Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Phoenix Phreeranger

Probably the best solo tent in the world?

The Phreeranger (and Phreerunner) were single hoop solo (sometimes classed as 1+) tents made from around 1985 to about 1995, they also used a short transverse pole at the apex of the fly to enhance headroom. I have an 88/89 Field & Trek catalogue which lists the Phreeranger with no mention that it's a 'new' model, the last Field & Trek catalogue that I can find it listed in is the 1995 issue. The price in 1988/89was £169.95, when I bought mine it was around £190, by 1995 it had risen to £231. For comparison a Wild Country Quasar cost £224 - 1998, £245 approx - 1990 and £334 - 1995. The other iconic solo tent which fortunately is still around was the Saunders Spacepacker which cost £197 - 1988, not sure about the cost in 1990 and 1995 but the current top of the range Spacepacker costs £269.

Phoenix Phreeranger EB

I bought my 1st Phreeranger, pictured above, around 90-92, an EB model to be exact which simply meant 'Extended Bell' The difference between it and the standard Phreeranger/Phreerunner was the style of door. Instead of the 'Bell' (porch) tapering into a point with a single zip the porch was squared off and had 2 zips which meant that the door could be opened by rolling up the center section or either of the end quarters. In addition as the zips were double ended the center section could be opened from the top down. The EB also had a hood at the top of the door enabling you to leave the top few inches unzipped. The single skin Phreerunner was also available in an EB version and is listed in the 1990 Phoenix catalogue, both the Phreeranger EB and Phreerunner EB are listed as new for 1990.

I sold my Phreeranger EB 3 years ago and have regretted it since but recently managed to aquire a Phreeranger standard, the one shown at the top of the page. This is an older model, pre 1988 as the Flysheet doesn't have taped seams while my other one did. The 1990 Phoenix catalogue states regarding flysheet fabric that

Quote SUPALITE: used for the first time in '88 a new soft P.U. coating 1.5oz ripstop which is tapable - permits lightness with incredible strength. 80cm minimum hydrostatic head.

The Phreeranger like all Phoenix tents was highly specced, the poles were made by Hampton Works from 7075 alloy and labelled 'Bulldog', the supplied pegs were v section HS30 alloy (the pegs were so tough that I actually kept mine when I sold the Phreeranger). The guylines while thick compared to todays guys were pretty lightweight at the time being about 2.5mm dia.

My original '90 ish model came supplied with:

1 x Large Stuff Sack
2 x Small Stuff sacks (one for Inner, one for Fly)
1 x Repair kit including a pole repair section
13 x V pegs c/w stuff sack
2 x Poles (main and cross pole) c/w stuff sack

The 9 flysheet pegging points were 15mm approx webbing with a ring attached, also attached to the ring was a short length of 2-2.5mm shockcord which had a plastic 'S' hook attached, the inner tent attached to the fly using 2-2.5mm shockcord hooked onto the 'S' hooks. In addition to the 9 pegging points there were 9 guylines, 3 attached to the pole sleeve at each end and 3 across the back of the tent.

The inner tent on my original EB model had a full mesh door and a full plain door as far as I can remember, certainly there was at the very least a half mesh panel in the door with a plain section to close off the mesh. The one I have now which is an older version only has a 1 piece plain door. The inner tent was made from Supalite 1.5 oz ripstop and had 1 x plastic S hook for hanging a torch etc and 2 x small mesh storage pockets, one at each end of the inner. The inner tent could be kept attached to the fly and the tent pitched as one or it could be detached completely and stored seperately (in it's own stuff sack) if the fly was wet from condensation or rain.

Pitching the tent is simplicity itself, peg out the fly at the center rear pegging point, insert the main pole, insert the short cross pole, raise the tent by pulling the center front pegging point/points (2 on the EB, 1 on the standard model) and place the remaining 6 pegs (4 if you don't use the pole end pegging points) I had my current one pitched yesterday and with none of the guys used and no pegs at the pole ends it was rock solid compared to my current solo tent, the TN Laser.

Pitched beside the Laser the Phreeranger looks taller but shorter and narrower, however there isn't much difference in inner tent length as the Phreeranger is mainly square ended unlike the Laser which runs to a point, also the inner tent on the Laser sits well back from the fly so is shorter than it appears from the outside. With regard to the width of the inner the Phreeranger is much wider, 2 x standard rectangular sleeping mats easily fit side by side, the Laser however can't take the same 2 mats without some overlap. The Phreeranger was normally classed as a 1+ person (some catalogues mention 2) the Laser is classed as a 2 person, IMO it should be the other way around.

