Posts tagged 'Vango Banshee 300'

North Wales 2013 – Thursday/wildcamp/Friday mashup

51 today! A lie-in, breakfast in bed, pressies and cards - the perfect start to another roasting-hot day.

Outside the cottage the RAF did another low-level fly-by, I assumed that it wasn't all in my honour but it was impressive all the same:

 

Chinook #1

 

Chinook #2

 

Chinook #3

 

The resident Squadron Leader looks on, unimpressed by the thundering mechanical behemoth

 

We spent the day in Betws-y-Coed, sight-seeing and getting some retail therapy. As a birthday treat we dined at The Gwydyr Hotel, the food was very good although for some inexplicable reason, in a land that supports so many sheep, the kitchen had run out of lamb. No matter, the beef was fine alternative. Ice-creams were had from Cadwaladers Ice Cream Café, Chris got some walking-sandals from F*** & T***, and we spent much time in many shops trying and failing to get Anna some sunglasses that she'd be happy with.

After an evening meal back at the cottage me and Ella packed our kit - we were off up my mountain to introduce her gently to the delights of wildcamping. We took the same route as we had on Tuesday, eventually finding a great spot in the gap at the base of the Daear Ddu (a place that we christened "The Gap of Rohan"). We'd picked a fine night - clear, warm and calm, with a gentle up-slope breeze that kept the midges at bay. Ella went down to Llyn y Foel to get water while I pitched the tent:

 

The Banshee 300 pitched in the Gap of Rohan

 

After a supper of discounted Wayfarer meals (found a few days before in the bargain-bucket at Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports in Capel Curig) we settled for the night and slept well.

Friday morning was warm and clear, we were up at sunrise to see a warm glow on the mountain and misty haze in the Lledr Valley below. We wandered up onto the nearby ridge and had breakfast (courtesy of Decathlon's Aptonia range) al fresco on a suitable rock:

 

Moel Siabod cwm pano (the tent's on the left)

 

On the ridge just after sunrise

 

Lledr Valley - mist and haze

 

 Dolwyddelan Castle #1

 

 Ella doesn't do mornings...

 

but she does do breakfast

 

Dolwyddelan Castle #2

 

Cotton-grass

 

Ella

 

Heather

 

Knobbly #1

 

Knobbly #2

 

Striking camp didn't take long - we'd not brought much. With the weather set fair and with us being on familiar ground we'd figured that stuff like waterproofs, spare layers, rucksack liners, map/compass/GPS weren't really necessary. Hell, I even eschewed the Scarpa SLs and wore my tatty old Trezetas instead! No shorts though - I didn't want to scare the wildlife 😯

 

Holy Trezetas

 

We shouldered our packs and completed the circuit of Llyn y Foel, taking a few pics on the way:

 

Columnar jointing, Daear Ddu

 

Moel Siabod reflected in Llyn y Foel

 

Llyn y Foel and "The Gap of Rohan"

 

On the way back down we had time for a bit of exploring around the quarry. Ella kept finding rocks shaped like footprints, I aced her with this one that bore an uncanny resemblance to Brian Griffin:

 

Dug

 

Some of the small quarry buildings overlooking the reservoir looked like they'd be fine places for setting up a bivvy:

 

Quarry building 1 #1

 

Quarry building 1 #2

 

Quarry building 2 #1

 

That Lonesome Pine again

 

Ditto

 

Reedy margins

 

Nearly back at the cottage the view was extensive - here's a 180-degree pano:

 

Widescreen

 

Before long we were back at the cottage. Chris did us a superb cooked breakfast, partly to refuel us and partly to use up the bacon, eggs, hash-browns and other such stuff in the kitchen.

The afternoon proved to be hotter than the morning. Nobody was up for going out so we spent a leisurely afternoon getting a lot of our stuff packed up in order to make Saturday's 10 a.m. getaway a tad easier.

Outside the view down the Llugwy Valley was being ruined by these festrous things:

 

Moel Maelogen wind farm

 

Soon afterwards the RAF provided more entertainment. We wondered if we'd been overflown by royalty:

 

Charlie's Angel?

 

Packing almost done, I took a few parting-shots of the cottages:

 

Cottages #1

 

Cottages #2

 

The kitchen

 

The Boss

 

After that, and after a third-and-final hot meal, we had an early night in preparation for an early start on Saturday.

