Hiking tents: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Nevermind, mailed Vango and they suggested I get either the Helvellyn or Mirage Pro 200, I went with they Mirage cause its 225 long, but its quite heavy at 3kg (Tall people problems hey)

Just wanted to give some brief feedback on 2 shelters I have used lately:

NatureHike VIK 1
This tent REALLY impressed me. It is incredibly solid when pitched and deals with wind very very well. It is a single wall tent, so in humid conditions or when camped close to water, condensation can form in a thin film on the inside, but I have never had condensation get bad enough to drip on me. I do wish that the flysheet door had a “roll up and tie back” system instead of the lightweight hook that you can attach to the one peg-out point (it is a bit more of a pain to close the door when you are wanting to turn in for the night, as you have to exit the tent to unhook this hook before you can zip closed the door). The tent itself is remarkably lightweight for its robust-ness.

Ultimate Direction FK Tarp
Surprisingly, I actually really enjoyed using this. It is a shaped tarp, which I find easier to pitch than a flat tarp. I also think that it provides more livable space. You need 2 trekking poles to pitch it, or it can be pitched using the handlebars of a bicycle. With the trekking poles, you can choose to pitch it high or low depending on the weather. I had some condensation when pitching it low in rain, but nothing that got me wet.

I have videos about both of the above tents on my YouTube channel, Roughing It With Ruth, where I give more information (not sure whether I am allowed to post a link to the channel on this forum…?)

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Your channel is great source of hiking information Ruth. Happy to share it :wink: :+1:

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My most favorite tent, in which I have absolete faith, having survived 4 days in buffetting winds in the berg… backpacker Kestrel… part of my car-camping gear…

My current walk-about tent, as it is considerably lighter than the Kestrel

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Hi all, I am a novice hiker and starting to do multi-day trips with my wife.
I would appreciate your opinions on a tent suitable for 2 adults with large packs 50+) inside with preferably dual vestibules. I would prefer to support local is lekker wherever possible. I am still undecided on a 3 season vs 4 season, but hopefully after this I may be able to make a more informed decision.

Budget is a consideration so anything in the MSR Hubba / Hilleberg (unsure about Vango) is currently outside of what I am looking at. Hilleberg Namaj is the dream lol.

Although weight is always to be considered it is not my primary concern, space comfort, enjoyment and practical with longevity considerations is more my style. Packing dimension is quite important as I want to try fit this with a 50l pack for 2-3 day hikes. 65s will be used on 4+ day hikes.

Currently my options are (please feel free to add):

  • First Ascent Peak 3 (my top choice so far)
  • K-Way Expedition Basecamp 3 (about my max bugdet)
  • NH Cloud 3
  • NH Mongar/s

I am flexible to pay a bit more if there is something that for a bit extra provides just that level, however I am not sure what it is.

Thank you for your time reading this and I am looking forward to your opinions.

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Hi @JaCkTive
I cannot speak for all these tents but will toss in a few ideas. From the top of yr post…

As a rule, to hold two adults and packs 3person tent is best. 2pax tent a bit of a squeeze. But check the floor dimensions and the angle of inner wall can play a part. For this inspection of yr options already pitched will help. Alternatively use yr packs as pillows…not comfy.

Buying local really just means supporting China. Some local products are up to par but most are inferior and behind in tech.

A good 4 season tent I’d prefer as you can do more with it. And they’re spec’d tougher, in general. 3 season will be fine for most of SA use though. Buy so you won’t have to buy again.

These imports are becoming hideously expensive. MSR hurts my eyes. I can however vouch for Vango. Scottish designed for heavy weather. I have one and endured heavy winds and 5 days solid rain inside munching droewors, for example, the fly sheet is 5000mm and floor 6000mm HH. look around for deals. Trappers at Woodmead Jhb has some marked down.A Zephyr I think? (Don’t know where you are)

I split my tent up and flat-fold the inner and fly, takes up less space than fat rolled sausage, fly in the bottom of pack, poles on side of pack or down middle inside (to protect them should i fall). Easy access. (my vango is fly pitch first which is another thing vango is good at…ie good so yr inner doesn’t get soaked when pitching in rain). Anyway. Share your tent with yr partner.

I would say a good tent can make or break your trip. Don’t skimp. Save for an extra month or so. Look at geodesic designs, most sturdy. Look for high waterheads on fly and bathtub floor. I like muted colours so as not to stand out. Check that the fly has some kind of rip stop or helix pattern that strengthens it. Fibreglass poles can snap in high winds and shred yr tent. Pockets inside are very useful. Some tents can be pitched all in one, which can be useful. Do research on the fabrics used as lightweight can merely mean they used cheap thin fabric. Take yr time. Think about where you hope to use it, then push the requirements one step further. And, brand names are not always top, worst tent I have is North Face…

If I think of more I’ll post. Best of luck and beware the tent rabbit hole😀

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The Naturehike Mongar is perfect for my wife and I. Very liveable with enough vestibule space for our packs and some space to cook out of the rain. The only downside with Mongar is that the inner is all mesh, so if there’s a cold draft at night, it goes straight through the tent.

