Lightwave T0 Ultra one man tent – a Review

Time for a review.

I bought the Lightwave T0 Ultra about three years ago as a solo camping upgrade to my very old one man tent that I had had for 25 years. The brief was simple. Lighter than my (then) current tent (2.1kg). One man. Easy to put up. Strong in harsh weather. Green (I know, I know….)

After looking around for some time, I settled on either a variety of Vaude tents or one of the Lightwave range of tents which at the time I have to admit I had not heard of. In the end I made my final choice based on the most important consideration of all…price! I had initially dismissed the T0 ultra as an option because it was at the upper end of what I could afford but was quite interested in its slightly heavier sibling the T0 Trek (same basic tent, 150g heavier due to different materials used). The Ultra normally retails for around £350 whereas the Trek at around £195. I was on the verge of purchasing the Trek when low and behold I discovered the Ultra on sale online for £150! That was it…job’s a good un.

The T0 Ultra

So what did I get for my money?

A tent coming in at 1450grammes, that was claimed to be extremely storm worthy, an interesting feature called “architekture” poles and of course green. It was also an inner first tent which was for me a first.

Pitching it for the first time was relatively easy and once up I was surprised how sturdy it felt. The fly was pulled taut and gave a nice wrinkle free pitch (which I do think is important both structurally as well as aesthetically). The room inside it has to be said wasnt huge but this was partly because the rear of the tent slopes down from the entrance. For me the room was ok but I am 5/7 and I would imagine a 6 footer might struggle a bit in this tent. The inner height of 100cm at the apex of the front pole gives the tent a respectable amount of room for sitting up in (at the fornt of the tent). Also, it has to be said that the tent is well made (using lineloks for instance on the guylines), feels and looks like quality. How would it fare in poor weather though?

I had chance to test the tent in a variety of bad weather conditions including a very wet weekend and a very windy night. Firstly in the wet.

Attempting to pitch the tent on a dark wet night immediately brought home to me its main shortcoming …..its an inner first pitch. Even though it only took me a couple of minutes to get the tent up, the inner got a little wet and I had to mop the floor up. Also the inner walls stayed slightly wet throughout the evening which was more of an annoyance than a show-stopper. You can reduce the chance of the inner getting wet by draping the fly over it whilst pitching but this is a bit of a faff. I guess practise to reduce the pitching time and partially attaching the fly to the inner would improve this situation. Not a show stopper just an adjustment of technique! 

The Ultra pitched

On the windy night, the inner first was actually a slight advantage as it allowed pegging and pole insertion to be reasonably easy. But the test didnt end with the erection. During the night, the tent was subjected to a howling, swirling gale that got up towards a peak 70mph and it didnt move. The tent stayed absolutely solid. Even the supposed weakness of tunnel tents of the sidewalls blowing in didnt happen with the Ultra. Possibly this was due to the fact that the fly was pitched really drum tight and so couldnt blow in. After this windy night I was particularily pleased with the tents performance. I had complete confidence that this tent would put up with some serious abuse and could therefore be fully justified in its claim of being a 4 – season tent.  

The rear of the Ultra

Overall the tent is a very nice design, well thought out and able to put up with very harsh wind. The downside of an inner first shouldnt be a major issue in all but the worst conditions and as said above I reckon I can adapt my erection technique to improve things 🙂 

Pro’s

Well designed with some clever features

Lightweight

Very storm worthy

small pack-size

Really aesthetically pleasing to the eye

Con’s

wet weather pitching

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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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27 Responses to Lightwave T0 Ultra one man tent – a Review

  1. Martin Rye says:

    I reckon the one with the extra long porch is a fine looking tent. PTC had a bad time with his test model yet Trail liked it???

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Was that something to do with the sidewall’s blowing in too much? I found that for me personally pitching the fly really tautly resulted in not much trouble when I encountered 70mph swirling winds.
      The XT model means that you have a huge porch and makes the tent “liveable in” for longer treks

  2. Marcus says:

    I know this is a little late but have you got any photos of the inside, just to get an idea of the room and the porch etc??

