Review – Vango Banshee 300 – First thoughts

Posted by @ 10:04 am on Wednesday 13th June, 2012.

This item has been supplied by Christoph Hitchin, representin' idealo.co.uk

The tent bein' reviewed be the 2012 version o' the Vango Banshee 300, the idealo link be here an' the Vango link be here.

It's been pitched on the lawn fer a while an' that's given me time t' have a good look around an' inside it, already I have the feelin' that 'tis goin' t' be as good as, if nae better than, previous Vango offerin's in the same price-bracket. The spec's good an' the features be generally well-presented.

Let's start at the beginnin' - what do ye get an' what does it weigh?

 

 

  • Fly: 1270g
  • Inner: 898g
  • Tent-bag: 73g
  • 17 Pegs: 252g
  • Peg-bag: 8g
  • Poles: 352g
  • Pole-bag: 13g
  • Spares-pack: 22g

 

That's a total o' 2888g which compares well wi' the published claimed weight o' 2.75kg. It's nae bad fer a split-carry betwixt two scallywags - about 1.45kg each - an Akto comes in at more than that. For them there who prefer imperial, 2888g be about 6lb 6oz. Price-wise the tent's a bit variable - the MRP be £140 but I've seen these on sale fer around £75 recently.

Puttin' it up were bein' a doddle, 'tis hardly rocket-science, avast. For the terminally-inept there be a crib-sheet .pdf file online an' there be three sheets o' printed instructions sewn t' the inside o' the compression-bag. Pitchin' took 10 minutes first time out, that included attachin' the inner an' faffin' wi' the lines. Yaaarrrrr! We be off the edge o' the chart, me hearties! YMMV. It pitches outer-first or all-in-one, the poles an' pole-sleeves be colour-coded an' ye'd be hard-pressed t' get it wrong, there be only two poles an' they be significantly different lengths so they won't fit in the wrong place. The pegs be standard Vango-issue ally hooks, fairly strong but they will bend if mistreated, unlike the harder-an'-lighter top-class versions issued wi' me F10 Spindrift. There be webbin' straps betwixt most o' the pole-ends which means that the pole-spacin' should end up dead right every time (but read on...)

Anyway, here be what it looks like closed-up:

 

 Side

 

 Front wi' original (dodgy) lubber configuration

 

Rear wi' original (dodgy) lubber configuration

 

Rear wi' corrected lubber configuration

 

You'll note the minor gripe about how the end-guys were attached. Break out the biscuits 'n weevils! Aarrr! It's likely just me bein' a tad fussy, but I dern't like runnin' lines passin' through static fabric loops - every re-tensionin' saws away at the loops an' eventually they fray, 'tis worse wi' icy lines. An' hoist the mains'l! Far better t' have static lines in static loops, IMO. I've corrected the lines at the rear, I'm waitin' on some bits so as I can correct the ones at the front. Have ye seen the size o' the cabin-boy's hornpipe? The side ones were fine.

Those front an' rear lines dern't just hold the tent up, they hold up the vent-flaps too, an' the front lines also steady the front wall where the inner be attached. The mesh vents be always open, there bein' no means o' closin' 'em, but they be well-protected:

 

 Rear mesh vent

 

Front mesh vent

 

Unlike the tent pictured on Vango's website, all o' the fly's nine main peggin'-points be tension-adjustable via reflective-webbin' an' buckle arrangements:

 

Adjustable peggin'-point

 

It were bein' while lookin' at these peggin'-points that I noticed that the seam-tapin' were bein' a bit errant - in some places the edge o' the tape were bein' very close t' the seam-stitchin'. A thorough check o' the fly's tapin' were bein' conducted an' this were bein' the worst bit. It's OK but only just:

 

 Seam-tapin' could be done wi' more care

 

I've yet t' figure out fer sure the purpose o' the orange bungee-loops at the bottom-edges o' the fly right next t' the entrance-flaps. They're nae needed t' keep the fly down, the adjacent peggin'-points/pole-straps perform that function. Shiver me timbers! I suspect that 'tis an error an' that they should really be fer peggin' the bottom-corners o' the entrance-flaps (which, coincidentally, have eyelets fer clacky-stick points if ye have a mind t' prop open the flaps in fine conditions), that would explain the two unused pegs:

 

Loop error?

