If this website were not called ‘CyclingEurorope.org’ it might be renamed ‘CampingEurope.org’ as tents have been a regular feature over the years. I’ve also written about them quite a lot in the books. I even seem to remember penning a brief history of the tent in Spain to Norway… but I’ll spare you those details at the moment. What I won’t spare you from is the news that… I have a new tent, kindly supplied by OutdoorWorldDirect.co.uk. The tent was actually delivered a couple of months ago in anticipation of my now-cancelled trip to Japan this summer but I was hoping to erect it for the first time at the now-cancelled Cycle Touring Festival earlier this month. No one can cancel the sunny weather however and, courtesy of the farmer who lives next door, yesterday I finally erected the tent in one of his fields. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Vango Force Ten MTN 2 tent!
When it comes to cycling and camping, my general rule of thumb is that you should always take a tent that adheres to the following equation:
S = C + 1
…where S is the size of your tent in terms of the number of people it claims to accommodate and C is the number of cyclists using the tent. Basically, use a tent that is big enough for you and at least one other person. Not (necessarily) in the hope that you get lucky one night but in acknowledgement of the fact that you will need the space for all your stuff.
This was my thinking when I purchased a Vango Force Ten Xenon UL 2+ a couple of years ago. The vast porch area of that tent is phenomenal and, with the weight of the tent a remarkable 2.4kg, what’s not to like? Well actually, there is one thing not to like and that’s the material from which it is made. In order to make a tent that is so big and so light, the material is the weak link and, over the course of two years, it has stretched a little. The tent is still entirely useable and I would be happy continuing to do so but it does need to be accepted that you can’t always have your cake and eat it.
So is the Vango Force Ten MTN 2 a better alternative? Perhaps… On a technical level, it’s a different design of tent with more poles that give it a self-supporting dome structure. I quite like that. Having never used a self-supporting tent before, I can see the advantages. When I cycled along the Mediterranean back in 2013 the weather was just beautiful for two months. No rain whatsoever and barely any wind (apart from that day cycling out of Avignon…). If I had taken the F10 MTN2 on that trip, I imagine I would soon have resorted to using the tent like this:
I might even have been brave enough not to even bother pegging it to the ground. That wasn’t an option yesterday in West Yorkshire as the breeze was quite strong but if you are confident that there is no approaching storm, you’d be fine.
The exoskeleton poles do take a bit of getting used to and it does mean that the two skins of the tent – inner and outer – need to be erected separately but, according to Vango, the erection time of the MTN 2 is only 8 minutes. The Xenon UL 2+ officially takes just 7 minutes in comparison. It took me a bit longer than 8 minutes yesterday afternoon but then again I was fighting the Pennine wind and trying to follow the instructions to the letter. With a bit of practice, I reckon I could get near the 8 advertised minutes.
On the flip side, the interior height of the tent is excellent. Should you be more than one person (or indeed get lucky), you can happily sit inside without any need for crouching. This is my main objection to one-person tents (or certainly ‘coffin’ tents) which might be great if you are climbing mountains and carrying the tent on your back but when you are on a bike and can afford to take something a little heavier – the MTN 2 weighs in at 3.4kg – my preference is to take a tent inside which you are able to cower when it decides to rain.
I feel the need for a few pictures and they are coming up soon but just to get back to the material that I mentioned above… there is no risk of stretching with the MTN 2. It’s substantial stuff, hence the extra kilogram of weight. But if you are so fixated about the amount of equipment you are carrying on the bike (and many are, for good reason), you could just go on a diet for a couple of weeks prior to setting off, no? The pack size is fine and anyway, is that really an issue? Plonk the tent on the top of the rear pannier rack and it’s not really a factor.
OK. More pictures! Those poles…
…and the interior space with plenty of storage pockets and ventilation if needed:
Compared to the porch size of the Xenon UL 2+ which can only be described as vast, the sheltered space outside the inner tent as seen in the final image above is modest but still big enough to keep panniers etc… out of the rain. And it’s worth noting that the MTN 2 is, as far as I can see, entirely symmetrical with two doors and two porch areas. This is quite nice as you don’t need to fret too much about the direction in which your tent is pointing. In fact, as long as you angle the tent in line with the track of the sun you can potentially benefit from not just the setting sun in the evening but the rising sun in the morning.
So there you have it, the Vango Force Ten MTN 2 as supplied by OutdoorWorldDirect.co.uk. Although I have yet to use it in action, let along in a hostile environment (Lancashire, for example…) I am genuinely impressed and look forward to taking it away this summer. Expect it to feature in many future Instagram posts. More pictures? OK, here you go…