Tag Archives: mods

Dan Durston X-Mid mods

No tent survives long in my collection without a few tweaks. The X-Mid is a great design but I’ve made some minor changes, which I think improves it.

Apex eyelet

Although I don’t think there’s an issue with the tip of a trekking pole rubbing against the apex, it pays to be careful so I’ve added a piece of webbing above the brass eyelet. It’s really easy to do. I only used two stitching point so it has a bit of flexibility.

The picture below shows that the pole tip is now cushioned from the apex material.

Subsequent to doing this there was a post on the Trek-Lite forum about using a rubber grommet http://www.trek-lite.com/index.php?threads/dan-durston-massdrop-x-mid.4960/page-21 so naturally I tried it.  I had to cut the surplus rubber tube off the grommet before using it. It was a bit of a faff to insert and I cut a bit of the collar off on the top side to help. After a bit of gentle persuasion with the end of a pen, I got it to sit correctly.

In the end it fitted perfectly and is a more elegant solution than the webbing, although I left the webbing in place as I couldn’t see the point in removing it. The grommet fits perfectly over the end of both my Leki and Black Diamond poles. It’s an excellent solution and removes any chance of damage from a trekking pole. If you want more discussion or to find out where to get the grommets from, visit Trek-Lite.

Corner shock cord

The corners of the inner tent have non-adjustable cords with a small loop of shock cord attached to the groundsheet. This is absolutely fine but does stretch quite tight and might be an issue on uneven ground.

To make the pitch of the inner tent more forgiving, I replaced the short tie out with a full loop of shock cord. This worked really well and makes the pitch of the inner more flexible and less likely to suffer damage if there is any strain on the groundsheet. One of the corners popped on my Scarp through excessive strain.

3mm corner tie outs

I used some old MLD cord for beefier corner tie outs. MLD cord is more secure than thinner gauge cord and definitely won’t slip in the line lok, unlike some 2mm cord. I’m not saying the cord supplied will slip, but better safe than sorry!

Intermediate pegging points

The X-Mid has intermediate pegging points at either end and the door panel, which are useful for windy weather. However, they are just small webbing loops. I’ve added a loop of shock cord to them and on the end ones, I’ve also added a loop of thin cord to give the option of a firm pegging point.

Additional apex guy line

Using the two external apex guys gives a pretty secure pitch. However, the X-Mid comes with two extra lengths of cord, so I decided to see whether an extra guy on each apex would add to the stability. Dan suggested taking the guys from the pole tips out through the vent opening.

This worked reasonably well, but I also tried using it just inside the door running to nearly the corner of the tent (it’s not long enough to go to the corner peg).

I thought this worked rather well. It adds quite a bit of stability to the trekking pole. It also provides the door panel with a bit of bracing against the wind deflecting if inwards (depending on where you put the peg). Lastly, it gives you an internal washing line.

Temporary door panel guy

Another potential way of cutting down door panel excursion in windy conditions is to use the door tie back loop as an attachment point for a guy. The loop seems pretty solid and it’s easy to attach a temporary guy. Obviously you need to be careful not to over-tighten the guy and distort the tent, otherwise it could cause damage. It’s only intended to stop the fabric from flapping too much. I might add a short shock cord loop as MLD do to the guys on the Duomid to avoid stressing the tent fabric. Most of the time the guy won’t be necessary, but it could be useful in very windy conditions.

I’m looking forward to using the X-Mid in the wild soon, possibly in Scotland in May.

MYOG Velcro strap keepers

Fed up with straps dangling all over the place? Here’s a simple solution copied from my Exped Thunder pack. Most of the straps on the Thunder have Velcro keepers.

Any excess strap is rolled up and secured by a Velcro keeper sewn on the end of each strap.

The sleeping pad straps on the base of my Osprey Talon 44 are particularly annoying and dangle down. The solution was to mimic the Exped Thunder keepers.It’s really simple to do. I hand sewed them. It’s worth using a thimble as it’s tough to push the needle through the Velcro. It only needs a few stitches to keep in place as there’s no strain on it. Simple, but effective.

