Laser Competition 2012 – a review

Dont say a word. Not a word. Those eagle eyed amongst you will have noted a certain tent in one of the pictures on my recent overnighter. Yes it is a Laser Competition. Yes I sold my other one last year. Yes it is a tent that has failings. Yes it is a tent I have missed. Yes I bought one the other day, tempted by an incredibly good offer (under half price). The other thing to note is that it is the latest version whereas my last one was from 2008. And before you ask, I had a win on a fantasy football league at work that paid for it so its kind of gear neutral cost :) (although I will probably still get rid of more gear to counter balance its cost anyway, as I have seen more shinys!)

I have to admit that I was really quite excited about getting the new version of the Laser Competition and seeing how it differed to the last version I had. The tweaks I had to make (nearly all courtesy of the excellent recommendations by Robin) on the last version made me question whether the tent was slightly flawed or majorly flawed. Of course that’s rubbish….it is an excellent tent, but the flaws could, with the right application by Terra Nova, be corrected. So what of the 2012 version?

Well, I cant remember the exact weights but they appear very similar (around 900g) between the 2 versions and I would be very surprised if they were vastly different! The pole hood (alas) remains although its not as much of a faff as I used to think and if you use Robin’s suggestion of a lineloc for adjustment/setup it’s a breeze. Still think this was another opportunity missed by TN though. I mean a zip flap would surely be a better option than a hood? The inner has an upper door mesh panel (but for the life of me I cant remember what the old version had) and also two small end vent mesh panels.

My version has the 2g Ti skewer pegs which actually perform quite well (but for serious weather the y pegs will come out). Of course the main difference for me is the split end struts which make the pack size smaller.

Other things to note are the guylines and lineloks which seem a little lighter, the closure for the door is a snaploc not a hook and eye (0n my 2008 version), and extra guying points on the two foot ends of the tent (4 in total). The fly also has two a 2-zip arrangement which allows for extra venting from the top of the door which is an added bonus over my 2008 version. The  2 extra guying points sit either side of the main strut guying point. I havent tried these yet but think they will definitely help with stability and also reduce a bit of the flappiness of the tent overall. I still reckon that midpoint guylines on the fly either side of the pole would be a better bet (to reduce the effect of side-on wind) but as I say, I will reserve judgement until I have had chance to test out the new guying points.

The other thing to mention, and it might just be my imagination, is that the fly/inner separation “feels” bigger/better somehow. That and the porch space that easily takes a rucksack and shoes with space to spare….. I might be going gaga but it really seems to me as if both these things are bigger on the 2012 than the 2008 model but I could be wrong.

Ok, so main points on the tent aside, how did it fare on my first pitch. Ridiculously easy. I mean, why on earth did it used to take me so long to get a pitch I was satisfied with? Maybe the guylines and linelocs are a bit better, maybe practise from the old tent just prepared me and maybe the tensioning band under the tent is better. Any which way the tent went up in a breeze. Literally. I managed to get it up in 10minutes in a 20mph strong wind with no problems which really pleased me. Little faffing was required to get a taut pitch and voila, instant satisfaction after a swift erection (!).

The fact that I had chosen a spot at 2200ft on the leading edge of an escarpment promised for a little bit of fun in the night. I had in all fairness found a small hollow to put the tent in that would reduce the effects of the wind pummeling across the top of the plateau. During the night the wind increased from 20mph to 30mph with gusts up to 40mph. The laser comp was rock solid although there was a bit of flappiness to be heard from the fly.  The flap of the fly belied the solidness of the pitch so it didnt bother me unduly but it was probably the flappiest I have heard a laser comp that I have been using. I will see how I fare when I pitch it on the flat as the sides of the “bowl” did impinge slightly on the pegging out (but not much).

I also have to admit that in the morning the ease of packing and stuffing in my rucksack made me grin like finding a stash of cash forgotten about. So all in all, I can see there have been a few positive tweaks to the tent and although it is still an every so slightly flawed tent, it has in my opinion become better. I am looking forward to getting out with this again soon where I hope to test out the extra guying points. The sheer joy for me of this tent though is the weight and packability.

