Anually I go on a long distance walk during the month of May, previous trek’s include the Pennine Way, West highland Way, Rob Roy Way & Great Glen Way.
2 years ago I was looking to replace my already fairly lightweight 2 man Vango Spirit 200 tent to a new 1 man tent, any savings in weight would be a bonus but the main reason was to get away from Drew’s earth shaking snoring & boisterous guitar playing
What was I Looking For?
The problems with lightweight backpacking tents are simple but the solutions are not… How can you maximise space whilst minimising weight & still produce a shelter strong enough for the terrible conditions we experience camping in the UK. Tents, especially in Scotland need to be able to withstand a battering from wind, rain, even snow (yes it has snowed in May) and most of all be midge-proof. You need to be able to Brew up in the rain, stow away your kit, & cope with any condensation issues.
Whilst perusing through the brochures & checking out reviews I come across the Force Ten Helium 100, it instantly jumped out at me, a double skin & the weight at just over 1.1 kg. There was lighter tents available at the time but most were single skin & i Didn’t fancy that due to the condensation issue’s.
At the time we didn’t have the tent in stock, it was new on the market & I’d only seen a picture in a catalogue, but I couldn’t find anything better on paper & so i took the chance & ordered a staff purchase from Vango Force Ten.
The tent touched down 2 days later, I was instantly impressed with the pack size (less than half of my Spirit 200) only 42cm x 12cm, from the moment it arrived I couldn’t wait to get home (although I do love working, boss) to pitch it outside in the garden.
When I eventually got home I impatiantly dragged the tent out of the bag & started to erect it. At 1st I couldn’t find where the long pole sleeve was (I was excited & didn’t read the instructions) Eventually I found it, popped the pole in & the tent was more or less done (It erects as one, that means the inners already attached) Once the main pole is in, I find it’s easieast to peg the guying point at the back & work from there. You can pitch it with a minimum amount of pegs (great for keeping weight to a minimum) 1 guy point at the back,2 near the rear, 2 at the front & 2 at the side… That’s it! You don’t even need pegs for the inner, the 4 elastic points are stretchy enough to reach the outer pegs you have already used. So there you have it pitched with only 7 pegs. Some people may wish to use extra pegs for guy lines etc… but I’ve never even deployed them for action, the TBS (Tension Band System) has proved more than adequate to fend the wind.
Inside the tent is an orange inner that gives off a warm glow of warmth, It’s spacious enough for me, I’m under 6′ so fitted in nicely including some essentials from my Rucksack (my pillow! it weighs almost the same as the tent). There is a small porch area so the Backpack can be stored neatly outside the inner but still behind the flysheet for protection, mines a 65 litre pack & just about fits.
There seems to be ample midge protection inside, loads of mesh panels and a complete mesh door panel if required, I haven’t been unlucky enough to need to test them against the elite Scottish midge but I’m sure it would fare up fine.
If you are used to a bivvy the helium will feel like luxury but there’s not a vast amount of headroom inside (90cm) however you cant expect much from a solo backpacking tent. Anyway it was fine after i got used to dressing & undressing like a caterpillar.
The only issue with cooking is in bad weather, you have to do it whilst lying down. Although not a huge gripe for me as it’s usually quick (I’m still talking about breakfast) due to the high powered jetboil portable cooker that I’ll be blogging about soon.
The Tent has withstood some blustery conditions, by no means extreme weather but it’s not even quaked at 25mph gusts & heavy downpours. The TBS is a little tricky to work out at 1st but the internal pole bracing holds the main hoop rigid during wind. She’s experienced a number of different conditions & there’s no noise from a flappy flysheet, no leaks & minimal condensation.
So would I recommend a friend? Absolutely, the Vango Force Ten Helium is a winner for me & will continue to aid me on my mini expeditions accross the country. Since I purchased mine in 2008 there have been few modifications & the same model is still produced by Vango. But now theres a new kid on the block the new Force Ten Helium Superlite 100 & 200… Any takers on the new predecessor be sure to let me know your thoughts…
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment!