The Tent

(written by Ryan)

The tent is one of the most critical pieces of equipment. Of course nobody wants to sleep in a wet puddle, on the other hand, suffocating in a stove, just because the chosen tent hasn't enough ventilation, isn't very appealing either.

And if you even, like us, plan to cycle some of the most remote areas in the world, the list of requirements becomes quite long. Miri and I spent literally days looking for a tent until we found our mutual fortress (why this became the nickname will be clear later on), and here we want you to explain our toughts

Just some alloy and fabric, isn't it?  

Finding the right tent was hard, because this time Miri and I knew already what was important to us, and it was a long wishlist. The following properties were important:

  • Space: not less than 2x2m inner tent, because we want to take all our bags inside. This size had proven to be comfortable when we were travelling through Denmark. And it would be pretty absurd, if we started to argue with each other because we don't have enough space for our own. 
  • Waterproofness: pretty obvious I guess. Not less than 3000mm for the flysheet, preferably 10000mm for the floor. One has sometimes no choice where to pitch the tent, and I don't want to end up moist because the ground is too wet.
  • Sturdyness: again, just like the bikes, the tent should endure everything, from storm to snow. So weight isn't a topic, I rather carry too much than sleep without a proper shelter. Therefore our first choice would be a
  • Geodesic tent, also for the advantage to pitch it without pegs (which picks the "no choice where to pitch"-thought up).
  • It should be green. Probably, this sounds ridiculous, but we prefer to stay in the wild. So a bit of camouflage is surely not a bad idea.
  • Ventilation: This is a outstanding topic, because the tent needs to cover a wide range of climate. For warm regions, a good ventilation is very important (therefore, we need a lot of openings), but if it get's cold (and it will become very cold on our big tour, no doubt), we need the ability to close them. To kill two birds with one stone, the tent should have
  • two entrances. On one hand to provide said ventilation, on the other hand to prevent "traffic jams". It simplifies the daily routine a little bit, which is nice.
  • The possibility to pitch the inner tent without flysheet. Although this eleminates the option for a tent which can be pitched "flysheet first", we found this important because it prevents the tent from overheating even more in hot conditions. Also, the view of a starry night from your sleeping bag is invaluable.

 

And the winner is...

After extensive research (we checked over 50 brands), we chose the rather unknown "Lowland Mountaintracker". Lowland is a Dutch company, we found only through an Austrian retailer. The tent was barely acceptable for our budged, but when said retailer had a special offer, we decided to give it a try. Are we happy? Well, lets say, we give it 9/10 points. But let us explain... 

It offers everything we wanted, we have plenty space, even a second vestibule, which is useful if you want to deposit shoes and other equal smelly stuff...wait, there is nothing as bad as cyclists shoes...nevermind, lets carry on: we haven't had a real storm during our two months in Eastern Europe, but strong wind. Guess who gave not a single f**k about any gust of wind? Right, our fortress. I HONESTLY don't want to experience the weather, which makes the guy ropes necessary. We can adjust the temperature easily by closing the ventilation openings, haven't had condensed water a single time and pitched it several times without a single stake. Furthermore, pitching and striking takes approximately five minutes, which is still acceptable for this kind and size of a tent. There are nine bags at the walls, so we have plenty stowage. So if everything is so awesome, why 9/10 points?

Its simply because the seams weren't sealed. We learned the hard way, that this is common practice by siliconized tents, because the sealing can't be done by a machine and the producers want to keep the price in a reasonable range. So far so good. But while most brands provide at least some information about that, if not deliver the sealant with the tent, Lowland hasn't dropped a single hint. Thats why we substract one point from an otherwise perfect, although heavy (~6kg), tent.


 

Now that you are on the same page, lets see some pictures

Update from on the road

After roughly 8000km and many many nights in our fortress, we thought about sharing some news.

Firstly: We endured some stormy nights now (~80km/h gusts), and we couldn't be happier. Although sleep was not easy nonetheless, we felt quite comfortable and safe. And this was even on a very difficult surface with no way to use tent pegs (big stones did the job instead).

Second: Unfortunately, the two black poles seem to be too stressed. We had eight (!) breaks now, six of them in complete calm moments, only one during wind (which wasn't too strong either). Without Lowlands fast and straightforward customer service (they sent us a new pole), we would be in big trouble now. We are currently trying to get a different set of poles, because the Yunan Air Hercules seems not to be too suitable for the job.

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