  3. Jack says:

    I also have a t0 and agree with your comments. I haven’t pitched it in wet conditions yet. Carol McDermott (the owner /designer) sent me instructions for “fast pitching” in bad weather. He is a very helpful guy, give him a ring sometime.
    My main gripe with it is the short pole which keeps the front vent open. I find it a total pain in the ass to fit and sometimes don’t bother. I am going to get a flexible “rod” sewn in to the inside of the vent (like on the Nallo) to get round this problem. Does this bother you?

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Jack,

      yeah Carol is very helpful and I do like Lightwave/Crux tents. The front “pole” is an oddity and a flexible rod is a clever solution to having to take it in and out all the time. After all the rod doesnt add much structural rigidity to the frame it just keeps the porch peak taut

      A fast pitch normally involves putting the fly over the inner loosely and pegging the back down then erecting from within/underneath. This does work well in wet conditions but its a challenge in windy wet conditions! 🙂

      • Scott says:

        I had the same problem with that small pole, but found that if you attach the fly sheet at the bottom of the front pole first on both sides it can be inserted much more easily by just poking it through the opening and guiding it into the selve by putting your hand up under the fly as its all taught then.

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    good thinking batman 🙂

  5. Dr Gorbstein says:

    A couple of things from a long-time T0 user;

    I find the best way to ‘fast pitch’ this tent is to leave the inner and the outer attached via the velcro straps around the pole sleeves. Then, you pull it all out of the bag in one go, and carefully insert the poles through the sleeves and the velcro all at once. This means the inner never really gets exposed. It has the extra advantage of making easy use of the ‘optional’ velcro attachments which can be a faff to set up, but do make the tent a LOT more rigid in high winds.

    Second thing is the wet sidewalls. This bugs me a lot, but I’ve heard of a few solutions. First one is to use a pair of shelter systems grip clips to add a guyline in the middle of the flysheet wall on each side. This keeps the inner/outer separate and stops the walls blowing in.

    Another idea is to use metal rings (like those on a keyring) or mini carabiners on the pole end webbing points, and peg through those, pulling really tightly. This makes the sidewall very tight.

    Still haven’t found a solution to the stupid brow pole though. I really hate that.

    Still like the T0, even with its silly faults.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Hi Dave,

      its a really good tent that misses out on being a really great tent for the few little niggles you mention. Good idea re the pre-velcro set up. Never thought of that (d’oh!). The little brow pole is an oddity but there you go. If I still had the tent, I think I would get someone to put permanent reinforced panels/guylines on teh side walls to give it that extra form and rigidity. The tent was amazing in the mini storm I experienced, didnt budge an inch. It feels like a mini bunker and you know that its not going to fail as long as the pegging points are good

  6. Scott says:

    I personally like the large cowl and vent it provides, so I’m happy with the pole. Have sort of wondered if it puts extra strain on the main pole, but always seem ok. I found a way to reproof my groundsheet which was leaking like a sive, which has worked well on the last four trips. What I did was get a can of clear acrylic spray paint, acrylic paint can be used to waterproof fabrics, and applied two thin coats to the outer side of the groundsheet, just finished the second. It looks a mess at first as every crease shows and the fabirc seems stiff, but that goes away completly and the marks also go away with use, just leaving a pale white cloudyness. Soaks into the fabirc too, so doesn’t seem to wear off! Going to save me some money this year on either the new version T0 which comes out soon, or an Akto from the US. Can’t believe the prices now for those in the UK!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      thanks Scott for the comments. Not sure if it puts strain on the main pole or not. Because the main poles have pre-bent apex’s I think the strain is less. The new T0 looks bigger if the specs on the website are to be believed. The porch looks twice the size on the new one as the old one and the inner length seems to have increased slightly too. Would like to see the new one in the flesh as if this is correct might address some of the niggles on the older version (although will be interesting to see if there are side tie outs or not on the new version)

      • Scott says:

        Yeah I’ve always thought it was down to the extra weight that they didn’t add a guy or pegging point there as the tents over the 1.5kg mark already and they may have thought it would stop the tent being competative on weight if it was a 1.75kg say instead. I’d be happy with the same space and the extra guy lines and pegs; but I’m only 5.6.

