We've looked through our stock of new tents that have been introduced for Spring 2017 and we are highlighting a selection of the best and most interesting ones - see if you agree with our choices.
The tents we've chosen all have wildly different features that will make them exactly the tent you need in different situations. There's extended porches, trekking pole tents, tents with highly technical materials that remove condensation, hybrid bivy-tents and insanely light 4 season tents. Have a read through we've included some of the most important details and a quick overview of the tents and their advantages and disadvantages.
MSR's Hubba Tour 2 Tent has an extended porch to allow for additional storage compared to a standard tent and crucially retains the second entrance of the Hubba Hubba NX giving ultimate flexibility - you and your partner can still have your own access point and storage area.
The other key feature is the exoskeleton design which means the flysheet can be pitched on its own and the inner removed, or setup once the flysheet is pitched - this enables you to keep the inner dry when pitching and striking camp in poor weather.
The inside of the tent is quite spacious but head height is lower than some other tents in this category. The use of 20 and 30 denier fabrics makes the Hubba Tours a bit more durable than the lightest options. We particularly like the fixed groundsheet at the end of the extended porch - this is ideal for keeping your gear off the ground or keeping 'mans best friend' dry.
Lightwave's s10 Sigma Tent is a 4 season free standing shelter with its own poleset weighing in at just 1.1kg, it achieves this awesome statistic by being single skin construction. Single skin puts many people off, especially if they've had a bad night of condensation pooling inside the tent - we like single skin tents but are cool with the consequences - NOW THOUGH, Lightwave's Sigma tents have cracked the condensation issue.
The special fabric keeps the inside of the tent condensation free - feedback we've had from customers confirms this works and is a real breakthrough.
You also get an inner section of the tent made from substantially solid fabric as opposed to mesh - this is also important as it will keep the tent warmer in cooler weather. There's a decent amount of space inside and decent headroom, its a great option for typical UK conditions.
Big Sky's Wisp Super-Bivy Tent is what we call a hybrid design, most of it is single skin but it has a fabric panel and doorway that separates the inner cabin area from the porch and external doorway. The fact that there are no poles to add weight means you can produce a spacious tent at a fraction of the weight of a two skin model with its own poleset. Look at the dimensions and you will see what I mean - the head height and floorspace is very large for one person and the porch is correspondingly large as well.
The compromise is condensation, in the most unfavourable conditions there will be a lot of condensation in the tent so you need to be comfortable with this, we are, we sell a lot of single skin tents to people who don't mind mopping up condensation in the morning.
The Wisp also comes with a short rear pole which adds minimal weight but helps with the setup of the structure.
Nemo's Spike 1P Trekking Pole Tent is well thought out and perfect as a shelter if you want to use a bivy bag or just a groundsheet. Its an alternative to a tarp as extra protection when the weather turns poor, but it scores over a tarp by being pitched down to ground level effectively shutting out wind and rain.
You use your trekking poles to give it support and structure though it also needs a short pole at the rear of about 34cm in length, Nemo suggests using a stick for this purpose but frankly there'll not always be one available and it may be prudent to carry one. The top of the rear panel has a reinforced pocket to house one end of the pole so it will take almost any size stick.
Inside at the rear the tent has a sewn in groundsheet - this is good because when using a groundsheet its easy for your feet to slip off in the night risking a wet sleeping bag, with the foot end being closed in the risk is removed.
The front apex is reinforced to take the handles of two trekking poles to create an 'A' frame support - this is very strong and allows easy access into the tent. A cord runs across the tent to provide the tension and keep the 'A' frame in place, there's a similar cord half way down the tent which helps it keep its structure when being pegged out at the sides.
Its a roomy shelter for one person but you need to factor in the weight of a groundsheet and rear pole.
