By: Blonde Two
I have been after a really lightweight tent for Dartmoor wild camping for a while now. That is to say, I have been after another really lightweight tent, one that is big enough for 2 people and light enough to not really be noticed when carried between them (I already have a Vango Force 10 Helium) 1 Blonde tent but these days the times that I am camping alone are minimal and it definitely isn’t big enough for two!
We Blondes were very excited therefore to be offered the chance to try a night in what might possibly be considered the next step up in lightweight tents, the Big Sky International Chinook 1Plus. Big Sky International isn’t a mainstream brand for the UK but they specialise in tents that really are lightweight (from poles to fabric) but designed to survive a variety of camping conditions.
Variety really is what the Chinook offers. We were lent three poles and a mesh inner, which was perfect for a Dartmoor August camp (and helped with fox spotting). Other options include the optional use of only two poles, which reduces weight even more, a more traditional breathable inner fabric and a snow skirt on the flysheet, which, although we have camped in snow, I am not sure we Blondes would need.
The Chinook is an easy and quick pitch with the flysheet hanging from the external poles in a satisfyingly stable manner. Once again here, this tent’s flexibility (and I don’t mean in the wind) comes into play because a fly-only pitch would make a great alternative to a tarp for bivvying. The clip system negates the need to thread poles through more than a couple of loops and the lightweight pegs number just enough to keep the structure very stable.
We found the 1Plus to be big enough for two but no bigger, Chinook also comes in a 2P that offers a few additional centimetres that a couple of big-shouldered blokes might need. We liked (as did Mr Fox) the fact that there was an entrance either side with enough porch space for each of us to store our empty rucksacks, cooking gear and boots and we really enjoyed being able to open the flysheet doors (should you choose to do so, these will open really wide) and gaze out at the morning sky through the mesh inner. I wouldn’t like to try the mesh inner when we camp on Dartmoor in February but for a summer camp, it was perfect.
There are so many options with the Chinook, different pole types, different inners, snow skirts, different inner setups (small sleeping space, bigger porch) that it is tricky to pin down an exact weight for it. The suggested weight for a 2 door Suprsil shell, breathable fabric inner and 3 aluminium poles is 1.575kg, suffice it to say, it is the lightest 2 man tent I have ever carried and once we had split between the two of us, the weight really was negligible.
It is a shame that we Blondes didn’t get to keep this tent (even with the fox damage). I have to say that I fell a little bit in love with it and would have liked to give it some more rigorous Dartmoor wild camping testing. At around £375 it isn’t the cheapest tent out there, but it isn’t the most expensive either.