Have you been amongst those trying to buy a new tent this year? Sadly, 2021 has proved, for many, the year of the unhappy camper, with retailers running short of everything from tents to travel pots and pans as holidays on home soil surge.
Now, therefore, might be the perfect time to research tents for next season (or for winter camping if you’re particularly hardy, which I most definitely am not) and get your orders in ahead of the spring rush. And I’d heartily recommend investigating German-brand Vaude for quality, climate consciousness and beautiful design.
I was fortunate to be loaned the Vaude Mark L two-person tent for a late-summer camping trip with my teens; the boy teen has long outgrown the wish to share our spacious family Isabella tent with his mum and his sister and usually bags himself a snug bed in the T5. But with vehicles banned from the stunningly serene campsite we chose on the fringe of Llangorse, this airy tunnel tent perfectly accommodated his fast-growing limbs.
First, the bad bit. The Vaude came with no instructions – and boy, did we look. Normally, not a problem – how hard can it be to pop up a small tent, right? Well, despite considerable camping experience between us, the answer, surprisingly, turned out to be ‘very hard indeed’, as we just couldn’t work out the basics. The poles clearly sat above the fly sheet, which was evidently suspended via cord, but we couldn’t for the life of us see how, without a lot of intricate untying and re-tying.
Luckily, the campsite had a strong wi-fi signal – enter Youtube. Talk about easy when you know how. Vaude’s unique suspension system loops into place almost stupidly quickly – just make sure you watch this video before you leave home! From there on, it was plain sailing. Tall Teen was inside and rolling out his sleeping bag in no time, and reporting back enthusiastically about the inner pockets and all that space. This is a very ample tent for a six-footer, and comfortably wide enough for two – not that he was sharing.
The Mark L has an entrance at each end, both with vestibules roomy enough for boots and a stove, and inner doors with insect-proof mesh for ventilation. Despite its ultra-light poles and pegs, the tent sturdily stood up to the stiff, nearly-autumn evening breeze, and two sound, cosy nights’ sleep were had by the occupant. And the tent bag’s roominess proved a relief when he packed up, with no need for the usual post-camp contortions whilst trying to squeeze metres of fabric back into something the size of an envelope.
Sadly, a planned September backpacking trip with Top Teen didn’t happen, due to ‘life’ dealing us quite a tough run this autumn. But I’m confident that, at just 3kg, the Vaude is lightweight enough for two females – who are ourselves quite lightweight – to comfortably carry with our overnight kit, whilst the happy avocado colour would blend well into the landscape around any chosen spot.
On that note, the Mark L works with nature in more ways than one; Vaude has completely eliminated the use of hazardous PVC in all its products, using alternative durable and waterproof yet eco-friendly fabric, and is a member of the Fairwear Foundation, which is committed to sustainability and improving the lives of garment workers. Even the packaging labels are made from recycled cardboard; now if only I could say the same of those elusive instructions…
Please backpack responsibly. Ask the landowner for permission to camp, follow the Countryside Code and leave no trace of your camp.