Vaude's Invenio SUL 2P Tent is a nice big tent with near vertical walls and a strong pole structure to withstand gusty conditions. Its a bit heavier than some but easily carried by two people and the extra weight comes from the higher 'denier' fabrics that have been used throughout the tent and thicker, stronger poles. Higher 'denier' fabrics will last longer than lower ones so this tent is likely to outlast the very lightest models.
The inner tent has large mesh panels which are on the upper surfaces of the inner tent - this will allow plenty of ventilation in hot environments but the fabric panels also provide good protection from wind and a degree of warmth when it gets colder - its a good mix of mesh and fabric.
At 230cm the inner tent length is good and the inner height is among the best in this category, access into and out of the tent is also easy.
MSR's Access 2 Tent is a 4 season tent at a 3 season weight, MSR have achieved this by adding a transverse pole to their now traditional dual hub structure to create a very stable structure and by 'beefing up' the key areas of the tent that would be strained in bad weather.
In addition to improving the pole structure MSR are also using tougher poles, they flex more and are therefore able to bend with the wind.
The flysheet isn't cut as close to the ground as on other 4 season tents but in use this is manageable, the inner tent is made from a solid fabric with mesh only being use sparingly - this means that the inside is protected from wind and spindrift, though gear in the porches will get covered in snow.
Big Agnes's Copper Hotel HV UL2 Tent is simply a standard Copper Spur HV UL2 with an extended vestibule supported by an extra pole, but what makes it stand out from similar designs from other manufacturers is that it only weighs 1.6Kg, this is a remarkable feat for such a large tent as many manufacturers lose focus on the ultralight aspect when making tents with larger porches.
Another feature lacking in similar tents is the double doors - by retaining the second doorway at the back of the tent flexibility is much better - both occupants can still have their own entrance and storage area or you can choose which door you get out of depending on prevailing weather conditions.
Add to this the 'state of the art' fabrics, poles and construction that is standard across the Copper Spur range and you have an amazing tent that's ideal for long backpacking trips or bikepacking where extra space is a real advantage.
Nemo's Hornet series of tents are among the lightest in their range, designed to be extremely lightweight but offering a decent amount of space (relatively speaking). The convenient design of twin doorways makes the 2P easy to use and live with. The Elite version trims even more weight off the standard tent, it achieves this by lowering the internal height slightly and by shifting to 7 Denier fabrics for the flysheet. A lighter fabric is not necessarily weaker in use but it does reduce the life of the tent as thinner fabrics degrade more quickly from UV light.
The inner tent is completely mesh, which makes it cooler in warm environments and gives you more of a sensation of sleeping outdoors - it also means the wind whistles through the tent which some people don't like.
The flysheet sits off the ground quite a bit but Nemo tents are tough - I took one on the GR20 in Corsica and it stood up well to high winds The design compromise is the single hoop, at the front end it forks, which is good for stability but at the rear there's no fork which makes it vulnerable in very strong winds. The solution though is simple - secondary guys can be fitted to the back end of the tent to solve this problem - you won't need them very often but if you do they can be used to stabilise the hoop - see our side guy kit.
With just enough vestibule area to keep you sane the Hornet 2P Elite is a great choice when low weight is a high priority.
Nordisk's Lofoten 2 ULW Tent is small - there's no getting away from it, with a head height of just 70cm it's significantly lower than other one person tents. On the plus side though its a true double skin tent with a predominantly fabric inner that will perform well in UK conditions.
One of the most astonishing things about the Lofoten tents are their packed size, reminiscent of a bag of sugar - and that's with the poles, which pack down to a very short length. The flysheet for the solo version is identical to the two person Lofoten its the inner tent that changes - therefore the solo tent has a bit of a vestibule area for keeping small amounts of gear, whereas the two person version has no porch whatsoever.
All this compromise on space has a purpose - you get a fantastically lightweight tent with an amazingly small packed size that will protect one or two people from the worst weather - afterall it is designed in Scandanavia. Not surprisingly then its aimed at race goers who need the lightest option but don't mind compromising on space because its only for a night or two - and after racing all day all you want to do is sleep anyway.