Tent Advice


#1

Dear Hiking South Africa Members,

I have recently completed the Otter Trail with my partner and we absolutely loved the experience. We are very keen to embark on some other hikes and adventures that will also be more rustic and need a tent.

The tent market is a Mine Field, and if you are like me, with a small obsession on details, technical specifications and reviews it becomes a problem :confused:

I am hoping that you could push me in the right direction, details as below:

 People: 2 of us, was thinking a 3 person tent to ensure ample space.
 Conditions: I am Durban based which means Drakensburg will probably be our playground – giants cup, Injasuthi etc.
 Types of hikes: expect anything from single nights to multiple and also being based somewhere like Cobham where we can do multiple day hikes. I have heard that the Cederberg is also incredible so we would like to branch out and try different routes outside of KZN.
 Flysheets – how does one work out what is required in terms of water resistance? More is better? is 2000mm perfectly ok?
 Shape – from what I can see a Dome style tent is simple the best and worth it.
 Brands – I do prefer to support Local (K-Way/First Ascent) but I will consider all.
my absolute Maximum on price is in the range of R 4500-5000

look forward to your opinions :slight_smile:


#2

The things I would look at when looking for a tent are: Weight, awning size, ease of setting up/tearing down and the size of its storage bag.

You definitely want the weight to be under 4kg, preferably under 3kg. With a 3 person tent or bigger you usually split up the tent between the people sleeping in it, or arrange for one person to carry the tent and for their gear to be split between the other people so that the individual carry weight is about is about the same as for a 1 or 2 person tent.

The awning should be big enough to cook under when its raining or the wind is strong enough to blow your stove out. You also might want to be able to leave your pack or your boots outside with some protection. Ease of setting up/tearing down is important because you don’t want to have to figure out a complicated construction after a long day’s hike or keep other hikers waiting while to tear your tent down in the morning. The size of the storage bag should fit inside your pack or be easily attachable to it.

The season rating on tents determines the seasons a tent is considered suitable for, 3 seasons is usually considered good enough for South African weather since our winters aren’t that cold and we don’t tend to get heavy snowfall very often.

The way water resistance is measured for flysheets is using a water column, this means that if a tent has a rating of 2000mm it can withstand 2000mm of water pooling on top of the flysheet before water starts to dribble through.


#3

thank you Philip, appreciate your insight.
i loved the article, particularly the part below which gave me some perspective:
“For example, 1500 mm means that the fabric will withstand a 1500mm (5’) column of water for more than one minute before a single drop might appear through the fabric. That’s strong enough to prevent rain from leaking in a 75 mph hurricane-force storm.”


#4

This is correct (not sure about that hurricane though…). One thing you need to keep in mind though is that this is 1500mm when it is new. Over time the material will begin to degrade. Starting with a higher rating should theoretically increase its lifespan. This does depend on what sort of waterproofing it uses though - make sure you are comparing apples to apples (PU to PU or silnylon to silnylon for instance).

In terms of actual tents, the 3 person spec makes it a bit harder, there is a much greater range in 2 person. How tall are you and your partner? A generously sized 2 person (MSR Elixir, Naturehike Mongar) could be spacious enough if you are average or under. For 3 person, the lightest in SA is probably the Naturehike Cloud Up 3, followed by the First Ascent Eclipse. Sure I’m missing a bunch, but there are some to look at so long. I definitely wouldn’t get anything over 4 kg if I could help it.


#5

Thanks Colan,
I am 182cm and partner is 150 something so we are not big people!


#6

Hi :slight_smile:
If you want a good breakdown of tents read the thread under Gear Shed called " the good the bad and the ugly". It covers all the tents currently available.


#7

With what you are looking for I would take a look at a couple.

For two people with a bit of room the Nature Hike Mongar (R3200) is pretty light and solidly built. I run a similar one (Star River) that I have had no trouble with at all, in fact the Mongar improves some things. Light, particularly split across 2 people and having two entrances and vestibules can be a god send. The Drakensberg isn’t my playground, so can’t say in terms of weather there but has handled the Cederberg well.

For something a bit more 4 season and localy made try the First Ascent Helio 2 (R2500). A bit heavy for my taste and with only a single entrance, but that does give it a larger vestibule if you need to cook out of the rain. Well shielded and might be a good call for the Drakensberg.

And if you are just trying to get into this cheaply and easily while you learn what you like give the First Ascent Starlight 2 (R1600) a look. A bit heavy and not brilliantly rigged, but reasonably sized, cheap and quick to put up. Serves a bunch of people I know well for most of their hikes.

My two cents :laughing:

Everything US made is staggeringly expensive here, K-Way doesn’t seem to have much that stands out versus the First Ascent and Nature Hike stuff. The other major one here seems to be Vango, a British make I have no experience with but could be suited to the Drakensberg. The other option if you are adventurous and want to go light and use trekking poles to replace tent poles is looking at 3F UL Gear on Aliexpress, they make good stuff.


#8

thanks for this Jaxz!