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26th September 2012

Perfect Tents for Classic Motorcyclists

Let's go camping! No? Oh well, your loss. We might be in the middle of a series of rain storms of biblical proportions, but that's not going to stop Kevin Dean and Martin Gelder recommending their favourite canvas hotels...

Vango Ark 300 DS

I love camping, I love the great out doors, I love the freedom I get when I'm away on the bike with the camping gear on the back. Did I say I love camping? Well I do.

So we were having a week in Wales, my friends and I, wet, windy, Wales, and with that in mind I thought I would get a new tent, something suitable for the motorcyclist. It had to have room for wet weather gear, well I was going to be using it in Wales after all, it had to be compact when packed, and it had to be fairly light. Armed with that little list I started looking at what was available.

A reason why we love camping, yesterday...

After a good search I settled on a Vango Ark 300 DS. It is sold as a three man tent but it would be real tight for three. I guess it would be good for two people if a little snug, but it's bang on perfect for one motorcyclist and his or her gear. With a total weight of a little over 4Kg, and a packed size of 59 x 17cm (two feet by just over six inches), it is just right for carrying on the bike. It has a recommended retail price of 97 but you can find it for much less if you look around, and it comes in three different colours, although I chose the yellow.

In use it's pretty good, I can tell you, and we had some pretty severe weather in Wales to test its 3000HH weather proofing; it passed with flying colours. It has a two pole system with colour coded and different length poles that are threaded easily, and then with just four pegs it is pitched. A further four pegs anchor the guy ropes for a very stable tent; the inner tent is pre attached so no messing around there, and it has a sewn in groundsheet so everything stays dry.

A home from home, yesterday...

There are large vents at both ends, for good air flow, a mosquito door to keep the bugs out, and a couple of sewn in pockets to put stuff in. The porch area is large enough for muddy boots and you can use the main door as a sun canopy, although poles for this are extra.

As you can probably tell I am well pleased with this tent, and it is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Kevin Dean

Amazon are currently selling the Vango Ark 300 DS for about 73.

Khyam Igloo Done Tent

I bought this Khyam dome tent a slightly scary twenty years ago, and it's been used at least once a year every year since then. When it was new - and I was younger, hardier and stupiderer - it put me up for the night all over Europe, coping with Mediterranean sun, Eastern European wind, Belgian rain and concrete campsites in Northern France. More recently it's lived a gentler life, doing occasional service in rolling grassy meadows on balmy summer nights.

Martin Gelder's Khyam Igloo tent last year...

It's never - touch wood - leaked despite enduring 24 hours of continuous torrential rain at Spa Francorchamps, and despite being put up in the middle of what turned out to be a flood plain in Germany. It's stood up to structural assaults from the Mistral winds, and from drunken stumbling bikers (sorry mate, didn't see you) after last orders that never come.

Its best quality though, outweighing any other attraction, is its quick erection feature. Stop sniggering at the back. Its poles are fitted with sprung and hinged knuckle joints which allow them to be collapsed without unthreading them from the tent's fabric. Take it out of the bag, shake it a couple of times, snap a dozen joints into place and the tent is up. Peg the outer perimeter and the guy ropes and that's it. The inner remains attached all the time, and there's a separate reinforced stone sheet to supplement the built in groundsheet.

While other campers are counting poles and fumbling with flysheets, you're done, unpacked and on the way to the bar. Striking camp is just as easy. Remove the pegs, snap the joints, fold it up like an umbrella, stuff it into the bag and strap it on the back of the bike.

That's it; you're off.

It's a godsend when you're packing before a long ride home in bad weather, because you do it after you've changed into your waterproofs but without getting hot and bothered and wetter on the inside than on the outside.

Khyam Tents on Now...

I'd get another one if this one ever needs replacing. No wonder Khyam tents are so popular at bike events.

Reviewed by Martin Gelder

The latest Khyam Igloo tent, yesterday...

The nearest equivalents to the tent Martin bought back in the nineties are the Igloo for 130 or Biker (see what they've done there?) for 160.


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