Bikepacking tent – Solar Photon 2 first look

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  • Bikepacking tent – Solar Photon 2 first look
  • Premier Icon ahsat
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    So we have posted some other threads about bikepacking tents, in particular we were looking at the Alpkit Ordos. Thought it was worth updating on progress after so much advice on here. We spent some time trying to see a few different ones (hard as very few people keep tents in stock these days). We were impressed with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX – head space was very impressive but it was pretty bulky and we already have a decent 2-3 man tent. Would consider one in the future when we are back in the market for something with space luxury. The pack weight of the Ordos 2 was similar, and the mixed reviews meant we didn’t decide to travel to the new Alpkit shop to have a look. We were tempted by the new TN Starlite with the super short poles, but they dont come out till the end of the month and are also in the 1.3-1.5 kg range.

    We ended up going for a Terra Nova Solar Photon 2. Yes they are pretty expensive, but p20 spotted that Terra Nova did an old tent trade in giving you 30% off the RRP which put them far more in line with MSR costs. My parents kindly donated a 39-year old cycle touring tent and our new tent arrived shortly after. We also ordered directly from TN because they had the new 2017 models in stock, where the poles have been changed very slightly from 8.5 to 8.7 mm which we are hoping might avoid some of the pole issues.

    We haven’t used it in anger yet, that’s the plan for later in the month, but so far very impressed. It packs down very small and can fit in a medium Blackburn framebag, poles, ground sheet, pegs and all. Total weight with pegs just over 1 kg. It ships with 1 g pieces of bent wire – so we purchased some replacement pegs – MSR Groundhog minis and some titanium nail style to cover both hard and soft ground.

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/UnPakP]IMG_20170428_182657_629[/url] by Tasha, on Flickr

    It fits our two Alpkit numos without overlapping. It does narrow quite a bit to the foot end, but our mats tapper too, so that isn’t a problem. We are both ~5’8″ of medium build, and married. I can see that for two 6′ blokes on a mates trip, this is just going to be too cozy.

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/UvEw47]Terra Nova Solar Photon 2[/url] by Tasha, on Flickr

    Had it up in the garden over the weekend to seal the sames (does give me mild rage that for a tent at this price you have to do this yourself, but hohumm!). Because it is so light, so is the fabric – it is a tent that is going to need a bit of TLC. It has stayed up in a reasonably breezy garden overnight to make sure it dried properly, without all the guy lines – and it is still stood up fine this morning.

    We are planning some Scottish adventures later this month – so will post an in-use and bikepacking review in due course. We have wild camped before, but this is the first go with the bikes!

    rene59
    Member

    Solar Photon 2 Tent
    The first lightest 2-person self-supporting tent in the world!

    It ships with 1 g pieces of bent wire – so we purchased some replacement pegs

    Had it up in the garden over the weekend to seal the sames (does give me mild rage that for a tent at this price you have to do this yourself, but hohumm!).

    You don’t get that lightest in the world tagline by giving you everything you need!

    I’m going to launch an even lighter one, just add your own flysheet!

    It’s a cracking looking tent, ideal for bikepacking, look forward to your review as I am considering one for later this year also.

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    I agree – it is all for headlines, and many manufacturers do the same at that weight point 🙂

    I’m going to launch an even lighter one, just add your own flysheet!

    To be fair – they have already done this, as with the groundsheet, it can pitch without the inner and be a glorified bivy! Not sure I see the point tbh – the reason for buying it was avoiding Scottish midges. I have a bivy bag for when I want to bivy!

    £480…

    Diminishing returns central.

    I’ll stick with my sub 2kg decathlon t2 ultralight. Granted the best way to carry it seems to be atop a distinctly unfashionable pannier rack or in place of a bar bag, but it cost £65, stays upright in a gale, comfortably sleeps 2 and has a decent amount of headroom.

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    Fair enough. Each to their own. The internal space of the two is nearly identical looking at the floor plans.

