Sunday, 14 June 2015

Trekkertent, Phreeranger EB Pt. 2

I mentioned that I was going to do a full write up about my new Phreeranger EB but in the end I had too much other stuff to do, mainly working so didn't get a chance. No photos yet but I'll try to add them asap.

First though a bit more information about the tent in general, the workmanship on the tent is faultless, I've seen worse from the well known premium brands. There isn't a loose stitch to be see anywhere on either the inner tent or the fly, the seams are nice and even with no raw edges anywhere. The inner tents on some of my original Phreerangers are worse in that respect. I don't expect anything to fail on this tent as a result of the materials used or standard of construction. If anyone is considering buying a shelter from Trekkertent you can be assured that there's nothing to worry about in that respect.

As I was having the tent 'custom built'to a degree I had a fair amount of input regarding the specification, after a few e-mails to and from Marc the spec I decided on was.

Design As Original
Green 40D Fabric
Full Main Pole Sleeve
Webbing With Sewn Pockets for Main Pole Location
Rear Vent Modification
Extra Guyline Points At Crossing Pole
Plain or Waterproof Zippers on Porch, No Stormflaps
Short Webbing/Alloy Ring Loops at Pegging Points 
Webbing Loops on Inside of Ridgeline to take Shockcord/Glove Hooks (Inner Attachment) 
Plastic Cable Tie Stiffener for Porch Hood
Velcro Hook Part on Door/Loop on Flysheet

White Fabric
Half Mesh Drop Down Door with Cover Fabric
Nice Deep Mesh Pockets Each End (Like on the Mythos)
Webbing Loops Front/Back at Apex For hanging a Torch
Webbing Loops on Ridgeline to attach Shockcord for Inner/Fly attachment 
Bathtub made from the heavier fabric,  heavy duty PU coated ripstop nylon with a minimum HH rating of 5000mm. 
5 x Webbing loops on bathtub to attach shockcord which I can simply loop over the flysheet pegs

That all probably needs some explaination as some of the things on the list had alternatives.

The Flysheet.

First the design of the Flysheet, on the standard Phreeranger that Marc had made there was the option of being able to vent the flysheet by unhooking the rear center pegging point and hooking the fly up to a plastic ring, this mod really need the extra zip at the rear of the inner which I didn't think I wanted so initially I said I'd go without the vent option. In the end I went for the vent on the fly only although I doubt I'll ever use it. I would say though that if you want the venting option then definitely have the extra corresponding zip on the inner, all or nothing on this one.

The second modified (compared to the original) feature was to replace the long webbing loops/alloy ring at the base of the flysheet with cordlocks that work with cord like ladderlocks do with webbing, I think Marc had adopted that approach on one of the regular Phreeranger flysheets. My Robens Mythos has them but in my experience they tend to slip so I really didn't want them. I could have opted for ladderlocks and webbing but in the end decided to keep it simple. I did compromise a bit by having the webbing/rings shorter than the original so that I could add cordlocks/ladderlocks later if I felt I needed them.

Marc asked what I thought of having the main pole located in eyelets on webbing rather than the sewn pockets that the originals used, again I decided to go for webbing with sewn pockets like the original, it's simple and field repairable, if an eyelet pulls out of the webbing there's no easy way to repair it, if the webbing pocket stitches fail they can be sewn up again or the webbing tied of with a piece of paracord. I've had eyelets rip out but never had a sewn pocket fail. Another main pole related suggestion was to have the pole sleeve closed at one end with adjustment by means of a ladderlock and webbing at the other. Again I decided against that as if I'm having adjustment I like it at both end so that the flysheet is an equal distance from the ground at both ends of the pole. My old family camping Equinox 350 had adjustable tapes at both ends of the poles but my new 4 person version only has adjustment at one end, it means you can't pull the fly down low at one side, I don't like that. Again I stuck with the original design.

The original Phreerangers didn't have a stormflap over the door zip but Marc had added one to the new regular Phreeranger flysheets, it was suggested as an option on the EB which I would have gone for but in the end Marc decided against it insted suggesting waterproof zips. I find waterproof zips a bit stiff so decided on plain zips with no stormflap,  to be honest I'm not bothered either way considering on my last trip with an original fly even 12+ hours of heavy rain didn't cause any problems with regard to not having a stormflap.

