Tag Archives: Scarp

Old Friends: Scarp 1 and Lightwave Ultrahike 60

For my little bimble to Wiley Gill I reacquainted myself with a couple of old friends, the Scarp 1 and the Lightwave Ultrahike 60. What a pleasure! It’s about two years since I’ve used the Scarp and longer since I’ve used the Ultrahike.

I love the Scarp. It’s just the right size. Large enough to spread out all your gear, yet still quite compact. It’s so easy to pitch too. After using mids for the past two years, the extra headroom both lying down and sitting up was luxurious. I love having two porches as well. It would be nice if it was a bit lighter but it’s difficult to see how this can be achieved economically or without compromising the design. It’s certainly one of the best tents ever made.

The Lightwave Ultrahike 60 is also a great design. In particular, the split hipbelt makes for possibly one of the best carries of any rucksack. Ok, it’s a bit heavier than something like the GG Mariposa, but it is a joy to strap on your back. It’s nice to have a lid pocket too. The only drawback is a lack of hipbelt pockets. To compensate I used a lightweight Inov-8 belt pack (reversed) for bits and pieces I needed to access quickly.

Both the Scarp and Ultrahike have stood the test of time and are still in production, albeit the Scarp has been slightly modified. Where weight is not the ultimate criteria, it’s difficult to better either.

Advertisements

Tarptent Scarp 1 mk3

Henry Shires has just announced some changes to the Scarp 1: a wider adjustable inner tent, new inner tent pockets and a stronger pole.

The new inner uses a similar system to the Moment DW so it can be adjusted to fit two sleeping mats. This means you can choose whether to have two porches or to have a wider inner with only one porch. According to a comment by Henry on the Trek Lite forum, this adds about 30g to the weight.

Although there is more than adequate interior space in the Mk2 Scarp, I can see that it might be useful to have some extra space. I like the idea of having the option of more room or a free porch.

Better inner tent pockets is a good move as the old ones were of little use. A stronger pole is also a good upgrade, although I’ve already got a stronger pole that I took from a defunct Marmot tent I used to own.

It’s great to see a manufacturer making sensible upgrades to an existing design that is already very good. I still think the Scarp 1 is one of the best tents ever made. While there is an option to buy and retro fit the inner, I think I’ll probably wait to see whether there are any other developments before considering replacing my existing Scarp. You can find my long-term review of the Scarp 1 here .

Scarp scare

This afternoon I pitched my Scarp in the back garden. The main task was to apply some permethrin to the mesh to deter any midges. I also applied permethrin to the door zip as protection against ticks. I’ve been told by a fisherman in Scotland that midges avoid lavender. So I’ve also sprayed the mesh with lavender linen scent. I don’t know whether it will work, but it smells nice! While I was about it, I put some permethrin on the bottoms of my trousers.

20140503-170351.jpg

In the course of this frenzy of activity, to my horror, I discovered that one of the grosgrain loops for the side guys was becoming detached. The stitching that secured it to the pole hoop had run. I’m glad I spotted this before going to Scotland.

20140503-170649.jpg

So it was out with the needle and thread. I decided to use some strong nylon thread rather than polyester. It was relatively easy to reattach the loop. To be on the safe side I stitched back and forth three times. For good measure, I added some seam sealant to ensure any loose stitches don’t run.

20140503-170941.jpg

I thought it wise to add some stitches to the guying loop on the other side. I dearly love the Scarp, but some of the stitching is not of the highest quality. If you own a Scarp, it’s worth having a good check every so often to make sure everything is in order.

2013: gear review

It may surprise you but I haven’t bought much gear this year. However, I’ve made plenty of posts on gear. So here’s a round up of some thoughts on the gear that I’ve used in 2013.

Shelters

The tent I’ve used most this year has been the Force Ten Nitro Lite 200, which I bought near the end of 2012. I’ve always wanted a tunnel tent. While it’s very good tent, I’ve found it needs several modifications to make it into an excellent tent.

DSC01140

For the modest weight, you get an amazing amount of room, all of which is usable, unlike some other designs. With the double side guys and Tension Band System, it is very stable, although side-on winds will always make tunnel tents flap a bit. Generally, it’s a well thought out design and I like it a lot.

P1030495

For many, the million dollar question is: “is it better than the Scarp1?”. Back in January, I did a long-term review of the Scarp, which I think is one of the best tents ever designed.

