(The straight to DVD sequel of…) Kit that broke, kit that didnae, and other stuff before I forget.

Been a while since I’ve done one of these posts and I’ve had too much new gear on the go to backtrack, so I’m going to start up my regular gear posts again with some new kit from the Coigach trip.

The Force10 Helium Carbon 100 is the big news for me and it was interesting in many ways, although visually it’s in the area of a Terra Nova Laser, in reality it’s completely different.
This was the first I’d pitched the Helium and a hungry man at dusk at the controls without instructions is always the best test of how easy something is to pitch. It went well I thought, I wrestled with the main pole a little, but I’d missed an adjuster which means that next time will be fine. The end poles are great, they slip in and out without stressing any seams and the pegging points are numerous and well placed.
The inner has good space, this is way better than the old Helium with only one end pole. My feet can miss one end and at the same time leave storage space above my head at the other end which is the way a tent should be: usable. The inner was a little loose and hangy at my head end, something that I think should improve as I’ve adjusted the fly/inner attachments since I’ve been back. I got a shower of ice from the inner as well, it was catching and holding a lot of condensation, but I’m not judging it on that, it happens in any tent given the right conditions and with a tighter inner it’ll be better next time as well.
The TBS system was fine, only once did I stick an arm through the gap between cord and inner. I’m learning. The inner door is fine, a little smaller than a Laser door so I can catch a hip on it crawling in and out, but it’s better when you’re boiling the stove in the porch (which is a good size) as you’ve got more protection from the weather. The outer door has Velcro tabs, a two-way zip and a buckle at the bottom, all good stuff.
It’s early days and I haven’t even weighed it yet, I’ve ditched the skinny pegs that come with it and I’m using my own titanium nails/Y peg combo, but it does feel kinda right and I hope on the next few trips we’ll get to know each other much better.

Also in for test from Vango/F10 are the new version of a long standing favourite, the Ultralight Gas Stove and their wacky Windshield (see photie below). The stove update sees the loss of titanium adding so few grams I can’t tell the difference holding one in each hand but keeping the same brilliant performance. This big wide burner is magic, I’ve used it on half a dozen different stoves and it’s got to be the best out there, the folding legs work well and it’s compact enough to fold into my smallest EverNew pot.
The windshield might look a little gimmicky, but I instantly took to it. It folds up smaller that my old crinkled aluminium shield and is very stable, especially with the two integral pegs and a couple of spare tent pegs which I usually use with shields. When the wind catches it, the aluminium panels pivot silently where the roll-up type rattles around.  It gets warm, which should have been obvious… it’s easy to clean and it’s now standard kit, which I will weigh later when I report back on it. If it falls apart at the hinges I will be upset.

The Osprey Talon 44 was out and was stuffed on the walk in. It carries well when loaded, but it’s very busy and there’s a few niggles for me because of that which I’ll have to get past so I use it more to get a proper handle on it, because like I say, it takes a load very well.
I slept warmly on a Thermarest Neoair and OMM Duomat in a Hagöfs Goga 3S down bag. I wore Chocolate Fish Taranaki merino top and bottom, Fjallraven trousers and the fantastic Montane Slipstream GL windshirt. Camp wear was PHD down gear from head to, literally, toe. I was supposed to be on the summit, at 300m this stuff was pure luxury.
I wore Garmont suede and fabric boots with Brasher socks inside, Kahtoola aluminium crampons and was glad of both a CAMP Corsa Nanotech axe and Mountain King Harlequin Trail Blaze poles to keep upright. I ate Mountain House lasagne, Adamsons oatcakes and Kenco coffee all lit to perfection by Petzl.

Ah, there’s more, but we’ll get to that next time.

15 thoughts on “(The straight to DVD sequel of…) Kit that broke, kit that didnae, and other stuff before I forget.

  1. I had the Helium Carbon 100 out in anger for the first time at the end of last week. P**sing rain and gusty winds – so rather different conditions from your outing!

    Very impressed by the fly and pole set up. I managed to get it really tight, and there was less flapping than I expected.

