Backpacking tent & pad

Hi guys
A little bit of help needed here…
Fairly inexperienced but in dire need of a light backpacking tent and sleeping pad.
Any recommendations for something easy to get hold of (need in 3 weeks) and not too expensive. Able to withstand reasonable rain and conditions anywhere in the country. The pad to be fairly comfortable (and insulated?).
I am of medium build (girl) so dont know sizes I can get away with but needless to say - as light as possible.
I always value the opinions aired here… thanks guys!

how many people must fit into your tent?
NatureHike currently has their old generation Cloud Up 2 tents on sale. Super light weight and comes at a very good price.

My recommendation for a 1-person tent would be the Naturehike Cycling Tent: Spider Ultralight 1 Person Tent – Naturehike Africa
Contrary to the name, it’s a great hiking tent and can handle some serious wind.

For the sleeping pad, check the out the JR Gear Traverse Core:

Just need for one person. But I guess extra space is always good, as long as it is light…
The Cloud Up 2 has been sold out on their site for a while now, had been looking at them.

Hey @Mel.i if you are looking for a lightweight 3-season tents then the Naturehike tents mentioned will be perfect. You can also look at the Vango tent range, specifically the Vango Blade. What is your intended use for the gear?

If you don’t know if you can get something online in time, Outdoor Warehouse, Trappers and Sportsman’s Warehouse usually carry First Ascent’s Starlight 2 and Lunar 2 tents (Both are three season two man tents)

As for sleeping pads you can usually find the inflatable ones in Outdoor Warehouse, Trappers or Cape Union Mart. They are small and light and the air between you and the ground helps keep you insulated.

perhaps give the guys at Naturehike a call and find out when the next batch will come in? unfortunately you won’t find anything else close to their price in the ulralight category. Vango has a couple of tents in their range that are quite light but not NH light. i think the First Ascent tents are good value for money, stronger but also heavier. can’t have it all - unless you fork out mega bucks :wink:

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Agree on a lot of the recommendations here. If you need to walk into a store, the First Ascent Starlight 2 is about as good as you can do. Have seen one take some reasonable rain and wind. Naturehike is the best bet overall in my opinion. The upgraded Cloud Up 2 is in stock, which I can recommend. The improvements are worth it in my opinion, side guylines deal with it otherwise being as bit of a sail, and the extra venting is nice. It is a tight squeeze for 2 people, and I would say a bit short of a tent if you are over 6 ft.

The Targa 2 has a good rep, but single wall over double wall and not free standing. And I see they now have something lighter called the VIKS which looks pretty solid, also single wall but possibly free standing. In general the Naturehike tents I own have been solid and up to our weather. It comes down to weight, single wall vs double, free standing and what you want to pay. Also just be a little weary if you are tall, check the dimensions.

Would be the other option if you want insulated in store here. Little lighter than the JR, and just join the first ascent mailing list to make up the price difference. Bit shorter and thinner, lower R value as well. though. To be frank I think everyone is completely thumbsucking their R values, as far as I know only a couple of the big manufacturers actually follow the standards.

Oh, also definitely go insulated on the air pad. Unless you are happy buying a summer and a winter setup. The weight just isn’t worth the loss in warmth, and they play a big role in retaining your heat, particularly in a down bag which compresses underneath you.

If it is not too late I would like to suggest a serious look at K-Way’s Nerolite2

It has as huge vestibule for cooking and it is even on special right now.

I have one but was not yet lucky enough to use it in really bad weather. It pitches easily and quickly.

It might seem like a lightweight in terms of specs but I have heard they can handle fairly rough weather.

Hi @mel.i,

I have the Cloud 2, it’s easy to set up, light and spacious for one (I’m 1.75m - if that’s any indication).

You can email them, they’ll order it for you and ship it :slight_smile:

Anywhere in the country is a bit of a broad description, as the country can be divided into two main hiking “regions”, so to speak, being lower level hiking and alpine hiking regions (i.e. escarpment of the Drakensbergover 3000m ASL). Alpine regions can have really bad weather, very strong winds and therefore requires more specialist gear. I’d be very hesitant to use any Naturehike tent in a bad storm on top of the Drakensberg (seen well known brands like Black Diamond tents suffer damage in berg storms). The one exception would be Vango tents - made in the UK and made to withstand heavy sustained winds. I have one, can’t remember the name of the tent but it weighs in at just under 2kg so not too heavy. 2man tent, their 1 man tents are even lighter. For bad weather I take my Hilleberg Nallo 3 (3 man tent weighing in at 2,6kg), been in super heavy winds in this one and it survived without a scratch. Very expensive though, but I rate the Vango as a very good, affordable all-round tent for SA.

Regarding sleeping mattresses/pads, I switchd over to the Thermarest Ridgerest mattress a couple of years ago. Very light, a bit bulky (you have to strap it to the outside of your pack) but can’t be punctured :slight_smile: Not enough padding for my hips on rocks, so what I always do is to take a piece of another cheap foam mattress along as well - this serves as my cushion around camp (rocks can get cold/wet/dirty) and when it’s time to tuck in I simply place it under my hip area, and can face a 10 hour sleep session comfortably. It’s also a bit cheaper than self inflating mattresses and about half the weight.



Decathlon also sells two trekking tents - one is freestanding and the other not. They claim the tents have been tested in 70kph winds from all direction (when i emailed naturehike they mentioned 50kph for tests, although this is unverified).

Bottom line, theres two more mid range options at an OK price. I can also vouch for the Kway Nerolite, a friend of mine has one.

As there is no ISO standards for the wind resistance testing of tents as far as I’m aware, the wind speed that can be withstood is a bit of a ambiguous topic. It should therefore be taken with a grain of salt, taking the reputation of the company in mind. A supplier could state that the testing wind speed is 70 Kph, however if they do not state if its sustained wind speed or a single gust the figure means very little. It might stand up to a gust of 70 Kph but fail under the same sustained wind speed, as fatigue failure of the stitching, material and poles start playing a role. Imagine bending the poles back and forth for hours at end.

Secondly, how each manufacturer judges the withstood wind speed might differ. Do you consider it as the wind speed that the tent is able to resist before it collapses/snaps a support pole (complete failure) or the wind speed where after it starts considerately losing its shape (sidewalls collapses). If they consider it as the former, you will be sleeping with a sidewall against your face at lower wind speeds than mentioned.

Apologies for the lecture :sleeping:…All I’m saying is that claimed wind speeds are not a conclusive indication of the stability/strength of a tent…

I’m with Riaang on the fact that I will not take a low budget tent to a above treeline alpine location such as the Drakensberg. I have been in a blizzard before where the only tent left standing was my Cadac Isotec, everything else was folded double and ripped to pieces…Including all our local brands

However if a mid-winter Drakensberg trip is not your purpose for the tent. Then any of the local 3- season tents already mentioned should be perfect.

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Thanks @vivo101 for the informative feedback, makes a lot of sense.

I have also been told a lot of the tents structure comes from how “tight” it pitches ie the forces are equally distributed. One of the reasons kway, naturehike etc seem b grade, theres some uneven pulling on the fabric even though it is pitched correctly. Which becomes even more of s problem with the super thin fabric used by NH.

Disclaimer, i dont own a tent myself and live in the WC, but am actively researching the topic. My current drool-tent is the Vango Mirage Pro 200.

Thanks for the feedback. It really is informative to follow forums like these - to get insight from experienced people!
For the immediate future, I am doing the Cederberg 5 day trail. The weather is said to be cold and windy, even rain? The others in the party is all using 4 season, your thoughts? I suppose it is better because I see the Drakensberg in my not too distant future as well. I usually had to decline invites because of improper gear… Needless to say: weight is a key factor for someone in my position :slightly_smiling_face:

@mel.i I’m not experienced with weather conditions in the Cederberg and can therefore not comment in that regard. In the Drakensberg I would definitely advise using a 4-season tent as previously mentioned.

I’m also in the market for a lightweight 4-season tent as I’m retiring my Cadac Isotec after years of hard use(If they still made them I would definitely buy one again). I found that lightweight 4-season tents is a choice between weight , price and performance.

There are some 3-season tents on the market that is more than capable of handling strong wind. However , one of the distinctive differences between 3-season and 4-season double wall tents is the inner tent sidewall material. 3-season tents has a mesh sidewall for ventilation in hotter more humid conditions. 4-season tents have solid sidewall with little to no mesh, this creates a insulating layer which traps hot air and keeps the wind out. Most 4-season tents also has a snowflap, where the fly meets the ground. This keeps snow from accumulating against your tent inner, without blocking airflow for ventilation.

It is difficult to find a proper lightweight 4-season tent that don’t require a second mortgage on your house. Also alot of lightweight 4 season tents are specialist single wall tents (drastically decreases the weight as the tent has no fly , but rather a combined waterproof sidewall) meant for freezing conditions and will tend to have condensation issues at warmer more humid conditions. Therefore single wall tents are not that ideal for our local conditions.

You should also be aware that lightweight 4-season tents are made of thinner fabric (Measured in Deniers (D)), this is how they achieve the lower weight. However these fabrics are less resistant to wear and the tent will not stand up to years of prolonged use. Therefore if you plan on using the tent frequently a higher Denier material is advisable.

Budget friendly tents will be heavier and not as sturdy as their more expensive counterparts, but may last longer with prolonged use due to their thicker more wear resistant fabrics.

There is a local tent however that covers all three areas (relatively well). The First Ascent Helio is a budget friendly lightweight 4-season tent. Note that I do not have experience with it but have spoken to several hikers who have used it in the Drakensberg.

Regardless I would still stay away from Kway, Naturehike and Decathlon for 4-season tents, but that’s just my opinion.