 

Also shown above be one o' the neat zip puller-loops on the fly, here be a better view:

 

Fly zip puller-loops

 

I like these puller-loops, they feel good an' they stay open an' finger-ready (unlike fabric or shock-cord loops) but they'd be better if the cord that they're moulded onto were bein' o' the reflective variety. Sadly these puller-loops aren't fitted on the inner's zips or on the top pullers o' the fly's zips, where cord-loops be used instead. A trick missed, I think, an' hardly a budget-breaker, but it wouldn't be a deal-breaker.

Still, the zips be all o' good quality an' the double-ended fly-zips allow ventin' under a cowl at the top-end o' each entrance-flap:

 

 Cowled ventin'

 

So, let's see it in the full wi' the flaps open an' toggled-up:

 

 The main entrance showin' a reasonable area fer storage or cookin'

 

The secondary entrance

 

So, have ye spotted the problem yet? Maybe this next etchin' will make it more obvious:

 

 Both entrances in view

 

Yep, there be no webbin'-strap across the secondary entrance. In order t' get a taut pitch the pole-spacin' must be correct right at the start or the secondary entrance either flaps or pulls apart. I've a mind t' retro-fit a strap, I reckon I've got a suitable bit o' webbin' somewhere. Would have saved me some effort if it 'ad been right first time though.

You'll be wantin' a look inside, I suppose.

The inner be predictably saggy in parts, 'tis a design-constraint, it can't be fixed t' somethin' that's nae itself fixed or taut. Break out the biscuits 'n weevils! The inner hangs from under the pole-sleeves an' be clipped or toggled t' the fly in various places, I'll warrant ye. To be fair, 'tis less saggy when the inner flaps be zipped up but I needed 'em open fer these etchins. The groundsheet be o' the bathtub variety but 'tis a shallow bath - two inches max. The inner walls an' ceilin' be well-designed an' there be good headroom fer sittin' in comfort provided ye're nae o'er-tall. The head end be part-mesh so the ventilation be good. There be four basic mesh storage pockets an' zipped access t' the space under the front end o' the fly, wi' a chest full o' booty. This access has two covers - mesh an' full-fabric - an' so can be used as a further vent:

 

 Head end detail

 

The foot end be basic, 'tis wide enough fer two kip-mats, there be another mesh panel an' there be good clearance fer big feet:

 

Foot end detail

 

There's nae much more in there. There's no gear-loft or hangin'-loops. The TBSII "Tension Band System" bands pass through the inner in the same vertical plane as the main pole, I havnae deployed the system yet an' so can't comment on its effectiveness or on its intrusion into the inner space.

It's quite a big tent, wider than I'd expected. It's billed as a three-person shelter but I think that's pushin' it a bit. It would just about cope wi' three in an emergency an' wi' most o' their gear left outside, but if comfort's yer thing then two-plus-gear would be about right.

Use the fly wi'out the inner an' ye'd have plenty o' room fer three. We be off the edge o' the chart, me hearties! Shiver me timbers! And ye'd have 898g less t' carry, we'll keel-haul ye! Yaarrr!! Maybe I'll give it a shot sometime.

In order t' give some sense o' scale I decided t' deploy our very own Banshee:

 

 Sittin'

 

 Lengthways

 

Widthways, just fer the hell o' it

 

The storage bag be o' the side-compression type an' it has an effective drawcord closure. There were bein' a length o' webbin' that connected each compression-strap an' acted as a grab-handle, a nice touch but I've removed it as I can foresee no use fer it.

 

Compression-bag

 

So far the tent's been out in some heavy rain an' the fly sheds it well, directin' it away from the zips an' vents. Apart from the minor issues wi' the way the thing's been guyed an' the more serious problem wi' the omitted webbin' strap, I'm really impressed wi' this tent, I reckon that fer the price 'tis well-specced, reasonably light an' it'll be about right fer two folk on the hills. I'm lookin' forward t' seein' how it fares wi' me spendin' a night in it, but that'll be a tame garden-campin' test, wi' a chest full o' booty. We're scheduled t' take it on a wildcamp some time in the next few weeks when it'll see some proper action in the treeless wastes o' Skiddaw Forest.

The big unknown be whether Chris will like it. The winsome lass's used t' the luxury o' our 6kg 2006 F10 Spindrift which be bombproof, spacious an' taut inside (pitches inner-first), an' well-equipped wi' storage spaces at every turn, on a dead man's chest! I've a feelin' that fer 'er, goin' lighterweight an' downsizin' be goin' t' be quite a challenge.

