Tag Archives: Force Ten

F10 Nitro Lite 200 pole project part 1

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I’m working on adding an extra pole to my F10 Nitro Lite 200 tent at the moment. Adding an extra pole should make the Nitro Lite extra strong and help support the fabric in the middle of the tent, which has a tendency to flap a bit in a strong wind. It should help with snow loading in winter (should I ever use it in snow!).

My aim is to make this mod optional with a minimal weight penalty. To this end, the pole will be secured a small grosgrain loop on the underside of the roof seam. I’ve sealed this inside with some McNett Tenacious tape and silicone seam sealant on the outside.

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At the hem, I’ve opted for a short cord loop with a mini cord grip. The cord that secures the ends of the pole will be totally removable and the flysheet will be tensioned with removable line loks that I had spare from a compression stuff sack.

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My progress is now stalled because I’m waiting for some 7mm eyelets. I used some 8mm eyelets as an experiment but they are marginally too large and the pole end can slip through. I also had an eyelet failure, so I’m going to be more careful with punching the hole in the grosgrain. Vango have kindly provided a spare front pole, which I’m going to shorten by 10cm.

The unshortened pole weighs 112g.Β  Shortening it should lose about 5g. My guess is the lineloks, reinforcing patches and grosgrain on the tent can’t weigh more than 10g. The weight for the cord plus eyelets might be about another 10g, so the all in extra weigh shouldn’t be more than 130g for the extra pole. Without the pole, the extra, the weight gain will be minimal (c.10g), so there’s no issue if I decide to leave the pole at home.

I’ve also come up with a potential solution to the lack of a Tension Band System on the rear pole arch. Again, it will be totally optional and removable. I’m guessing that it will add no more than 15g. I’m hoping that it won’t compromise the inner. The only downside is that it won’t be adjustable from inside the inner. I’m not going to test it until I’ve completed the pole mod (and get some decent weather!).

None of these mods are strictly necessary, as the production model of the F10 Nitro Lite is a fine tent, but I enjoy messing about with tents and enhancing their design and function. The extra pole on the Nitro Lite will make it into a seriously strong tent for winter. One other mod I’m mulling is removable snow valances. Unfortunately my lack of sewing skills might prevent me from making them!

More great service from Vango

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In the course of making my vent modification to my Force Ten Nitro Lite 200, I discovered that I had lost my repair kit that was supplied with the tent. While this is not a disaster, I do like to carry some kind of repair kit. The F10 kit has some swatches of material and a pole sleeve. The flysheet patch is adhesive, which is particularly useful against the eventuality of a mishap. I always try to carry a pole sleeve in case of a pole failure. It means a pole failure need not be terminal.

Anyway, having realised I’d lost the supplied repair kit, I contacted Vango. Without hesitation, they tracked down a spare repair kit and sent it to me the next day. Not only that, they included some spare guy lines. Now that’s what I call customer service. This is not the first time that Vango have come to the rescue, so hats off to them for excellent customer service.

Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 vent mod

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to either close the rear vent on the Nitro Lite 200 or at least reduce the size of the aperture for a while. I’ve failed to think of an elegant way to completely close it.

The best solution would be to sew a flap inside the vent, but it would be incredibly fiddly to do, especially for someone with limited sewing skills like me. I’ve already introduced a rain gutter to stop drops of rain being driven up the vent. The next step was to have a mechanism to reduce the size of the vent aperture in stormy weather.

The most obvious way to achieve this was to use a strip of Velcro. Because the hood is wired, it is difficult to secure the whole length of the hood, so I decided to close it in the centre. First I sewed a length of Velcro to the underside of the hood guying grosgrain loop.

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Next I sewed a mating strip on to the flysheet. I had some orange Velcro, so I used that as it colour coordinated better (these things are important!). Before sewing, I glued the Velcro to stop it sliding around. This meant a wait of a couple of hours for the glue to dry, but made the process much easier.

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On the underside, I used some McNett Tenacious Tape as a strengthener to sew on and then to seal against rain wicking through the stitching (i.e. two layers of tape).

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Initially, I was pleased with the result. However, after thinking about it for a while, I had another brainwave.

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The drawback with just using Velcro might be that in really windy conditions, the Velcro could separate, leaving the vent vulnerable. Combining the Velcro closure with some shock cord and a cord grip would give a much more secure closure.

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I sewed a small grosgrain loop on the orange Velcro strip. I looped some shock cord through it and then through the hood guying grosgrain loop (shown above).

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To aid the removal of the hood guy, I used a small karabiner. The picture above shows the hood in the open position.

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To close the hood, I remove the guy line, engage the Velcro and tighten the cord lock. With this system, there’s no chance of the hood flipping open. Initially I was annoyed at not thinking of the cord lock option first as it seemed the Velcro had become superfluous. However, the addition of the Velcro makes the opening smaller, so I think it is worth while.

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Clearly, this is not a perfect solution as it is still theoretically possible for rain to penetrate. However, given the small aperture size and the rain gutter, I think it’s highly unlikely it would be a problem. It will be interesting to see whether Vango will address this weakness and others in a new version of the Nitro Lite.

