Archive for June 13th, 2009

June 13, 2009

Laser Competition – some critical thoughts

by backpackingbongos

My camping experience last weekend shed some major doubts in my mind on the Laser Comps capabilities in bad weather.  You can read my post on the trip here.  Whilst camping the first night the weather was much worse than anticipated.  Although the comp did not actually collapse the noise that it made whilst flapping in the wind was so loud that I barely slept the entire night, this then impacted on my enjoyment of the rest of the weekend as I was totally knackered from lack of sleep.  On the second night I discovered that the pole that supports the end of the tent had ripped away from the ground sheet of the inner leaving a hole.  Now this is something that perhaps happened whilst tensioning the pole guy rather than storm damage.  If this is the case then the fault was down to poor construction as stitching should not fail whilst tensioning a tent to get a taut pitch, especially in a tent such as the Comp where correct tensioning is essential in getting a perfect pitch.

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As my sewing skills are not up to much I will get in contact with Terra Nova to see if they will repair it for me under guarantee.  I have had the tent since August 2006 so fingers crossed they will not refuse.

Now I do have a confession to make – I never really fully bonded with my Laser Competition tent.

The only reason why I have continued using it over the years is because it is so light, it really has made a difference to my pack weight.  So in that respect it has been great.  However I have never really enjoyed actually sleeping in it.  Firstly it can be a real bugger to pitch and if you don’t get it right it will be a mass of baggy material.  I have spent many a breezy night with its material slapping me a across the face with each gust of wind.  Secondly I find the inner to be just on the bareable side of claustrophobic.  Being fairly tall I find that the inner tent is just a little bit close to my face for comfort.  I have also had great problems with condensation when using the comp as there is no real practical way of venting it without leaving the fly door open, which I often do if it is not raining.  When totally sealed I find that condensation forms on the inner tent above my head and torso, this then dampens my down bag when I sit up.  This got so bad that I brought a lightweight bivvy bag to use inside, this helps but them negates the benefits of using a lightweight tent in the first place!  Finally after a wet condensation filled night I want to disconect the inner from the outer to stop the inner tent from getting wet whilst packing.  This is really fiddly to do with the end poles being conected to both fly and inner tent (well not on mine now!).  I therefore end up stuffing the whole lot into my sack meaning I have a wet inner tent when packing the next night.

On the positive side the headroom in the Comp is great in the centre of the tent, I can fully sit up without slouching.  The porch is also huge for a tent of its size, much bigger than the Akto

For years and years (since 1999) I have used a Hilleberg Akto tent that has always performed superbly and has never let me down.  The only negative has been with the weight, I have an old model that weights in at 1.8kg.  It has stood up to winds that were so strong that I could barely stand and monsoon strength rain storms.  Hundreds of nights on the hills and it is still going strong (ok the pole is now a bit of a weird shape due to a rather lively gust of wind).  It is about time that I got reaquanted with it, a bit more weight in the sack but at least I can go back to camping on mountain summits without a worry.

But saying that I have had my eye on a Scarp1……………………………………………