The porch looks quite small on the Phreeranger, even the EB model. In fact the EB porch only extends 60cm against 64cm on the standard model (according to the Phoenix catalogue) but the EB porch has a larger area. I think the Laser has a slightly wider porch however by unhooking the Phreeranger inner tent at the end attachment points and rolling it back to the center line indicated by the pole tension webbing the porch space is massive. With the inner rolled back halfway it can still hold a standard sleeping mat and while it would feel a bit cramped it's entirely possible to use the tent in this manner. The inner could of course be clipped back at the foot end only, creating porch space while still leaving plenty of inner tent space at the head end.

Porch with inner tent in normal position

Porch with inner tent hooked back at both ends in line with the pole. Still room for a full size sleeping mat.

Inner tent hooked back at the foot end with full width at head.

The poles are 8.5mm dia, the main pole has an uneven number of sections thus avoiding a join at the apex and packs down to 52cm

You could be forgiven for thinking that a 20-25 year old tent would be significantly heavier than a current tent but you'd be surprised at how little difference there actually is. I compared my old (pre '88) Phreeranger Standard with my Laser. Taking the pegs and stuff sacks out of the equation there's about 200g difference which isn't a lot really, the Phreeranger pole could easily be replaced with a more modern (lighter)one and the guylines while being pretty light 2.5mm could be replaced with 1-2mm line. Taking into consideration the advances in fabric technology, the difference in flysheet Hydrostatic head (8000mm Phreeranger/4000mm Laser), webbing rather than shockcord pegging points it's amazing that the Phreeranger is so close to the weight of the Laser. There's almost 20 years between them and to be honest I would have expected a bigger difference, I think that speaks volumes about Phoenix and their designers.

Fly, Inner & Poles. 1490g

Getting back to the Phreeranger I have now, as I mentioned it's at least 20 years old as the flysheet is untaped but it's in remarkably good condition. I've no idea of it's history but all the guylines are original complete with their alloy sliders, all the pegging points are present with no sign of damage and all but one of the guylines have their metal rings attached. The inner tent shockcord loops have lost some of their elasticity but all are present as are the plastic 'S' hooks. The stitching has stretched in a few places on the inner tent but otherwise it's undamaged, again some stretching can be seen on the flyshhet where the reinforced patches for the pegging points are stitched on. The flysheet itself is undamaged although it feels a little stiff/dry and both alloy poles are intact and undamaged with only the shockcord on the short pole no longer working.

I actually tried it out last night as I wanted to test some new gear for an upcoming trip and figured I may as well use it rather than the Laser, I mentioned that I hoped the temperature was below freezing (testing a sleeping bag and mat) but that I hoped it rained to test the Phreeranger Flysheet. I wasn't entirely serious but the temperature did drop pretty low and it did in fact rain during the night.

I'm delighted to say that I didn't experience any leaks at all although I'd still be reluctant to subject it to strong wind/driven rain given it's age. One other thing was that there was no condensation on the inner whatsoever, I've had problems with the Laser in that respect even with the fly end vents pulled right up, maybe the increased height of the Phreeranger helps prevent condensation. The only problem and one that I was aware of was that the groundsheet is no longer waterproof, however I was pleased to discover that the footprint I made for the Laser also fits the Phreeranger, I guess I just got lucky on that one. All in all pretty respectable for a 20+ year old tent.

It's a shame that such a great tent is no longer available, without altering the actual design but by simply using modern materials the Phreeranger/Phreeranger could at the very least hold it's own against the Laser/Akto etc.

As far as I'm aware AMG/Vango own the Phoenix brand name and produce Ski Gloves branded as Phoenix, who owns the rights to the actual design is a good question but whether they know it or not they're got a tent thats almost guaranteed to be successful. I know I'd buy one in a heartbeat if it was even remotely close to the RRP of a Laser/Akto, in fact if I found a new old stock Phreeranger EB for sale at less than £300 I'd buy it without a second thought.

Of course you're probably wondering why, if the Phreeranger was such a fantastic tent aren't Phoenix still around and why did I sell mine.

