Tag Archives: Scarp

Garden camping

As we are all in lockdown and no idea of when we will get out, I decided to follow the example of a fellow blogger, Matt (https://backpackartist.com) and camp for a night in my back garden.

Normally camping in our back garden would require earplugs to cut out the noise from traffic and aircraft. However, at the moment, everything is eerily quiet. The only thing that disturbed me was the noise of some cats fighting at about 3am.

I used my new Scarp. It reminded me of what a fabulous tent it is. The only problem I had was finding a spot in our garden that wasn’t sloping too much. Just for old time’s sake, I used my Alpkit Pipedream 600 sleeping bag. It was a bit too warm to start with so I used it like a quilt. As it got cooler I reverted to sleeping bag mode. It was nice to sleep outside for a night. Who knows when we will get an opportunity to do it in the wilds.

Tarptent Scarp 1 Mk3 First Outing

Over the last ten years or so I’ve probably used the Tarptent Scarp 1 more than any other tent. My original Scarp was getting a bit tatty, so when I had the opportunity to pick up a second hand unused latest version of the Scarp, I leapt at the chance. I’ve listed the main changes in the new version in another blog post, so I won’t repeat them.

I’ve been itching to try it out, so my trip to the Lakes recently provided a good opportunity to put it though its paces. As I wasn’t walking far from Brothers Water to Deepdale (four miles) and it was winter, I decided to pack the crossing poles and I was glad I did! Believe it or not, this was the first time I had used them in the wild.

My pitch was one I had used a couple of times before near the head of Deepdale, below Greenhow End. Although it’s not far from Patterdale, it has a real feeling of remoteness. I knew that some showers were due in late afternoon, so I was pitched by around 3:30pm.

In terms of pitching, the new Scarp is really no different than the older version. I had replaced the corner cord with 2.8mm MLD reflective cord, to avoid any slippage through the line locks. The main difference with the crossing poles is the new clips to attach the poles to the fly, which are a real improvement.

The biggest thing you notice about using the crossing poles is how solid the Scarp becomes. They really lock the apex of the pole arch and the corners, so it is virtually free standing. I was grateful for this stability in the early evening when the wind picked up and became very gusty. The Scarp felt rock solid. I think the double side guys also helped.

It also rained quite heavily for a couple of hours. The tent had been seam sealed by Tarptent and I’m pleased to report there was no water ingress whatsoever. One of the great things about the Scarp is it feels safe no matter the weather, which is why I used it on three of my TGO Challenges.

The biggest change between the versions is the new inner where you can adjust the width at the midpoint on both sides, so you can have as much or as little porch as you want. I pulled it out to its maximum width on one side, but there was still enough room to store my rucksack (Lightwave Ultrahike) on its side between the fly and the inner.

It was really easy to adjust the inner with a sliding buckle. On the other side, I had a normal sized porch for cooking and storage. I was a little concerned that the door material might be a bit loose and flap, but that didn’t seem to be an issue. That little bit of extra width makes a big difference in perceived roominess, especially as I had the rectangular Exped Downmat UL, which is a bit bulky.

I wasn’t hugely impressed by the new mesh pockets. I think more conventional rectangular ones would be better but they are fine for holding glasses and a torch. It’s a shame that they are not at both ends. I’ve fitted some removable cuben ones at the opposite end, so I can sleep with my head at either end.

I like the new fly and groundsheet materials and the fly colour. As I mentioned, on this brief test, they seemed very waterproof. The repositioned vents are also an improvement as occasionally the odd drop of water could be blown through the old roof vents.

One thing to note is the pitchloc struts are removeable and it’s worth tightening the securing buckles so they don’t fall out and the end material doesn’t flap. The new style waterproof fly zips ran smoothly and there’s no flap to catch, unlike the old fly.

Often second or third iterations of products run the risk of degrading them from the original functionality either by changing essential features or by adding superfluous features. I’m pleased to report that all of the changes to the Scarp have improved on the previous version and I wouldn’t reverse any of them.

Overall, I’m really pleased with the new Scarp. It’s still one of the best one man mountain tents on the market.