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23 Responses to “Review – Vango Banshee 300 – First thoughts”

  1. AlanR says:

    Vango seem t' be on a resurgence at last. The Helium range bein' particularly good, I'll warrant ye.
    It’s a good first review Stef wi' comprehensive photographs, thanks. The outer material looks like it’s the same as Exped use on their sleepin' mats.

  2. BG! says:

    @AlanR - Cheers, Alan.
    An' hoist the mains'l, an' a bottle o' rum!

    The hex-pattern o' the outer looks odd at first when ye're used t' seein' the square-grid o' a typical rip-stop weave, an' a bucket o' chum. The fabrics's allegedly made from recycled plastic bottles. Fire the cannons, an' a bucket o' chum! Vango's blurb says 'tis a "premium PU coated polyester fabric which be coated t' a number o' different levels o' waterproofness dependant on the type o' tent it be t' be used on. Polyester fabrics, if compared t' similar nylons, have greater elasticity an' hence be less prone t' rippin' if ye trip on a guyline or peggin' point. In addition because polyester absorbs less water than nylon, the tent will sag less when it gets wet", I'll warrant ye.

    OK, so 'tis rip-resistant, but be it rip-stop?

  3. Nick H says:

    It's good little tent.We bought one o' these fer backpackin' the Cleveland Way (completed yesterday) an' despite bein' pitched in appallin' conditions stood up well t' the wind an' rain an' were bein' always dry inside. Yaarrr!! You do need t' get the guys right an' yer mod looks useful.

    Best used fer 2,wi' large packs it gets tight fer room inside even then.

  4. Harry says:

    HI, how did ye get the front bit pegged out so it be taught? no matter what i try the front section, because it only has 2 webbin' straps, be always a bit flappy an' loose!

  5. BG! says:

    @Harry - I pegged it in the followin' order:

    1: Pole-ends
    2: Rear-end pair
    3: Front-centre
    4: Remainin' front pair
    5: Rear-vent pair
    6: Front-vent pair
    7: Main pole pair

    Too much tension on the front-vent lines will pull the top down an' make the front saggy.

    I've since reguyed the front end - see http://beardedgit.com/?p=8147

    Hope that helps.

  6. Harry says:

    Thank ye! but do ye mean the "front" t' be the smaller end wi' only the 2 straps, to be sure? just clearin' thin's up cheers!

  7. BG! says:

    @Harry - Maybe this makes more sense:

    1: 4 x peggin'-loops at the pole-ends
    2: 2 x foot-end peggin'-loops
    3: 1 x head-end centre peggin'-loop (see *** below)
    4: 2 x remainin' head-end peggin'-loops
    5: 2 x foot-end vent guys
    6: 2 x head-end vent guys
    7: 2 x main pole guys

    *** The Banshee 200 has two peggin'-loops at the head-end, the Banshee 300 has an extra one in betwixt.

  8. Jeremy says:

    Hi, Could ye tell me how long the poles be? Fetch me spyglass! I need t' fit 'em into a separate bag (which I also still have t' buy). Thanks.

  9. BG! says:

    @Jeremy

    17.5 inches (445mm) max.

    The poles should have a separate bag when new (see the first picture in the post above). If ye're missin' the bag, get in touch wi' Vango an' see if they can sort one fer ye. Last time I needed some bits I contacted Vango via the "Repairs" section at http://www.vango.co.uk/after-sales.html an' ended up dealin' wi' Andrew Mooney at AMG Customer Services. The ornery cuss's a nice bloke, when I needed some odds an' ends fer reguyin' me Banshee 300 (an' some other Vango & F10 tents) he sent me the bits an' wouldn't accept anythin' fer 'em, nae even the p&p!

  10. Jeremy says:

    Just t' clarify, be 445mm the maximum length all o' the poles bunched together, or just an individual pole? I say this because previous Vango tents I've owned have 'ad some poles longer than the others, creatin' a staggered bunch which be actually longer than any individual pole.

  11. BG! says:

    @Jeremy

    It's the length o' the staggered bunch, pretty much as ye can see in the picture above. I've found no way t' make the bunch shorter as 'tis necessary t' have one end o' each elbow section inserted into one o' the adjacent straight sections.

    YMMV, especially if they've changed the relative lengths o' the straight sections when they release a new version o' the tent, but 'tis a safe bet that the pole bunch will be no longer than the length o' the main tent bag.