Yes, I am the Backpackbrewer and I am a Laser Comp-a-holic

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About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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36 Responses to Laser Competition 2012 – a review

  1. Robin says:

    We can compare vintages when we meet :) Looks like some nice little improvements.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      I swear to god that TN must have been reading your blog improvements as several are very close to what you advocated.

      and yes, a Laser Comp meet……! :)

  2. GeoffC says:

    I still use my original 2008 model, I even learned to like the pole hood itself, it’s just the attachment method via miniscule loops and cords that really sucks (I couldn’t do it even in comfort and bright light indoors with my reading glasses on, let alone in the wild in a wind without them – I leave it permanently attached now). Those extra guying points at the ends might be beneficial, the separation maked the forces act along different lines.
    In my experience 2g pegs of any design are a joke unless you have theoretically perfect pitching ground, extremely rare on our backpacks. The 6g ones that some people use are often not sufficient by themselves, the tension in the fly can pull them out even without any wind.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Geoff, I know you’ve used the Laser Comp alot so I am interested in your thoughts. I think leaving the pole hood permanently connected is the only way really too. I will have to try the extra guylines to see how it affects the separation, the tautness of the pitch and of course the stability/flappiness aspect. I know the pegs are a bit of a joke but they did the job well the other night in a stiff wind but I wouldnt trust them in a storm, thats for sure!

  3. edh says:

    Ridiculously easy. I mean, why on earth did it used to take me so long to get a pitch I was satisfied with?

    Snigger :-)

  4. edh says:

    Well…now. I’m just amazed at how faffy you are when it comes to putting up tents. Really. It’s not that difficult is it…is it?

  5. edh says:

    I don’t bother that much until I turn in for the night as modern fabrics are too floppy to tighten up really well without later easing off. Unless it’s cuben of course…..that has the potential to keep one, or you (especially) occupied for many hours :-(

    • backpackbrewer says:

      true, its just me being over fussy. one of the reasons I didnt get on with the akto. even with a taut pitch it still looked like a wrinkled sock :)

    • backpackbrewer says:

      cuben is a definite oddity in terms of fabric and behaviour. cant think how a the laser comp would be to pitch with cuben!

  6. Same here mate ;) I got the new version a while ago though. Bargain then! It’s still my favourite lightweight tent (just!). I look back to all the naysayers years ago and laugh now. The LC has pedigree and proven to be an excellent backpacking tent.

    I’ve gone through 3 now. But they’ve been through a helluva lot. The original has major signs of wear and tear and in truth that’s because I had it out in weather it’s really not supposed to be in.

    The carbon end poles have worn through the fly. Where the rain hood sits there’s not only friction burns on the fly but the tie loops have worn right through too. But I still look at it lovingly knowing reminiscing where it’s been and how it’s performed admirably. ;)

    I’d like to see the hood be done with and have TN design a sewn in loop for the pole instead. Other than that, the recent changes are fine. Just like you, I absolutely adore how it packs away to practically nothing (when you take the poles out etc).

    Ahhhh, the LC….a fine tent indeed :)

    • backpackbrewer says:

      It is a fine tent. I was in two minds when I got rid of my first one. The new tweaks, whilst not be revolutionary, just give the tent a new lease of life and make me feel like I have an improved version.

      And I really did enjoy using it and feeling next to nothing in the pack :)

    • 343_Guilty_Spark says:

      “I’ve gone through 3 now. But they’ve been through a helluva lot”
      Hi – wow, to go through 3 i would have to be living in it permanently i think!…
      To go through that many doesnt sound that good an advert for a tent?…

      • backpackbrewer says:

        well I guess it depends on how many nights out you use it for. I would look for around 100 nights per tent to get my moneys worth. I know Terry goes out a lot so maybe 3 tents in 5 years is ok? Also depends on your usage as high mountain pitching carries more risks than valley camping so may shorten the tent’s life.

  7. Waencer says:

    Hi there,

    I have the LC 2 since spring 2011 and content, but…

    – 1st thing to do is get rid of the original pegs (the are a joke)
    – 2nd thing I did, was to attacht couple of more guylines for the stability (I recall having altogether 10 guylines: 3 at each end and 2 at the sides)
    – 3rd thing to do is get a groundsheet protector (the first night out testing the tent, it got several holes rightaway)

    These modifications and add-ons are/were 100% needed but having something round 500-600 g more weight.