Force Ten Nitro Lite Mods Update

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I used my Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 for one night on my recent Carneddau trip (I used my Duomid on the other two to test out the mods on that shelter). It was a good chance to see whether my mods were effective. Firstly, I can tell you that the extra pegging point on the rear panel worked perfectly. It maintains the gap between the fly and inner, so there’s no chance of it touching and transferring moisture.

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A lack of rain (now there’s a thing) meant I can’t tell you whether the rain gutter in the rear vent works. Also, there wasn’t enough wind to assess the effectiveness of doubling the side guys, but I have no reason to doubt that they are more effective than the original configuration.

While the bottom set of loops seem secure enough, when I arrived home, I saw some comments from Andy on my mod post, suggesting a different way of securing the lower cord. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to try it out.

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Essentially, it involves adding a second linelok on the lower section of the cord, mimicking the arrangement on the Akto. To secure it to the pole, the loop of cord is passed through the loop on the pole sleeve and around the pole. The (slightly fuzzy) picture below illustrates how.

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While it’s slightly more fiddly, looping the cord behind the pole means that all the strain is taken by the pole, rather than the loop on the pole sleeve. Ideally, you need to do this when threading the poles. However, if you forget, you can always undo the knot on the linelok, loop the cord through the pole sleeve loop and behind the pole, back through the pole sleeve loop and retie the knot on the linelok. That could be a bit fiddly in bad conditions, so I might take some mini karabiners, to revert to the original configuration if necessary.

I’m really pleased with the mods, especially the rear pegging point. My trip was hardly a test of the Nitro’s capabilities. However, I do think it’s a really good tent and love the amount of space it provides. I still think the Scarp is a slightly better tent, but there’s not much in it. Unfortunately, the Nitro is still not a tent for tall people. Much over 5’10” and I think you’ll find it a bit short. One minor irritation I found was that occasionally the shock cord loops on the inner tent slip out of the retainers on the fly. I might try some thicker shock cord.

Force Ten Nitro Lite 200 mods

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 😦

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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4) Zip pulls and pegging loops.

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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 πŸ˜‰

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.

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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 β€œO”, with a closable mesh vent on the top quarter. The fly door is an inverted β€œJ” 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

Force Ten Nitro Lite 200, first pitch

The fine weather today allowed me to pitch the F10 Nitro Lite 200 in the back garden. So here’s a few photos:

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So what do I think? Firstly, the build quality seems good. I couldn’t spot any problems. My only quibble is the the wire hoop over the door is a bit wonky. I’ve got the same problem on the Vortex 200. Apart from that, every thing seems neat and tidy. All the seams are tape sealed. However, the right hand door seam will need to be sealed on the outside as it has been impossible to seal the zip material.

Although I have some reservations about whether rain might be driven through the rear vent, it should be fine under most conditions as the hood is quite deep. I’m still inclined to modify it so it can be closed, perhaps with a piece of silnylon and Velcro.

It’s very easy to pitch. Peg down tail end, insert poles, then pull the door end and peg. The side guys are vital to tension the fly. The end pegging points are adjustable and there are tensioning straps on one side of the poles. Even with the adverse slope in my garden, it wasn’t difficult to get a reasonable pitch. I didn’t centre the Gothic arch poles properly, which I’ll remember to do next time.

As you can see from the pictures, there’s plenty of room inside, easily enough for two (the mat in the picture is a full length Thermarest). Having said that, I think tall people might touch the end with their sleeping bag. However, there’s certainly good clearance between the fly sheet and the inner. The inner is secured to the fly with hooks and shock-cord and can be easily detached .

On the front arch, there are two adjustable cords making the Tension Band System. These are easily adjusted and can be detached. They definitely make the front arch more stable and don’t really get in the way. There are no TBS cords on the rear arch.

Along each side of the inner, there are long mesh pockets (joy of joys). There are a couple of hanging loops; one at the rear in the inner tent and one in the porch. The porch is a good size for storage and cooking. The outer door has a two way zip, so the top can be opened for ventilation. The rain flap is secured with Velcro. Also, there is a fastener at the base of the door, to take the tension off the zip. The door can be completely tied back with two toggles and loops.

The door of the inner is an almost complete O, with a two way zip. It also has a mesh venting panel which can be sealed with a zipped solid panel. It’s a shame that there’s not the same arrangement on the rear vent. The inner material is quite fine. Although it is quite a deep orange, the thinness makes it translucent and inside it’s quite light and airy (in contrast to the Vortex 200). The groundsheet material is thin PU coated nylon, but feels more robust than the silnylon of say the Scarp. The seam across the middle of the tent has been sealed with tape.

Overall, it seems like a really good tent, well made with good quality materials. Compared with the Scarp, there’s a lot more room. The tunnel design means that I suspect it will move and flap a bit more than the Scarp in a strong blow, but it seems reasonably strong and stable. My only real criticism is that the pegs are too thin, but I’ve got plenty of spare pegs to replace them. Whether the rear vent is an issue, I’ll only know when I take it out in really bad weather. All in all, I’m very happy with it.