Robens Lodge2 The Perfect Tent For Your Cycling Holiday
Or - 'At last! Something that just does the job'...
Manufacturer's Website - http://www.robens.de/en/Products/Tents.aspx
Our business puts huge strain on lightweight tents and almost by definition these are relatively fragile constructions – many have proved too 'fragile' for our own use! In 23 years we've used many tents from major manufacturers as our standard 2-person tent. For 2014 we chose the Robens 'Lodge 2' – and as it has been so successful I though it worthy of a full review.
Design and construction.
The 'Lodge 2' is an inner first, two pole dome, with a short ridge pole to help enlarge the porch areas. You'll see similar tents in many of the better tent catalogues because such a tent manages to combine plenty of room with ease of pitching and reasonable weight. The dome construction also makes the tent pretty stable as the outer is held taught by the crossed poles – you can even un-peg it and carry it around complete. The alternative, rival design is the two hoop tunnel. The latter has the advantage of two vertical walls giving a larger area of maximum headroom, but at the cost of not being self-supporting and having a tendency to flap in a wind. They are also more fussy over pitching and guying.
Given that there are several competing and similar designs from other companies – what makes the Robens the one we bought for 2014?
Well as so often the devil is in the detail.- where most of these rivals use generic alloy poles (often with the dreaded 'dimples' holding the ferules on – cracking idea:-) simply crossed, the Robens uses a complete pole set from DAC – a specialist pole/fittings company. This means that the ferules are an interferance fit, the alloy good quality and the two poles joined at the centre with a tough plastic joint that makes assembly more straightforward. Likewise all pole fittings and hooks are DAC – this isn't a cheap option (the same poles can be found on tents costing multiples of the Lodge). Robens have resisted the temptation to bend these poles through a tight arc to give more space, and the pole sections are long – with few joints – these features greatly reduce pole breakage at the cost of a slightly lower inner and a longer pack size. Likewise though the fly isn't ripstop, it is good quality as is the inner and groundsheet, though the latter is as with all such tents rather thin. A sheet of black plastic makes a great groundsheet protector for most tents.
The other thing I like is that the orientation of the tent gives two side doors, rather than a head-and-foot layout of many tents. This means each person can make a mess of their own porch and getting in and out is easier.
Total weight is 3.4kgs according to Robens and this proved unusually honest but the nicest surprise is the one that so often gets forgotten... The tent bag is huge! Too often we get tents which when wet (and inevitably when it's raining) need two people and a shoe-horn to get into their bag – some have been so bad I've thrown away the one supplied. But the Robens is roomy and if you are in a hurry you can pretty much screw it up and throw it in:-)
Pitching – (total time 2 minutes)
Simple:-) Lay out the groundsheet, open out the pole set and fix it to each corner. Then hook first the centre and then all the other inner hooks to the pole. Next throw the outer over and clip it using the buckles at each corner to the inner. The tent is now free standing. Then just thread the short pole through the sleeve of the outer and clip it on to give headroom in the porches. Now it needs just four pegs for the doors and one each for the sides – 6 in all. You now have a stable and waterproof den.
There are other pegging points at the corners and four well positioned guys. Each pegging point also has a simple tension adjuster and the pegs are perfect – stiff enough to be difficult to bend, but not so stiff that you can't bend 'em back:-)
You can also use small velcro loops to tie the outer to the poles, but to be honest unless you are in extreme conditions these are merely belt-and-braces. In our business we often removed the extra pegs and guys (because otherwise people just use them badly or lose them) and supplied the tent 'stripped'. On one memorable night this year we had quite a storm on the south coast and I wondered if I had maybe made an error here, but returning cyclists came back proud of how their tent had been fine where others around them had disappeared...
Not only is pitching easy, but the tent once complete can just be picked up and moved around – an attribute not to be underestimated as anyone who had pitched on an ant's nest or 'back-breaker' will testify. And as mentioned above, once pitched it is very stable and weatherproof. It also doesn't suffer too badly from condensation and separation of inner and outer is excellent so that whatever condensation there is stays where it should – on the outer – a feature of this sort of construction.
Size wise it's a roomy two-person, long enough for 6 footers and more and with good sitting up space. With its taught inner it's also a nice place to be (campers will understand what I mean).
The grey colour gives a light airy inner (and death-pallor to occupants) and the reflective guy-lines and trim means it shows up in the headlights of that campervan trailing through a site looking for a pitch at 11.00 pm...
In our Hire Use
Brilliant. 10/10. 100%. Not one broken pole, not one stuck zip, not one tear. No-one lost as to how to put it up and nothing but praise from everyone who used it. 8 tents used every week for an average of 15 weeks without a single fault – more than exceptional - unique in our experience.
All tents are a compromise of conflicting requirements. Yes it could be bigger/lighter/cheaper/more storm-proof/4-season etc, but as a mix of the sort of attributes that we (and I suspect you) require in a cycle-camping tent it is simply beyond reasonable criticism – my only fear is that Robens will either stop making it, or fiddle about with something that already nears perfection – leave it alone guys!
Well as feared, and as so often is the case Robens have messed about with the design. The main change being the replacement of the DAC linked pole set with three separate generic poles. Thus the superiority of the tent over similar designs is reduced on paper - in practice we've still yet to have a pole break so though a little less convenient the cheapening of the design still doesn't alter the fact that it's a crackingly good tent and highly recommended...