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
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.