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Test of two person tents

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Tent Test - Two person tents for cycletouring.

Last issue we looked at tents for the solo cyclist, this issue we go up in both weight and space to
look at what the same three companies, Vango, Jack Wolfskin and Terra Nova offer in their two
person tents.

Vango Hydra.

This is a classic three pole semi-geodesic tent. It pitches inner first and the outer is thrown over the
inner and pegged out. All fairly straightforward. It's made of the same tough ripstop Nylon as the
Micro in the last issue so when wet it does sag a little, the difference is that the three pole structure
takes up this slack keeping all but the bell-end bow taught. At 3 kgs it's the heaviest tent on test, but
also by a large margin the cheapest at around 190. It has plenty of room for two with ample sitting
room, and the inner first construcion gives it a lovely tight inner with no sags. The bell end is a little
limited in size due to the inner door not being vertical, but certainly the interior space is the best of
the group. It stood a force 8 gale with ease, not thrashing about or collapsing giving great
confidence. That the same company can produce such an excellent and good value product as the
Hydra one minute and yet a dog like the Micro the next is a mystery, but certainly the Hydra is a tent
I'd be more than happy to use, and simply cannot be bettered at the price.

Rating  7/10
Value  9/10

Jack Wolfskin Avalon

At 2.7 kgs this tent splits the other two on weight, and is a grown up version of the Rondane tested
last issue. Like it's smaller cousin it is a two hoop tunnel, though in this case with the bell-
end/entrance at one end rather than at the side. Quality is good without being spectacular, double
coated ripstop nylon for the fly YKK zips and those red "no-name" poles again. The groundsheet is
pretty thin, though waterproof, and there is a double Ripstop/net inner door to help ventilation.
Erection is very easy both inner and outer going up together. The snag is that this is basically an
outer first tent with the inner hung rather loosely inside. After the taught inners of the other two
tents I found that constantly wiping my head on the drooping and volumous inner got irritating, and
considerably lessened the inner space available, though the bell-end is large Additionally the inner is
pegged by short guys which are a nylon which stretches by about 10% when wet letting the whole
structure sag dramatically, the inner touching the outer at the foot end and giving wet feet. With the
large unsupported section between the poles it thrashed about a fair bit in a blow, though with
extensive guying points it survived without problems. Overall it was OK but my least favorite of the
tents and at 300 pricy too.

Rating  5/10

Value  5/10

Terra Nova Solar 2

This tent too costs 300, a lot of money, but for that you get something a bit special. At 2.4 kgs it is
a featherweight, and packs small enough to go into a pannier but has almost as much inner space as
the Hydra and a bigger bell-end. Made in Britain it just oozes quality, a tough groundsheet twice as
thick as the others, Easton Alloy poles - the best, and faultless stitching. It's an inner first tent, and
uses two crossed poles, a gripe here - they are very similar in length so could do with colour coding
in some way. It's pretty easy to put up otherwise, and pitches beautifully taught with no sagging
when wet. Otherwise all the good things that made the Solar 1 last issues winner are to be found,
with just the minor moan about misting through the unprotected outer zips, just don't put clothes in
the outer under the zips in bad rain and you'll be fine. In a blow it remained rock solid and silent, it
being very hard to believe that this was by far the lightest of the three. It has a double inner door and
is very well ventilated. The door is in the side and personally I'm not too keen on this as if I want to
get up for a pee in the night I have to climb over Kate or vice-versa. Otherwise another stonking tent
from Terra Nova and in view of the quality good value as well.

Overall 8/10

Value 9/10

Two winners this month and two tents I would be happy to use myself. True the Solar is the better,
in design, quality and weight, but then it is more expensive. Your call...