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]

Thursday 18 October 2007

Wendy Gets Wet in Settle

The sun was just setting last night as we paced up and down looking for the flattest piece of ground on which to give Wendy (she’s our new Stephenson’s Warmlite 2R for those who aren’t in the know) her first night out.

We had cause to be up in North Yorkshire yesterday afternoon, so it had seemed rude not to take the opportunity to spend a night out and to spend today walking somewhere locally.

However, it was neither a good nor an arduous test of Wendy’s abilities. To start with, we were not on a hillside where she so clearly wants to be pitched, but rather we were car-camping on a regimented caravanning sort of a campsite just outside of Settle.

Then there were the weather conditions. Some would say that a forecast of -1 degrees does not create ideal conditions to test out a part-single skin tent. However, it was not just the temperature that went against this first use. The complete lack of any breeze at all (this morning we sat in the Ye Olde Naked Man Café looking at the flag at the top of an escarpment across the road and didn’t see it even try to flutter once) compounded the temperature issue. I think that most, if not all, tents with two people inside would struggle to remain dry in such conditions.

Getting up this morning, I firstly checked out the amount of condensation that had accumulated. Given the lack of wind and the cold temperature, I was expecting a lot – but perhaps not quite that much on the two-skin section of the tent.

It was when I started moving around that I found out that it is impossible to move around inside, when there is another person in there, without brushing up against the (wet) sides constantly. The only place where the tent is big enough to sit up fully is under the front pole – which is fine when there’s only one of you in the tent, but gets a bit tricky with two (particularly when you’re also trying to make a cup of tea (well, why not add a bit more water vapour?)).

The next ‘issue’ reared its head once I’d packed all my things away, at which point I intended to vacate the tent to allow Husband the room to do likewise. At this point I found that the water vapour on the door had, as it is designed to, run down to the lower zip and the mesh section below it. Alas, when it got to the zip, rather than seeping out of the tent, it had frozen solid. As a result, the zip was frozen shut; it wouldn’t even yield to gentle persuasion. Being the skinny thing that I am, at least I was able to squeeze out of the gap allowed by the vertical zip!

Now at this moment, I’m struggling to see how we could possibly use this tent for a 3-month walk. It will undoubtedly be great in certain conditions (like when there’s any sort of a breeze). The floor size is fantastic. It is ridiculously simple to pitch. It should be exceptionally sturdy. However, the height really is looking to be an issue. I’m also struggling to see how we could keep the inside dry when we’ve got wet gear or when it’s raining – that’s something that we definitely need to explore on a trip of a night or two.

As I said though, it was hardly a fair test. It will certainly get lots more use in different circumstances (and let’s face it, it only became the tent of choice last night for the fact that it was brand new) – and when we’ve used it in a more sensible location and in more sensible conditions, I shall report back again.

Wendy in an inappropriate setting. Of all the caravans present, the majority seemed to be in storage - only two were in use, and we were the only tent. I wonder why that would be, on such a nice crisp Wednesday night in mid-October...?


  1. Gayle,
    you must discuss this with Alan (AFAIK the only other person with one of these in the UK).
    HOWEVER have you thought of the Hex3 or it's replacement? Pity at the bloggers meet you couldn't make the Saturday else you would of seen Dawn's Hex3. On my blog is some pictures of it
    It is very roomy, but single skin. And no floor, so I am using on of those ground sheets bob is selling.

  2. Hi M&G

    From a quick sqint at the piccy of Wendy I would hazard a guess that the reason for the spectacular amount of condensation you have experienced on the silvered inner seems to be that she is not pitched taut enough. Wendy will respond to discipline - she needs to sit with a straight back, or the outer of the section between the poles might sag onto the inner and form, in effect, a single skin tent.

    You really need to use those tension adjusters at the front to ratchet up the tension on the skin, that way you keep separation between the outer and inner. Also, the two end cones become drum tight so any condensation slips nicwly away and doesn't linger.

    I have just come back from camping high in the Lakes with Wanda - a freezing night, waking to be above a beautiful cloud inversion - and to a nice dry and warm Wanda.

    Wind Wendy up good and tight and keep her that way - check before retiring for the night that she is drum tight!

    Also from the picture it looks like you haven't pegged the base of the front pole far enough forward - that could lead to a saggy belly as well!

    It's just like a marriage, - you will learn to love her more with age.

  3. Thanks for the tip Alan. I was actually pretty impressed at how taught we managed to get her upon pitching (unfortunately I didn't take a photo at that stage).

    By morning, having got cold and damp over night, it was very noticeable how much she had slackened.

    Perhaps on one of my many trips to the toilet block over night (darned cold weather!) I should have adjusted her a bit more.

    You're also right about not having pegged the front pole far enough forward - something that I'd made a mental note about when I saw her slackness in the morning.

    Practice will make perfect even if she doesn't become our choice of LEJOG tent (and I'm vaguely planning another outing in her this year, albeit only if it's going to be a windy night).

    Glad to hear that you gave Wanda a night out (and jealous that you got a cloud inversion when we got a view of rows of caravans!) - I was listening to your TGOC interview with Podcast Bob the other week and wondered what had happened to your vow to get yourself off to the Lakes more... ;-)