I really do not know whether to be upset or angry at the moment.
For the last few weeks I have been an excited man as I finally put in an order with Tarptent for a Scarp1. I have to admit that I have been lusting over it for a very long time now, but putting the purchase off because I could not really afford or justify another tent. The sense of ‘want’ rather than ‘need’ suddenly became too strong one day and I found my credit card details being entered into the Tarptent website. Then there is the usual lengthy wait whilst things get sorted and posted from the States.
Therefore I was rather chuffed to find out that it was waiting for me after work last Thursday. The downside was having to drive across the city to pick it up from Parcel Force and pay V.A.T and a ‘handling’ charge. A tidy £33 to bring a tent into the country, although I knew I would be hit by some sort of charge.
The great thing is that I was heading off to Wales the following morning for a three day backpack. My trusty Akto was replaced by a brand new Scarp1 in my rucksack after a quick check to make sure that outer, inner, poles and pegs were all present.
I arrived at my wild campsite in the middle of the Black mountain and set up my shiny new tent. After pitching I started to give it a quick check over to make sure that all was OK. I was initially dismayed to see that along one of the seams that runs the length of the tent there had been some sort of mistake in the initial sewing. Just below the seam there is a long row of needle marks meaning that there are loads of tiny holes in the flysheet.
Obviously a bit dismayed I checked the seam on the other side of the tent where things got even worse. Here there is a section of the seam where there is no thread whatsoever. You can even put your finger through it! This effectively means that there is a large hole in the flysheet. This ended up becoming an issue later in the night during heavy rain which was not forecast, gear in the porch got wet.
Finally I noticed that the top of the zip rain flap is not sewn properly, it is a mass of loose thread and is not connected to the main body of the tent.
I really am shocked how the sewing on such an expensive piece of equipment can be so poor. There has either been some sort of lapse in quality control or Tarptent thinks it is acceptable to send out a product this poorly made. What I find really strange is that they shipped something half way around the world that is not fit for purpose.
I have been using a Hilleberg Akto for about ten years now, only recently replacing my ancient one with a second hand, newer and lighter version with the door hoop. Nearly ten years of heavy use and the original one is nearly as good as new. Both are constructed with great attention to detail, there is not even a single loose thread on either! Obviously I hoped and expected that this would be the case with the Scarp1, a tent that would be a bit lighter and more bomb proof. My confidence in using companies such as Tarptent is now shattered. Maybe the company has grown too suddenly and the quality can’t be maintained? Hopefully it is a one off and someone was having a bad day at work or it was the first bit of sewing that they have done. A big shame as the Scarp1 has been raved about by numerous bloggers.
To me a backpackers tent / shelter is one of the most important pieces of kit that they carry. This is especially the case in the UK where the weather can charitably be described as ‘changable’. The fine weather that I had expected in south Wales was a yarn spun by the weatherman. There were some hefty storms and strong winds. I did not expect to be sitting in a substandard leaking tent! I sat in the Scarp1 looking across at my friends Akto feeling strangely guilty for abandoning mine.
I suppose that the main thing now is to see how Henry Shires responds to the email I have sent to him outlining my concerns (complete with photos). I have not mentioned this post in that email because I don’t want to influence how he deals with my complaint. Let’s hope that a small cottage company can surpass the big boys when it comes down to customer service.