The 'webbing loops on the ridgeline' As a means of attaching the inner I simply wanted to use shockcord loops/glovehooks, the Mythos uses mini fastex buckles but you need to use both hands to clip them together, sounds simple enough but not so simple when you're kneeling under the flysheet trying to reach over the inner tent with limited space. On my old Phreerangers the hook is attached to the flysheet with simple shockcord loops attached to the inner, it's easy to reach up with one hand and by spreading the loop using two fingers loop it over the hook as it hangs down from the ridgeline. Easy as it is it does introduce another issue, hooks on the fly which can get caught up on each other or on the tension band when you're trying to pitch the flysheet. The alternative is to put the glovehooks on the inner but then it's less easy to get the glovehook onto the shockcord loop using one hand. I couldn't decide so asked Marc to sew grossgrain loops into the seams on both inner and flysheet so I can decide later which way to go about attaching everything. Marc supplied the shockcord and the glove hooks, I'll add shockcord loops to both inner and fly before deciding which one the glovehook goes on. Again I'd mentioned to Marc not to worry too much about the hooks/loops, as long as the grossgrain loops were fitted the rest I can do myself.

About the extra high level guyline points, Marc had added one at each end of the crossing pole on the regular Phreerangers, again we were going to go with that on the EB but again Marc decided that it wouldn't work so well on the front of the EB due to the porch design, again I wasn't too concerned anyway. I still have the upper rear tie out but probably won't use it. One thing that I did notice about the high level tie out is that it tends to twist the seam through 90 degrees, I've discussed this with Marc and personally feel that they would be better attached the same as the rear mid level tie-outs, the same method could be used at the front. I think if I had the option of front and rear tie-outs attached like the mid level ones I'd go for it but otherwise I wouldn't really worry if they were fitted or not.

In the end then the flysheet came out as expected and matched the spec I wanted apart from two very minor details. The first is the method of keeping the crossing pole in place, in at least one of my originals the open end of the sleeve is sewn closed halfway down, when the pole is fitted it almost sits in a pocket with the velcro really only securing it, also on at least one of the originals it's actually webbing with velcro sewn on rather than velcro on it's own that forms the tape keeping the pole in place. I think the webbing is actually better as it almost forms itself around the end of the pole and can't slip off, the velcro on the other hand is just that bit stiffer and looks like it could slip off the end of the crossing pole with the result that the crossing pole can at least partly slip out of the sleeve.

The second detail is relates to the door, at first glance the EB looks like it has a central section that zips open to create the door but really you have 3 sections, any of which can be unzipped as a door. On the original EB there were four webbing tape/alloy ring pegging points, one at each side of each zip. This means that the fly can be tightly pegged down even if you want to open one of the end panels. On the new EB there are only two webbing/ring points, one adjacent to the zip on each of the end panels, the center door section simply has a shockcord adjacent to each zip. I've spoken to Marc about this, if he's happy to do it I'll return the flysheet so that he can fit the extra webbing/rings on the door. My view is this, if you have four webbing tape/rings you can easily add a shockcord loop to each so you have the option of either pegging through the ring on the section not being used as a door and using the shockcord on the section used as the door looped over the same peg to relieve strain on the zip.

I have to point out that I could easily sort both of the above myself but would prefer to have Marc do it if only so that he can evaluate the alterations for himself.

As weight wasn't really an issue, I choose the heaviest fabric Marc uses, the same as used on the Edge, 40D high tenacity Ripstop Nylon 6.6 which is triple silicone coated both sides and has an HH rating of 3500mm. I think the pole sleeves are made from the same fabric as the groundsheets which is heavy duty PU coated ripstop nylon with a minimum HH rating of 5000mm but I'd need to confirm that.

The tent came seam sealed and very neat it is to, Marc also supplied his own shock absorber guyline tensioners, there are 3 fitted to each of the rear mid level guyline points and one to the high level point which I've removed. Marc suggested them as silnylon has a tendency to stretch when wet.

Finally the top of the center door section is attached to the tent using velcro, it has to be detachable otherwise the door wouldn't roll down from the top. Doors that roll down are great when there's snow as it keeps it from falling into the porch when the door is opened. I asked to have the soft 'loop' part sewn to the tent and the plastic 'hook' part sewn to the door, why? well I've found in the past that if the 'hook' part is on the tent and the door is open, every time you lean out or leave the tent the hook part catches on hats/clothing etc which is annoying (to me anyway)

One final thing and it's something that I've noticed on almost every modern tent I've owned, why are un-anodised poles so hard to slip into the pole sleeves? On the original Phreerangers if you laid everything out you could almost get the pole to slip right into the sleeve and out the other side. With more modern tents the pole tends to want to continually stick, I'll assume it's something to do with the fabric/coating although I have a feeling that on the original Phreerangers the fabric used for the pole sleeves was only coated on one side and the coated side was facing out rather than in. This isn't a criticism of Marc or Trekkertent, simply an observation, the new EB is no worse in this respect than most of the other tents I've owned recently.

The Inner Tent

I'm not quite sure if Marc had made an inner tent prior to me sending him my original EB, I checked all my inner tents from standard and EB Phreerangers and they're all the same size allowing for manufacturing tolerances. The inner tent was a must have for me as in spite of having 4 different inner tents I didn't have one that didn't have a leaking groundsheet.

