Time for a review.
Before I start, I will explain upfront that the review was made possible by the kind loan of the tent by Carol McDermott of Lightwave tents. I like to make this clear at the start and although I think I am a fair and balanced reviewer I would rather people know. It was a loan mind, not a freebie! 🙂
Right, so onto the review.
I used to have this tent’s predecessor the Lightwave T0 which I sold on after I got the Laser Competition a few years back. I used the T0 quite a bit as it was my first “updated” tent after getting back into camping on a regular basis 6 or 7 years ago. The things I liked about the T0 was the light weight (1.4kg for the ultra). the aethestic pitch and tautness of the fly, the stability in poor weather and its relatively small pack size. Things I didnt like so much were the brow pole (fiddly) and the inner first nature of the pitch. When I saw the T10 was an upgrade on the T0 I wanted to see how much of an improvement it was and whether I thought it a better tent. After all, I did like the T0 it was just the Laser Comp gave me more benefits.
Ok, back to the T10. First of all component weights:
- 6 x 9g for the red needle pegs
- 4 x 11g for the gold “twist” tri-bladed pegs
- 4 x 29g for the large silver “twist” tri-bladed pegs
- (212g altogether in total for the pegs)
- 1 x 9g for the pole repair connector
- 275g for the set of poles
- 11g for the pole bag
- 627g for the inner
- 553g for the outer inc guylines
- 34g tent stuff bag
A grand total of 1721g for the whole tent, pegs and bags.
Just casting my eye over these numbers its a reasonable weight for a one man tent (its in the same weight bracket as the Hilleberg Akto) but obviously not the lightest. Also it is claimed specifically as a 4 season tent and since it comes in around 500g less than the Hilleberg Soulo not too bad. I reckon you could ditch the pole bag and switch the heavier pegs for titanium y or v pegs to save around 60-70g straight off taking it to 1650g. If you wanted to go a bit further, you could replace the guylines with 1.5mm dyneema lines and save a further 50g. Of course in the summer, I would be tempted to ditch the inner and just take my lightweight bivvy bag (200g) to get this down to 1300g.
So now to the pitching of the tent. I tested this tent out on my recent trip to North Wales. I wasnt hoping for poor weather but it would have been a good test for the erection and then robustness of the tent. In the end, the weather was kind and so I didnt get chance to test the T10 to its fullest extent.
I did scan the instructions for the tent but in my own inimitable way, I completely avoided taking them with me or practising erecting the tent. I wanted to try out the tent in a mountain environment without instructions to see how “intuitive” the pitching of the tent was.
The first pitch was at Maeneira and it was as calm and unwet as you could wish for which meant I could put the tent up without having to rush. I put the poles into the inner, pegged out the corners, the rear point and the two mesh “struts” to give a kind of free standing inner struture. I then started to attach the fly over the inner, taking care to fasten the velcro tabs onto the mesh points on the inner where the poles threaded through. These add more stability in wind and although calm I want to see how faffy it was to do this. I then pegged out the fly where the poles met, the two front points, the two mid panel points, the rear point and the 4 guyline points.
That done, taking about 10-15 minutes to do, I surveyed the tent. I have to admit that my first attempt at a pitch was slightly underwhelming. The tent fly was fairly taut but the front porch I felt was a bit flappy. Looking at the design, the 2 pegging struts of material leading away from the fly appeared to be not quite at the right angle to achieve a very taut pitch. I reckong the angle of the material of the pegging points could be a bit sharper/steeper to firm this up.
So onto the second pitch, which was on top of Carnedd Llewelyn with a cold wind of around 15-20mph (measured) to cope with. By now I had realised a small error in my pitching technique (which was in the instructions that I had blatantly left behind to be fair 🙂 ) which was the fact I didnt insert the poles into the eyelets of both the inner tent and the fly. Both the fly and the inner corner attachments have grommets to accept the poles to give a more rigid pitch and “bind” the fly and inner closer together.