MLD Cuben Duomid vent mod

Last year, on Dartmoor, I discovered that the vent on my MLD Cuben Duomid doesn’t close properly because the Velcro on the hood doesn’t line up properly. On that occasion, I used a clothes peg to shut it.

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Since then, I’ve been thinking of a more permanent solution using either some Velcro or some snap closures.

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I decided the neatest solution was to sew a strip of Velcro on the grosgrain strip that links the zip to the crown of the shelter (shown above).

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This now mates properly with the Velcro on the vent hood (shown above).

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The vent hood now closes securely (after removing the plastic hood stay) , preventing any wind blown rain from getting inside the shelter.

MLD Trailstar reflective patches

These days, most tents from mainstream manufacturers have reflective patches. Sometimes it’s a bit overdone, like my F10 Vortex 200. However, I think they are useful in moderation for identification on camp sites and in the wild. The only time where they might be not be useful is for stealth camping. Anyway, I decided to add some reflective patches to my Trailstar.

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Using some reflective Scotchtape, I sewed some patches on the five corner pegging points and beside the MLD logo badge, which is usually where the door is.

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My original plan had been to use some McNett Tenacious Tape to stick the patches on, but Tenacious Tape doesn’t stick to silnylon well, hence I had to sew them.

OK, it’s not strictly necessary, but I think it’s useful. If I decide that I don’t like them, unpicking the stitches won’t take long.

Rab Neutrino SL 200 mod

My Rab Neutrino SL 200 arrived back from As Tucas today. I’m really pleased with the work Marco has done. Just to recap, I asked him to insert some Climashield APEX 167 insulation into the underside panel where there is no insulation, converting the bag into a proper sleeping bag from being a top bag.

IMG_0658The picture above shows the panel with insulation. Marco has added a small strip of Pertex at either end to seal the sleeve. I’m impressed with the loft of the Climashield, which feels a lot more puffy than the Primaloft 100, which Rab use for the underside of the leg section of the bag.

IMG_0659Marco has done a very neat job. Apart from the different colour of the material, you would be hard pushed to know it wasn’t part of the original design. I also asked Marco to retro-fit a down collar to the neck. In my experience, down collars make a significant contribution to sealing in the warmth of a sleeping bag.

IMG_0657Again, it’s a very neat job. The photo is slightly misleading as the colour match is rather better than it looks. The bag now weighs 665g, which is pretty good for a 3-season bag. Before the mods, it weighed 573g, so the additional weight is 92g.

It will be interesting to see how it stacks up relative to my Alpkit Pipedream 400 bag (740g). I reckon they will be pretty similar for warmth. However, the Climashield on the underside of the Neutrino should allow me to dispense with the sleeping mat cover that I use as it should provide better insulation when compressed than down. This will save me an extra 100g, meaning that the total weight saved relative to the Pipedream could be 175g.

IMG_0654I was also pleased to find that I could still use the excellent dry bag that was supplied with the Neutrino. Even with the dry bag, it weighs less than the Pipedream on its own. The cost was €40 for the Climashield panel and €25 for the down collar. I think that’s good value for converting the bag into a very lightweight proper sleeping bag.  I will make another report when I’ve field tested it.

Marco at As Tucas has done a great job and it’s well worth contacting him if you have a project like this. It’s been a pleasure doing business with him. I’ve got another couple of small projects for him up my sleeve.

Disclosure: I have no formal or financial relationship with As Tucas.

Rohan Windshadow hood mod

Funny how old posts pop back into life. Back in March 2012, I did a round up of gear I’d used in the Carneddau.I mentioned the Rohan Windshadow jacket, which is an excellent wind-proof but has a poorly designed hood.

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In keeping with modern designs, the hood is lycra bound and not adjustable. This is next to useless when it’s windy as it can’t be cinched down. In the review, I mentioned that I’d modified the hood to make it adjustable. I said I was going to do a post on it, but never got round to it. At the weekend, up pops a comment by David asking for some details, so here it is.