    Sleeping two weeks here (http://kansalaisen.karttapaikka.fi/linkki?scale=200000&text=in+the+Paistunturi+wilderness+area&srs=EPSG%3A3067&y=7731202&x=474303&lang=en) between Utsoki and Karigasniemi last August, I was real happy to gone through the steps 1-3.
    The pegs would have been useless after the first night, the guylines brought the stability needed from 4th day onwards. And I guess the tent floor would have been totally battered without the gsp.

    What I was missing was 1-2 pockets (for stuff during the night) the possibility to close the mash on the door (good for ventilation but bad considering the chilliness).

    Next 2-week trip planned to start in ca. 1 mth here (http://kansalaisen.karttapaikka.fi/linkki?scale=80000&text=Muotkatunturi+wilderness+area&srs=EPSG%3A3067&y=7676002&x=468983&lang=en) which is slightly southward from last year (I just love the sub-arctic/tundra). Was planning to make a closing with velcro for the mash. But postponed it. What I will take additionally is a 210 g tarp with me to have more space sitting out by the fire in the evenings also when it rains or is windy.

    Greetings, Waencer

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Waencer, thanks for the reply.

      The pegs are not the best but I actually found them ok in firm ground when I used the tent the other day. In wet ground forget it though…..!

      More guylines really work. My first LC I pimped to have extra guylines off the strut points and the hood/pole area and this worked really well. I am looking forward to trying out the new guying points at the ends of the tent to see what improvements to stability and tautness they will bring.

      I’ve never personally had a problem with ground sheets of any of my tents but then it does depend on where you pitch. If its rocky then punctures will appear.

      I dont miss pockets on the inner. I leave my stuff packed in the rucksack and then any bits and bobs in a small pouch by my pillow.

      The mesh on the inner is fine for me but understand it will allow a slight cooling especially in winter. You could always make a solid silnylon patch to cover the mesh…..100g?

      Thanks again for the reply and good luck with the next trip!

  8. Karl says:

    I have a Laser Competition I bought it 3 years ago for £190.00 it came with absolutely useless carbon fibre tent pegs that broke very easily so I added more reliable aluminum ones,this tent isn’t very good,it’s very cramped inside although the porch is decent if you have the inner tight so that there’s plenty of room then it touches the fly and you get wet so you have have have it loose reducing the size of the inner,but even if you don’t get get by touching the sides you get wet from sweat as this tent is about as breathable as a plastic bag,it’s awful and only good for a couple of nights in dry weather at the most,it wasn’t designed for comfort but to save weight,but personally I wish I bought a heavier more comfortable tent,also if you endure a night of rain when you take it down it will be soaking wet in and outside the flysheet so you need to unclip the inner and store it separately in a waterproof bag,if you don’t when you put it back up again the inner will be soaked and it’s best to erect the fly then clip the inner in which is tedious,anyway this tent is awful I call it the sweat tent and from now on won’t be using it.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Karl, the LC isnt to everyone’s taste which you have made abundantly clear! I know it has its faults and yes the pegs are a little on the silly side but easily replaced. I have never been cramped inside the LC but then I am only 5foot 7 so it would be good to hear how tall people find it generally…
      On the breathability front, the inner is perfectly fine for me and making sure the inner and out dont touch is a must. It did take me a little while to get the hang of pitching it right but since then I havent really looked back and I reckon the 2012 version is a tad better in that respect (although I am willing to be proved wrong).
      I’ve never had a condensation issue in mine (old or new) so I can only guess you had very poor conditions.
      The taking down of the tent after heavy rain or in heavy rain is a pain but not impossible. I have tried unclipping the inner from the outer and found it to be reasonably easy but I think the 2012 is better than the 2008 version in this respect.
      Back to my original comment and the tent wont be the be all end all for some people. I found the Akto an awful tent for me personally but there are thousands of people out there who love theirs to bit and rate it superb. Each to their own and part of teh fun of camping (finding a tent that works for YOU)
      Out of curiosity what tent are you currently using and have you found it better?

  9. Paul says:

    I must thank you for the well written and honest review on the Laser. Not sure if I will rush out and buy one just yet, as I am still quite happy with my well used and battered Tadpole 23. I guess I have to look for a replacement sooner or later though.
    Paul.

