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