IMG_0652I’m always constrained by my limited sewing skills. In an ideal world, you’d want an adjustable cord enclosed in a tube. However, that would entail removing the lycra and folding over the hood material and re-sewing. That’s well beyond my capabilities. So, instead, I’ve used a series of brass eyelets to control the draw cord. The larger top one was a mistake and I should have used small ones for all the holes. The picture above shows the outside of the hood.

IMG_0653The picture above shows inside the hood. Between the bottom two eyelets, I used a micro cord lock. This is quite neat as it is hidden and I can instantly tighten the hood just by pulling on the cord. The top of the cord is secured with a few stitches.

This mod isn’t going to win any awards for looks or design, but it is one way you can make a lycra bound hood adjustable. I really like the Windshadow jacket and now the hood is usable, whereas before, it was next to useless. I hope that helps you David!

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 😉

Scarp mods summary: part 2, minor mods

In part 2 of my Scarp modifications, I’ll outline the more minor tweaks that I’ve made. They are all quite straightfoward.

1) Silicone anti slip stripes on groundsheet. Silnylon is very slippery, so sleeping mats tend to slide around, especially on a slope. To counter this, it’s a good idea to paint a few stripes of silcone seam sealant (McNett Silnet) on the groundsheet. It’s up to you whether you use stripes or dots.

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2) Inner tent pocket. The pockets in the Scarp are so small and poorly positioned that I’ve never used them. Instead I’ve cut a silnylon stuff sack in half and sewn up one end to make a pocket. I’ve attached it to the inner with a couple of safety pins. This means I can move it around if I decide to switch sleeping positions. In an ideal world, I’d like to have large mesh pockets at either end, but such a radical mod is beyond my capabilities.

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3) End vent cord lock, hook and loop. On the flysheet, at either end, there is a short zip to aid ventilation. The tension of the flysheet means that this has a tendency to come apart. To prevent this, I added a cord lock to ensure it stays closed. To make it easier to keep the vent open, I’ve used a hook (taken from another tent) and a loop of cord, so that I can hook up the vent as shown below, to maximise the ventilation.

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4) Inner tent door tie back. The original door tie backs for the inner are plain ribbons. These are a pain to tie, so I’ve put a cord lock on one ribbon and added an elastic loop to secure the tie back. I probably could have done a slightly neater job as the elastic has frayed a bit. It’s now much quicker, simpler and more secure to tie back the doors.

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5) Zip pullers. The zips on the Scarp are not supplied with pullers. On the inner tent I’ve made my own and on the outer, I’ve used some Alpkit pullers. It’s much easier now to use the zips, especially with gloves.

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MYOG zip pullers

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Alpkit zip pullers

6) Fly adjuster venting cord. For some reason, the cord supplied was like an old black bootlace. I’ve replaced it with some dyneema cord. There’s no particular need to replace it. It just looks neater.

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7) Modified crossing pole loop. Inserting the crossing poles through the grosgrain loop at the apex, especially after it’s been sealed, is quite tight, so I’ve added a loop of dyneema cord to make it a lot easier (orange loop above vent in picture). Arguably it makes the Scarp slightly less stable, but it doesn’t make very much difference.

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The only modification that I’ve yet to do is to swap the supplied crossing pole clips, which are like glove hooks for the clips that Vango kindly supplied me. Something else I’m mulling is whether to make some removable snow valances for winter.

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Hopefully, at least some of those mods will be helpful to other Scarp owners. I’d be interested if anyone has thought of any others.

Scarp mods summary: part 1, major mods

I thought it would be useful to do a couple of posts summarising all the modifications I’ve made to my Tarptent Scarp 1. Feel free to copy and use these as you wish. Equally, if don’t want to use them, that’s no problem to me! I’ve divided them into two posts, major and minor modifications, to indicate those which I think are highly desirable and those which are more optional. However, none of the modifications are difficult to do. Some require a modest amount of sewing, but that’s all. Here goes!