I can't remember just what options were available, I think perhaps just the extra zip at the rear to correspond with the 'vent mod' on the flysheet. We did discuss whether to have a side opening door or a drop down door but if I remember correctly both agreed on the drop down as regardless of which end your head is at you can always access the porch. Again pros and cons whichever you choose, I could live with either option. I did ask for a plain door with mesh panel and a plain cover but in the end it came with full double doors, solid/mesh just like the original which is fine. You could save the weight of a zip and a bit of fabric by going for the single plain with mesh panel option but I guess it wouldn't amount to much. I did have a choice of colours for the inner, green, yellow or white, I felt green would be too dark, yellow attracts insects so white it was. The inner is made from lightweigh ripstop with a DWR. I also had a choice of fabrics and colours for the groundsheet/floor but choose the toughest available, again the same as the Edge which is mentioned above, heavy duty PU coated ripstop nylon with a minimum HH rating of 5000mm. The only colour option was black which was fine by me. I suppose given the choice I would have gone for light grey rather than black as it would reflect light better but in the end durability is vastly more important and I don't think grey was an option anyway unless I wanted a groundsheet made from the same fabric as the flysheet on the 3 season Trekkertent models which is silicone coated 30 Denier high tenacity Ripstop Nylon 6.6 (silnylon) with a hydrostatic head rating of 2000mm. With enough leaking inner tents I didn't even consider this as an option.

For internal storage I asked Marc to add pockets at each end which is the same as the Mythos, I could have asked for pockets all along the rear of the inner but as I only need somewhere for wallet, watch keys (maybe) and headtorch I decided less is more. With too many storage pockets I'd forget where things are.

Marc fitted 3 webbing loops at the apex, in line with the crossing pole so there's enough option for hanging a tent light. The inner hangs quite loosely which I think surprised Marc, he seemed to feel that it should be tighter but honestly it's just like an original Phreeranger, if he hadn't mentioned it I wouldn't have noticed at all, in fact even hearing his concerns I still don't see anything wrong, it's 100% fine to me and vastly better than the Power Lizard I had briefly.

The space inside is amazing, I can just squeeze two Highlander full size rectangular sleeping mats in side by side, it is tight but it wouldn't have been remotely possible in my TN Laser which was classed as a 2 person tent (the Phreeranger EB was classed as 1+ person) The headroom is fantastic, I should have checked the actual height but I can sit bolt upright without touching the apex of the inner (I'm 5' 10" and no I don't have a disproportionally short body) The amount of separation between inner and fly is excellent, the inner tent could easily be enlarged to hold 2 full size sleeping mats with space to spare and still not be close to touching the flysheet.

So overall opinion? obviously given that it's almost an exact replica of my all time favourite tent I'm delighted with it, design aside the workmanship is faultless and the materials used as tough as I'm ever likely to need. I won't say I'd never buy another tent but if I did it'd be another Phreeranger from Marc, as long as he wants to make them he has a potential customer in me.

I'll add the weights of the various components as soon as I finish my shift.

The rear tie outs with tensioners added, I've removed the top one since I won't be using it.

2 Full size sleeping mats, just about fit.

Loads of inner/fly separation 

One thing I'd change, the crossing pole sleeve opening needs sewn closed half way down so the pole is held in place. Also the velcro would be better sewn to a piece of webbing, as it is it's really to stiff and the pole can (and will) slip under it. I'd go for a webbing strap with a velcro tab like the originals.

Various door configurations


  1. Sounds brilliant. The Phreeranger was one of the best tents ever.

  2. You can fit 2 mats dide by side?...I'm really tempted, look forward to seeing some pics especially internal space (when you have time!) :-)

    1. Hi Martin, I had taken the pics a while back but couldn't find them. Plenty of room for one person and compared to some current 2 person backpacking tents, room enough for 2.

      I've been really busy lately, since just after ordering the tent in fact so apart from pitching it I haven't had time to do much else.

      I should have posted the write up ages ago but due to circumstances beyond my control I didn't manage.

      More information in due course, in the meantime if you have any questions just ask :-)

    2. Thanks RMac, superb internal space, certainly a blast from the past.
      If you get a chance could you confirm weights of separate component parts, fly inc guys,the inner,poles, pegs? I'm going to mail Marc, I'm hoping to have an option to get this for 1200g all in (might be a big ask)

  3. Hi Martin, obviously you'll want the weights to be as accurate as possible so the poles will need to be trimmed to exact fit. Regarding guylines i guess it'll depend on what you use and how many guylines you fit.

    I have a full mesh door and a full solid door so you could knock off a bit of weight by going for a single door with mesh panel, it's one zip less for a start.

    Just back from a family holiday last night so as soon as I can I'll get the weights up (with photos of course) :-)