Pondering the onset of autumn/winter, I am revisiting my kit selection for poor conditions. In the UK, winter on the hills is normally a brutal combination of high winds and copious amounts of rain, sleet or snow. Whilst not as cold as some parts of Northern Europe (although Scotland can be pretty grim in winter), the combination of challenging conditions makes kit choice quite difficult.
Whilst I am determined to use my new tarp set up at least once in deep winter, I am looking again again the choice of tents that would deal with a range of poor weather. My current tent of choice is the Terra Nova Laser Competition and whilst able to handle very poor conditions indeed, I feel reluctant (nervous) to expose it to summit tops in full winter conditions. Its not the potential for continuous snow, sleet or rain that bothers me particularly with the Laser Comp. Its the wind….
So, choosing a tent that purposefully will deal with high winds and exposed positions is relatively easy. There are quite a number of expedition/bomb proof type shelters out there but the main enemy in these is weight. Can we navigate a way through the connundrum of weight vs “boobproofness” for the lone winter hiker in the UK (or anywhere with a high wind/heavy wetness combo for that matter)? Time and time again the choice normally leads to a 2-man/3kg+ choice which is ok per se but is bulky and heavy. I dont mind carrying a little extra kit in the winter but not kilos and kilos of stuff. In fact normally I dont actually increase my kit level that much for winter as opposed to summer. I carry the same sleeping bag, the same rucksack, the same sleep pad, the same tent normally (unless basecamping) etc. The main difference is I normally have an extra layer&different trousers.
The exception to the weight/bombproofness rule are the one man tents made by Hilleberg. There are currently 3 tents that fit my criteria as being fit for purpose ie:
- approx 2kg or less
- very resistant to high winds/exposed conditions
- outer first pitch
- flexible pitching configurations
- ease of erection!
- and a few other things beside………….!
The tents in question are the Akto, the Soulo and the Unna. I have owned and used both the Akto and the Soulo and know their limitations and benefits quite well. The one tent I havent tried is the Unna
I have tried and tried to like the Akto but for me it just falls in between a really good boomproof tent and a very lightweight stout tent. It is neither one thing nor the other. I am not dissing the Akto as I know many fellow outdoor people who use and love and rate this tent. Its just not for me. Its much heavier than the Laser Comp and doesnt give you that many benefits above and beyond its rival. Also its not really designed for exposed conditions or heavy snow loading and its a bit small on the headroom. Having said all that, believe me, the Laser Comp has its drawbacks but not that many and 95% of the time are not an issue. So that for me is a straight comparison between the Soulo and the Unna.
I am not sure why there are not that many Unnas used in the UK when compared to say the Soulo or the Akto but maybe for others it too sits in between extreme positions and has too many compromises? Of course, those amongst you who know me will realise this is a self analysis on a pathway already started to purchasing a new tent…… So back to the comparison:
weight 2.0kg including stuff sack 2.1kg including stuff sack
head height 100cm 95cm
exposed pitching yes yes
snowing loading? yes yes
pitch outer only yes yes
inner tent area 2.5 sq metres 2.0 sq metres
Vestibule area 0 sq metres 0.7 sq metres
Cost – rrp £475 £515
Number of poles 2 3
freestanding yes yes
max inner length 230cm 220cm
Yes. I do like the Unna and I am definitely interested in potentially getting one this winter. Yes, I still like the Soulo and think in the harshest of conditions would perform slightly better than the Unna but for 99.5% of the time I think the Unna would be a better alround tent. Also, viewed another way, the Unna is also a huge bombproof sub 1.5kg tarp tent if you remove the inner so is very flexible indeed
I will let you know if I do get one……..