Good question, I can't answer the 1st save to say that a lot of good companies didn't make it and it wasn't because they weren't good at what they did.

The 2nd point, why did I sell mine? well two reasons really, when my girlfriend (now wife) started to come with me we bought a Wild Country Quasar so the Phreeranger wasn't being used much, what with a mortgage and then a daughter I drifted away from backpacking/camping generally so all my gear was packed away (the tents were always stored indoors in a cupboard loosely placed in a large box) so there seemed little need to keep them all. I kept the Quasar and sold the Phreeranger which still had all it's pegs, stuff sacks, instructions and even swing tags, was totally unmarked inside, outside and underneath (I always used a footprint made from a survival bag)

How much did I sell it for?

£50.99 and £8.50 postage.

I mentioned in a previous post that when looking for a solo tent I'd always considered a Saunders Spacepacker but for a variety of reasons always opted for something else, maybe I should just buy a Spacepacker now, a kind of salute to another great tent that has stood the test of time simply because they got it right 1st time, I wonder how many of todays wonder tents will have come and gone before the Spacepacker needs a redesign? plenty I'd guess.

Contentment is Wealth.


  1. I bought my Phreeranger EB in about 1993 and used it on the Coast To Coast for it's first backpacking trip. I remember seeing someone else walking the C-to-C using a brown and yellow single skin Goretex version which I think was called the Phreerunner. I still say the Phreeranger EB was one of the best solo backpacking tents ever made, if a little heavy compared to today's offerings.

    I still have mine, although the goundsheet is knackered and the fly has faded. I replaced the pole after the original got bent during a storm in the Lakes in 2004. I was camping at Buttermere and heard later that one gust at 3am was measured at 131 mph, blowing 9 trucks over on the M6 at Shap. My Phreeranger was the only tent still sort of standing and at least two brand new Lightwaves blew away after we all took shelter in the camping barn next to the campsite. The poles are still available from Hampton Works. Great little tent!

    After Phoenix disappeared, Omega as a brand came into being and four of the original Phoenix tent designs were manufactured, including a version of the Phreeranger EB. I regret not buying one before Omega also went out of business.

  2. Thanks for the comment, great to hear stories from other users and your additional information regarding Omega is appreciated.


  3. I have very fond memories of my Phreeranger. Brilliant tent and the most stormproof 1 man tent I've ever had. It was incredibly roomy, significantly larger floor area than the Akto and Laser Comp. although a smaller porch. I really liked the head room especially at the head and feet. I had a Vango TBS 100, which was a pale reflection, smaller and heavier. If AMG Vango had an ounce of sense, they would revive the Phreeranger with modern lightweight materials. I'd buy one in preference to either my Akto or Laser Comp. Let's start a campaign!

    Thanks for all the info and memories.

  4. Talking of Robert Saunders tents, they seem to hide their light under a bushel - I see their ads regularly on the back of the Backpackers Club magazine but nowhere else. I'm surprised they have a website, I just found it by Google.
    Is the Spacepacker Mk1 a 1 or 2-person tent?. The inner width is 125cm which sounds like a 2, but for one person the weight of 1.9kg is really high these days.

  5. Well it used to be considered a 1-2 person but these days it some manufacturers would probably class it as a 3 person. ;-)

    Is 2kg heavy for a solo tent? I'm not sure, I guess it depends on the spec of the tent and supplied accessories, for example if you replace the pegs on a TN Laser with something more versatile than the you can easily add another 200g to the official weight. Some manufacturers cut down on the weight of accessories simply to make the figures look good. It's something that I dislike about reviews in the Outdoor press and elsewhere, it would give a more accurate 'Real World' figure if pegs/stuff sacks/repair kits were taken out of the equation as they tend to be generic. Fly/Inner & Poles are the components that are pretty much unique to each tent, after that it's up to the user where he goes from there. Again fabric weight, whether a fly sheet is taped, hydrostatic head, door type etc all need to be considered together with ease of use and the type of terrain and time of year you expect to use it.

