Gear Review: Vaude Power Lizard 2-3 person tent

RRP: £525 (currently on offer at various retailers)
Weight: 1.5kg

When heading out on overnight or multi-day adventures, an ultralight tent can offer one of the biggest savings in weight. We’ve been testing this 2 to 3 person tent from Vaude to see how it measures up.

First thing to say is that at 1.5kg including the stuff sack this is really lightweight and packable for a mainstream two-skin tent. Secondly it’s huge – luxuriously big for 2, with an inner base size of 3.2m2, you could fit a third small adult in, but would be perfect for 2 adults and a child or dog. The single hoop design means there is plenty of headroom, two people can easily sit up in the centre. There is only one porch and it is fairly small, though we could fit two, almost empty, packs, two pairs of boots, stove and cooking pots but with no extra space. It isn’t big enough to use to take off wet clothes before you get into the inner or, in our opinion, to safely cook in, although with the porch door tied back it is easy to sit up and cook from the shelter of the inner with the stove just outside the porch. With just one exit, one person has to climb over the other person if they want to get out in the night. There’s also a 1-2 man version (not tested) which is 340g lighter; again this looks like it would be large for one person and tight for two.

Rated as three season, the tent has proved to be very waterproof for such light fabrics. The outer fabric is 20D silicone coated ripstop with a hydrostatic head of 3000mm, the tent floor is slightly thicker 40D ripstop fabric and the inner is a very thin 15D ripstop. Vaude says that the fabric is siliconised on both sides which it reckons gives the outer a 20% longer lifespan due to its ability to repel UV light and makes it 8 times more tear resistant than similar PU coated fabrics. The fabric does feel very thin and must be handled with care, but it has coped well being pitched on a variety of surfaces and has withstood some fairly breezy nights. The single hoop design does mean it has to be pitched carefully in poorer weather conditions to avoid the fly touching the inner, and it can be noisy, flapping in high wind. The entrance zip is also waterproof. We’ve been surprised at how robust the tent seems given the ultralight weight, so we expect it last very well with careful use.

The tent is straightforward to pitch once you’ve got the hang of it. As it pitches with inner and outer together, and can be pegged down before fitting the main pole, it’s practical for pitching in the rain and wind. Two short poles slot in upright at either end and then a single pole forms a central hoop. Once the ends of this pole are in place, the tent hooks onto it with clips which are then done up (ensure they are in the open position first – we didn’t bother the first time resulting in a poorly tensioned tent). The end poles are then erected and the rear and head guy lines pegged before adjusting the position of the hooks and closing their clips. Two adjustable side guylines (for which bizarrely not enough pegs are supplied) provide added stretch and stability. The only downside when pitching is that the rear and head guy lines are not adjustable, which may restrict the places you can find to pitch. In order to keep the inner and outer separate in windy conditions it really needs to be well pitched on pretty flat ground. A cord on the inside of the porch can be tightened to add to the stability of the central hoop once pitched. The manufacturer’s pitching video is shown below.

The extremely lightweight pegs don’t look particularly promising at first glance. They are thin, cross-shaped pegs with no cord for pulling them out, however they do seem strong and haven’t bent in mixed ground or pulled out in high winds. Many will want to add some bright cord to each peg and a couple of extra pegs for the side guys.

Ventilation and condensation is often a problem in single-hoop design tents. To combat this, the top of the inner door is made of midge-proof micro-mesh, and there are mesh panels at both ends. The outer door also has a ventilation flap which can be kept open with velcro and operated from inside. The most adjustable ventilation is the flow that can be created by clipping up the centre of the outer tent at the rear and head ends – this can also be done from inside the tent using the ingenious zip openings in the inner, and it really helps. The tent can be pitched without the inner for those very rare Scottish conditions of fine weather and no midges.

The inner has one pocket at the head end and a washing line for hanging socks, headtorch etc. For a tent aimed at 2 – 3 persons another pocket would be handy.

There’s an attention to detail in this tent that extends to the stuff sack. With a wide opening and plenty big enough, there’s none of the freezing hands usually associated with trying to stuff a cold and wet tent into a tiny opening. Once the pegs and poles are stowed the stuff sack can be tightened using clips at each end resulting in a very compact package.

The tent just comes in fairly bright green and is manufactured in accordance with Vaude’s strict Green Shape credentials. These mean fair working conditions and high environmental sustainable standards are ensured in the production. It comes with a 5 year guarantee covering manufacturing faults but not defects from normal wear and tear. The price is high, but is often available at much less than the RRP and with careful use it seems good value for such a lightweight and well designed tent.

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