Sad to report that Sean is giving up and closing Oookworks .
Sad to report that Sean is giving up and closing Oookworks .
Having delivered our daughter to university with about ten tons of belongings, I arrived at Haweswater a bit later than I had hoped. No matter, the weather was fine and I was looking forward to a couple of days ambling around the fells and some good places to camp.
It only took about fifteen minutes to reach The Rigg, where I’ve camped before. Because there was very little breeze and there were insects about, I decided to camp just off the footpath in a relatively open location.
I took out the Trailstar, the peg bag and then what I thought was my OookStar. As I took the OookStar out of the bag, it dawned on me that this wasn’t the OookStar, it was my OookWorks Duomid nest. I’D BROUGHT THE WRONG INNER!
Stunned at my stupidity, I considered the options. At worst, I could use it as a groundsheet. However, with the number of insect buzzing around, this didn’t seem very attractive.
I could try using the inner, except that it was designed for the taller Duomid and would sag badly. How could I make it shorter? What about tying a knot in the material at the apex? Miraculously, this reduced the height enough for a rough pitch. OK, not great but good enough to tide me over.
The height was a bit restricted and the fabric touched my head and my feet when I lay down, but it was good enough for an OK night’s sleep. The next day, as I walked, I thought about how I might improve my bodge.
If I tied the knot a bit higher, then it would improve the headroom, but I needed to find a way of securing the apex of the inner at a lower height to tension the walls more effectively. Why not use a bit of cord from my repair kit to make a new loop secured under the knot in the inner tent?
I’m hoping to got to Dartmoor in the middle of this week for a final Challenge limber up. If I go, I will be taking the Trailstar for another test. Yesterday, I had another play in the back garden with it.
I’m starting to get the hang of pitching it. It’s still not totally straightforward on our sloping garden lawn. I wanted not just to practice pitching, but to experiment with the positioning of the OookStar nest. Instead of pitching the nest at the back, I pitched it to one side, as James of Backpackingbongos suggested.
This gives another option depending on the slope of the ground, which could be handy. On the whole, as a default position, I think I prefer it. It is actually easier to get in and out of the nest. Unless the wind is blowing into the door, it’s well protected against rain. If the wind was blowing in the door, it’s a simple operation to change the direction of the door panel.
I also experimented with my Team IO Laser Competition spinnaker tent footprint as a porch groundsheet. To secure it, I used the thin titanium pegs that were supplied with the F10 Nitro Lite. I was very pleased with it. Although slightly heavier than using double glazing film (as some others use), it is robust and, at 75g, is very light. It can also double as an inner tent footprint for the OookStar should I need it.
I’ve made a couple of other tweaks. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos. I’ve added a small karabiner to the loop that secures the glove hook at the apex of the Trailstar. It’s a lot easier to hook the OookStar to the karabiner than the glove hook.
Secondly, I’ve added a loop of cord to the grosgrain loop at the apex of the OookStar, so I can tie the apex of the OookStar to the trekking pole supporting the Trailstar. This pulls the nest forward and tightens the fabric panels, for a better pitch. I’ll take a photo to explain when I’m out next.
I’m still waiting for some Black Diamond flicklock poles. Unfortunately, the first pair had a fault, so I’m waiting for a replacement set. I think flicklocks are much better for the Trailstar.
Earlier in the year, as a birthday present, I bought myself a Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar. I’ve got a few tents, but, hey why not? I know it’s meant to be a single skin shelter, but I like double wall shelters. I know many will disagree and think I’m a heretic, but I don’t care. So, some time ago I ordered an OookStar nest to go with it. As many of you know, I’ve made friends with Sean, maker of Oook things. He’s gone through some difficult times recently, so I was happy to be patient. Today, my bundle of joy arrived.
My OookStar arrived in a rather nice maroon stuffsack. The weight, including stuffsack, is 432g. The specification is Chikara floor, ripstop walls with half mesh doors plus a mesh inner pocket. One small addition is a grosgrain strip below the door zip, which I dubbed the anti-tick strip. The idea being that I will spray it with permethrin to deter insects from invading the nest. This morning I pitched it in the garden. Here’s some pictures:
The workmanship is first class.
I really like the new silky ripstop material.
The floor area is greater than I expected.
Easily enough room for a full length sleeping mat plus gear.
This is the grosgrain anti-tick strip.
The next step was to try it inside the Trailstar.
It fits very well. This is pitched at 120cm, but I found 125cm was better (not shown).
While there’s a lot of room, it’s not for tall people. It’s fine for average people like me.
I like pockets in tents 🙂
One little tweak was to add a cord grip to the shock cord attachment for the base of the pole. For choice, I’d like a slightly smaller cord grip, but it works.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the OookStar. The quality of the workmanship is excellent. It fits the Trailstar really well. Even with the nest, there’s a huge amount of space in the Trailstar. My only real reservation about the Trailstar is its enormous footprint. I’m now thinking of when I can give it a trial run.
Disclosure: This OookStar was purchased with my own funds. I have no formal relationship with OookWorks, but Sean and I are friends and we do talk about designs 🙂
At the moment there’s not much going on here on the backpacking front. We’re having a new bathroom installed. The finish date is indeterminate at the moment, so until that’s clear, I doubt I’ll be going anywhere. We’ve also got a test match coming up soon, so it looks like the earliest I’ll be able to go somewhere is the end of July.
