My new pack was waiting for me when I got home. I’ve had a quick play with it, but don’t have any stuff to put in it at the moment! Happily, it is definitely NOT too big (one of my concerns). Here is a photo of it on:
(Yes, I have pyjamas on)
So far, I love it . . . . and am really looking forward to taking it out for a walk to see how it goes.
I also took my new shoes for their first walk. Unfortunately they didn’t feel amazing, but hopefully will just need a bit of “wearing in”.
I’ve also been feeling a bit of urgency to make a decision on a tent, as there can be a bit of a delay in delivery sometimes. Luckily, a friend has offered to lend me his 0.845kg Macpac Zenith (1p) tent. While this tent doesn’t match my buying criteria (looking for 2P and freestanding) it should be fantastic for my trip. And even lighter than the ones I was looking for, which leaves me more weight allowance for food!!
I’ve realised how crazy it is to plan such a big hike without any previous hiking/camping experience. There are simply so many things that I won’t know about until I’m out there (ie in a tent, do I really want/need freestanding, side or front doors, double walls, 2P etc etc), yet I’m trying to buy very expensive equipment to use for (hopefully) years to come. Being able to borrow some key gear will let me get the experience, and then make better purchasing decisions in the future.
So, while I’m probably not buying a tent now, here are my thoughts on the tents I’ve been looking at:
Here are some of their key features (in my mind):
Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 (http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/tents-and-spares/all-tents/solar-photon-2-tent/)
Freestanding? Mostly – has a Y shaped pole setup with two poles at the front and one running down the centre to the back. Means it stands up but you really need to peg the back corners to get the most out of it.
Door/Vestibule: One front door, limited vestibule space around this.
Inner Layer: Solid w mesh door
Durability: Standard Si Nylon lightweight material is not super hardwearing, but is given a pretty good rap by Outdoor Gear Lab.
Biggest Pro: This had a really good review from OutdoorGearLab, no real downsides other than price.
Biggest Concern: They seem to be out of stock everywhere except Backpacking Light Melbourne so I’m worried if I don’t get one now I won’t be able to.
Big Sky Evolution 2 (http://www.bigskyinternational.com/SummitShelters/Big_Sky_Evolution_2P_details.htm)
Weight: 1.4kg (can knock off ~0.2 with choosing lightweight options and adding another ~US$150 on!) – they say 1.2 but that is with no pegs/guylines etc.
Freestanding: YES. True freestanding with 2 complete crossover poles that attach in each corner
Door/Vestibule: 2! one on each side, decent sized vestibules with each.
Inner Layer: Mesh – allows for setup without fly in fine weather for lovely stargazing at night or bug free psuedo alfresco hanging out during the day.
Durability: couldn’t find any useful reviews but their website says their SuprSil fabric is however many times stronger than standard Si Nylon.
Biggest Pro: Entirely freestanding, 2 doors/vestibules would be cool, I like the idea of setting up without the fly and being able to skygaze etc. (although apparently solid walls give better protection and comfort)
Biggest Concern: WEIGHT (an extra half a kilo is substantial). Is it really more durable? Is the more symmetrical (dome-ish) design going to stand up to weather/wind as well as the elongated Solar Photon? Not many reviews to judge this off.
Big Sky also have the Revolution, which is very similar to the Evolution but a fraction heavier. It seems to have 3 poles which sit outside the fly (apparently make it sturdier in weather). It gives the option of leaving the inner attached to the fly so it stays dry when pitching in the wet, OR even of just pitching the fly without the inner. Pretty sure you can’t then just pitch the inner without the fly, so it’s kind of opposite the Evolution in that way. (http://www.bigskyinternational.com/SummitShelters/Big_Sky_Revolution_2P_details.htm)
So, basically the Big Sky looks more comfortable and has better, cooler features. However it is also 400g heavier (or 200 grams heavier and more expensive). It may or may not be more durable/weather suitable. Are those features worth 400g??
(Clearly I’m not that concerned about actual size, although both these tents are supposedly quite spacious for what they are. The simple fact is that I’m tiny and I’m already getting a 2 person tent so it’s not like it’s going to be an issue for me!)