For more 4-season related options, the K-Way Kilimanjaro 2 and Vango Helvellyn 300 are great options.

The First Ascent Peak is very spacious and absolutely bombproof, but it’s quite heavy if only use by two people.

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Hi @JaCkTive

I have the NH Mongar 20D, been on lots of trips with it and super happy with the tent. Spacious, sturdy and rather lightweight too :slight_smile: Definitely not a 4 season tent but a solid buy for the price vs space vs weight.

A friend of mine has the Cloud Up 3 and seems good but doesn’t seem like its handling the wind as well as say the Mongar also a tight squeeze inside for two people and packs.

Loot has a decent price on the Vango Helvellyn.

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@TrailHunter thanks so much. The Vango is looking to be a strong contender thusfar.
A friend of mine is very keen on the Mongar, I will pass on your review thank for this as well.

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@Arno Thank you so much. I have this pull towards the colder weather so we may need to consider the 4 season option from the get go.

I looked at the Vango now and I must say I am attracted to the almost 1kg weight saving, just not certain about that single “split” entrance i will go sig a bit more. The waterproofing seems very impressive and may sway me. I may end up with a tough choice between the Peak3 and the Vango300. Expedition still in the background but that seems to be highest cost and weight ratio compared to the top 2.

Update:
I just watched a review and see how useful the entry area is and does indeed provide a solid 2 sided entry system. I think my mind is made up. I will test the tent and let everyone know once I have sufficient review and feedback data. Looking forward to this!

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@Carl thank you for all the detail and the tips. I will definitely try a flat pack method. You got me tickled with the Vango and it is coming in as a surprisingly strong contender option as my first proper backpacking tent. Does it only have the single split entrance vestibule area or something at the back as well? I will go read more now as access to the tent and cooking in bad weather are the only questions I have left for the Vango.

@JaCkTive
Are you referring to the Helvellyn? Think it’s one entrance only. But that vestibule looks spacious with a great overhang which will aid you with cooking in inclement weather. If the weather is really bad I don’t cook but eat dry snacks, crackers, cheese, biltong, choccy, etc. Remember cooking in a vestibule closed will increase condensation in the tent and can be (is) very dangerous. My approach is to have a more flexible eating scheme.
Also, when you have two side doors this may be nice for each person to pop in and out of but I can’t see how one door will be a problem, not for me at least. the problem with side doors is that often, as you climb out, water on the fly runs down your neck or into the tent, the top of the fly door seems all too often to drip directly into the tent bathtub. My one tent is really bad at this and irritates the k*k out of me.
What seems nice about the Helvellyn is how the ‘bum’ is lower than the ‘door’ side, great for pitching into windy conditions.

I own an older Vango Halo200, circa 2014. I like it, but would go for the Helvellyn if I had a choice now. It’s lighter too.

Have a look at Ram Mountaineering in CT, they are the importer for Vango, was chatting to the man there Simon Larsen about a 1man tent and he told me they’ll be receiving some stock in June. Reach out to them and ask what’s on the menu.

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@Carl yes the Helvellyn 300. This is a solid price point for my first I think.
Agreed, i have 3 eating contingencies while considering maximised nutrition.
Thanks for the tips.

I see there is Vango Halo Pro 300 which seems very very drool worthy but a bit of a stretch for this season.

Can throw in another vote for the NH tents, have one very similar to the Mongar which has been solid. Lightish, well built and a nice size for two. I would say avoid the Cloud Up, the two person is more of a one person, and I think if you went any larger the side panel would become even more of a sail. The Cloud Up 2 is a nice light one man, but the 3 doesn’t strike me as a more livable or stable tent than the Mongar.

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I have amongst others the First Ascent Luna - its got one massive failing and that is the sides dont offer any protection from the elements when its raining and you can exactly open up and use the vestibule area for cooking in the rain as on unzipping the rain gets onto your head.

Thats said I love it, and my wife and I have camped in it with our large packs a few times.

I have used the Way Kilimanjaro - but not owned it - really great tent, also the Mongar not as stable, but very roomy for its size.

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Nice channel, stumbled upon Ruths channel about a month or more ago, Subscribed :+1:

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Trekking poles should offer some solution. You already have the rope and pegs. Use the “side” panels as an entrance in the rain.


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Thats an obvious solution Id not thought of it - darn!

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Thanks!

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What a great topic it helped me a lot! Thnx. HOWEVER - the UGLY - Nothing is in stock! I made a list of what is in stock and made a short list of what I think might work for me.
Little bit of background. I know nothing. I have been camping in the garden when kid demands it! Kid now wants to head into the mountains and I thought this a excellent past time. I’m a regular in the mountains doing many many trail runs so at least quite fit. Looking to start with baby steps and do one night sleepovers and building up through the years. I assume we will start off being fair weather hikers and in couple of years harden up. My wife will also be in the mix as often as not making our sleepovers mostly 2 person, but often 3 person affairs. I decided a three person tent would be best even for two people to lounge in comfortably.
I would really love opinions on my thinking and then which tent should be best. I love cheap, but also not being shortsighted over the longer term to save a couple of bucks now.