  6. The weight excluding the pegs / stuffsack etc. is sometimes referred to as the 'trail' weight I think - it's true some manufacturers quote this as the headline figure to grab attention.
    The TN Voyager Superlite is a 2-person 3-pole semi geo and only weighs around 1.8kg or so. Even our standard Voyager only weighs 2.2kg, and the Akto is the heaviest I would consider for a solo at 1.5kg.
    I'm so accustomed to the LaserComp now at just over 1kg with decent pegs that I'd be very reluctant to give it up!. I use it all the time even in winter, but I'm lucky to be able to backpack whenever I like, and if the weather forecast was wild enough to cause concern for the tent, I wouldn't be out there.

  7. From what I remember saunders tent have a cotton inner, which makes them heavier.

    The spacepacker wre always classed as 2 person but in reality only the plus was. The inner comes down at a tight angle and can mean the material is in you face a lot of the time.

    Using it solo ment the you could sleep diagonally across the inner to stop this.

    Also the flysheet is massive, gives plenty of storage space but with added weight.

    Again this is another classic tent, that if updated with modern materials would sell.

    This tent was always the favourite of Backpacker club member for year, until the akto arrived.

    One other tent that was often see was the 'Tony Wilson' tent this was probably one of the first cottage industry item's in the early '80s.

  8. The Voyager is pretty good, I'd ordered one but changed to the Laser. It still comes back to the same thing though, if you're comparing a Voyager and a Spacepacker you can't simply say the Voyager weighs X grams, the Spacepacker weighs x grams more so the Voyager is better. It's never that simple but as people are generally lazy the manufacturers use weight as an easy ready reckoner. Same with cameras which is why manufacturers advertise on pixel count, people will believe that a 14mp compact has better I/Q than a 6mp DSLR.

    For 2 person use the Spacepacker has 2 porches and 4 doors against the Voyager's 1 porch, what makes one tent better than the other? weight alone? layout? who can say , it depends on the individual.

    If weight has any importance then overall pack weight is probably of more importance than the weight of any individual item, Whats the best way to carry 2250g? a 2000g tent and a 250g cooking system or a 1500g tent and a 750g cooking system? A 1500g tent and a 250g cooking system would seem to be the best option but if it doesn't suit the individual then it's not the best.

    The best tent like the best of anything else is the one that suits the individual.

  9. Great post! It brought back many memories. I used an original Phreeranger on walks the length of the Canadian Rockies and through the Yukon Territory.

    The nearest tent to it now is Henry Shires' TarpTent Rainbow.

  10. Hi Chris,
    the 1990 Phoenix catalogue that I have has a photo of a Brown Phreeranger, credited to one Chris Townsend. :-)

    It saddens me that they aren't still available but I have looked at the Tarptent Rainbow/Double Rainbow, I'm wondering if my Phreeranger inner would fit.

    Thanks for the comment by the way.

  11. I had a Phoenix Phreebooter 2 man and very regrettably sold it in the mid ninenties too! My mate has a Phoenix Phalcon which we still use! What people are saying about Phoenix is true, they were bought out by Karrimor. The previous owner based in Amble then started selling the tents under the Omega brand but only direct to compete with far east production prices, cutting out the retail mark up - identical tents but just renamed. Loved the way the inner hung from the outer meaning they could be left together for a quick pitch when necessary. If Omega was still going, i would definitely get another.

  12. I guess the original owner owns the design rights then, AMG Vango own the Phoenix name.

  13. Great to see an article about Phoenix 80s were a fantastic time for inovative tent designs and lets not forget made in this country not the far east we need to salute these great british companies who made our outdoor adventures all the better with the tents and products they designed.

  14. Just to add, I remmeber how exited I was when I ordered my Phreeranger from Field and Trek about 25 years ago, and was amazed at the size of the parcel. It went up in the Cairngorms, Knoydart, Wales, Lakes. Really good tent, as I sold it my sister about 15 years ago for £30. Recently asked If she still had it - she said yes do you want it back? Of course etc etc.

    I have recently used it, and like an earlier postee I have a TBS100. The Phoenix has more headroom, the door arrangement is better, the interior is more spacious. I intend to use it again soon.

    It really is a nice tent to spend time in.


  15. Hi J, bet you were pleased that she still had it. Great to hear from someone else still using one. Is yours pre/post 88 (Taped/Untaped)?

  16. Would it be possible to post up/email me a picture of the yellow hook arrangement that was used to attach the inner to the flysheet? I want to modify my Macpac Microlight using a similar hook and shockcord system, and a pic would be useful when asking around suppliers. Ta.