    What type of pegs do they come with?
    I have the TN Laser, it came with the 1gram ti pegs. I found these are pretty much garbage. They are so short the dont give a good enough anchor into the ground.
    i had the tent blow down once, it was in a pretty bad gale but it was only because the pegs were pulling out of the ground.
    I replaced them with some longer ally pegs that make the tent feel a lot more stable. i used it a few weeks ago on a pretty wild night and it stayed firm this time.

    whitestone
    Member

    It’s not just the pegs, many if not most ultra-lightweight tents have gossamer thin groundsheets which require some form of protective under sheet/footprint to ensure that they don’t puncture. The extra weight kind of defeats the purpose of them being ultra-light.

    The main problem with the super/ultra light stuff (apart from the price) is that it isn’t particularly durable or else it needs a lot of care in use.

    Looking on ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk (genuine site) there are some seriously pricey shelters – a 100g cuben fibre tarp for £300!

    shermer75
    Member

    I love Terra Nova stuff! 🙂

    scotroutes
    Member

    Stu sells some nice carbon pegs over at Bearbones.

    flanagaj
    Member

    Nice, but my next tent is going to be a Hilleberg Akto. I have bumped into many an extended cycle tourer who were using them.

    Premier Icon grahamt1980
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    Where is the info on the trade in? I cannot see it on the website

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    Hillenberg are fab. Really love them, but over twice the price after trade in, couldn’t justify it. However it will be great tent.

    Trade in details are here.

    Yes, your right whitestone, we ended up buying the ground sheet, which added 200g but you really need to do the same for the Alpkit too. I guess we have the luxury of being able to have a couple of more regular use tents, as well as an ultralight option. Advantage of no children….

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    Great photo NorthCountry. Sounds like they come with similar pegs. Not great.

    Not for one moment saying this is the perfect balance of cheap/light/strong but certainly one impressive option.

    Premier Icon grahamt1980
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    Premier Icon P20
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    NCB, like that photo.
    The footprint is so small it makes sense to carry it. It’s not something I’d considered, and then I had the footprint in my hand and it’s so small. But if pushed it can be used without. It also means you can pitch outer and footprint for ultralight duties.
    Whilst there will still be a time for bivvies, this et up weighs less/packs down smaller than our tarp and bivvy bags.

    Premier Icon allyharp
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    I’ve got one that I bought in 2014, also using the trade-in. Shamefully I bought a £12 ten just from Halfords just to send for trade-in, which felt wasteful but it was just too financially rewarding not to.

    I’d also consider it fragile, though I’ve never bought the groundsheet. I tend to camp in a campsite most of the time though. For the worst wild pitches I’ve used a CTC cycle back or a £1 Poundland groundsheet underneath (which doesn’t fully cover it, but gets most of the way there).

    chevychase
    Member

    Love my Nordisk Telemark Lw 2 🙂

    Premier Icon P20
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    allyharp, we nearly did something similar for the trade in tent. I was looking on gumtree until the in laws came up with their old tent

    Premier Icon doom_mountain
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    Interested to hear your views on the Solar 2, once you’ve used it.
    I’ve been looking at this tent as well, I know it’s a pricy option but 1kg for a freestanding two man tent is fantastic.

    I’m a Terra Nova fan, I love the fact they’re based in Derbyshire and still make / repair tents in the UK. The Hope of camping?

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    We’ll hopefully have a fuller review for you by the end of the month.

    Premier Icon allyharp
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    I’m certainly impressed with mine. I’ve never used the stock 1g pegs but still carry them just in case.

    The self supporting nature makes it very fast to pitch – part of the reason I chose it over the Laser. Because it’s so light I’ve carried it at times I probably wouldn’t have – included over to Australia to use for New Year. The only negatives are the impression that it’s fragile meaning I spend extra time choosing a clean pitch, and the storm flap around the door occasionally gets caught in the zip.

    On the topic of pegs I’ve found MSR groundhogs to be noticeably better than the Alpkit or Amazon unbranded copies. Less susceptible to bending, but sadly no less susceptible to being forgotten!

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