Review – Vango Banshee 300 – Re-jigged

Posted by on June 25th 2012 in Shiny new kit, Testing for review

I've re-jigged the lines on the front-end of the Vango Banshee 300. I didn't like the way the running-loops at the line-lok ends ran through fabric loops on the vent-flap, there was potential for "sawing" during adjustment. Also, having vee-lines meant that it was impossible to adjust the angle of the vent-flap without altering the angle of the line that pulls out the centre of the end wall - the direction of pull there should be fixed. Weightwise I've measured nowt but I've lost a yard of line and gained a peg and a line-lok. If there's any extra to carry it's hardly going to break my back, is it?

Anyway, here's what it looked like out-of-the bag:

 

 

 Front with original (dodgy) guy configuration - 2 vee-lines and 2 pegs

 

And here are a couple of shots showing the new config:

 

 

 Front with revised guy configuration - 3 single lines and 3 pegs

 

 

 As previous

 

There, that's better. You can't beat having adjustable flaps  🙂

Next I'll be adding a webbing-strap across the secondary entrance. Experiments with a bit of shock-cord indicated that it makes getting the correct pole-spacing much easier on that side, leading to less strain on the entrance-zips.

Review – Vango Banshee 300 – First thoughts

Posted by on June 13th 2012 in Shiny new kit, Testing for review

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

The tent being reviewed is the 2012 version of the Vango Banshee 300, the idealo link is here and the Vango link is here.

It's been pitched on the lawn for a while and that's given me time to have a good look around and inside it, already I have the feeling that it's going to be as good as, if not better than, previous Vango offerings in the same price-bracket. The spec's good and the features are generally well-presented.

Let's start at the beginning - what do you get and 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 of 2888g which compares well with the published claimed weight of 2.75kg. It's not bad for a split-carry between two people - about 1.45kg each - an Akto comes in at more than that. For those who prefer imperial, 2888g is about 6lb 6oz. Price-wise the tent's a bit variable - the MRP is £140 but I've seen these on sale for around £75 recently.

Putting it up was a doddle, it's hardly rocket-science. For the terminally-inept there's a crib-sheet .pdf file online and there are three sheets of printed instructions sewn to the inside of the compression-bag. Pitching took 10 minutes first time out, that included attaching the inner and faffing with the lines. YMMV. It pitches outer-first or all-in-one, the poles and pole-sleeves are colour-coded and you'd be hard-pressed to get it wrong, there are only two poles and they are significantly different lengths so they won't fit in the wrong place. The pegs are standard Vango-issue ally hooks, fairly strong but they will bend if mistreated, unlike the harder-and-lighter top-class versions issued with my F10 Spindrift. There are webbing straps between most of the pole-ends which means that the pole-spacing should end up dead right every time (but read on...)

Anyway, here's what it looks like closed-up:

 

 Side

 

 Front with original (dodgy) guy configuration

 

Rear with original (dodgy) guy configuration

 

Rear with corrected guy configuration

You'll note the minor gripe about how the end-guys were attached. It's probably just me being a tad fussy, but I don't like running lines passing through static fabric loops - every re-tensioning saws away at the loops and eventually they fray, it's worse with icy lines. Far better to have static lines in static loops, IMO. I've corrected the lines at the rear, I'm waiting on some bits so as I can correct the ones at the front. The side ones were fine.

Those front and rear lines don't just hold the tent up, they hold up the vent-flaps too, and the front lines also steady the front wall where the inner is attached. The mesh vents are always open, there being no means of closing them, but they are well-protected:

 

 Rear mesh vent

 

Front mesh vent

 

Unlike the tent pictured on Vango's website, all of the fly's nine main pegging-points are tension-adjustable via reflective-webbing and buckle arrangements:

 

Adjustable pegging-point

 

It was while looking at these pegging-points that I noticed that the seam-taping was a bit errant - in some places the edge of the tape was very close to the seam-stitching. A thorough check of the fly's taping was conducted and this was the worst bit. It's OK but only just:

 

 Seam-taping could have been done with more care

 

There are orange bungee-loops at the bottom-edges of the fly right next to the entrance-flaps. I'm told that they're for the handles of clacky-sticks if you have a mind to prop open the flaps in fine conditions, the points go into the metal eyelets. Guying-out the clacky-stick would explain the two unused pegs:

 

Orange loop

Also shown above is one of the neat zip puller-loops on the fly, here's a better view:

