Tag Archives: mods

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.

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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 😉