        • backpackbrewer says:

          Hi Scott,

          I reckon a couple of extra guylines, pegs and reinforced patches shouldnt add more than 50g so I am really not sure why they never added it on the original. I might just drop Carol a line over at Lightwave to see if the new version has these on or not and any other changes to the tent

  7. Scott says:

    Yes that would solve the issue with the wind direction changing and coming side on that the Akto beats it on. I’d be willing to pay a little more too.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      me too Scott, I really like the profile and design of the T0 and improvements to the liveability and side wind issue would go a very long way to making this a serious long term choice for a lightweight 4 season tent

      • Scott says:

        Yes I’ve got a feeling though that a fith and sixth guide line would be too much on a one peron tent. I’ve had a couple of times when the inner has blown in on both side due to funny wind directions around rocks and valley sides and both sides have blown in enough for it to be unusable due to wet side walls on both side. I think a good comprimise would be two pegging points at the centre bottom of both sides. That seems a pretty standard thing to do.

        • backpackbrewer says:

          yes Scott, either side tie outs or extra pegging points on the bottom of the centre sidewall fly (or even both!). Just seems logical to me to do one or the other to improve the stability and also the side blowing. I am sending Carol an email today to ask about the new version and will post the reply back on the blog

  8. backpackbrewer says:

    Scott, got a response from Carol as per my new post on the T10 tent, looks interesting to say the least! 🙂

    • Scott says:

      Yes sounds good, not sure if I would be in favour of any weight increase, but more livability can’t be that bad. …Just a shame I use a large two man tent for when I’m staying for while.

      And American English is I believe an older form of the language, if thats whats happened to the brecon beacons!

      • backpackbrewer says:

        Hi Scott,

        the increase is only slight and if the liveability is as improved as I think it is is from the dimensions then it will be worth it. I really liked the T0 so am hoping that the T10 would “wow” me 🙂

  9. Scott says:

    Yes, liked your post comparing the Akto verse a Lichfield. My first tent twenty years ago was a lichfield, which I thought at the time was better than the cheaper consumer tents, and proved to be with many nights spent in it. I think the difference in gear to price now is problably going to lead people to believe that some gear is better than it actually is in comparision with the cheaper stuff. I’ve almost given up with gortex, except for bivi bags. It seems to actually be more expensive than silk when any reasonable breathable waterproof fabric will do the same job.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      I dont touch goretex I only buy Event which in my Montane Atomic DT has served me well over the past few years and that was in a sale! 🙂
      when I first started camping I bought a 1 man ridge tent weighing around 2.2 kg whic was light in those days and I have only really just retired it now. And the cost? £43 in 1981. How does that equate to todays prices, I have no idea lol? 😀

  10. Scott says:

    I’ve tried to have given up on membrane type fabrics; I use Event gaiters, and use a paramo jacket for two seasons (the coldest) and a Paclite for the warmer months where I don’t mind getting very damp. Hasn’t managed to be used fully this year though, so not totally sure about the comaprision in all day long wet conditions. Hoping it works though as it cost £175. I’ve choosen to wear it this summer in the highlands for a few weeks, so hopefully its not too warm and keeps me dry. I looked up my Dads tent from the late eighties the other month and found it was still selling, and that was £270 which was the Saunders Space Packer. Seems rather pricey now considering its a two man 2kg tent. Good tent though, still with a light flysheet material. Makes you wonder again if the prices are right!

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Saunders tents were way ahead of their time when they first came out. They are still good value for money and the design is classic and in my opinion timeless.
      My first tent was a Saunders lookalike and I have such good memories of using it in my teens and I even took it backpacking around Europe in the late eighties. Such a wrench to finally “retire” it though 😦

      • john parr says:

        I had a Saunders backpacker for decades now got a tO Ultra. You could get all your gear in the Saunders. My Ultra patched by SMG v professionally after being trampled by frisky pony. Left the Saunders with scouts on Anglesey as light aircraft wouldnt take poles in cabin…security at RAF Valley!

        • backpackbrewer says:

          Still see a few around and still not a bad design even by today’s standards.

          I hope you werent in the tent at the time of the frisky pony?!

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