  17. Hi Pete, I can post a pic but unfortunately I tried getting some spare hooks myself and couldn't find any. I wanted to use them on the inner of my Laser. What I ended up with are 'Glove Clips' which I bought from Shelby (Finland) You can find them in my list of links on the right hand side of the page. The glove clips work just fine.

    Hope this helps.

  18. Re: plastic hooks query - don't worry, I've found something that'll do the job (although if, after chopping up your tents, you have four going spare, I'll take them off you, as I think they're better...).

  19. I google-ed Phoenix Phreerunner and landed on this site.
    Sentiment is a sweet thing.... I bought a Phreerunner (yes, gore-tex, the ideal tent-fabric for backpackers an cyclists) secondhanded. I guess the man who sold it still regrets the day he did.....
    For many years it was my solid companion while cycling through Europe. Then I met a girl and the Phreerunner rested.
    Recently I got an invitation for a walk round the Mont Blanc. Guess what? My solid companion still is well and alive.
    My walking-partners all knew the tent!!!!

  20. Great to hear that your Phreerunner is still in use. I've all but given up looking for something newer, I think I'll just continue to use the Phreeranger.

  21. Received the sad news that my Phreeranger flysheet - which looked okay, but with failing taped seams - has officially 'perished' and it is not worthwhile retaping seams........ I cannot find a robust modern light tent that has the same size and features - they all look flimsy and generally worse. What happened to innovation and progress.....:(

  22. I'd be tempted to try sealing the seams using clear silicone sealer mixed 3-1 with white spirit, failing that have you seen the new Vango Apex 200? Not exactly like a Phreeranger but close and not much difference in weight.

  23. I had one of these for years - bought it second hand for £100 in 1996. Used in Scotland in all weathers at all altitudes for 13years. Finally replaced it with a Macpac Microlight of similar design. Used this a couple of times - very good, about to use it again this week in Wales but my sac and all it contents incl. tenet, stolen from car while I was in the loo! £1900 of gear gone. Will take me 5 weeks to earn that sort of cash - after taxman has taken his share to pay benefits to the scrotes who stole my kit-bloody unfair!

  24. I've had my Phreerunner since 1983. A great tent for cycle touring! Alas now the main ridge pole has broken in three places. I have used up all the reinforcing tubes to fix it, do it still works! However, I am a bit apprehensive about using it on a major trek now as I have no means of repairing any further breaks. Is there anyone out there that still has a (very) old stockpile of ridge poles / reinforcement tubes?

  25. Mike, I bought a new pole-set from Hampton Works

    They made the original poles and pegs. Just phone them up and tell them what you need, I simply asked for a Phreeranger pole-set and they already had the sizes on file.

  26. Hi,

    I happened on this blog and was amazed to discover I'm not the only person still using a geriatric phreeranger. I've just got mine out and dusted it down to return to backpacking after a ten year break. Last time I used it, it was still completely waterproof in foul weather conditions. It's done me proud on the tour of mont blanc as well as numerous UK backpacking trips and mountain marathons.

    I've bought a mixture of 2g, 5g and v-angle titanium pegs to give me options in different weather conditions and it weighs in at a respectable 1620 grammes(without stuffsacs. Hoping to give it a run out in the brecon beacons fairly soon to check out whether it still keeps out the elements.

    Graham H

  27. Good to hear about yet another Phreeranger still going strong. The weight is still respectable, I've looked at a variety of tents but to be honest unless I was saving well over 500g I wouldn't bother. If I have to compromise on the things that I like about the Phreeranger I need a tent that weighs very close to 1kg.

  28. Well, well. I pulled my old tent (turns out to be a Phreeranger EB) from the back of the cupboard today to give it an airing, as it seemed a bit whiffy - no idea why. Maybe not surprising as it was last used in 1997 and has only seen the light of day for an airing once since. I think I only ever used it in Glastonbury and Patagonia - happy times. It still looks to be pretty immaculate with all bits still there. I was amazed to see all these fond comments - does anyone remember what Season Rating it had? The instructions don't appear to say?

  29. Hi, I used my Phreeranger when backpacking all over India and Pakistan and it was absolutely brilliant. I still own it and rather than it sitting in the cupboard doing nothing like it has been for the last 20 years, I would much rather sell it to someone who is going to enjoy it as the chances of me doing any more camping are pretty slim. Everything is there but it will need some attention (seams need retaping and elastic tensioners need replacing) as it has been in storage for 20 years. If you're interested, email me at and I can send you some photos. The tent is in Australia but we can ship it overseas if needed. Thanks, Rick.

