Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thoughts on the Soulpad

I feel like I'm getting to know the Soulpad now, after several nights camping in it, so I guess I can do a bit of a mini-review. We have the 4m PIG (pegged-in-groundsheet) model, or 4000-lite as Soulpad call it. The first thing is it's a big tent when packed up, and heavy too, despite the -lite models being lighter than the zipped or sewn in groundsheet models. For this reason it's probably not something I'd use at a festival - plus my rule of never taking anything to a festival that you would mind losing or being damaged applies.

Putting the tent up on the second go was a doddle, much easier than the first time where we had inexperience, a slope and long grass pushing the groundsheet out of shape to deal with. The process is essentially, peg out the groundsheet loosely, peg out the outer canvas loosely, put the single centre pole up, peg out the guy ropes. Then it's a case of tightening all the outer pegs and guys and pegging the groundsheet to the flap from the outer. Gemma and I did it together and it's a mark of how easy it is that we weren't shouting at one another, which we always end up doing with much smaller dome tents when trying to push poles through.

Breaking down is pretty much reversed and then roll everything up. The bag it comes in is a fair size so there is some leeway for the rolling up stage - again, different to nylon dome tents that seem to only fit in the bag straight from the factory. The big thing with canvas tents is that the can't be put away wet. It was raining the final night of our camping weekend, and dismal and damp in the morning when we left. We packed everything else up and waited for as long as possible to let it dry but the completely shaded panels were still damp and rain was clearly on it's way so we had to pack up and then dry at home. Because the footprint of the tent is wider than our garden this proves to be a bit challenging.

Gemma found it quite cold at night despite being in a sleeping bag with a duvet on top. I didn't think it was too bad (just in a duvet). It is possible to put a stove in these tents, but I would think a 5m would be necessary because you lose a lot of the tent to a safe zone around the stove. It's actually quite cool when it's baking outside, especially with the vents open and even the tiniest of breezes.

Size-wise it's plenty roomy for 2 with the attendant camping paraphernalia, and that can be quite a lot of stuff provided you're organised and on the ball with shifting stuff around when not in use.  It could easily get a couple more people in, although you'd potentially lose a bit of room for the extra bits and pieces, or just have to be incredibly organised. It's nice being able to stand up and get dressed and I much prefer having everything in the one large space.

This is a tent to accessorise, and I think we have some ideas how to decorate it, beyond the solar LED fairy lights that we string round it. I can see a future with a lot of wicker hampers in my house - we took 3 this time and they really fit well as storage in the tent. We had a couple of throws out on the floor, which looked quite nice, so I think we'll continue that theme and get more. Of course we only have a small car, so that's a big constraint on what we can take with us.

Overall I'm very happy with the tent and can't wait to get out on a longer trip. Fortunately I don't have to wait to long as we're off for 2 weeks in September.

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