Thursday, 18 November 2010

Vango Halo 200

I was looking for a 2 man tent for base camp use and didn't want a tunnel type preferring a self supporting dome or geodesic but didn't want to spend too much. I wasn't too concerned with weight simply as anything that was 2 man, self supporting and light was outside my budget so decided to look at one of the stalwarts of reasonably priced reasonably tough tents, Vango.

We've had a Vango Equinox 300 for ages and it's been totally reliable so far, it's quite well finished and as with most mid to top end Vango tents is surprisingly well featured. I also had an F10 Nitro 100, recently sold which was a step up again from the top end Vango branded models so I've quite a bit of faith in Vango/F10. Sadly you can't have it all and the downside is that they're heavy. I have to say their website is pretty appalling so I'll apologise in advance for posting a link ;-)

In the end I decided on the Halo 200 which is a 3 pole dome type with twin off-set porches, I think it's a bit similar to the Hilleberg Allak or Staika layout which look very good, if money was no object I'd have had an Allak. I bought the Halo from Outback Trading, price was £85 but unfortunately shipping to N.I. was £20. It's obvious that at £105 it most certainly isn't going to be comparable to a Hilleberg in any way. I also bought my F10 Nitro from Outback Trading and I'd highly recommend them.

The Halo isn't a light tent by any means, the suggested weight is 3.5kg and although I've had it for a week I hadn't weighed it. I had it pitched up since last Friday only taking it down today and although the flysheet isn't completely dry I weighed it anyway and it came in at 3.845kg.

The individual weights less flysheet are;

Inner - 1035g
Poles - 884g
Pole Bag - 12g
Pegs x 14 - 214g
Peg Bag - 10g
Repair kit - 19g
Porch Half Groundsheet - 54g x 2
Stuff Sack - 72g

Total Less Flysheet - 2354g

Flysheet - 1290g

Total 3.610g

The Halo is pretty easy to pitch, it came with inner attached so pitched as one. The poles (9mm T001-T6 Alloy) need to be fed through the pole sleeves which run over the top of the tent and extend about halfway down the sides, the pole ends locate in eyelets and then the fly is clipped to each pole using a plastic clip on a webbing strap. The tent is basically self supporting although the porches need pegged out.

The Guylines are referred to as 'O Ring Guylines' basically a length guyline with a free running plastic ring is attached to the tent in 2 places, at the top it goes through an eyelet fitted to the pole sleeve, at the bottom it's attached to the webbing holding the pole clip. The actual pegging line is attached to a plastic 'O Ring'. I think the idea is that when you tighten the guyline the the 'O' ring helps equalise the tension on the pole. Each pole has one guyline but where 2 of the poles meet at the webbing tape both guylines can be pegged with one peg, this is how I had it pitched.

In addition there's a tension strap at one end of each pole. Another neat little touch is the velcro strap to keep the guylines tidy when packing, it isn't something I'd partcularily need but it's another of those little touches Vango adopt.

The flysheet doors are diagonally opposed which is a good idea as you still have a sheltered area regardless of wind shift, the doors have a J shaped double ended zip and can be rolled back and secured with 2 toggles and loops. Finally there are 2 adjustable vents which can be held open with a stiffened strut or closed down and secured with velcro.

The inner tent is quite spacious, bigger than my Wild Country Quasar, the head room is good both at the center and at the ends and there's plenty of inner/fly separation. The doors on the inner are plain fabric with a mesh section at the top, there's also a plain fabric cover which can be closed with a 2 way zip and when open the panel can be rolled and secured using double loops/toggles.

The doors themselves have a 2 way zip and when open the door simply gets stuffed into a pocket on the inner. There are 2 storage pockets set one above the other at the opposite end from the door pocket, both sides of the inner are laid out the same but diagonally opposed to match the flysheet. The inner also has 2 mesh vents matching the vents on the fly. Finally there's a loop for hanging a torch/light, it should really be a hook rather than a loop as most torches if they have anything have a loop rather than a hook. The porches are quite spacious and even with the supplied half groundsheets fitted leave sufficient room to access the tent and for cooking. The actual groundsheet is of the bathtub design and stands up well, on some tents the bathtub tends to drop downon the longer sides. The groundsheet looks tough enough to not need a footprint but of course a footprint would help keep it clean.

I mentioned there's the weight penalty, everything is just a bit chunkier than you find on more expensive tents, every zip has a loop of the same cord as the guylines and it's about 3-4mm diameter, the shockcord pegging loops on the porches are about 4mm and crimped with a metal crimp and of course the guylines are thicker than I'm used to. The same applies to the inner tent attachment points, the floor level hooks look like you could hang from them and the remaining attachment points use tape, plastic rings and toggles. In the end though it's been designed as suitable for rough handling and split between 2 the weight isn't outrageous, it's DofE approved and I have to say I think it would stand up well.

