Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Vaude Power Lizard, Take 2

I tried the Power Lizard in the garden last night to see how it fared with regards to condensation, I’ll freely admit that testing a tent in the garden is akin to sleeping in your centrally heated lounge and claiming that your new sleeping bag rated to -30°c was worth every penny, that said there’s no way I’d take to the hills in an un-tried tent.

There aren’t any surprises regarding the tent to be honest and in use it’s so similar to the Laser I had last year that you’d be hard pressed to say one is better than the other unless you need the extra length of the Power Lizard. Of course while the extra length may be beneficial if you're over 6' you don't benefit from a similar increase in height so you'll be sitting crouched even at the apex. The extra length comes at the cost of under fly storage space as there's no space at the ends.

When I wakened up this morning there was plenty of condensation on the inside of the fly, the temperature last night outside was around 13°c, inside the inner tent it was around 18°c but there was a slight breeze all night. I noticed some condensation on the inner at the head end on the side away from the porch and there were also a fair few droplets where the condensation was shaken off the fly sheet. The headroom is less than I’m used to and sitting up meant leaning forward until I was at the apex before actually sitting up, trying to sit up from a lying position meant my head was in continual contact with the inner which resulted in contact between inner and fly. Checking the tent over once outside it was easy to see where the inner had touched the fly either due to the way the fly flaps about or due to me not being careful enough while inside. Maz mentioned being unable to tension the inner at floor level across the head end and there's a good reason for that, the inner is too wide.

Inner Tent Attached at the Head End,
The Webbing Strap is fully Tightened but the inner is still Loose.

The porch side attachment webbing is adjustable as I mentioned while the opposite side is fixed but even with the adjustable webbbing fully tightened the fly is still loose, in the middle where it attaches to the webbing connecting the ends of the main pole it's much too tight and for some reason the inner tends to get pulled away from the porch side and is a bit to close to the fly for my liking.

Inner Attached, With the Webbing Fully Tightened To Pull It Towards the Porch It Still gets pulled Away from the Porch

As I wasn’t entirely happy with the way I’d pitched the Power Lizard, especially the length of time I was taking to get it pitched and tensioned to my satisfaction I had a few more attempts today. In the end though it still takes me a good 8 minutes to unpack, pitch and fine tune with the inner attached. I shot a video to illustrate what I mean and while I feel the pitch was acceptable I still ended up adjusting it a few times more before I was reasonably satisfied, I‘m sure I could spend all day adjusting it and still not be 100% satisfied. It’s fair to say that if I can’t get it pitched to my satisfaction in a reasonable time in my own garden it’s extremely unlikely I’ll enjoy pitching it in less favourable circumstances.

Pitching The Power Lizard

Fine Tuning

I’m going to perserverve for a while and I’ll continue to practice pitching to see if things improve. The irony is that one reason for selling the Laser was the fixed inner and one plus point with regards to the Power Lizard was the removable inner but as it takes me so long to pitch it I’ll probably just keep the inner attached.


  1. The large conic-sections of unsupported flysheet material in this type of tent, along with the paucity of end-to-end ventilation throughput, will always result in condensation on many UK nights. In windy conditions the fly always sags downwards on the windward side and touches the inner periodically, no matter how well tensioned you get it. Once contact has been made, the surface tension tends to prolong it.

    After many nights with my LaserComp I've just accepted this inevitable scenario for the benefit of a 1kg tent.

    I've never detached the inner - ever!. When unrolling the tent for pitching after dank conditions the previous night, I just tolerate the extremely wet mess that confronts me and get on with it. On one such occasion after pitching, there was standing water in both ends of the inner but I quickly dried it out with a ZAP towel.

    The main factor is that relative lack of air throughput: on our TN Voyager with much better throughput, we never get condensation in the inner at all.

  2. The problems you've identified are similar to those I found. The inner, when tightened across the base, is still loose. If you put kit there, it's ok, but that's not really the point. Secondly, unless you're assiduous with the way you tension the poles at the end of tightening everything - to the point where the whole rig is very, very taut indeed and perhaps even under too much tension - the inner can even end up touching the fly. It is not great for condensation either. I find however, as does the chap who now uses my Lizzie, that condensation does not actually end up coming through the inner but these are all problems Vaude need to resolve. So many people complained when they thought the inner was all mesh, but I actually do not think there is enough mesh! And you're right - it's fiddly. Getting the end poles into their slots, in windy weather, is an exercise in Ghandi-like patience. All of that said, I still rather like Lizzie. It's only the blueprint/layout that is not for me - otherwise, you're still getting a bloody strong, 2 person shelter for 1kg.

  3. I can't help thinking you'd like a pyramid shelter, something like an SL3/Hex with an inner like this one here. I would too. Wish someone would finally make one available to buy.

  4. I agree with the point that this type of tent design whether Lizard or Laser Comp - does have issues - but the benefits of a 1kg tent that 2 people can use use in reasonable comfort or 1 in luxury makes me overlook these issues to a large extent. I have never detached the inner from the fly on my Lizard.
    Mac - I sent my tent back and got a complete replacement. The pockets are now much better constructed and the poles are easier to slot in compared to the first one I had - and of course the poles are now the right length which means the fly sits better as far as I can see.

    I think I will reserve my final judgement once I have a few more backpacking trips under my belt - Only used on 3 trips so far.