  30. I still have a phreerunner GTX I got in the mid 80's. The Goretex is still reasonably waterproof but the groundsheet isn't. I don't use it much as I have a young family. When I first used it the small pole kept slipping out of its sleeve. I sent it back along with a review of the tent including a suggestion for a double zip porch. They solved the sleeve problem by stitching one end free of charge. I think the EB appeared a year later. I wish I'd bought one. The P'runner is very roomy for one but not comfortable for two as I found out on a KMM. Goretex has some strange properties but generally it doesn't matter if you touch the sides. I once used it as a lunch shelter for four on a Scottish mountain - no poles or pegs needed. Nice to here from people who appreciate quality lightweight tent design.

  31. Another one still in use? you can't keep a good tent down I guess. About the cross pole sleeve, I think one of mine has a sewn end and the other has both end closed with a velcro strap.

    There are very small differences in all of mine but I think that's down to them being made 'in house', they could react instantly to change or modify the design, something that isn't so easy if you have your tents made in batches on the other side of the globe.

    The EB was a good design, the porch was a little narrower but more useable and any or all of the 3 porch/door sections could be opened, the center section could even be dropped down from the top as it attached to the top of the fly with a strip of velcro. I wise I hadn't sold mine.

    Anyway, I appreciate your comment, it's always nice to hear of others who use/have used the Phreeranger/Phreerunner.

  32. Sounds like a cult tent...
    I looked at the Vango Apex, but that is too short..
    Why don' t they just make all innertents at least 220 cm?
    I 've got a Phoenix ascent 2, and find very little on this tent on the inernet, but it looks very sturdy and well built.
    On 'their' site tehy also have the oneman tent called 'Fusion' which looks very good, but is no longer available.

  33. I also have a Phreeranger EB, it was (and is) a great tent except for one thing - It always leaked where the toggles to tie back the porch material were fixed to the outer by a length of elasticated tape. The elastic would wick water in from the outside, and this area hung over the inner, so I always ended up with puddles inside. I wish I'd got in contact with Phoenix about this - it sounds like they might have done something about it, but I always assumed that it was an inherent design fault.

  34. phreeranger eb, best 1 man tent in the world,bar none.unfortunatly the pu coating and taped seams had broken down so i purchased a macpac microlight,for my peninne way trek.sorry jp but the macpac is a joke of a tent,not in the same league as the phoenix. this tent needs to be resurected by vango NOW not the pale immitation that is the apex 200.

  35. I bought a brown + yellow (always loved this colourscheme, typical Phoenix) Phreeranger EB for £35 'Buy it Now' on eBay last week. When it arrived I pitched it and it looks like it hardly (if ever) been used. It came with all the original bags, pegs, instrucions and repair sections - can't believe the bargain I got. Going to use it next week in the Cairngorms, it'll be my 7 year old daughters first wild camp.

  36. That's a steal, it looks in great condition. To be honest if I'd seen it I'd have snapped it up right away.

    Have a good trip in the Cairngorms and if you have anything to add about the Phreeranger thereafter feel free to comment.

  37. Glad to hear the old tent is still going! I bought the gore-tex EB version and never looked back. That must have been in the early 90's. Still going strong now. Its been used all year round -20 to+40 europe wide, never a problem, except when a fox chewed threw the guy lines. Certainly not a failure. Phoenix even replaced them free of charge when i ordered a new set! Could'nt ask for a better tent. The best thing though is the speed it takes to get up. 30sec not inc pegs. from out of bag to out of weather is under 2 mins solo. inc all the stormguys. Only two signs of age.a -its lost a bit of colour and the taped seams on the bell arestarting to come off. Best tent Ive ever had and thats saying somthing!

  38. Glad to hear the old tent is still going! I bought the gore-tex EB version and never looked back. That must have been in the early 90's. Still going strong now. Its been used all year round -20 to+40 europe wide, never a problem, except when a fox chewed threw the guy lines. Certainly not a failure. Phoenix even replaced them free of charge when i ordered a new set! Could'nt ask for a better tent. The best thing though is the speed it takes to get up. 30sec not inc pegs. from out of bag to out of weather is under 2 mins solo. inc all the stormguys. Only two signs of age.a -its lost a bit of colour and the taped seams on the bell arestarting to come off. Best tent Ive ever had and thats saying somthing!