 

Fly zip puller-loops

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

Still, the zips are all of good quality and the double-ended fly-zips allow venting under a cowl at the top-end of each entrance-flap:

 

 Cowled venting

 

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

 

 The main entrance showing a reasonable area for storage or cooking

 

The secondary entrance

 

So, have you spotted the problem yet? Maybe this next pic will make it more obvious:

 

 Both entrances in view

Yep, there's no webbing-strap across the secondary entrance. In order to get a taut pitch the pole-spacing must be correct right at the start or the secondary entrance either flaps or pulls apart. I've a mind to retro-fit a strap, I reckon I've got a suitable bit of webbing somewhere. Would have saved me some effort if it had been right first time though.

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

The inner is predictably saggy in parts, it's a design-constraint, it can't be fixed to something that's not itself fixed or taut. The inner hangs from under the pole-sleeves and is clipped or toggled to the fly in various places. To be fair, it's less saggy when the inner flaps are zipped up but I needed them open for these pics. The groundsheet is of the bathtub variety but it's a shallow bath - two inches max. The inner walls and ceiling are well-designed and there's good headroom for sitting in comfort provided you're not over-tall. The head end is part-mesh so the ventilation is good. There are four basic mesh storage pockets and zipped access to the space under the front end of the fly. This access has two covers - mesh and full-fabric - and so can be used as a further vent:

 

 Head end detail

 

The foot end is basic, it's wide enough for two kip-mats, there's another mesh panel and there's good clearance for big feet:

 

Foot end detail

 

There's not much more in there. There's no gear-loft or hanging-loops. The TBSII "Tension Band System" bands pass through the inner in the same vertical plane as the main pole, I haven't deployed the system yet and 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 pushing it a bit. It would just about cope with three in an emergency and with most of their gear left outside, but if comfort's your thing then two-plus-gear would be about right.

Use the fly without the inner and you'd have plenty of room for three. And you'd have 898g less to carry. Maybe I'll give it a shot sometime.

In order to give some sense of scale I decided to deploy our very own Banshee:

 

 Sitting

 

 Lengthways

 

Widthways, just for the hell of it

 

The storage bag is of the side-compression type and it has an effective drawcord closure. There was a length of webbing that connected each compression-strap and acted as a grab-handle, a nice touch but I've removed it as I can foresee no use for it.

 

Compression-bag

So far the tent's been out in some heavy rain and the fly sheds it well, directing it away from the zips and vents. Apart from the minor issues with the way the thing's been guyed and the more serious problem with the omitted webbing strap, I'm really impressed with this tent, I reckon that for the price it's well-specced, reasonably light and it'll be about right for two folk on the hills. I'm looking forward to seeing how it fares with me spending a night in it, but that'll be a tame garden-camping test. We're scheduled to take it on a wildcamp some time in the next few weeks when it'll see some proper action in the treeless wastes of Skiddaw Forest.

The big unknown is whether Chris will like it. She's used to the luxury of our 6kg 2006 F10 Spindrift which is bombproof, spacious and taut inside (pitches inner-first), and well-equipped with storage spaces at every turn. I've a feeling that for her, going lighterweight and downsizing is going to be quite a challenge.

Couldn’t wait

Posted by on June 11th 2012 in Shiny new kit, Testing for review

You know what it's like... new toys and all that:

 

 

 

 

Besides, it would have been a shame to waste the rain.

So far, it looks good. Took about ten minutes to pitch.

Spotted a couple of minor assembly errors already, such as the tail-end guys being incorrectly attached. No bother, I'll sort them later.

I'll give it a more thorough going-over tomorrow.

Something for the weekends

Posted by on June 11th 2012 in Shiny new kit

This little beauty just arrived for testing and review:

 

Vango Banshee 300

 

First pitch should be sometime tomorrow, first proper wildcamping use sometime in June or July, further details to follow.

This item has been supplied by Christoph Hitchen, representing price comparison platform idealo.co.uk

The idealo site is well-worth a look. Finding what you're interested in is made easy by the filter setup (for example, see here for tents) and for each product there's a neat PriceWatcher widget with a 90-day price history - handy for helping you to decide on the best time to buy and at what price. For instance, here is the page for the Banshee 300, you can clearly see that the best price was a tad over £75 last week compared to about £109.99 today.

And it's not just for outdoors gear. There's more stuff than you could shake a stick at. Go see!

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