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  • Paul Thompson

PADDLING ROUND SCOTLAND KIT REVIEW : TENTS

We've been asked by folk to write about the kit we used on the journey, what worked, what didn't and any disasters. We enjoyed a wide range of weather condition throughout the journey as you would expect in Scotland but with the exception of the Mull of Kintyre the East coast was the most varied and challenging at times from personal and kit perspective.


We began the journey with an MSR Hubba Hubba which split across two boats was no trouble to pack and weighed in at 1.6kg. There were a few niggles which did cause frustration and meant on the solo legs and down the west coast during midge season we changed tent.


Our main concern with the Hubba Hubba was the consistent inability of the ground sheet to keep water out on wet sites meaning we had to carry an additional groundsheet. This created the added concern of whether rain water would get between the groundsheet and tent bathtub sheet, which when it did usually resulted in a wet inner tent. Another niggle was being forced to erect the inner tent before the flysheet which is fine on dry evenings but a royal pain when it was raining meaning the inner tent was wet before you even got in.


As time went on we also started to lose confidence in the flysheet protecting us on those nights of torrential rain and in the end we opted for a setup that included a tarp tied over the tent and were possible secured both sides to the two boats. While all this sounds complicated, in reality it was straight forward with daily practice and resulted in a tent set up that was bullet proof and we could sleep easy in despite the hooley blowing and pouring outside. And because we were splitting the load over two boats it wasn't at a high load cost either

Between Inverness and John O'Groats and Kinlochbervie and Ardnamurchan I continued the journey solo while Sarah had to work. On those legs it was a no brainer to take the trusty Hilliberg Soulo which had been tried a tested during a months kayak expedition in Greenland. When combined with the ground footprint mat and ability to erect the flysheet first to keep the inner tent dry makes this an exceptional tent. It's erected rapidly, absolutely waterproof and once inside feels like it would still be standing in any winds that were thrown at it. The downside for such quality is a hefty 2.2kg but time and time again its proven to be worth the extra weight for the reliability and trust you can place in it to look after you when the going gets tough.Despite the Soulo pack size and weight I still managed on average 8 days independent travel before restocking in a NDK Romany Classic.

As we paddled down the west coast midge larvae started to hatch as temperatures increased and we began to realise that the not only did we need better midge proofing but also more room inside the tent to allow getting changed into drysuits and a little more wriggle room. The answer came in the form of the MSR Frontline Tent which turned out to be the best gear find of the entire journey . For starters the 700grams tent is 4 man and when you add the tepee design enabling you to almost stand up inside it was truly a game changer that brought a degree of comfort and space that we hadn't imagined possible for a journey such as this. We purchased the optional self standing inner tent also which comprised 100% midge proof net on all sides allowing us on nights when rain wasn't expected to camp in a well ventilated tent with full view of the stars and still remain midge proof. This tent made camping for the last 700km of our journey far more enjoyable than it would have been with the ever present midge and condensation issues in the smaller tents.




We were unsure how the tent would holdup in more extreme weather but found using additional anchor lines attached to the kayaks it produced a solid structure that was not only comfortable but also trustworthy in stronger winds and rain. It must be said though that we haven't tested the tent in anything over a Force 7/8. This will be the tent of choice for future spring, summer and autumn kayak expeditions.


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** FOOTNOTE .. we received no sponsorship or discounts from tent manufacturers , comments made in this article are our own opinions.


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