The usual hub constructions of tents, in contrast to the classic hemispheres, give a lot of space inside, because all the walls of the bedroom rise almost vertically. On the other hand, hub tents do not like crosswinds, because none of the details provides good stability on the sides. A peg on the vestibule and, in some models, a windshield with mount over the entrance – this is all that a traveller can hope for. No more rigid elements that would resist the wind in the transverse direction. Therefore with tents of a hub design, it is better to look for quieter places for sleeping.
This season, two well-known companies have released tents to solve this problem.
One of them, MSR, has released a series of all-season hub tents Access, in which the double version weighs only 2 kg. In Access tents, the upper crossbar of the frame, the ends of which usually hang in the air, is extended to the bottom and rests on the ground at the base of the bedroom. Thus, with crosswinds, the stability of the bedroom increases significantly.
Another company, Wild Country, specializes in more budget models. In the tents of its new Helm line, one frame arc runs in the centre of the awning in the longitudinal direction and does not diverge to the corners (ie the tent is no longer a hub), and the other runs in the transverse direction and reaches the ground at the base of the vestibules.
That is, in theory, with this design in the crosswind, even the vestibules will remain functional. Although Helm is 300 grams heavier than Access, less spacious inside and needs stretching for a comfortable stay in the bedroom, we still want to tell you about this newcomer. After all, its price is not big and requests for more wind-resistant tents arise constantly.
Wild Country Helm 2 is a double tambour (two entrances) tent with external arches. Feature of tents with external arches – at installation at first the external awning is mounted, and already after it – a bedroom. Or both are installed at the same time.
To install the awning, you need to lay the arches in the sleeves and fasten their ends in the eyelets on the slings.
To make the installation operation faster and easier, the manufacturer has added color coding of arcs, sleeves and eyelets. Blue – in a blue sleeve and to a blue sling, red – in red and to red. In addition, reflective ribbons are sewn next to the color marking, which takes seconds to find places for arcs in the dark.
The red transverse arch runs along the short sleeve in the ceiling of the awning, and on the sides the awning is attached to the frame with plastic hooks. The same transverse arch has two curved sections, which increase the space inside the tent.
On the blue arch, the sleeves are also shortened for additional weight savings.
Both arches are made of aluminum alloy with a diameter of 8.5 mm. Stored in a separate case with a puff and a lock.
Awning fabric – reinforced polyester 68D (in my opinion, the manufacturer does not specify the thickness of the thread) with refractory finish and polyurethane impregnation with a water resistance of 4000 mm.
If desired, the awning can be used independently of the bedroom. For example, temporary shelter from the rain or lightweight shelter.
As I said, the peculiarity of the Helm model is the fact that the transverse arch passes outside the vestibules and keeps their shape in windy weather. At successful stretching of a tent the difference with simple hub designs is well appreciable. While the wind is blowing outside, you can use the vestibule and ignore the bad weather. The vestibule will not deform or overturn your integrated system as long as you boil water for morning tea. And when cooking moisture from condensation, the fabric will not climb into your face.
* Cooking in a tent is dangerous! Avoid this.
** If it happens that you can’t do without cooking in the vestibule, place the burner or integrated system in the widest place, behind the arc of the frame. In that place and in strong winds the space remains unchanged.
The disadvantage of the structure with an elongated transverse arch – you can not open both walls in the vestibule to sit in a tent next to each other, and admire the sunset.
Open doors can be fixed with a hinge and a plastic strip on the rubber band.
In order to reduce condensation in the tent, ventilation windows under neat roofs are located on the sides of the awning.
The zipper at the entrance is hidden behind a wide velcro valve. There is only one lightning slider. I like to look out of the tent in the morning, opening the lightning from above, but Helma can’t do that.
Note that the manufacturer has even thought of coding the entrances so that you do not make a mistake with your half of the tent. At one entrance, the cord on the runners is coloured, at the other – black.
Since the longitudinal arc descends to the end of the tent only in the center, its corners must be stretched. For this purpose on each of them the extension from a cord and the facilitated plastic accessories for its fixing is provided.
Wherever the load is applied, there is reinforcement with an additional layer of fabric.
Places of fastening of arches on end faces and on vestibules can also be fixed by pegs.
Pegs in a set of 10. They are stored in a separate case with a puff and a clamp. And, in my opinion, they are the weakest place in the tent, because they bend easily.
Each peg has a hole through which you can stretch the loop from the cord to make it easier to remove them from the ground.
Since the bedroom can not be disconnected from the awning during transportation (already in the package from the manufacturer, it is attached), the installation of the tent takes much less time than we are used to. This feature is easy to notice if you set up a tent in the rain or yourself.
The next photo is from the pass in the Alps, where we had to spend the night unscheduled and appreciate the benefits of Wild Country Helm 2. The story is classic: an unexpected downpour, exhaustion after a hard week of work and any protection from the rain. It took no more than two minutes to set up the tent, and the bedroom remained completely dry, as it was hidden under an awning from the beginning. And then – cooking dinner in the vestibule, which, despite the strong wind on the pass, remained as if we were standing on a quiet meadow in the middle of the forest.
