(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 .
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.