We used to use the excellent Terra Nova Solar II but when the Superlite version of the classic Terra Nova Voyager was produced I couldn’t resist shedding the half kilo or so of weight. (And now it seems it’s 300 grams lighter still).
Nice and roomy. Very well made, as all Terra Nova stuff is. Although being a Superlite it does technically require seam-sealing to be utterly waterproof. Though, from what TN tell me, I seem to be the only person to ever have found it to leak slightly.
Another thing worth mentioning is that it does only require 12 pegs even though it has 13 pegging out points (as standard). The two middle loops don’t require pegging. They’re just there to be used if you really want to use every point possible.
Yes, yes, but what of the toughening?
Well, ours took a hell of a kicking on some of its early outings. Partly it’s that we tend to pitch high and with more of an eye for the sunrise than for shelter. Partly it was just a series of extremely windy weekends that we happened to pick.
But despite getting almost a full “vacuum packed to the ground” effect on a couple of occasions, it came through with no damage on all but one occasion.
That was was when the wind turned overnight and instead of coming from the tail came from the front.
Now, if you look at the way the Voyager is put together, wind from the front, at first glance would seem to be no big deal.
|Except that you then notice there are no guy lines on the front. In fact there are only two guy lines on the whole tent – at the rear flank.
(The picture shows wind from the front and side, it also shows a failed attempt to use a Grip Clip as a guy line. It failed as the silnylon is too slippery to hold it).
So, wind from the front pushes on the fly, and sends the single transverse pole backwards, sliding up inside the fly until the two longitudinal poles really start to feel it at the back.
But looking at it, the solution seemed simple.
Since the problem is that the pole slides along the inside of the fly, away from the porch, just attach one of the same clips that the inner attaches to the poles with, to the fly, at the top of the transverse pole.
I doubt it adds more than 8-10 grams to the weight but it solves the problem as the pole is now anchored by the pegs down at the front of the fly.
Which is fine, as long as the wind is coming straight at the front of the tent.
But of course it didn’t. Since is started at the back, it moved around to hit from the side for a time. At which point the whole tent tried to flatten sideways with only the rear guys putting up a fight.
It did well. Slightly banana’d the transverse pole but it survived. Boiling water for breakfast was a matter of holding down the groundsheet with as much weight as possible to stop the stove getting thrown about. We couldn’t even cook in the porch that morning (don’t try this at home folks ;).
So the solution for that is far less cunning. Just attach a new guy point on each side at the joint between the porch and the main body. Nice long guy lines, and hey-presto – bomber semi-geodesic tent with enough guy lines to give it a fair chance in wind from any direction.
And the guys themselves have been replaced with Dyneema. It’s lighter than the original cordage and stronger than steel weight for weight. If that’s not impressive enough it’s 40% stronger than aramid fibre (Kevlar, the thread used in the bullet proof vests in the later part of the last century, is an aramid).
The tensioners have been replaced with the excellent (and very cheap) Mini-Line Loks. They are far, far easier to use than any other tensioner I’ve come across and yet manage to grip even the thin Dyneema cord without any sign of slippage.
Sharon Brogdale over at TN said that she’d spoken to the designer of the the new version of the Voyager about the door hook and the extra guys and they were considering them for the new design. But sadly they didn’t make it (I imagine it’s the weight they are concerned about).
Whilst I was sending it back to TN for new poles and the above re-working I had them replace the rather overly stretchy shock cord on the pegging out points with much shorter but tougher grade cord. That also helps stabilise it as the stretchier cord allowed the fly to move about a bit too much for my liking.
TN charged very reasonable money for all this. The shock cord was £2.50 a point (five of them), new guy points £10.00 each and the hook above the door only £5.00. Another £5.00 p&p brought the whole lot to £42.50.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a great tent even as sold. But for pitching in really silly places in even sillier weather my modified version is as close to carrying a TN Quasar as I’m likely to get (until they make a sub 1.5 kilo Quasar Superlite…).
Edit: 09/ May 2009: Duh! I should have said – it weighs in at 1966 grams. A 104 gram gain on the original weight of 1862 grams.