Friday, 3 March 2017

NTWHW Shelter

As I intend to wildcamp as much as of NTWHW as possible I’ll have to make a decision on which shelter I take from my collection. So, which one then and why?

Well the answer isn’t quite as simple as I first thought. In fact kit selection in general is a task that’s suddenly proving itself to be far harder than normal. The problem being that most of my adventures are overnighters and this is probably the longest backpacking trip I’ve attempted. My original plan was to simply go with the lightest option that I have for each system (cooking, sleeping, shelter etc) but the more I think about it, that doesn’t really seem like a sensible approach as comfort surely has to take a far higher priority when the length of time on the trail increases? That means I have to actually consider the pros and cons of each wildcamping shelter that I own and look at it with the knowledge that I’ll be out on the hills for many consecutive nights.

So what are my options?

Tarp & Bivy combo = 841g including pegs and guylines but not counting trekking poles as I’ll be carrying them regardless.

Laser Comp = 1123g including pegs for use in the real world and some extra guylines

SL3 = 1547g including pole connector, pegs, extra guylines and Ookworks nest

Tarp & Bivy

With the Tarp and Bivy combo, the advantages at first appear to be the obvious lack of weight and bulk, and while it scores highest here there’s more than just numbers to consider. It can be quite an adaptable shelter as it can be reconfigured for various conditions. I’m not likely to encounter midges in March and it also happens to be the most bombproof option I have if I drop the tarp when it gets really wild out there. (no poles to break in a Bivy) You’d think that was the decision made then? Wrong. While it’s a great way to spend the night in the hills it all depends on the conditions. Yes I’d be able to survive the night in a real hoolie with zero risk of tent poles breaking etc but I wouldn’t want to do it night after night as liveability would be almost non exsistant. If the conditions I encounter are going to be wet and windy (lets be honest its Scotland in late winter/early spring so I’m expecting to at least be rained upon) then I’m going to want to be able to hunker down, get changed out of wet kit and get a stove on for a hot drink/meal. Not so easy under a lightweight tarp.

Laser Comp

Lets consider the Terra Nova Laser Comp then. My Laser Comp has been a trusty old pal indeed. In fact the 3rd picture of it up there was actually taken during my original WHW trip from waaaaaaaaaaaay back in September 2008 and I’d already had it a little while before then. It’s a solid wee performer and I’ve had it out in conditions way beyond what it was ever intended to withstand. It’s also respectably light and infinitely more liveable in than the Tarp & Bivy combo. It is quite a small living space though and I do have memories of hanging the tent up inside a bothy on that WHW trip to try and dry it off. Repitching and getting into a soaking wet Laser comp isn’t much fun and it’s pretty much impossible to avoid touching the side walls.


My last option has been my favourite shelter for a while now The often copied Golite Shangri La 3. Probably the most versatile shelter I own as it can do double duty filling both solo and group roles with ease. It’s also probably the only shelter I own that I’d want to be out in when the weather is a bit rotten. It stands up surprisingly well in strong winds and doesn’t care which direction they come from. There’s so much space that when solo I can be miles away from billowing wet walls. It does weigh more, take longer to pitch and does require a larger footprint but the in terms of liveability it’s a clear hands down winner.


So which am I going to take? Well I’m leaning towards the SL3 at the moment but if I’m honest I’m still switching back and forth between that and the tarp bivy combo. With one I can save around half a kilo in weight but with the other I can relax knowing I’ve got a spacious bolthole in poorer conditions. I’ll keep thinking on it over the weekend but most likely it’ll be Bigbananafeet’s Bigbananatent that’ll slowly be making it’s way to Ft Bill.


  1. After a day of ghastly weather, I would want sheltered protection to sort myself out, so from your available options I would definitely go for the SL3 for Scotland in March.
    Good luck Sir.

    1. Thanks Alan, I'm definitely going to need it!
      Was at the hospital yesterday for a check up before I go and while the specialist wasn't exactly pleased about my attempting this he didn't out right forbid me from it.
      Packing the rucksack today has been entertaining to say the least! I've had both the SL3 and the Tarp/Bivvy in there and the difference is noticeable, especially in the bulk. From looking at the conditions I'm going to have to add winter hardware to my pack too which I can't say I'm overly enthused about either. Pack so far is coming in at around 15.5Kg all in including water, food etc.


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