So, just to keep you entertained, I thought I’d highlight a couple of things that Sean at OookWorks has been developing. Firstly, he’s been working on a lightweight bug bivy called the BugritBivy. This will probably not be available until next year, but looks an interesting bit of gear for a single skin tarp shelter. Total weight is 209g
The second development is a two person nest for the MLD Duomid called the 2Oookan Duomid Nest. It weighs 440g, which is only 125g more than my solo cuben hybrid nest. The Duomid is easily large enough to accommodate two people, although storage space is limited and the porch becomes quite small. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting option and Sean is adding it to his core range.
One of the advantages of a shelter like the Duomid is that it is modular, and different nests can provide different functionality. I may get Sean to make me a nest with solid side and rear walls for use outside summer as I find mesh a bit draughty. It’s good to see Sean back in action and developing new products.
So far all of OookWorks products have been “made to order”. A few days ago, Sean introduced some tarps and groundsheets (tubs) which are stock items and could be delivered immediately. I was interested in the OookTub as it would give me some flexibility to use my Duomid or possibly Scarp as a single skin shelter. I could have bought a flat groundsheet, but I feel more secure with a tray type groundsheet, given the number of times I’ve had rivulets run under a tent.
While £60 is approximately double the cost of a quality flat groundsheet, you get a high level of workmanship (as usual with OookWorks) and four corner struts with adjustable shockcord that makes a perfect bath tub groundsheet (220cm x 75cm, 150g without stuff sack, 159g with stuff sack).
It’s big enough to accommodate an Exped Synmat UL with space to spare.
Fits perfectly inside my cuben MLD Duomid. The mat is the Nemo Zor short.
I’ve always wondered about using the Tarptent Scarp 1 as a single skin shelter.
Without the inner, the space is huge.
The OookTub fits perfectly.
The Scarp inner weighs 470g, so substituting the OookTub would save around 320g.
So the OookTub introduces some interesting summer options (as long as there aren’t bugs about!).
You can find more details here.
Disclaimer: my OookTub was purchased with my own funds.
Most OookWorks products are bespoke and made to order. However, Sean has produced some Oooktubs and tarps for immediate purchase. So there’s no waiting. Instant gratification. Stocks are limited, so get in quick!
In case you’ve not seen it, Sean has a new blog post on OookWorks explaining what happened and a bit about the future. Hopefully, it answers a few questions and helps people understand why things have not always worked out as planned.
This morning my MLD Duomid arrived back from the US. Excellent service from Ron. He’s repaired and reinforced the panel linelok with an extra layer of cuben and done a very neat job.
Above you can just about make out the patch on the outside. Below shows the repair on the inside of the fly.
The pull out is now extremely strong, in fact stronger than the others. It’s also hardly noticeable, so well done MLD. I was a bit sceptical that it could be repaired but MLD has done a great job. I shall be taking it to Dartmoor now, along with the OookWorks hybrid inner, which also arrived today after a little tweak by Sean. More pictures after my trip!
It was good to meet Sean, the man behind OookWorks in the Carneddau. He came bearing a very special package, my new Duomid hybrid inner. We’ve been plotting this little baby since November. The original brief was to make an inner for the Duomid that would weigh less than 300g. The first plan was to have walls which were half cuben, half mesh. However, on reflection and the experiences of Blogger Zed and his cuben walled Trailstar shelter, I decided that the end walls should be ripstop to allow some transpiration of water vapour but the long walls should remain cuben. The walls are 50cm high; enough to keep out breezes. I also wanted two pockets. The floor is a rather lovely grey Chikara. The end result weighs 315g, slightly above the anticipated weight, but small change in the overall scheme of things.
Now I think you will agree, when you see the pictures, Sean has done an absolutely outstanding job. I feel like I have the Rolls Royce of inners. I was stunned by its beauty when I first pitched it. The old nest is very good, but this one is jaw droppingly good. Normally, it takes a few tries to get the pitch right, but this ones pitched perfectly virtually from the word go.
The new bathtub groundsheet with corner struts has made a huge difference to the pitch. Although it is slightly shorter than the old inner, the upright walls of the bathtub make it feel bigger. Using Chikara was a bit of a punt when we originally talked about it, but I think its going to be good. It feels reassuringly robust, unlike a cuben groundsheet. It is slightly slippery, but less so than silnylon. It does rustle slightly but not that you’d notice. It also shrugs off moisture well. So much so, that it was hardly wet when I packed next morning.
The combination of ripstop and cuben is pleasing both aesthetically and functionally. OK it was only one night, but there was no condensation at either end, nor on the cuben walls. I can imagine there may be times where I might get some dampness on the cuben, but I won’t get a damp sleeping bag foot. The mesh above the solid walls, makes for a pleasantly airy feel. In the old inner, it could feel a little claustrophobic at times, but the mesh changes that completely.
The new linelok tensioning system at the apex is much better than the previous shock cord system. It makes for a perfect “drape”. Another innovation is that the mid-level shock cord tensioners can be adjusted from inside the tent. Not surprisingly, the whole thing packs down very small. The cost was £180, which I consider extremely reasonable for a high quality piece of work. If you want one, it may cost you a bit more, as I know that materials costs have risen since I paid for mine last year. However, when you consider the work and care that goes into these and that many people don’t think twice about blowing £250 on a waterproof jacket, I think it’s a bit of a bargain.
You can stop blushing now, Sean. More pictures from Sean’s blog can be seen here.
This piece of gear was bought with my own money and I have no interest, financial or otherwise, in OookWorks, in case you are wondering. I do think that Sean is a jolly nice chap, though.