  39. I've looked at plenty of current solo tents (some like the Laser classes as 2 person) I still haven't seen anything that comes close to the design of the Phreeranger. Classes as 1+ it has more space than some current tents classed as 2 person, has vastly more headroom than most solo tents which is nice unless you like sitting hunched over like a dog sh1*ing razor blades.

    I did look closely at the Robens Mythos Solo, similar in design to the Phreeranger but the main pole looks flattened/distorted at the apex and the inner tent headroom is only 95cm. Also why do so many manufacturers insist on pole clips? A sleeve is faster to use, won't break, won't prevent you using a pole splint and adds strength to the pole as the stress is spread along the entire pole length, also a pole sleeve reduces stress points on the main seam where clips tend to stress the stitching where they're sewn in. Too many fashion designers and not enough engineers I guess.

  40. Back from the Cairngorms, Phreeranger was great, althogh now caked with 1,000's of dead midges.... I bought another tent (eBay again) as I reckoned that my Jetpacker was probably too wee for my wife and daughter (that's how I justified it to myself, to be honest I couldn't resist it). From the photo it looked to be a Phreerunner EB although it is badged as a 'Solo 2 Goretex' and the only clues to it's brand are the Phoenix zips. I think this must have been made after the sale of Phoenix to Karrimor in '93. This looks to be a great tent and it's appearance backs up the claim on the eBay listing that it had only been used for 3 nights. The 'Phreerunner / Solo 2' got good reports from my wife and daughter, not having to worry about touching the sides of the tent makes camping with a 7 year old less stressful.

  41. I used my old beloved Phreeranger EB a couple of weeks ago at WOMAD festival so I got to see about every sort of tent ever made. I looked closely at the 1/2 man ones and still think the Ph EB to be the best designed small tent ever. Mine has stood up to every sort of weather (except the artic)and I can cook in it, but it's on its last legs and I've just spent hours on the net trying to find a worthy replacement and I can't find one. Why can't its design be copied in more modern materials? The Laser comp is good but its bad weather cooking facilities is not up to Phreeranger EB.

  42. Thanks so much for this great overview of the Phoenix Phreeranger EB. I have read this blog on several times and appreciate the detail provided. Yes, I too love Phoenix Mountaineering tents and bought a Phoenix Phortress in the early 1980's, absoulutely bombroof. Hampton works have replaced all the shock cords in the poles. Also have a PhreerangerEB and Phreeranger, one has the supalite flysheet. I am really interested to know how you have kept your flysheet and inner ground sheet fully waterproof. What waterproof treatments have you applied if any? Have you applied seam sealants? Any tips on the above would be most welcome.Thanks.

  43. Hi, unfortunately none of my groundsheets are waterproof now but as I always use an footprint it hasn't been a problem. I have considered having a new lighter groundsheet fitted, even silnylon which should be fine as I'd still used a footprint. That would save a bit of weight over the heavier but no longer waterproof original groundsheet.

    As for the seams, well the only ones I've successfully re-sealed are the early (pre Phreeranger EB) un-taped seams. I simply mix up some clear silicone sealant with white spirit and use a small paint brush to apply it to the seams on the outside of the flysheet. I have 2 early (un-taped) Phreerangers both of which I've re-sealed in this way. I also have a later Phreeranger (taped seams) and a Phreeranger EB (taped seams) but as the seam tape has started to come away (taking the waterproof coating on the flysheet fabric with it) there isn't much that can be done.

    It would be possible to renew the seam tape but with the waterproof coating coming off the fabric it would be a waste of time, the seams may be waterproof after re-taping but the flysheet without the coating is basically just plain nylon.

    I use a Nikwax Brush on/Spray On UV Proofer/DWR treatent for tents to help protect the flysheets but obviously the fabric has to be waterproof to begin with.

    The best ones to look for if buying used are, in my opinion, the early untaped Phreerangers, unfortunately you don't get un-taped Phreeranger EBs which makes buying them unseen a bit of a gamble especially at the price they're making on ebay, I've recently seen 2 sell on ebay at £170 and £190 which is pretty steep.

