The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Decisions, Decisions

Let me start by making two statements about myself, in case anyone hadn’t worked them out:

1. When it comes to buying something when there are various options available, I’m hopeless at making a decision.
2. I’m a sad cow; making a decision on things like a tent often involves the copious use of a spreadsheet.

This week’s contemplation has been on the subject of a new tent.

I first looked at the Stephenson’s Warmlite tents quite a long time ago, but I didn’t believe any of the wild claims made on their website. Having now seen one in the flesh, having read lots more reviews about them and having read the Warmlite website in such detail that I almost have it memorised, I’ve very nearly come to the conclusion that we will get one.

The question then became which one to choose.

The obvious model to go for is the 2R – plenty big enough for the two of us and with the basic model (ie without any optional extras) weighing in at (let me just consult the spreadsheet…) 1246g.

But then there’s the 3C, which is even bigger still (152cm wide and 104cm high for the entire length of the main section) and only weighs in at 1.7kg.

I managed to rule out the 3C on the basis that we really don’t need a tent that big, and the bigger the tent the bigger the pitch needed and the less discretely it can be pitched in places where one shouldn’t be pitching.

So, that brought us back to the 2R, which should have been the decision made, except that the Warmlite tents come with lots of options, all of which add weight and cost money and therefore involve yet more decisions.

Firstly there’s the big door at an extra 56g and $15. A no-brainer in my opinion. We will have the big door.

Then there’s the internal stabiliser straps at 71g and another $15. The website says that you don’t need them at wind speeds of less than 95mph, but elsewhere implies that you may like to have them at windspeeds at over 60mph. We’ve camped in winds gusting to 70mph (in a ridiculously inappropriate, but fortunately well pitched tent). We’ve run scared from forecasts of gusts to 90+mph. So, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we would use the straps if we had them. And, for the weight and price, they seem worthwhile.

Then there’s the optional side windows. Now this is where I’m really stumped. 142g and $44. If the tent had a mesh front door then I’d be happy without the side windows. If there was an option for a window on just one side then I’d be happy (but then why not just have a mesh option on the front door?).
The side vents apparently don’t affect the stability of the tent, but surely having mesh on the inside degrades from the warmth and condensation-proof-ness of the sealed inner between the poles?

So, that would seem to bring us to the decision of the 2R, with big door and stabiliser straps at 1375g.

But without the mesh windows, would it be awful to be holed up in the tent in midge-infested places or bad weather? This isn’t a decision that we can afford to get wrong.

Then, just as we may be moving towards a decision, we throw ‘from stock’ versus ‘custom made’ into the equation. If we buy a model from stock then (not only do we get 10% off) but I can also probably get someone to hand carry it over for me, saving on postage and the like. If we buy a custom made model, then we’ll have to wait and play the postal lottery. And that’s the next problem, because the models they have in stock have the big door, but also have the windows rather than the stabiliser straps. For ease do we take the windows and forgo the stability straps? Or do we wait and pay more and get the ideal model (if I can ever decide what that is?).


There’s always the TN Voyager Superlite. Not as big, light, or sturdy, but an easy option.


  1. I'd also worry about the lack of bug netting. Sloman seemed to survive though. I'd also add the TN Solar Superlight to the list - having two vestibules is a positive luxury and there's more room all round that in the Voyager.

  2. For once I find myself advising to go down the lightweight option in preference to Andy's 'heavyweight' option!
    Go with the 2R with the big front door. Midges are never really that much of a problem if you camp in the right place - I had a couple of poor camp spots on the entire walk down to midges - and that was down to poor campcraft - choosing poor locations to stop!

    Go on M&G - choose wisely! You know you want to!

    Oh - I would definitley go with the internal stabilizers - it makes for a far more peaceful night in a storm.

    Toodle pip!

  3. Andy - I just couldn't justify the Solar Superlight. The two vestibules may be luxurious, but saving no weight over the Voyager that we already have, I couldn't justify the expenditure.

    Now, if I should ever win the Lotto, I may just become a veritable tent connoiseur (sp?) - in which case the Solar Superlight would be up there on my list!