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The Vango Force 10 Helium 200 is Vango's top of the range lightweight tent. Advertised as a 2 man tent, you'd need to have some small camp mats and some very close friends to squeeze you both in with 60cm each at the wide end tapering to 40cm towards the feet. This gives limited storage space for luggage in the porch. As a 1 man tent this is more than enough space for all the luggage you can carry on your back. Pitching is very simple even when on your own, 1 pre bent pole is inserted to the flysheet and its a simple matter of applying tension in the right places, a small pole is placed in the foot end of the tent to ensure there is no contact between the inner and outer. The inner can be preattached to make it an even quicker pitching. Being such a lightweight material it does fly about in windy conditions however a few pre placed pegs can make it somewhat easier. Weighing in at 1100g, its light for the volume and for real adventure racers at 550g each it competes with most lightweight tents. Most fly pitching first tents aren't as stable as their inner first competitors as the poles cause a less streamlined profile. The Helium keeps the poles as flat as possible so you achieve a relatively stable tent whilst having the benefit of an outer pitching first tent. The tension band system, Vango's patented addition adds an extra level of stability which comes in handy with essentially a 1 pole tent. Having removed all the unnecessary items it is a very simple tent even to the level that the air flow is comprimised so condensation can become a problem. Having borrowed this tent for a weekend its too much for my needs, the Banshee which is Vango's cheaper equivalent at less than half price is great for most and only weighing in at 700g more and has more pockets and airflow. At approaching £200 its a good price to weight ratio so if its lightweight a small pack you are looking at it could be the tent for you.
I would like to welcome you all to a review of my second home, or my little escape to the country as it is commonly known, like every well off double home owner my second home is a little rural retreat that is not quite as big as my main home but is somewhere that I go to get away from the hustle and bustle of suburban Northampton and to enjoy a bit of solitude. I have little choice when it comes to the solitude bit as there is not enough room to swing a hamster within the confines of what is billed as a two man tent but in reality would probably struggle to hold myself and Janet Krankie. Vango are a well known brand of tent makers, many of you who were in the Guides or Scouts may remember the orange Vango tents from the various camping expeditions, well this Force Ten Helium 200 is billed as a two man tent which is ideal for trekking expeditions and those looking for a light weight shelter while camping in remote areas where you are carrying your equipment on your back for long distances. Let me be clear this is not the sort of tent I would take on a week's holiday on a campsite where once the tent is pitched it does not move again and you can drive onto the campsite. This is the tent I take when I'm going on a weekends hiking or abroad on expedition as it is light weight, easy to put up and very strong and well made. It is billed as part of the range for mountain marathon athletes and multi activity racers so as you can imagine it is functional rather than luxurious where minimising the weight and pack size are the two key priorities, needless to say these are also qualities that are ideal when trekking with all your kit in your rucksack. Now this is billed as a two man tent however I use it as a solo one just for me, it could handle two adults but it would be rather snug and there would be no room to move about at all, for me it is ideal as the extra space allows me to store my rucksack next to me, something that would be more difficult in the 100 version of this tent. The tent is able to handle extreme weather conditions, this one has been with me to Snowdonia, Buxton and the Lakes in this country as well as the Andes in Venezuela and it has been used in everything from tropical jungles to mountain sides and I have even pitched it in 40mph winds in snowy Buxton a few weeks ago and it has coped with everything thrown at it. There are a few features that I really appreciate about this tent. The first is the weight, it is only 1.3kg which is pretty good for effectively a two man tent and when folded into the stuff bag it only measures 40 x 12cm so it slides easily into my rucksack. You can deploy it either complete or with the flysheet first and then attach the outer afterwards, as most of the time I'm pitching it in cold or wet weather I tend to like the fact that it can be pitched with the fly sheet and outer already attached. Pitching the tent is very easy and is designed so that one pair of hands can do it, having said that in 40mph winds a second pair of hands was much appreciated. It is a effectively a single pole construction which is a F10 Flexlite pole which is pre angled and the external pole sleeves are easy to locate and are on the outside of the tent. There is a small inner pole that goes at one end of the tent to help form the frame and this was the only one that took me a while to suss out exactly where it went as the hole in the webbing was cunningly disguised, the instructions were not clear and it was only by locating a video on YouTube did it become clear, but once done it is pretty obvious and was just me being a Muppet really. After a couple of practice goes I was soon in a position where I can have the tent up and secure within five minutes, probably less if I really rushed it. The tent design is a hybrid tunnel design with access on the side of the tent with a mesh panel on the inner door and the flysheet door can be partially opened as a vent and with the mesh inner you can protect against those pesky mossie's getting in. Some further technical jargon will tell you that the flysheet is Protex 20D SPU-RN nylon 3000 which effectively translates as pretty tough and keeps the wind and rain out, it has a 70D ripstop polyester inner which is very strong and a HD Nylon 5000 groundsheet. All of this means that this is a tough little tent. As I said before this is a tough tent that is easy to erect and very secure, the design means that you only need to deploy four pegs on the inner and four on the outer and there is only one guy rope to set up, it is amazing how stable this little tent is in a high wind and the lack of guy ropes means you are not worried about some clumsy oath bringing the whole thing down. So what is like spending a night in my country abode? Well the one downside for me is that I'm rather claustrophobic so a small tent like this is not ideal. To give you an idea of how bad I am I even had a panic attack trying to sleep in a hammock with a mossie net above my head. For me it is a trade off between the slight feeling of panic I get from being enclosed and the fact that it weighs next to nothing and at the end of the day the thought of carrying a heavy tent while doing a tough days hiking is just not worth it, besides I know how to deal with the panic attacks I get, I just wish I could stop them in the first place. Anyway the high point of the tent is 90cm which is plenty high enough to allow you to get changed into fresh clothes, the length is 270cm in total with 210 on inner space and a width of 120cm at the widest and 80cm and the narrowest, so not problems for a short arse like myself plus room for my rucksack. I can deploy my thermarest easily and generally have a dry and comfortable night's sleep, well as comfortable as it gets in a tent and on a light weight thermarest. This is not the sort of tent you would buy to go to a festival and trash and the price reflects that, it needs taking care of and checking regularly but it is very easy to maintain and also to store. I paid £210 for mine, currently on Amazon it has an rrp of £220 but is reduced to £192.95 however there is an additional £7.99 delivery charge as well to factor in. Personally I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a robust light weight tent for the type of camping that I have described otherwise it is not worth the expense. Thanks for reading and rating my review and feel free to call into my country gaff anytime you are around.