Tent Test - Two person tents for cycletouring.

Cycling Article Index



Last issue we looked at tents for the solo cyclist, this issue we go up in both weight and space to look at what the same three companies, Vango, Jack Wolfskin and Terra Nova offer in their two person tents.

Vango Hydra.

This is a classic three pole semi-geodesic tent. It pitches inner first and the outer is thrown over the inner and pegged out. All fairly straightforward. It's made of the same tough ripstop Nylon as the Micro in the last issue so when wet it does sag a little, the difference is that the three pole structure takes up this slack keeping all but the bell-end bow taught. At 3 kgs it's the heaviest tent on test, but also by a large margin the cheapest at around £190. It has plenty of room for two with ample sitting room, and the inner first construcion gives it a lovely tight inner with no sags. The bell end is a little limited in size due to the inner door not being vertical, but certainly the interior space is the best of the group. It stood a force 8 gale with ease, not thrashing about or collapsing giving great confidence. That the same company can produce such an excellent and good value product as the Hydra one minute and yet a dog like the Micro the next is a mystery, but certainly the Hydra is a tent I'd be more than happy to use, and simply cannot be bettered at the price.

Rating 7/10 Value 9/10

Jack Wolfskin Avalon

At 2.7 kgs this tent splits the other two on weight, and is a grown up version of the Rondane tested last issue. Like it's smaller cousin it is a two hoop tunnel, though in this case with the bell- end/entrance at one end rather than at the side. Quality is good without being spectacular, double coated ripstop nylon for the fly YKK zips and those red "no-name" poles again. The groundsheet is pretty thin, though waterproof, and there is a double Ripstop/net inner door to help ventilation. Erection is very easy both inner and outer going up together. The snag is that this is basically an outer first tent with the inner hung rather loosely inside. After the taught inners of the other two tents I found that constantly wiping my head on the drooping and volumous inner got irritating, and considerably lessened the inner space available, though the bell-end is large Additionally the inner is pegged by short guys which are a nylon which stretches by about 10% when wet letting the whole structure sag dramatically, the inner touching the outer at the foot end and giving wet feet. With the large unsupported section between the poles it thrashed about a fair bit in a blow, though with extensive guying points it survived without problems. Overall it was OK but my least favorite of the tents and at £300 pricy too.

Rating 5/10 Value 5/10

Terra Nova Solar 2

This tent too costs £300, a lot of money, but for that you get something a bit special. At 2.4 kgs it is a featherweight, and packs small enough to go into a pannier but has almost as much inner space as the Hydra and a bigger bell-end. Made in Britain it just oozes quality, a tough groundsheet twice as thick as the others, Easton Alloy poles - the best, and faultless stitching. It's an inner first tent, and uses two crossed poles, a gripe here - they are very similar in length so could do with colour coding in some way. It's pretty easy to put up otherwise, and pitches beautifully taught with no sagging when wet. Otherwise all the good things that made the Solar 1 last issues winner are to be found, with just the minor moan about misting through the unprotected outer zips, just don't put clothes in the outer under the zips in bad rain and you'll be fine. In a blow it remained rock solid and silent, it being very hard to believe that this was by far the lightest of the three. It has a double inner door and is very well ventilated. The door is in the side and personally I'm not too keen on this as if I want to get up for a pee in the night I have to climb over Kate or vice-versa. Otherwise another stonking tent from Terra Nova and in view of the quality good value as well.

Overall 8/10 Value 9/10

Two winners this month and two tents I would be happy to use myself. True the Solar is the better, in design, quality and weight, but then it is more expensive. Your call...

A Small Favour

We hope you've enjoyed reading this short article and will go on to read many more. This website exists both as an information hub for cyclists – (and we offer free advice by email) - but also as a commercial site to sell our cycling holidays. For 27 years we've been the only company in the world offering fully equipped cycle camping holidays and now also offer hotel based holiday and even run our local campsite which is uniquely well geared up for passing cycletourists.

If you like what we do and want us to continue please help by sharing our Facebook page, telling your friends or linking to www.bretonbikes.com on any site you run. Without your support we'd not be here...