A night at minus 4 in the Trekkertent Stealth 1

The Trekkertent Stealth 1 in the snow and high wind on its first outing

The Trekkertent Stealth 1 in the snow and high wind on its first outing

I’m not sure what the overnight wind speed was on the Lakeland fell where I tried out the new Trekkertent Stealth 1, an ultralight (755g) one-person tent, but by the morning, along with the horizontal snow, it was up to a bitter 30-40mph. The Stealth, I’m pleased to say, was rock solid even in a broadside wind which, of course, had turned as I slept.

What astonished me most was the internal/external temperature difference. The reading on my watch (hanging from a temporary ridge line in the roof – see below) was 2 degrees before I opened the inner and outer door. The temperature outside, recorded five minutes later, was minus 4. This trapping of heat is the one big plus with a small sleeping area and solid fabric.

Best of all, though, there was no condensation. Not even inside the fly, with such a large temperature difference. This was partly due to the fly pitching slightly off the ground. Quite amazing.

I had been expecting good things of the Trekkertent. Marc, the proprietor, has been amazingly helpful in the production and delivery of my particular Stealth. His business, based in Perth, seems to be flourishing with a full order book and now a minimum six-week delivery on some of his tents.

What makes him special is that he listens and, more often than not, adopts some part of the suggestions made by his clients. At the time of my original order with the mesh inner, Marc was starting to get requests for a solid fabric version, to make the Stealth a four-season option – essential in the UK. After discussing production times, I decided to hold off for this one.

I’m predominantly left handed, so I asked to have the outer door switched over, and the inner to be made with two zips instead of one to open up the full triangle for better access. Don’t get me wrong, Marc is not making individual custom tents – these changes are done at his discretion and will not radically alter his production process. If you order a Stealth – you get a Stealth. However, it seems you may now get an inner door with two zips instead of one. Products evolve.

Like all new things, there are pros and cons, but for me, it’s a brilliant tent, a brilliant tarp, and in the warm, dry summer evenings, the mesh inner will be a brilliant bug-free bivvy to sleep under the stars.

Yes, the inner is a small space, but it’s no smaller than a Zephyros or even its expensive counterpart the Laser Comp. If you want a tent for living in, buy a bigger tent. If it’s just for sheltering from bad weather or to sleep in after a long day, accept what you have, adapt your gear, and you’ve cracked it!

The outer tarp

Trekkertent Stealth 1 A-frame set up

Trekking poles create an A-frame set up

I chose the slightly heavier 40D green Sil Nylon material as I felt it would be more robust. The optional extra storm guys were added to the long sides for peace of mind and Trekkertent’s innovative self-tensioners supplied as well. The door has a full two-way zip and storm flap with Velcro patches along the length of the closure. The Velcro is difficult to seal from the inside once the zip is closed, but a brush along the seam with the back of the hand does the job.

In its tarp set up, it’s very roomy, particularly if you use your poles as an A-frame. If you were to tie the front guy high up on a tree trunk or strong branch, you would have a completely open and trip-free entrance. To do this with your trekking poles, you will need an additional guy and pole for the rear. I had one made by Bear Bones Bivvy Gear. It’s a three-section folding DAC pole, which travels either rolled up in the tent or fits snugly inside your pack. I roll mine in a thin nylon groundsheet, not to protect the pole but the items in my sack.

Bear Bones Bivvy Gear rear pole

Bear Bones Bivvy Gear rear pole

The Stealth is designed to be used with two trekking poles, one at each end. There are tapes and rings sewn in to hold these in place. The rear rings, yes, there are two, allow for different thicknesses of pole points. Cleverly thought out. The tape from the rear ridge line is long enough to pull the fabric up and out, at the same time giving strength to the structure. It also keeps the pole away from the vent in the rear of the tent.

The front trekking pole sits in a ring set into a tape with a leather backing to it, inside the highest point. The backing is there to stop the pole’s tungsten tip piercing the outer fabric. Make sure this is seated properly in the ring before tightening the main guy. Attached to this ring and tape is the main guy to the door peg. Make sure you use a long ground peg for this one, as the two door panel ties attach to the same peg!

The stitching on the tarp is interesting. It’s rare to see the ridge line on a tarp being stitched. Then you realise this is done to give strength to the structure when the fabric is pulled taut. And this tent, according to Marc, is designed to be pulled very taut. Stitching overall is okay – it does the job – but remember, this is not a Hilleberg.

Some of the overlaps and edging, particularly on the bathtub corners and rear fly apex, could have been folded and joined a little neater before stitching and seam sealing, but I have no doubt this will improve as the product and its production develop.

The seam sealing, particularly on the ridgeline is excellent. All tension areas are very well sealed too and, as this is manufactured under dry conditions, there’s not a grain of dust or grit anywhere under the silicone. All guy loops are reinforced with additional fabric and sealed too. Very reassuring.

Guy lines are Dyneema, ranging from 1.5mm to 2.5mm. The four tarp corners and one front flap have 2.5mm Dyneema with plastic LineLoc tensioners. These lines could be a little longer perhaps, to allow for a very open and high tarp pitch in warmer weather.

The two end guys, which have Mini LineLoc adjusters, are a good length and robust. I will, in true ‘weenie’ style, change these guys for brighter ones for my next trip, though, as black lines are very hard to see when blundering out for a pee in the pitch dark! These were put on at my request – my error! The learning process continues…

Trekkertent Stealth 1 fly with my addition of a Dyneema cord

The fly with my addition of a Dyneema cord

To get the correct or recommended pitch for the fly, I added a length of Dyneema across the door area tied off to 1500mm, clipped to the corner guy tabs with mini karabiners. Nothing new here – most tents these days have either a pre-adjusted cord or tape sewn in. Because this outer is also designed to be set up low and wide as a tarp, this wouldn’t be appropriate.

The fabric inner

Fabrics are strange animals. Some stretch, some don’t. Some stretch one way and not the other. The midge-proof mesh inner stretches four ways and so is completely taut in every direction when hung inside the fly. The Ripstop DWR used for the solid inner, doesn’t. This is not a design fault, it’s the nature of the fabric. This is an issue of cut and volume, and is being addressed by Trekkertent.

Marc has kindly agreed to swap out my version for its next incarnation, due in the next couple of weeks. As a temporary solution, I have employed Hilleberg’s idea of an inner ridgeline string (used on our Nallo GT3 as a clothes line) to lift the fabric. A 1mm length of Dyneema sewn to each end, with a squeeze tensioner in the middle, did the trick.

My temporary Dyneema ridgeline

My temporary Dyneema ridgeline

The inner is held in place by two toggles inserted into rings attached to each end of the fly, with the 125mm bathtub corners attached to the same corner ground pegs as the outer with 2.5mm shock cord. I had to shorten the front cords to pull the foot area away from the outer – this also seemed to help re-shape the inner.

No-see-um mesh vents are sewn into the inner’s back wall and the door, which keeps the area well ventilated but didn’t appear to be too draughty. The vents correspond to the position of the eyelid and stalk vents in the fly.

Summary

I’m not going full on into this with dimensions, materials used, prices et al. I will just give you a list of the most obvious pros and cons. Please visit Trekkertent.com for more detailed information. And, I should point out, that I am not connected to, or working on behalf of Trekkertent in any way. The tent reviewed was my own purchase and at full price. I just think if you like something, it’s worth shouting about.

Price

  • Green 40D Silnylon tarp, solid inner and additional storm guys £185.
  • Grey tarp with mesh inner £150.

Pros

  • Ultralight at 755g.
  • Uses trekking poles, which you will be carrying anyway. Tarp pitches open or closed – a very flexible and adaptive design, for a closed-in winter shelter and an airy tarp in the summer.
  • Internal guy attached to door peg – potentially no guys visible to trip over.
  • Alternate external A-frame set up using both trekking poles allows a clear front area and easy access to the inner. Front apex can also be tied directly to a branch without poles, although this is not recommended in high winds.
  • Simple pitching once the door cord is in place to get the correct width.
  • Clear pitching instruction are included.
  • Perfect for all types of adventure. Will sit nicely in the top of a touring pannier too!
  • Excellent price.
  • Factory seam-sealed.
  • Fabric inner can also be set up on its own for warmer European or US climates.

Cons

  • Stitching needs a little more care, but overall a very robust construction.
  • Slightly longer guy lines on the front flap and four corners of the fly would allow higher pitch. However, this is a mod you can do yourself.

My verdict

A brilliant tent. Simple lines, with innovation based on a classic, closed tarp design. Cosy without being claustrophobic. Well ventilated and condensation free. And lighter than my backpack!

If anyone has any comments, please feel free to post.

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From 30lb to 13lb, or how I cut my pack weight

Go to box

Welcome to my first post. I originally planned to write on all things ‘outdoors’, including my cycling – sport, leisure and adventure – fell walks, backpacking and wild camping trips, in the form of a diary. But I realised that, from your point of view, it will be a lot more useful – and probably less dull – if I share some of the knowledge I’ve gained about gear selection for backpacking and wild camping, to save you making the same mistakes that I have.

We’re brainwashed by advertising into thinking we need all sorts of fancy, expensive kit. In some cases this is true – in fact, you couldn’t survive without it – but there are other times when something simple and homemade, recycled, adapted and very often staring you in the face will do just as well, if not better.

Yes, there are thousands of blogs out there that touch on these topics, many written by people far more expert than me. But I aim to make this one slightly different. Some of what you read will be obvious to experienced backpackers and ultralighters, but I hope it will still provoke comment and discussion – and be helpful to anyone who chooses to drop by.

I want to start with some examples of gear I’ve built up over time, spread over several blogs – bite-sized chunks if you will.

In a recent Facebook post, Philip Werner of Sectionhiker.com put the ‘transitional threshold’ to become an ‘ultralight’ backpacker at a total pack weight of 10lb (4.5k). I’m still very much in the ‘lightweight’ category, as my base weight ranges from 13 to 16lb.

My reduction process from 20-30 plus has been a two-year journey so far, with what I expect to be many more miles to follow. Currently, I have no need to be ultralight, as I can comfortably carry 13 to 16lb all day. The TGO Challenge (the annual self-supported coast-to-coast walk across Scotland) is still on my bucket list, though, so who knows. Watch this space, as they say.

I’ve trialled, tested, built, re-built, sewed, trimmed, bought and sold and swapped many items of kit. I’ve listened to my peers, learned from my own uncomfortable and sometimes painful experiences, both physical and financial, but, above all, I’ve found the courage to accept when I got it wrong – and this is what I plan to share with you.

My biggest lesson learned is that there will always be better, lighter or smaller just round the corner – if you want it. Want and need are, of course, entirely different animals. More on that later!

Next post: Review: Trekkertent’s 2015 Stealth 1