    However, even thought the fly was tight as a drum, the inner at the head end sagged appallingly – as yours did. It was so bad that I had to sleep with my head and the windward end. And although it wasn’t a completely flat pitch, it was probably as good as it gets in Scotland– so it was not the ground that was the issue.

    The problem (IMHO) is that the bungee chord that Vango use for the inner is too stretchy, particularly so on the long loops that stretch to connect the bottom corners of the inner to the corner guy points of the fly. Rather than pulling the inner out where it needs to be, the bungee chord just stretches, so it is very difficult to get enough tension on the inner to form the required ‘triangle’at the end.

    In the morning (predictably – 11 hours too late), I discovered that if I pegged out the corners of the inner directly – i.e. through the slits where the bungees attach to the inner – I could remove most of the sagging.

    Soooo – in order to guarantee a good pitch, I reckon that you have to reduce the size of the loops connecting the inner to the fly around the middle pole (possibly by as much as 50%) – which I think you have done – AND replace the 4 bottom corner bungees with Dyneema – either longer lengths with line loks (to attach the inner and fly corner to the same peg), or small loops so that the inner can be pegged out independently. The latter will require 4 extra pegs (titanium crooks will not add too much weight). The bungees at the end apexes and around the pole should provide some ‘give’, if it gets a real battering in high winds.

    I think the helium carbon 100 WILL prove to be a great tent. But a tent with a RRP of £400 shouldn’t required modification to work properly, and this kind of thing should really have been sorted out in pre-production.

    I presume that you will be providing Vango with some feedback!

  2. What you said!

    Aye, I’m feeding back, I’ll also be in the Helium for most of the next ten days, so more coming up.

    There’s a brilliant tent in there just needing a new hairstyle to get it just-so.

  3. 10 days? Good one!

    I’ll wait and see how you get on before I get the scissors and dyneema out :-)

  4. It’ll be off and on, I’ll be home a couple of days in the middle, but I think this place might continue to be postless for another couple of weeks!

    Praying for weather as I pack.

  5. Aye – this unseasonably cold and showery lark is getting tiresome.

    Look forward to a resumption in coms in a fortnight!

  6. My mate – resolutely – sported shorts when we were out last week (“It’s May – I wear shorts in May”).

    He was trying hard not to gimace when the hail was pinging off his bare legs :-)

  7. Shorts rock.

    The first half of my trip was curtailed. Skye was too windy and too cloudy. And the tent inner is too baggy…

    Next, Poolewe!

  8. Poolewe – ah splendid! Looks like a great forecast as well. We were out that way the other week. Corbett and Graham bagging from Gruniard. Fantastic! And some fantastically rough ground in places, and none of the crags marked on the map!. Only ‘blots’ were a spot of hail and a baggy inner…

    …Aye – scissors, dyneema, extra pegs blah blah blah. It’ll get there…

  9. Something has to be done with that inner…

    Schedule change, away early in the morning which saves me camping or B&B fees tonight. Then it’s, well, three days trekking and see Trail in a couple of months :o)

    Lovely up there, my camp by Fionn Loch a couple of years back remain vivid.
    Right packing…

  10. Right – I spend an hour and a half in the garden sorting out this flippin Vango and its sagging petticoates.

    1. Replaced the 4 bottom corner bungees with short lengths of dyneema and mini line loks to that they corners can be fully tensioned out (weight neutral)
    2. Replaced 4 corner pegs with beefier y stakes to take the extra strain (+ 10g)
    3. Shortened various bungees connecting inner to fly (weight neutral)
    4. Added 3 chord locks to the three bungees at the Apex – either side and between the tension bands – to increase adjustability (+ 10g)

    Voila – one very taught inner. Happy days.

    With no-nonsence pegs, you can also get the fly reallllly taught – #drumskinesque as the younger generation might put it.

    With heavy duty peggery, the tent now comes in at just a shade over a kilo. Exasperating for that small part of me that exhibits OCD tendencies, but pretty good otherwise.

  11. Aye, mine’s improving with use too, I’ve been doing much the same with a bag on titanium nails and I’m carrying a couple of extra linklok/dyneema guys as well.

    I’m liking it.

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