  44. i have a phalcon which I use whenever i go camping, its in great shape and i hope to continue using it-its probably 25 years old

  45. Indi (Female - keen cycle tourer / backpacker)26 July 2012 at 11:48

    We have both the Phreeranger EB and the Laser Comp.1 and to be honest I agree with the info above in that the Ph.EB is superior in almost every way. The only difference is the weight which, compared with space, is not really an issue. I don't want to be rude, but the Ph.EB FEELS like a tent whereas the LC1 feels like a 'posh coffin' (sorry to all LC1 devotees!). I agree with all the design comments above in that the Ph.EB was, and for me still is, one of the best backpacking tents ever designed.

  46. I recently bought a Robens Mythos Solo which is quite similar to the Phreeranger but to be honest it's only about 200g lighter in spite of being much much smaller. I also picked up a Wild Country Zephyros 1 and again there's little difference in weight compared to the Phreeranger but much less space. I have an LC1 (new model) which of course is much lighter than a Phreeranger and if I was backpacking it I accept the space trade-off.

    Hope all goes well on your JOG-LE.

  47. ive a phreeranger,one man,and also a two man version; both unused!yes of course they are marketed by vango,but do have the phoenix trademark sewn to the flysheet.they both have the added addition of vangos internal guying system.i may well sell them as my health isnt as it was,and i doubt if i shall be using them.

  48. Hello mister ! whats your bed (the orange) on the photo ? i want to buy the same. Many thanks charly

    1. Hi, its a 'Pacific Outdoors Equipment Ether Thermo 6'

      I'm not sure if POE still exist but you could try Amazon

  49. I loved my Phoenix Phreeranger E.B so much!!! I really miss it! Sadly I wore it out. I bought mine 1992. I believe it cost me £220 back then. I spent well over 200 nights in it and some of those continually over a period of almost 5 months while cycle touring all over Europe in 2006. For some reason I kept the original guy lines, pegs and poles including the repair splint as they are all in excellent condition. Wonderful tents and still nothing beats them, even today. R.I.P.

  50. Just recently I was given an old Phreerunner by a friend who was clearing out his basement.
    As I also own the, in a way, predecessors of this tent (the gore-tex Stapper and 2 skin Trapper), I thought I might share a little bit of (first hand) history with you.

    Back in the late seventies/early eighties Mick Schmidt, packaging designer by trade, ran a small company in The Netherlands named Tatteljee. Their core business was sleeping bags but a couple of design projects resulted in a series of original tents. Very much a man and wife company, working out of their own home, they started looking for places elsewhere to produce these tents. Phoenix was on top of their list. Maybe naively they just sent them all their designs.
    Eventually they turned down Phoenix. I was always told because of lack of quality but looking at the Phreerunner there must have been other reasons as well.
    In the end another dutch tent manufacturing company started producing these tents for them.

    But surprise, surprise, not long after that, Phoenix released the Phreeranger and Phreerunner, and I think another model as well.

    Both the Stapper and Phreerunner are very similar (I cannot post pictures here). For every small difference there's a pro and con on either side.
    But it was definitely Mick's design.

    Being a very small company (compared to Phoenix) they let it be. Sales were few and the margin was next to nothing. Gore-tex was relatively new and expensive then. They also sold it per meter and I used it to make jackets and bivi bags. It was actually, even in absolute figures, a lot more expensive then than it is today.
    Outdoor gear at that time was for whatever reason just way more expensive in Holland than in the UK. I once took the ferry up and down in one day to go to Brentwood just to buy one Berghaus gore-tex jacket. The difference in price more than paid for the trip.
    The final blow for the Stapper came after a few years when they couldn't meet the minimum requirements for (meters of) gore-tex fabric anymore.

    Tatteljee turned back to sleeping bags. And, after first their son and then his brother in law took over, it still does today.

  51. Hi Mark, very interesting, if you have any photographs you'd like to share you could e-mail them to me and I could post them here, if you like.

  52. Hi, having a clearout to buy a carbon bike, so selling my Gore-Tex Phreerunner eb (cared for like a family member of from new!!!)if anyone is interested? email Guy

  53. The Blacks Octane one / Berghaus Peak 3.1 look the closest modern variant(s) but minus the extra cross mini pole....

  54. They're kinda similar but of course the closest you can get is the Trekkertent.