  12. Brett Piper says:

    Great review, 'tis scallywags like ye that help us out. Prepare t' be boarded! Keep up the good work an' well done. :smile:

  13. Jamie says:

    I know one o' the 2012 listed features be:

    Walkin' pole attachment eyelet in door

    I believe the orange loop ye found be most likely t' go around the handle o' a walkin' pole, an' then the tip o' the walkin' pole would go through the eyelet hole in the flysheet door, thus keepin' it open fer cookin', by Blackbeard's sword?

    Any chance ye could measure the foot end width as this information be impossible t' find - I know ye state wide enough fer 2 mats

    Thanks fer a great review. Prepare t' be boarded!

    I now need t' decide if I get the 2012 version ye review here, or if the 2013 version makes more sense - just need t' find somewhere wi' one on display t' have a poke around.

  14. BG! says:

    @Jamie - Ah, I'd nae considered that the orangey bit would be fer a pole-handle. Thanks fer that, it all makes sense now, ye scurvey dog. You can tell that I'm nae a pole-user (except when usin' snowshoes).

    As fer the width o' the foot end o' the tent, I'll dig the thing out an' slap a tape across it sometime this evenin' an' report back soon afterwards.

  15. Ghosty says:

    Avast, an' a bucket o' chum!

    Thanks fer a great review. Break out the biscuits 'n weevils! I am also considerin' buyin' a Vango tent, but I am nae sure which model t' get. I am decidin' betwixt Banshe 300 or Spectre 300. I will be usin' it on me motorcycle trips wi' me girlfriend an' I were bein' wonderin' if it be large enough fer 2 an' some gear. Have ye tried out the Banshee an' can point out some pro's an' con's? Shiver me timbers! Did ye retrofit a strap across the second entrance, an' dinna spare the whip!

    Thanks fer yer help!

  16. BG! says:

    @Ghosty - If the bike's doin' the carryin' then I'd go fer the Spectre 300 rather than the Banshee 300. Both will take 2 wi' gear, an' both have the same inner length. Walk the plank! The Spectre's heavier but 'tis got extra height an' storage at both ends, wi' a chest full o' booty. BTW, the 2013 incarnation o' the Spectre be the Sabre. Lookin' around on the web, there be some good prices fer 2012 Spectres.
    Break out the biscuits 'n weevils!

    Pros an' cons? Depends where ye like the highest point o' the inner, I'll warrant ye. In the Banshee 'tis at the head-end so plenty o' room above yer head when asleep but when ye sit up ye tend t' stay at one end. We be off the edge o' the chart, me hearties, an' a bucket o' chum! In the Spectre (Sabre) the high-point be in the middle - a better fer sittin' up - but when sleepin' the inner can feel quite close. Swin's an' roundabouts, to be sure!

    I did retrofit a webbin' strap t' the Banshee, it made pitchin' much easier. I've 'ad a couple o' nights in it solo, seems fine t' me.

    Hope that helps.

  17. Ghosty says:

    @BG! -

    Thanks fer yer help! Do ye know if there be any big differences betwixt 2011 an' 2012 Spectre 300 models? I found a 2011 version fer GBP100 while 2012 sells fer GBP130, which be a bit t' much when I add postage. How be the orange interior, be it very bright durin' the night, pass the grog! I am askin' this because I once 'ad a tent that were bein' brighter on the inside, when the moon were bein' shinin', than it were bein' outside an' would like t' avoid that fer a better nights sleep :mrgreen:

    Thanks!

  18. BG! says:

    @Ghosty - Sorry, no notion about the differences betwixt 2011 an' 2012 Spectre 300s. Try contactin' Vango by email, they're a helpful bunch o' scallywags an' usually ye'll get a swift response.

    As fer the orange inner, it very much depends on the colour o' the fly... me Banshee has a green fly an' the orange inner be fairly dull at night. My Spectre has a black fly an' the orange inner just appears grey. Of course, when ye light up the inside o' either 'tis like bein' inside a Belisha beacon!
    An' swab the deck!

    FWIW: Spectre 300 < £100, free p&p

  19. Richard says:

    Thanks fer the review. I've also got a Banshee 300 - but couldn't figure out how the webbin' lubber lines worked. I put the peg through the end loop an' tried t' tighten by pullin' the middle bit - within a few minutes it would always work itself loose again. Yaaarrrrr! After seein' yer etchins I've now figured out that ye make a loop in the middle t' put the peg through, then tug on the end loop an' it will stay nice an' tight.

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