Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Vango Force 10 Helium 2 Tent

I was lucky enough to be sent a Force 10 Helium 2 tent by Vango before Christmas and I was really looking forward to trying it out.
 As someone who loves to camp in the wild and who like nothing better than multi day hiking trips I am all too aware of how difficult it is to find the "perfect tent" but the Helium 2 seemed to offer a pretty great package for the price. I could have opted for the one man version (the Helium1) but I am a firm believer in the tent being "livable" for multi day trips, especially when the weather is less than ideal.

Manufacturer Force Ten
Tent Collection F10 Alpine LT Range
Year of Manufacture 2018
Hydrostatic Head 3000
Colour Alpine Green
Berth 2 Man
No. Bedrooms 1 Bedroom
Doors 2
Flysheet Fabric 20 Denier, 430 Taffeta Siliconised Ripstop Nylon PU3000mm
Groundsheet Fabric 70 Denier Nylon 6000mm
Inner Fabric 15 Denier / 340T Breathable Nylon
Window Fabric No
Height (cm) 100
Length (cm) 245
Width (cm) 175
Weight (kg) 1.42 (1.23kg trail weight)
Pole Bag Weight (kg) No
Skin Double
Pack Size (cm) 40 x 14

Above is the all the basic information and as you can see from the numbers it is a pretty impressive package. It pitches all in one and this is a big plus when the weather is wet. It uses 3 poles for pitching but 2 of these are the short ones that hold up the two ends. The main pole is pre-contoured and this allows for steeper sides to the tent and this equals more space inside. I haven't shared the space but I would imagine that two normal sized people would fit into the tent quite easily. A huge plus when sharing a tent is having two doors. Not having to clamber over your companion to enter and exit, especially when it's wet makes life much easier. The porch is a reasonable size but it would be a tight squeeze when a pair of bags...wet clothes etc are stored there but that is probably the same for the vast majority of lightweight tents. The zips work very smoothly which is also a big plus. I have used the tent on the edge of the Atlantic when the weather was less than benign and it preformed admirably.The bathtub floor ensures that you stay nice and dry inside and the heavy driving rain wasn't a problem and not a drop of water entered the tent. There is no denying the face that this type of tent is noisy in the wind and it is fair to say that it flapped a lot in the strong gusts (up to 50mph) of wind that battered it through the night. This would have been the case with all but the most robust of mountain tents but the pegs of this tent are excellent and the tent stayed solidly in place all night.

 It is easy to pack away thanks to the very effective storage bag. The oversized bag allows you to quickly bundle up your wet tent and in a few moments you can compress it down so that it is easily stashed back in your rucksack. Inside the tent there are a couple of small storage areas but things are pretty minimal really, which I actually like. The "band tensioning system" in the tent keeps the main pole secure and helps to stop too much lateral movement but I think that the two guy lines give a more secure and effective anchor. I guess having the two systems doesn't hurt and you can always disconnect the tensioning system if you wish. Another thing I like about this tent is that the flysheet comes right down near the ground and this provided excellent secure shelter in strong wind and rain. A lot of tents try and save a little weight by making the flysheet that much shorter and in some tents this can mean a gap of up to 15cms. That is all well and good when the wind isn't too strong but when it blows hard this can lead to the loss of stuff-sacks and other lightweight bits and bobs that may lay unsecured in the porch. It can also lead to a chill breeze entering the tent and this can make for unnecessary discomfort at times. They sometimes claim that this is an aid to ventilation but with two doors it should be easy to ensure a good flow of air in this tent. The mesh inner tent is nice and fine which means that this is also a pretty warm tent. While it is not the same as a four season mountain tent the combination of the nice low sides to the flysheet and fine mesh inner means that the temperature inside the tent is two or three degrees warmer inside than out which is a plus when you are camping in the winter. All in all I am very pleased with the tent and I look forward to putting it to good use over the coming years.

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