex peak. Like the look of the internal space and porch size, how quick is pitching? Am I being greedy instead of needy, do you think it offers something different from the aforementioned shelters? When I see what I think is a bargain I have got to have it. You know what they say about a fool and his money.

    1. It depends on whether you’d like a tunnel tent. Personally I’d prefer it to an Akto. Similar weight but more room. It’s pretty quick to pitch. The main caveat is its not really for tall people. Over six foot and its not really long enough. I think its a really good tent.

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