After two years living in ‘Sweaty Betty’, our Blacks Octane 3 tent, we have upgraded and moved along to a Hilleberg!
Sweaty Betty has done us proud on our tours so far, but it was more a shelter than a home away from home. On wet days you can just about get by comfortably, but it can be a damp experience. Blacks’ understanding of the amount of space required by three people is rather curious. With two people in the tent, all movements had to be pre-planned with one person laying still in order to avoid touching the walls or kneeing your fellow travelling partner in the delicates.
Being 6’4″ (194cm) I tend to touch the sloping walls at the end of the Octane 3 with my feet. And our two sleeping mats overlapped at the feet end of the tent, since the walls and end tapered inwards rather steeply. We named our tent ‘Sweaty Betty’ thanks to the fact that we often cooked in the tent’s heat due to there being only one vent/door opening. It definitely served its purpose in getting us into cycle camping, but now we’re planning (much) longer journeys and life on the road, we decided we needed a proper comfortable portable living space.
So, we got to work clicking about on the tinterweb and read many reviews of possible contenders. We quickly narrowed it down to a Hilleberg because of the quality and possible space. With one ‘Great Dane’ at 6’4″ in our party, space had to be a major consideration. There was no way, for example, that we could survive in a dome tent. The cost of a Hilleberg was rather steep, but having felt the pure quality of the fabric and construction of our friends’ new Hilleberg Nallo 3GT, we splashed out.
Having ummed and ahhed between the Nallo, Keron and Kaitum models, we finally settled on the Hilleberg Kaitum 3GT because:
It is wider. Yes, I really believe on this occasion that the tent will comfortably fit three people as it says on the box.
Two vestibules. Yes, we will now have a ‘West Wing’ and an ‘East Wing’!
The side walls are vertical, and the inner tent roof is high, so we can actually sit up inside.
No tapering, so I will not be rubbing my feet on the end wall. No more damp sleeping bag!
Openings at both ends, so a lot better ventilation.
An extra 10cm at each side of the inner tent compared to Sweaty Betty, so we can both move independently at the same time!
It arrived today and we couldn’t wait to test pitch it in the back garden. Oh boy, this is a well-built tent. It feels light and solid at the same time, and really well-thought out.
Pitching the tent was easy and simple and we got a bit of a Dr. Who-esque surprise. I think the word that Peli exclaimed when we first crawled in was “Cavernous!” It is huge with straight walls, no tapering and plenty of ventilation. We can easily sit up together inside at each end, and we can’t touch each other so no more “Sit still!” or “Ouch! That was my ribs” or “Watch out, you’re touching the walls!”. Peli can even lay down widthways in the inner; it’s that big! :)
OK, we haven’t used it in anger yet, but we can easily see that we’ll be able to bed down and hide away from the elements if necessary. Wet days will not be such a drain on our mental states and we’ll be able to keep all our stuff drier, too.
It’s just a bit heavier compared to the Blacks tent (approx. 400g heavier) but I’m entirely sure the extra weight will be forgotten when we curl up into our comfy beds for the night. We’ve never been weight weenies when it comes to camping equipment: our Long Haul Truckers are designed to carry a load, so our philosophy is to make our lives on the road as comfy as possible (but no comfier ;). Oh. it’s green too, so we can hide when wild camping much more successfully than we could with our bright red Sweaty Betty.
Now we just need to find a name and a place to go to test it out.