As I mentioned it had been pitched in ther garden for the past week with no ill effects. The only thing I've changed so far is to fit line locks to the guylines, I may switch to Marlow Excel 2mm line for the guy's and zip pullers but in the end thats more for useability than any attempt at weight saving. I would certainly use it if I was car or canoe camping, shared I'd be happy to backpack it and maybe, just maybe if I was going to pitch up in one place and use it as a base, even a wild camp I'd consider it especially in winter when the extra space would be welcome. I did some checking and I think I can easily get in around 14kg for a winter load even carrying the Halo myself, to put that in perspective I carried about the same last year on my 2nd visit to the Cairngorms but was using a Laser.

That aside the tent gets the thumbs up, it's easy to pitch, pretty stable, appears to be durable, hasn't leaked so far, weighs less than my Quasar and didn't break the bank at £105.


  1. A good review of this tent - wish you many happy nights in it.

  2. At the end of the day, you're not planning on using it in the Himalaya [are you? ;)], so why spend Hilleberg prices when you don't need to, as long as you don't have to carry it too far, I'm sure it'll serve you well.

    My father in law bought us a Karrimor tunnel tent out of the blue a couple of years ago [we car camp on most holidays]. Being a bit of a snob, I'd been thankful but disappointed [I'd planned to buy a Robens Double Dreamer, still miss the extra headroom it would have given us]. But is was still a significant step up from the ancient Wynnster four man tent it replaced and much more stable. I think you can get well designed for pretty low prices these days...

  3. @ Trevor, thanks, I'm looking forward to using it although I my feel lost in space :-)

    @ Fraser, I kind of work on the principle that it's the total pack weight that counts so while I'd be reluctant to carry it too far and certainly wouldn't have bought it if I could have afforded a Hilleberg I'm not too concerned.
    With the canoe the weight doesn't mater much anyway.

    Re the Robens Double Dreamer, a good choice there, I had one and choose it as it was the best priced 4 man that had alloy poles and fine midge netting. Unfortunately our's got flattened on it's 1st night when the campsite got hit with very high winds. The tent wasn't damaged and it stood just fine but the poles ended up like spaghetti. I didn't replace them as new poles cost more than half the price of the tent.

    The downside to big tents is that if it's windy they're hard to pitch and they catch so much more wind that they suffer more than less strong smaller tents.

    The Robens was still a nice tent with similar touches that you get on a Vango.

  4. A good review!

    We have two Vangos (Equinox 350 and Tornado 200) and I think they are good, sturdy tents, the only niggle actually being that they are a bit heavy. But I find under 2 kg for a solo tent acceptable, so for two the Halo 200 is actually quite ok for backpacking - even for one if the other stuff is light, like you said it is the total pack weight which really matters.

    Hope you have good times with your tent!

  5. It looks a really good tent at a fantastic price. Almost wished I had got this instead of my F10 Vortex. It's actually slightly larger but looks easier to put up.

  6. @ Maria, The Tornado looks good too.

    @ Robin, I think the F10 Vortex will be a lot stronger and the F10 stuff is a bit more refined/higher spec.

  7. Looks like a lot of tent for not too much money Richard. The weight doesn't really matter if you aren't backpacking with it.

    Mike fae Dundee

  8. Hi Mike, what I'd like to do if we get as much snow as last year is take it up to the Antrim plateau, pitch it up and use it as a base for a couple of days. I'd be taking skis and stuff but I'm sure I could manage the weight for a few miles.

    I've carried heavier loads before but I was a lot younger and didn't know any better ;-)

  9. I don't ski Richard, but i once saw someone towing a £5 plastic sled!
    Mike fae Dundee

  10. I'm not sure I could claim to be a skier either.

    A pulk made from a childs sled might be an option, I saw a homemade pulk on someone elses blog last year but can't remember who.

  11. Hi Richard,
    As others have said, the weight doesn’t matter for base camping. If you don’t want to spend a lot then i think you have a good tent at a good price. The one thing you know with Vango is you get reliability in mountain weather. Another plus is that you could just take the fly and leave the inner if you wish.
    The only problem i have found with Vango tent material is that it needs to be absolutely dry before you store it. For some reason, and i know not why, but they seem to mould up quicker than others. So be mindful of it.
    Good review.

  12. Hi Alan, fly only would definately work as it's cavernous, 2 people using bivvy bags would have loads of space or just hang a light bug nest underneath.

    Good advice on the drying issue, I'll keep that one in mind. I must weigh the fly again as it's been hanging in the attic room to dry out.

  13. Looks a great tent for the money. I do like Vango tents for what you pay and what you get. They offer great value for money. I use a spirit 200+ for car / base camping, which I rate very highly.

  14. I've always had good service from Vango tents apart from perhaps my 1st, a basic dome called a Westwind IIRC. I like the Nitro/Spirt models, they're very fast to pitch which I always consider a major plus.

  15. I bought a Vango Spectre 200 but unfortunately the two shorter poles broke during the first week under mild conditions. I got replacements from the shop without problems though.
    The Vango Spectre 200 is long, 220 cm and straight walls, so very comfortable for a tall person. There is not too much headroom though. Best thing I like about Vango is the fantastic green colour.

  16. Hi
    i was looking for a tent for my DofE Award. many thanks for posting this review. will definitely consider this. :)