Terra Nova Laser Competition 2 Tent Review
During our planning period for our attempt at an Appalachian Trail Thru-hike attempt in 2018, few things were as important to us as getting a lightweight, weatherproof and durable two person tent. Alongside the sleep pad/sleeping bag system and backpack, shelter is considered one of the 'Big Three' in hiking, as normally these three items make up the three heaviest items in your back. After plenty of review reading, technical sheet studying and discussion we decided on the British made Terra Nova Laser Competition 2. Here are our thoughts!
Weight: 1.23kg (2lb 11oz)
Packed Size: 42cm x 16cm (16.5 inches by 6.3 inches)
Rated: 3 season backpackin
Pegs: 10 x 11g Alloy (0.4 oz)
Price: £475 RRP
This is one of the lightest two man tents on the market as listed above and if you are prepared to take advantage of Terra Nova's 'Fastpack' system and leave the inner fly at home in exchange for the Laser Competition 2 Footprint (£50.00 at time of writing), the whole set-up can weigh as little as 760 grams (1.68 pounds). However, in the face of the variety of weather conditions we'd be facing on the East Coast of the US, we decided that bringing the inner fly would be a smarter idea, giving us the total tent weight of 1.23kg as you can see above, still extremely competitive in the world of backpacking tents with the popular MSR Hubba Bubba NX Two-Person tent weighing 1.56kg and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 coming in at 1.39kg.
We were fortunate enough, for the sake of this review at least, to be able to put the Laser Competition 2 through a variety of weather conditions during our Thru-Hike attempt. I honestly couldn't be more positive about how this plucky British tent performed. During the huge Appalachian thunderstorms, we woke up in the morning dry and protected. When it hit -10 degrees Celsius (15 Fahrenheit) in the Smokies it kept us warm and when the wind speed broke through 30mph on some of the balds, even without the waterproof pole cover which gave two extra guy ropes, the tent was stable, relatively quiet and secure. We did see some condensation on the outer fly, but that's to be expected with two people sleeping in such a confined space. The only issue we did experience was, during some of the heaviest rain storms, there was some rain splashing on the opposite side to the porch. Nothing to be worried about though. We also discovered on some of the wetter mornings that the inner can be taken down separately of the outer fly enabling us to pack it in it's own dry sack before exposing it to the elements, a very useful feature!
I do feel the need to prefix this section with the follow disclaimer... tents are NOT supposed to be lived in for months at a time. However we did do this and so here are our experiences and discoveries from this viewpoint.
Pack up and pack down
This tent is extremely easy to both erect and dismantle. With just three poles, one central and two tiny end poles, and just six pegs; Charlie and I found that, after practice we could assemble and disassemble this tent in less than two minutes. I would guess that there were even some days that we broke the one minute mark in the rain! As mentioned above, it is also possible but fiddly to erect and take-down the outer rain fly without the inner fly, enabling you keep the inner dry in all weather conditions, super useful. You can check out our first ever attempt at putting up the tent here.
Space and storage
This is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek section title. There is very little space and storage. The floor space inside is approx 90cm (35 inches) wide and 230cm (90 inches) long. In practical concepts, this will JUST fit two sleep pads side by side with maybe two square foot either end to put a couple of bits. We also found the inner to be very lacking in height, one person will struggle to sit up without cricking their neck, let alone two. You'll also find when laying down that the inner material is very close to your face which can be rather claustrophobic, but we also found that with such a small volume of space, it warmed up and cooled down very quickly, even cloud has a silver lining right! Having two doors on the tent definitely improved the feeling of space in the tent, and on one side you'll find a porch that stretches from 35cm (14 inches) to 40cm (16 inches) wide, just enough for a couple of backpacks, boots etc.
I think that a lot of people probably skip over this section, but personally, for our ideals of trying to have the minimal possible impact on the environment, I do want to talk about it briefly. Most of the tents you see on the Appalachian Trail, and I assume most other long distance trails in the US are LUMINOUS. Lots of oranges, whites, greys etc. Of course, I can see the benefits of this but it is really ugly coming across a beautiful campsite full of large, dome-shaped orange monstrosities. The Laser Competition 2 however, is a beautiful dark green, and very low in profile. This makes it blend beautifully into the landscape, maintaining the WOW factor and beauty of the environment. Of course it does make it easier to lose at night so you do have to be careful!
I think that it's fair to say we both love this tent. For a long backpacking trip, or for anyone worried about weight, the Terra Nova Laser Competition 2 is a fantastic little tent. You may find yourself craving a little more room to stretch out and sort gear, but as soon as you pack it up the next day you'll be pleased you went a little more minimalist. The fact it was designed in the UK really shows with it's subtlety, understated style, excellent weather resistance and overall build quality.
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