There are so many photos of my Trekkertent Stealth on this blog it’s about time I made a few general comments about my experience with this tent, which from the looks and questions I get on campsites seems to be quite an unusual choice of shelter. I’m very pleased with it, although as a tiny and very light tent it does have certain limitations. I’m pleased above all to have a tent that’s designed and made in the UK by people who themselves hike and camp in the British hills. More through carelessness than design I’ve endured some extremely alarming conditions in this tent and so far it’s never failed to keep me safe and dry.
Key buying points for me were: light weight, made in UK, pitches outer first, proper inner tent with bathtub groundsheet and midge-proof mesh (as you’d expect in a Scottish tent), vestibule for pack etc., considerable flexibility in pitching for varied conditions and tricky sites, low profile and bombproof. Things other people dislike about Trekkertent Stealths are: small size (hence it’s light), not self-supporting (hence it’s light) and the slightly awkward front entry with a pole in the way. I’m used to front entry as for decades I used a Saunders Fellpine (also made in the UK) and because I’m quite a compact and bijou individual I find I can cope with the pole and the general snugness. OK, not bijou.
I’m 1.75 metres tall and I can sit up in my Stealth 1 perfectly well although changing clothes does require some flexibility. In really shocking weather I have spent entire days inside it without going crazy. But – if you are larger-boned and want more space Marc (Mr Trekkertent) has thought of you and will cheerfully sell you a Stealth 1.5 and even a Stealth 2. Talking of Marc (a seriously nice guy) reminds me that he and his Scottish tent pixies make these shelters to order. Looking at the website, current lead times are 4-6 weeks but I’ve known it to be as long as three months. Don’t expect to impulse-buy a Stealth on next day delivery.
Obviously the first thing people ask about any ultralight shelter is how much it weighs. I got into a big argument with a bloke on Facebook who berated me for quoting the weight without poles. ‘It uses my trekking poles’, I plaintively explained, ‘and I’m carrying those anyway’. So please let’s be clear, THIS TENT NEEDS POLES! Not including poles OR PEGS my Stealth 1 flysheet, inner and stuffsack together weigh 740g. You can pitch a Stealth with six pegs and six of my titanium pegs weigh about 80g. I normally use ten pegs in an exposed position and carry a couple of varied options, about 160g of pegs in all so complete shelter with pegs, about 900g. You don’t get any pegs with a Stealth and yes you need poles as well. Any old poles will do.
This is what you might call a catenary tent with no internal supporting framework. The flysheet pitches first and needs to be tightly stretched between two supports of whatever kind. Normally these are your two trekking poles. The front can be tensioned with an internal guy which means you only need one peg for both vestibule and guy. However you get a much better, tighter pitch with an external front guyline on an extra peg (or two – you need to pull it really tight for best results). I no longer use the internal guyline as it rubs against the fly noisily in wind. I will now ask the bloke on Facebook to observe, though, that if you have two suitable supports of some other kind it is possible to pitch a Stealth without any poles at all! You can literally hang your Stealth between two trees, for example, in tarp mode, or from a stone wall and a bike wheel, or a bothy and a spade. Don’t count on popularity if you use the spade.
In the picture below I’ve just hung the back from a random skanky old stick, which then makes possible – ta daah! – A-frame mode:
Or even – low profile A-frame tarp mode, as below. This is now too low to use the inner tent, but makes the point that you’re buying a pretty flexible multi-mode shelter.
Gear reviews that just repeat the specs you can read on the supplier’s website really annoy me, so I’m just going to jot a few more notes on what the Stealth’s actually like to shelter in, casting light as I go on some aspects of the spec. Certainly it seems to be tough and waterproof, enhanced by my having chosen the heavier silnylon option. I’ve endured torrential rain 24 hours at a time and never felt in danger of getting wet although as in any shelter you’ll start to see a little bit of condensation after a long period of confinement. As an overnight shelter the ventilation is fine, not least because the fly is quite gappy around the bottom of the vestibule and there’s a mesh panel at the foot end.
In fact it’s best pitched a bit gappy all round, and as such it can be a tad draughty, hence it’s only really a three season shelter. I have slept in a hard frost several times in mine but taking care to pitch out of the wind. Lacking any supporting framework it’s not going to take much weight of snow. Another disadvantage of this style of tent is that the flat sides catch the wind and flap. Ideally of course you’d pitch with the foot into the wind but if it changes in the night you can then end up with a noisy tent, in fact in a severe gale the sides snap like a machine gun. If, as I have done, you fail to anticipate side-on storm-force winds arising after dark, you can wake to find the side of the tent pressed right down onto you! But still even through that bit of carelessness the Stealth clung to the ground, and I stayed safe and dry, albeit sleepless. The side panels have storm guys but it’s important not to over-tension these as doing so will pull the flysheet down onto the inner. As with any ultralight shelter there are compromises to be made and it takes a few nights out in the Stealth to learn how to get the best from it.
Mentioning the draught brings me to note that I now have one of Marc’s special order hybrid inners. This has the standard bathtub groundsheet then a strip of draught-breaking solid polyester fabric, then mesh at the top. I find this very much warmer than the standard mesh-only inner, which I now only use in high summer.
I’ve found that some kind of footprint in the vestibule make a big difference to liveability, even a supermarket carrier bag to kneel on when pitching in a swamp massively enhances your quality of life – yes, we’re talking ultralight backpacking here, quality of life really is that marginal! I now use a Tyvek footprint which keeps sheep poo off the groundsheet and extends into the vestibule. For the benefit of the bloke on Facebook, this adds 90g to the weight of my shelter. Yes, yes, plus the poles.
The door retaining toggles are really quite lame. Another more serious problem I’ve had is that the integrity of the whole thing depends on pulling a sheet of thin silnylon very very tightly over the sharp point of a trekking pole. You must concentrate when pitching, otherwise you might end up with the tip of your pole poking through a hole in the fabric. Mine now has a patch! I also found that the little piece of leather that’s supposed to protect the fabric from the pole tip wasn’t really up the job, I’ve had to reinforce mine with extra leather. I did have an annoying quality issue with a small section of the fly stitching that actually started to come apart after a couple of dozen nights out, which did include two storms and rather a lot of seaspray to be fair. I have a sewing machine so I just repaired and seam-sealed the offending section; Marc assures me this was a temporary quality issue he has identified and eliminated.
That reminds me, my Stealth came with sealed seams and I believe they still do although this is always worth checking as it’s a time-consuming little job.
I’m not a tent collector so I don’t have much else to compare my tent with and can’t claim to be any kind of expert. If I buy a tent it has to do me until it falls apart, and then I’ll try and repair it. However I feel I’ve struck lucky with my Trekkertent Stealth, it suits me very well. There is a knack to pitching it and it is very small (bigger variants are available) but I’ve never felt anything other than cheerfully secure inside it, even in ridiculous conditions. And it’s very light. It does cost a bit more than a Chinese ultralight trekking pole tent on Alibaba but, come on, even £200 is only three or four nights in a BnB. I’ve spent well over fifty safe nights in my Stealth, mostly wild camping for free, and it will easily do that many again, I feel sure. Spread over that kind of lifespan it costs virtually nothing extra to support an innovative British boutique tentmaker who personally replies to your daft emails (when he isn’t out wild camping himself) and stands by his products.
For more information do visit Trekkertent. I feel a bit silly mentioning that of course I bought and paid for this tent myself, it’s just little me, no one’s going to give me a free tent, are they? Mind you a couple of years ago someone did send me some free stew out of the blue so I suppose anything’s possible.