  10. Karl says:

    Well actually this tent is a nightmare to sleep in if it’s wet outside it doesn’t have to be really bad weather just normal rain and the inner doesn’t touch the fly, and unless they now make it out of a more breathable fabric this tent is very sweaty indeed,I am 5 foot 11 and have camped in it for 7 weeks in America in very hot weather and and several months in colder wetter weather and personally think this tent is way over priced and very over rated,the only thing going for it is the low weight and small packed size,personally I can’t see how you can give it such a good review,I know magazines do,but they are always biased to companies products especially if they get business from them,but many users on other sites agree with me,from now on though I will use my Wild Country Mistral tent which weighs 7 pounds,but in every other way is vastly superior to this tent,eventually I’ll look for something maybe 3 or 4 pounds,but I’ll doubt I’ll be using the sweat tent again.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Karl,

      thanks for the honest reply on how you rate the tent. Like I said, its not for everyone. I haven’t encountered anything like the issues you have commented upon. Most people in the UK comment on the flappiness of the outer and the lack of robust pegs as a rule.

      Seven weeks in the US, all in the one stint? I think that would be enough of a test for any tent :D I was was looking for a tent for a multiday trip then I would possibly choose a different one but for overnighters and weekend trips I’ve never had a condensation issue with the Laser Comp personally.

      I think the point about the laser Comp is that it is an uberlight tent with a niche market. Comparing it with the Wild Country Mistral is like comparing a BMW with a Morris Minor. They both do the same basic thing but are very much different beyond that.

      If you dont rate the tent, its personal perspective and I respect that. For me this is the 2nd I have had and I find good for me personally

  11. martin says:

    karls talking nonsense. i recently cycle toured for 3 months with a laser competition 2 (and 4 quid 80g ground sheet protector} in northern europe. wild camping 98% of the time. really put it through its paces. fantastic piece of kit.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      I am with you Martin. The Laser Competition is a modern classic. I would hazard to say that it is perhaps the ultimate defining tent for the modern era. It has its niggles but the whole concept and execution of the design and the reality of its use still takes my breath away. We cant forget that The Laser Competition is still lighter than most so-called lightweight (and often single skinned) tents!

      Love it :)

  12. martin says:

    i’m thinking he wasn’t using the upgraded dual entrance tent for ventilation. also, 7 weeks of exposure to “very hot weather”, then transferred to cold, wet conditions is a recipe for disaster. it should of been broken down during the day or pitched away from direct sunlight. he’d obviously destroyed the fabric’s waterproofing.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Well, any tent will get overwhelmed if used badly or under extreme conditions. It can be tempting to blame a tent after one bad experience and many weeks on the trail will test the best of them. In my experience of 60+ nights in the Laser Comp I’ve never had a problem with condensation

  13. Captain Sensible says:

    I have owned a couple of Laser Comps and really love them. I currently have the 2012 updated version which I used for a total of 4 weeks in the UK and Canada in a variety of conditions. Camping in British Columbia is about the most rain and general dampness possible and it kept me dry and comfortable. The updated version has elastics to hold the ends up securely to allow more ventilation whilst keeping the rain out. This is a great improvement! I also use the 2 way zip to leave a small gap under the pole hood. I am 5’9″ and find it the perfect size for me. It takes a night or 2 to get used to and you need to be organised but that goes for all ultralight tents IMO.

    Some people prefer to have more room around their head and shoulders…look at the Lightwave T10, Hillegerg Nallo or Terra Nova Voyager superlight which are also excellent tents but significantly heavier.

  14. Kim says:

    I have just ordered the Laser Comp because of the low packsize and weight. The primary purpose is a couple of overnighters in the summerseason. My big favorite though is my Helsport Ringstind Light 1. A norwegean tent, that IMO is close to perfect and a little better than the Akto. Super quality. Fantastic ventilation and a headheight of 110 cm. I just wanted to tell you all about it, because so many people are writing about the Akto. Compare if you like. Have a nice time on the summertrail :-)
    I’m from Denmark – please excuse my english!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Kim,

      your English is excellent so dont worry!

      Good choice on the Laser Comp, the packsize and weight is very good indeed and hard to better IMO. I have seen the Helsport before and it looks good and as you say perhaps a bit better than the Akto.

      Have fun with the new tent :)

  15. Kim says:

    Thanks – and you too! :-) Looking forward to follow your blog…

  16. Felipe says:

    what about vaude tents? like Taurus UL or Vaudei Hogan…any experience with that?

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Felipe, I have not used Vaude tents like those mentioned but have seen them up close. I think in general the Vaude lightweight tents are well made and suited for backpacking with.

  17. Felipe says:

    you can say this tent have durable materials?

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