Nov 11 22
Before I start this review let me tell you this: I am a hideously unprepared type of person. I turned up to a half marathon wearing camel toe trainers and snapped a tendon. I tried the three peak challenge without hiking boots, and you will often find me surfing in the North Sea wearing a summer wet suit. My friends never have anything else! So when I climbed Scafell Pike – the highest mountain in England – I decided to get my act together, attempt to avoid an injury and buy some proper gear.
So, what did I decide to buy? Well, not wanting to break the bank I opted for a Vango Alpha 300 three man tent (£50) and one of the many coloured Deuter Ranger 25 rucksacks (£40) both of which, ultimately, served me well. That is to say I had no injuries.
Upon opening my Deuter for the first time my initial impression was that it was a hideous blue. I could only guess that the designer created the bag for the androgynous man who wanted to make it clear that he was in fact MALE. It screams it in your face. Either that or it is meant to offer high visibility in the event you fall down a cliff. Actually on second thought it is probably that, but luckily I never had to test that feature out. Still it’s very blue.
Once my eyes had adjusted to the light I took a closer look at my new bag and found that it had one of the most important features a travel bag should have: a breathable air strip system. What this does is allow air to circulate around your back and prevent heat from being trapped which will ultimately result in an unbearably sweaty back.
Once I’d donned my pack and started off on our summit attempt – I know it was hardly Everest right?! – I found that my back was cool as a cucumber and the bag sat comfortably on my shoulders. Mainly because of the adjustable sternum strap and waist belt, that together provide a great deal of support.
Half way up Scafell – a small aneurism, heart attack, and breathing difficulties later – the two zippered pockets had really done the bag justice giving me easy access to my most essential items like water, a compass and of course, sandwiches.
Once we had reached the top my bag was working exquisitely and my legs had given up. On a number of occasions I had to access the main compartment to get a hold of my jackets due to the temperamental weather and I was able to get in an out in a matter of seconds. Ready to rock on with my ascent.
On the way down the waist support really shone, taking a great deal of weight from my shoulders and instead redirected it to my hips. I should note that the two other lads who did not have this feature both complained of bad backs the following day.
After eight or so hours we found ourselves back at my tent which is one of many in the Vango tents range and I was pleased to discover that all its contents were both warm and dry; and pretty cool looking if I do say so myself.
The tent had been completely unphazed by a day’s worth of wind and rain and once I was inside the green had a fantastic warming effect.
Getting inside however was not so easy. Firstly, the pegs were very lightweight and bent when hammered in with a stone. Also the pitching instructions and equipment were simply inadequate, and we found ourselves looking around for items – like a rock – that might help us pitch the tent easier.
Also, as a relatively tall guy, two of us could only just get comfy in the space that was meant for three people. A third person would have been simply unbearable. So unless you plan to buy this tent for your three kids then I would be wary.
Although, all in all, despite a couple of minor gripes which are easily avoidable if you take note of what you want from your equipment both of these items performed excellently for me. I didn’t get injured, I didn’t fall down a cliff and I was warm and dry all night. And my sandwiches went down a treat. So if you are looking for a budget bag and budget tent then I would have no problem in recommending both these items. 4/5 for both.
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