Major modifications

1) Seam sealing. If you want the Scarp to be fully watertight, you really need to seal the seams with a silicone sealer such as McNett Silnet. The pole arch requires particular attention. It’s best to seal the outside, rather than the inside. I made the mistake of preferring the cosmetically superior route of sealing the inside. Later I had to seal the outside as well. On the pole arch you need to seal both sides of the arch from the zip to the apex. It is important to seal the crossover pole loop as well, otherwise it will wick rain inside the tent. It’s also worth sealing the seams that go from the corners of the tent to the pole arch. I’ve also sealed the seams around the vents. I’ve not bothered with the seams on the vertical walls at the end of the tent as these are unlikely to cause problems with water ingress.

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Seal the pole arch, crossing pole loop, lateral roof and vent seams

2) Re-guy with 3mm cord. The cord supplied with the Scarp is 2mm and the end guys are a bit short. Initially I re-guyed the tent with longer 2mm cord. However, 2mm cord tends to slip through the lineloks when wet. You can prevent this by tying a slip knot after tensioning them. I had some spare cord from my MLD Duomid, so I decided to re-guy with this thicker cord (I’m not sure whether it’s 2.5mm or 3mm, I think it’s 3mm but someone can probably tell me). This thicker cord locks properly in the linelok and there’s no chance of slippage.

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Re-guying the end guys with 3mm cord

On the lower linelok on the corners, I’ve tied off the cord through the grosgrain loop. I’ve attached the crossover pole eyelets to some leftover 2mm cord, so I can thread them though the remaining free lineloks. Slippage is not an issue with these when using the crossover poles.

The second mod is to add sail rings to the cords on the corners to ensure that the guys can be easily adjusted and stay securely on the pegs. These are available through yacht chandlers (a good source of bits and pieces). Alternatively, you could use a short loop of cord.

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Sail ring mod

On the side guys, I’ve used the same cord (mainly to match the other guys). To accommodate the thicker cord, I’ve used some larger lineloks, which were leftover from another tent (!). Additionally, I’ve secured them to the grosgrain loop on the tent with a mini carabiner. This provides a neater connection and the option to remove them completely, which is useful on narrow pitches and camp sites.

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Carabiner on side guy

3) Pole arch tension system. I think this is well worth doing and adds a lot of stability to the Scarp. Instead of repeating myself, have a look at yesterday’s post.

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Pole arch tension system

4) Threshold cord. I know this hasn’t found favour with a number of Scarp owners, but I think it’s worthwhile as it takes the strain off the door zip. I know there’s a small connector at the bottom of the zip, but it’s quite fragile and I think the threshold cord is a much better solution (copied from the Hilleberg Akto, incidentally). It also takes the strain when the door is open and ensures the tent retains its rigidity.

Again, it’s really easy to do. All you need is some cord and a linelok. I’ve used 2mm as it doesn’t take a huge strain. At the pole end the cord is threaded through the loop beyond the pole eyelet and doubled back to a linelok. It is important, when pitching the tent that the cord is looped around the end of the pole underneath the grosgrain ribbon, so the pole takes the strain and not the grosgrain.

At the other end, loop it around the strut of the PitchLoc strut. Again, it is important that it pulls against the strut. To ensure that it doesn’t slip down, I’ve secured the cord with a couple of stitches to the strut sleeve.

It’s really important that the threshold cord is secured against both the strut and the end of the pole. Once the length is adjusted, it doesn’t need to be changed and it seems to stay secured in the linelok when packed.

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Threshold cord

5) Inner/outer tent shock-cord connectors. On the original Scarp, the four corners of the inner are connected to the outer with a glove hook connector secured by a (very) short piece of elastic. The first time I pitched the tent in the garden I broke one of these. Because of the slope of our garden, when I got in the tent, the groundsheet slid downhill and ping, the connector broke. So to add a bit more flex, I’ve inserted a small shock-cord loop between the inner and the outer.Since then, I’ve never had a problem and there’s sufficient “give” to accommodate less than ideal pitches.

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Inner/outer tent shockcord connectors

In part two, I’ll outline what I think are more minor, optional tweaks. In my view, they are still worth doing, but make less overall difference to the Scarp. Happy modding!