The thing that I did do deliberately this time was to pitch the tent “all in one” by leaving the inner and outer attached by the velcro points from the first pitch. I reasoned that by leaving the inner and outer attached, it would speed up my 2nd pitch (and it did). Careful threading of the poles through the inner and velcro was relatively easy to achieve and this way would definitely help with an erection in windy and rainy conditions.
So this time the pitch took about 5-10minutes and I felt that the end product was a much better result. The fly was really taut and the stability improved. Even the loose/flappy porch seemed better (though I still reckon could do with tightening up a teeny bit more – short linelocs a possibility here). The tent was growing on me and reminded me why I liked the original tent the T0. The 2nd night went without a hitch apart from one of my campmates helpfully shaking my tent in the morning to wake me up!
So onto the summary
- aesthetic and aerodynamic in design and appearance
- stable (once I had worked out the true pitching mechasnism!)
- fairly intuitive pitching
- the best inner-first tent I have tried to date
- not sure whether this is by chance or design but the fact that you can leave the inner and outer attached and then pitch as one for poor conditions (and it worked well by this pitching method too)
- well made (no poor stitching etc)
- pack size quite small (especially compared with all the one man Hilleberg tents)
- reasonable sized porch (much improved from the last version the T0)
- longer inner (225cm) than the T0 (212cm)
- no brow pole!
- 2 way zips to aid ventilation on fly giving a variety of venting and viewing options
- Lots of pockets including a couple in the inner forward mesh “struts”
- Ever so slightly heavy for the (one man) size. I would like to see this tent dip below the magic 1.5kg mark and to be fair the follow up tent the T10 “ultra”, which is due to be released later this year, should achieve this easily.
- Not entirely happy with the porch pegging out points. I reckon they could be tightened up a bit and might be a bit flappy in heavy wind. If I had the tent I think I would mod these points to accept short lineloc guying lines to pull the fly porch area forward more.
- the number of pegs needed. This tent is supplied with 14 pegs at around 212g BUT, to peg out ALL the available points and guylines etc takes 18 pegs. This is quite a few pegs and a bit of the weight contribution. If I owned the tent, I would used smaller, lighter titanium pegs to reduce the weight and bulk.
- Although the brow pole is gone, I am not convinced about the replacement vent design and it is almost closed in terms of a gap between fly and inner at the apex of the front pole (however, I did not get any condensation issues for either night to be fair and there are more venting options with the two way zip on the fly door).
- The tent could be “wobbled” sideways from the porch apex back and forth ie it wasnt “rigid” (although it did spring back into place afterwards). I would have liked to have tried it in very harsh wind to test this out fully but alas it was fairly calm. Having said that, my Hilleberg Unna moves more that the T0 when “wobbled” and I suspect that the wobble is to allow the tent to deform with heavy side wind and then pop back into place rather than fail catastrophically.
All in all?
I do actually like the tent although it did have to “grow on me” over the course of the trip. I think the design of the fly and inner combining onto the poles is very clever. I am not entirely convinced by the porch design although it is functional and an improvement on the original (T0). You have to carry a fair amount of pegs but the finished article is very attractive, stable and comfortable inside. In fact I slept very well both nights which was a good result! I thought the interior was well laid out in terms of pockets and zips and headroom and in poor weather/winter conditions would help with its “livability” for long periods of time.
The other thing to mention is the weight. Its not heavy for a claimed 4 season tent (the Akto is 1.6kg and the Soulo 2.2kg by comparison) but I would like to see it dip below the 1.5kg mark. When it comes out, the T10 ultra should achive this and I reckon this could be a real viable and lighter alternative to the established Hilleberg mountain tents. The other big plus is that the price point is very favourable versus the other tents in its class. The T10 retails at £250 whereas the Akto is £400. I am not going to get into a full comparison of the relative merits but I think that the T10 has been firmly planted in the 4 season mountain tent catagory and has to be judged as such.
Finally, I think the T10 is a worthy successor to the T0 and indeed an improvement in a few areas. I wish I had been able to fully test the pitching and resilience of the tent in harsh weather but obviously I will leave that for others to do and hopefully report back.
I would like to thank Carol McDermott for the loan of the tent for the purpose of the review (which has been returned) and I have tried to give a fair and impartial assessment of the T10 trek.