My answer is still that the Scarp is slightly better but the gap has narrowed. My reason for still preferring the Scarp is that it sheds wind in all directions, even side on, which means it is more flexible when selecting a pitch. Like the Nitro, the Scarp needs some modifications to push it into the excellent category, which you can find here.

The other shelter that I used during the year was my cuben MLD Duomid. You won’t be surprised that I modified that as well! I still like the Duomid, especially for summer. During the year I acquired a MLD Trailstar and OookStar inner. As yet, I’ve not tried them out, but I’m looking forward to using them.

Packs

I’ve only used one pack this year: the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. I think it’s an excellent pack and I posted a long-term review in August. In October, I bought an AirBeam frame for the Mariposa. I’m looking forward to using it.

DSC00036

Sleeping mats

Sleeping mats have become a bit of a topic in backpacking circles, with the initial enthusiasm for air mats mats fading as longevity and puncture issues became apparent. I wrote an assessment back in January. This year, I’ve mainly used the Nemo Zor self inflating mat. I’ve found it more comfortable than I’d expected and will continue to use it, especially with my bespoke silk cover.

DSC00378

As Tucas cuben stuff sacks

Near the end of this year, I ordered some cuben stuff sacks from a new cottage manufacturer in Spain, As Tucas. After my initial order, I liaised with Marco and ordered a bespoke cuben rucksack liner/drybag. Obviously, I’ve not tried these yet, but the workmanship is very good. Marco has some other interesting items and is open to bespoke orders, so go and have a look.

photo

Fuel4: a potential game changer?

In November, I was sent a free sample of a new fuel for backpackers by Fuel4. Fuel4 is an alcohol jelly. I did some tests and was impressed. For me it addresses two of the major drawbacks of meths: the smell and soot deposits. I shall do some field tests in 2014 and report back. I still like the immediacy and convenience of gas, but can see the attractions of Fuel4.

IMG_0559

Boots

As most of you know, I prefer mid boots for walking. While I’ve used trail shoes, most of the time, I just prefer mids. It’s a personal thing. I’ve been a big fan of Salomon Fastpackers but they are now out of production. The nearest replacement is the X Ultra Mids, which I used in the Lake District in September. To my delight, these are even better than the Fastpackers. They are even more comfortable and have a better grip.

DSC01098

Clothes

There’s not been much new in the way of clothes, but two items I used for the first time in 2013 were my Paramo Fuera Ascent jacket and Mountain Equipment Ibex trousers. The Ibex trousers (not pants!) are superb. They are by far the best soft shell trousers I’ve tried. I’m seriously thinking of using them for the Challenge. I also like the Fuera Ascent windproof. OK, it’s quite heavy, but it’s a lovely jacket with fantastic venting. For summer, though, I really like the Rohan Windshadow jacket as a windproof. It’s a shame the hood isn’t better designed. I also like the Rohan Pacific shirt in summer.

DSC00382

Lifeproof Fre iPhone 5 case

Lastly, if you’re an iPhone user, it’s well worth considering the Lifeproof Fre case. It makes your iPhone waterproof and shock resistant but is low weight and surprisingly slim. I’ve started using my iPhone as a GPS and have 1:50,000 maps on it. Since buying this case, my SatMap has become redundant. I liked the case so much, I bought a second case in lime green, so it stands out more if I drop it.DSC01169

Disclosure: with the exception of Fuel4, all these items were purchased with my own money. Fuel4 sent me a free sample to test. I have no formal or financial relationships with any gear manufacturers or retailers.

OookTub first look

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.

IMG_0471

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).

IMG_0472

It’s big enough to accommodate an Exped Synmat UL with space to spare.

IMG_0474

Fits perfectly inside my cuben MLD Duomid. The mat is the Nemo Zor short.

IMG_0473

I’ve always wondered about using the Tarptent Scarp 1 as a single skin shelter.

IMG_0475

Without the inner, the space is huge.

IMG_0476

The OookTub fits perfectly.

IMG_0477

The Scarp inner weighs 470g, so substituting the OookTub would save around 320g.

IMG_0478

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.

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.

P1000636

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.

DSC00568

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.

DSC00567

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.

DSC00569

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.

DSC00570

MYOG zip pullers

DSC00516

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.

DSC00573

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.

DSC00561

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.

20130419-104517.jpg

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.

DSC00561

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.

DSC00562

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.

DSC00572

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.

DSC00563

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.

DSC00514

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.

DSC00566

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.

DSC00571

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!