Much as I like the Force Ten Nitro Lite 200, it falls short in a couple of areas. Most serious is that the rear panel of the fly sheet can touch the rear of the inner tent, transferring condensation, which can lead to a damp sleeping bag. Secondly, rain drops can be driven up the rear vent and onto the mesh ventilation panel. I’ve also been looking to see if I could improve the stability of the hoops by doubling the attachments for the guys. This afternoon, I got round to trying out my ideas.
1) Extra rear pegging point.
I glued a circular piece of nylon cloth (ironically from the valance that I cut off the door of my Force Ten Vortex 200) as a reinforcing patch on either side of the hem in the middle of the rear panel. I used some McNett Silnet glue to secure it. After this was dry, I sewed on a linelok with a short piece of grosgrain (kindly donated by Sean at OookWorks). I used strong nylon thread, ensuring it was securely fixed to the hem. Next, I added a piece of shock-cord. The idea was to have the option of using the shock-cord or a piece of guy cord.
After trying, the shock-cord on its own, then a piece of guy cord and lastly a combination of the two, I felt the best setup was the guy cord with a loop of shock-cord at the end secured on the same peg as the vent tie out. Hopefully, you can see that this pulls the rear fly panel well clear of the inner. The shock-cord means there’s not too much strain on the linelok and there’s some flexibility in the wind. It should also help compensate for the stretch of the silnylon fly when it gets wet. The picture below shows it from a different angle.
Vango would do well to adopt this mod. It pulls the fly well clear of the inner. Inside the tent, it was almost impossible to push the inner onto the fly. It adds next to no weight and by doubling up with an existing pegging point, it doesn’t require an extra peg. Here’s another picture (eagle eyed will notice that this is using the guy cord only). You can see how well it pulls the fly away from the inner. Even without testing this on the hills, I can see this will be much better than prior to the mod. My only criticism is that I didn’t get it perfectly centred! It’s about 5mm off centre 😦
2) Doubling up the guy lines.
From the picture above, you can see my next mod was to double up the guys. While I’m not suggesting that the Nitro is unstable with the original system, having two attachment points on either side definitely improves the stability of the pole arches. It’s noticeable that most Hilleberg tents adopt this configuration. Fortunately, it’s really easy to replicate. On both sides, at the exit of each pole sleeve, there is a loop. They are sewn into the seam of the pole sleeve and seem quite secure. To each, I attached a mini karabiner (Alpkit) and doubled the guy back (shown below on the rear pole).
Initially I used the guy line supplied with the tent. Vango very kindly sent me some surplus guylines to play with. However, this is a bit thicker, so I used some 2mm line that I bought recently on Amazon. While it’s not Dyneema, it is very strong and it’s a rather wonderful, eye-searing orange with black flecks.
Above you can see the guy lines on one side. I’m really pleased with the extra stability it adds, particularly on the rear hoop. It’s not so noticeable on the front as the Tension Band System works well, but the rear hoop has no TBS. On the rear hoop, the original guy line is long enough to double up and maintain the correct angle of “pull”, but the front guy is too short. If you don’t want to re-guy the tent, you could just double up the rear, while leaving the front unchanged. However, I like symmetry, so I did both ends. The only slight doubt I have is how strong the lower loops on the pole sleeve are. They seem quite solid, but only time will tell. Even if they ripped out, it wouldn’t do much damage.
3) Rain gutter for the rear mesh vent.
This mod is going to be a bit harder to explain! On my Lakes trip, on the second night, some rain drops were driven onto the mesh vent on the flysheet. None penetrated to the inner, but it made me concerned that in strong winds, with heavy rain, the vent could be vulnerable to water ingress. My initial thought was to make a vent cover. However, it looked very difficult to make, especially to sew Velcro attachment patches inside the vent.
Then I had a brainwave. Why not make a gutter or barrier to prevent the droplets being blown up the vent and onto the mesh. I though of using some window draught insulating strip, but decided it wasn’t quite right. Then I thought of using a V shaped strip of material.
Using the same material from the Vortex valance, I cut a strip 30cm long by 4cm wide. I covered one side with Silnet and folded it in half length ways. Only glueing the very ends, I halved it again to form a V. I then used my old Black & Decker workmate as a vice so that the material would retain the V shape. After leaving overnight, I added a couple of stitches at the ends and 1/3rd and 2/3rds along. Hopefully you can see that in the picture above.
The next part was quite tricky. With some Silnet, I glued the underside and then stuck it to the flysheet just below the mesh vent (shown above in a slightly blurred photo). The idea is that it presents a barrier to any raindrops that are driven by the wind up the flysheet, so they can’t migrate onto the mesh. Will it work? I don’t know, but the vent hood is quite deep, so I don’t think drops can be blown directly onto the mesh. The picture below shows the gutter strip from inside the tent. It was quite difficult to position so it’s not perfect, but it can’t be seen from the outside.
4) Zip pulls and pegging loops.
Not strictly necessary, but I added some zip pulls from the same cord as I used for the guy lines. More useful are the pegging loops that I added to the corner pegging points. These make pegging and adjustment easier.
So there we are, some useful mods that are not to hard to do. I recommend doubling the guys (really easy) and the extra rear pegging point. Let’s hope Vango include them in a mk2 version. They also need to look at the rear vent. I would prefer the option to close it completely. However, I’m hopeful that the rain gutter/barrier will work. I’d also like to encourage them to do a winter version with doors at either end, an extra hoop in the middle and removable snow valances. I’ve also got a few other ideas up my sleeve if they are interested 😉