I promised you a review of my solo tents. On reflection, it’s a bit of a waste of time reviewing my Vango TBS Micro 100 as it’s no longer in production. Suffice it to say it is a good, sturdy tent but a bit on the heavy side and quite small. Here’s a picture (it’s the blue one):
To solve both the weight and size issue, I bought a ME Ultralite 2. Originally it was advertised as a 1kg tent. However, it actually weighed 1.3kg. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not very happy with manufacturers who are economical with the truth over weights. Had I known the true weight, the decision to purchase would have been a finer judgement. This is not to say that it is a bad tent by any means. The fact that it uses trekking poles as tent poles is an advantage both from the perspective of saving weight and strength. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ultralite 2, here’s a link to the ME web page and below are two photos.
So is it any good? Let’s look at the good points first. For the weight it is spacious, with just enough room for two and plenty of room for one (I never share tents!). It has two reasonable sized porches, big enough to cook and to store stuff. Having two is a luxury rather than a necessity, but is handy if it’s wet as you can store wet waterproofs etc in one, while leaving the other free. The vents above the door are flexible and good for ventilation.
Let’s look at the not so good. Starting with some of the small details, the door tiebacks are poor and do not secure the doors well. This applies to both the inner outer doors. I’ve cured this by extending the elastic loop with a short length of cord and then using a cord grip. By securing the cord grip hard against the tent material, you can stop the door material slipping through the securing loop. The door arrangement is also slightly less than ideal as it doesn’t fully open up the side of the tent.
Another irritation is that the gap between the inner and the outer on the long side is not big enough, so if there is a lot of condensation, this can be transferred to the inner. At the foot end, this can mean that your sleeping bag gets damp, because there is limited clearance. The way to overcome this is to detach the inner and outer at this end and to peg out separately. It is also worth adding and extra loop of cord to the outer tent rubber to separate further.
To help stability, instead of using one guy line either side I use two, attaching them to a little karabiner (Alpkit Clipper) and then to the tent. This brings me to a major drawback: it’s very flappy in high winds. While I don’t think it would blow away, it’s not very stable when it’s windy and is very noisy.
This was brought home to me last year when I was camping in the Lakes just below Causey Pike (Stoneycroft Gill, if you’re interested). It was raining and the wind was funnelling down the valley in strong gusts. I’m sure I would have been OK, but after three hours of battering, I packed up at midnight and bailed out. It was so noisy and the tent wall was pushing against my head, there’s no way that I would have got any sleep.
The Ultralite 2 is a spacious one man tent that is suitable for lowland backpacking, with a decent space/weight ratio, but I wouldn’t want to use it in exposed pitches, which is why I bought an Akto to go to Scotland this year (more on that another time). It needs a bit of care pitching to ensure a good gap between the inner and outer. It does have the advantage of a good amount of space for its weight. I may try just the outer some time as a sort of tent/tarp hybrid. I’ve not weighted the fly alone, but I guess it will be about 600g. Should you buy it? It’s not a bad tent, but I think there are better tents on the market.