This lightweight tent is easy to assemble and can be used in different ways, finds Don Currie on a recent trip to Arran.
We all vary in what we look for in a tent. But if lightness, portability, speedy assembly and versatility are priorities, then the Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2 DP is well worth considering.
The tent, which is designed to take two tallish people, weighs a mere 1.62kg, and when rolled up to put in your rucksack measures just 53cm by 14cm.
Itâ€™s quick to put up, too. I didnâ€™t time myself the first time I used it, because whatever time I took will be bound to go down in any case the more I use the tent. But even though its structure is very different to the traditional ridge-pole styles Iâ€™m used to, the tent poses no great mysteries and goes up quickly first time.
My test tent arrived with no footprint, so I cut my own to fit, from a large groundsheet I happened to have in the garden shed. Itâ€™s worth having some kind of layer between tent and ground, as it keeps the tentâ€™s built-in groundsheet clean and provides some protection from stones or roots.
My debut camping trip with the Skyledge was on the lush grass of Lochranza campsite, Arran, so neither mud nor stones were a problem on this occasion. Having placed my footprint on the ground, and laid the inner canopy on top of it, I put the two DAC Featherlight poles together, which was simple, as the ball-and-socket ends clicked into place readily. I then joined the assembled poles in a large X shape, using the sturdy connector in the middle, and attached each end to a corner of the canopy, which again is straightforward thanks to the easy-to-tighten fittings in each corner.
It then took only seconds to lift up the canopy, attach it where the poles meet in the middle and at three other points along each pole. A third, short pole slots into place and helps pull up the canopy roof to maximise headroom. Now all that remained was to throw the flysheet over the top, and attach it in turn, using the same corner fittings as for the canopy.
And there I had it: a spacious tent with two entrances, one on either side, and two vestibules (spaces between canopy and fly for storing rucksacks, boots and so on overnight. Iâ€™m 6′ 3″ and the tent was just about long enough for me to lie stretched out on my back â€“ which, of course, few of us really do while asleep. Had I been 6′ 5″ a full stretch would not have been an option, though I think there are few tents in which it would be.
Features of the Skyledge 2DP tent include:
- guaranteed watertight construction using fully taped fly and welded corners
- mesh pockets for interior storage
- window for brighter interior
- super-light buckles and webbing
The fact that both fly and canopy have a door on each side is, for me, a strong point. Itâ€™s good to have a choice of directions by which to enter and exit â€“ you might want to change the side you sit out on depending on the sunâ€™s position, or, on a campsite, depending on what the neighbours are like.
Width-wise it was palatial for me on this solo trip. Had there been two of us, it would have been on the snug side, and feedback from others suggests a lack of elbow room for two is the tentâ€™s main drawback. How big a drawback perhaps depends on how well the two users know each other.
The tent comes in only one colour, a dullish green known as Smokey Sage, which I quite like, because itâ€™s unobtrusive.
So far so straightforward. Why is the tent called a Skyledge? Well, there are no guy ropes extending outwards for people to trip over, so the tent needs no more space than its own footprint. Whether youâ€™d like to pitch it on a ledge up in the sky is entirely up to you. And why a DP? This stands for Dry Pitch, and is a reference to the fact that the two layers of the tent, the canopy and flysheet, can be put up in either order. In fine weather, like I had, itâ€™s easiest to put up the canopy first then put the flysheet over it. In rain, though, it is simple enough to put the flysheet over the assembled poles first, and then use it as a shelter while you attach the canopy beneath it. That way the canopy stays dry, and even you stay a good deal drier than you would leaving the flysheet until last.
In warm weather it is perfectly possible to use the fly alone, in which case youâ€™d only need to carry 1.15kg, though being a natural pessimist Iâ€™d always prefer to put up with the extra half kilo on my back.