There were other similar stories on the Carian Trail, even those where Christina had to set Helm on speed, competing with the wind, but there the air temperature was about 20 degrees and we did not worry about the consequences.
Of course, both in Caria under the warm wind and in the Alps in the rain with squalls, we would be able to cope with the hub tent and be sure to find a way to cook a hot dinner. The advantage of Helm 2 is that we didn’t have to invent anything or spend more time drying things. Our evening was little different from any other. Even more, after dinner, when the rain subsided, we had dry down jackets and the strength to crawl out of the tent and admire the stars in a cozy company drinking delicious wine.
We return to the bedroom. I have always wondered why in Wild Country tents the manufacturer makes a bedroom from white fabric.
One careless movement with a dirty foot or the first installation of a tent on wet ground and in the bedroom leaves traces that are impossible to get rid of.
This year, at an exhibition in Germany, I had the opportunity to talk in person with the developer of these tents, and he explained that there was a dark awning in the tent. If you make the bedroom even darker, less light will get inside. And, by the way, he said that I was the first to address a negative feedback about the color of the bedroom.
Perhaps the British are more careful with their feet and choose for the tent only those places where the grass grows, but with our adventures I would like the fabric of the bedroom to be at least a little gray.
The manufacturer also says nothing about the characteristics of the bedroom fabric, but it feels like reinforced polyester with a thread thickness of about 20D.
Note that the fabric occupies half the height of the bedroom. Therefore, for those who are afraid of drafts in the tent, Wild Country Helm 2 is a good option.
The bedroom door opens with nameless lightning. The runner slides surprisingly easily. In the open position, the door can be folded into a pocket next to it.
There are four pockets in the tent. One at the door. And one more – at the ends of the tent on opposite sides. I definitely did not like this decision, because the ribs of the bedroom do not have attachments to the awning and even the lightest things make your pockets sag, stealing the space of the bedroom.
As a result, no matter which way you lay your head, one of the travelers will still huddle in his pocket with his head. The only way out is to sleep with a “jack”, which is not convenient at all. My advice to the manufacturer is to either move them to one end so that both pockets are in the legs, or make the fastening of the bedroom ribs to the awning.
In addition to pockets, inside the bedroom under the ceiling, there is a loop for a lantern.
The length of the bedroom is 225 cm. The width is 118 cm. If the pockets were not mentioned, I would be absolutely comfortable sleeping with a height of 188 cm. But the pocket forced me to take a diagonal position.
The height of the bedroom is 105 cm. Sitting together in the center is no problem. But there is no special space, because the ceiling in the longitudinal direction quickly falls to the bottom.
The bottom of the bedroom, in my opinion, is made of 68D polyester without reinforcement. Water resistance – 6000 mm. On each side, the bottom fabric is rotated 10 cm upwards to protect the bedroom from splashes and small streams in the shower.
And shoes of my size 45 can be placed only closer to the center.
The Wild Country Helm 2 tent has four extensions: two in the transverse, two in the longitudinal direction. Each extension is a two-meter cord with a diameter of 3 mm with reflective inserts and a phosphorescent clamp (glows at night).
Places of fastening of wind extensions to a tent are strong triangles from the same fabric, as a bedroom floor.
The tent is transported in a cover with an end entrance which is closed by a cord with a clamp.
On the opposite end – the second layer of fabric up to half the height with a reflective tape – is a kind of handle for manipulating the tent (get out of the backpack, get the tent out of the cover). After setting up the tent at night, thanks to this brilliant insert, it twice saved time looking for a cover in the grass.
Inside the cover – basic instructions for setting up a tent.
To show you the size of the tent in the packed state, I put next to it an integrated system with a capacity of 1 liter.
In terms of workmanship, this is a typical Wild Country. Quality fabrics and accessories in responsible places and simpler items where possible without loss of reliability. For example, slings in the places of arches or covers on the covers could be lighter and more compact, but such changes would affect the cost. The result of this approach is a good tent at a more than pleasant price.
And another important pleasant moment – the weight of the tent. Without pegs and extensions, it is 2100 grams. With pegs and braces – 2300. In my opinion, this is a great figure for a budget three-season windproof tent priced under $ 200.
Conclusions. For travelers who want maximum bedroom space, I still advise you to look at the tent hub design and look for quieter places to spend the night. Because in Helma, after spacious hub apartments, there is much less space.
At the same time, if you are suspicious of hub structures precisely because of their poor wind resistance, do not want to spend time looking for quiet parking and worry at night about the correctness of the chosen place, or plan a trip to windy edges, pay attention to Wild Country Helm 2. For such requirements this is a cool thoughtful tent with a good price.
- wind resistance
- speed of installation
- the bedroom remains dry when installed in the rain
- functional vestibules in windy weather, price.
- relatively small bedroom space
- weak pegs
- strange arrangement of pockets.