Disclaimer: I have no relationship with Tarptent

Deepdale and Angle Tarn

Here’s a short slide show of my trip to the Lake District last weekend. Apart from “just getting out”, it was also an opportunity to test my new Scarp 1 and to see how my knee is healing.

I stayed at Brothers Water in my camper van for the first night, then walked to Deepdale for an overnight camp before walking back the next day. It was wet and windy overnight, but the Scarp was fine and very stable with the crossing poles. Although the temperature didn’t get below freezing in the tent, the wind was bitterly cold in the morning.

The next day I did a circular day walk to Angle Tarn and back. It was a lovely morning, although still very cold. It clouded over at midday, which made it feel even colder. It was a lovely walk though and thoroughly recommended, with great views across to Fairfield and Helvellyn.

Overall my knee is improving and apart from the odd twinge I had no problems (I did wear a knee support though). I’m hopeful that I’m close to getting back to normal although I need to do a couple of full days with a pack before I really know.

Tarptent Scarp 1 mk3 first look

Picture courtesy of Tarptent

I’ve had my Scarp 1 for nearly ten years now and was considering whether to buy the new updated version when someone contacted me asking whether I would like to buy their unused mk3 Scarp. After a couple of days consideration, I decided to take the plunge. While my old Scarp is still serviceable, the new Scarp has some attractive new features.

Because it’s been so wet, I’ve not set it up in the garden, I’ve only put it up in the garage with the crossing poles, so I can only give my first impressions. When the Scarp first came out there were some questions about the consistency of quality control. Obviously I can only comment on the one I have, but the quality of the workmanship seems to be of a high standard. My old one was fine but there were a few places where the stitching was untidy, but this looks very good. It has been seem sealed by Tarptent and that has been done very neatly too.

I think all the changes and improvements have been positive and worthwhile. I’ll group them into major and minor.

Major changes

  • New flysheet and groundsheet materials. These seem higher quality and more robust. The flysheet colour has changed too from a silver grey to a green grey, which I like.
  • Larger, adjustable width inner. This is genius. It gives an appreciable increase in floor area, but allows the porch widths to be adjusted as desired. I was a bit sceptical, but it’s brilliant.
  • Flysheet vents moved to above the doors. This is better than the old roof vents allowing for more adjustability and (hopefully) means that any potential ingress won’t fall on the inner.
  • Stronger, stiffer pole.
  • Two way, water resistant fly door zips. These are much better than the old conventional zips with a flap. Time will tell how robust they are but they move easily and a two way zip enhances the ventilation options.
  • Double side guying points on each side of the pole hoop. This is so much better than a single tie out and should give much better stability, much like the Hilleberg Akto.
  • Larger inner tent pockets. Much better than the small ones on the original version. It’s a shame they are only at one end.

Minor changes

  • Clips for the crossing poles. An improvement on the old glove hook ones plus the velcro attachments at the corners have been improved.
  • Better elastic attachments for the inner. These have been redesigned and have more give, so it’s less likely to be stressed.
  • Pole inserts are pockets rather than eyelets. The poles are less likely to slip out when erecting the tent.
  • Flysheet height adjuster is grosgrain rather than cord. Much neater and easier to adjust. There’s also a piece of elastic which pulls the fly edge up when the grosgrain tensioner is released, which is neat.
  • PitchLoc struts are more easily removed. These have tensioners which means the struts can be easily removed/replaced.
  • Inner tent door tie backs are now elastic rather than grosgrain, which is easier to use.

I think that’s pretty much all the changes I can see between my original and this version. Of course, I have made a couple of tweaks. I’ve changed the corner guys to thicker MLD cord. I’ve also added threshold cords to ease the strain on the doors using a linelok and some spare cord. The weight without pegs is approximately 1.45kg.

It’s unlikely I will be out backpacking before March, maybe April, so I won’t be able give it a proper test, but I’m very pleased with it. I’ll do another assessment of it when I’ve used it. Sorry about the lack of photos, but I didn’t see much point of showing it in my garage! Overall, I think the changes have made a great tent even better.

Disclaimer: I have no relationship, financial or otherwise with Tarptent

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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

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

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Without the inner, the space is huge.

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The OookTub fits perfectly.

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

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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.

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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.