terrybndBLOGCAM – Terra Nova’s ‘Laser Ultra 1’ tent

Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 – 495g

I nipped over to the Outdoor Leisure Show at Birmingham’s NEC on Friday – thanks to Alpkit sending me a complementary ticket (they were dishing a few out for outdoors bloggers). The idea was to take a look at their range of new mountain tents.

So, the ‘terrybndBLOGCAM’ went out for a wander!
Before I show you the video from that visit it’s worth noting I graced Terra Nova with my presence to cast my cynical eyes over their Guinness World Record breaking tent – the Laser Ultra 1 (495g’s).
At an eye-watering price of £650 one cannot help but wonder who on earth would pay such a sum for a general backpacking/mountain marathon shelter. Nevertheless, after some interrogation even Columbo would be proud of, I walked away enlightened, impressed and wanting to purchase a Laser Ultra 1 at the earliest opportunity!
The cuben fibre fabric (though they’re not keen to mention that for some reason – absent from my tired memory banks) feels like laminated tissue paper. A bit like that cheapo bog roll you’d often come across in public toilets some years ago – well, that’s the best description I can come up with!
Is it as see-through as it appears in photos? Yes and no. It’s like trying to look at your own reflection in a mirror after you’ve blown your hot breath and steamed the glass. So, not that revealing – but it does let a fair bit of light in, which could prove a problem for sleep during the summer months.
Could you fit the tent in your trouser pocket? Well, if you take out the poles and pegs – yes, you could (a large combo pant pocket)!
Can you cook in it? The dimensions of the tent match the Laser Photon – so, in theory, yes. I’d be mindful about it, naturally. The porch swallowed my 22litre rucksack with ease and left room to spare.

What isn’t obvious in pictures is even the groundsheet is made up of Terra Nova’s ‘Ultra’ fabric. It really is quite a special shelter of which I’ve now no doubt will prove to be a hit.
For me, the key selling points are the weight, pack size and durability/strength of the fabric. It really is that tough (including areas where panels are stitched together) and in some respects could prove to be a sound investment – more than purchasing a Laser Photon tent, for example.
All said and done £650 is still quite a chunk of anyones hard earned cash – so for now, it’s a shelter I can only dream of possessing. I’ve no doubt it’ll receive favourable reviews from various lucky gear testers out there – but as always, I can see how some will have quibbles with the tent of which one I’ve raised above. But isn’t that always the case? Swings and roundabouts?
So, over to Paul Griffiths of Terra Nova to give you a quick run down on this remarkable shelter:

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. GeoffC says:

    Seems to me like another stunt for the record books (but full marks for innovation, granted). A lot of people have grave reservations about the stress points and stitching with Cuben Fibre, and heaven knows what the groundsheet is like at that weight. I'll pass!.

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  2. terrybnd says:

    Hi Geoff,

    Stress points were a concern for me too. More so considering I own a Laser Comp (2 in fact) as you know – and I can honestly say, any concerns are exactly that. Once you see it in the flesh and gave it a good yanking and shake – you'd be very surprised at how tough this tent is. Tougher than a Laser Comp – lets put it that way.

    I was at least. I can see other tents down the line from Terra Nova made with this fabric.

    It really is aimed at racers, though. On reflection, it's not something I'd like to use for a long trip. I'm happy with the specs of the Laser Comp as is, to be honest. The porch i just about the right size and so on.

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  3. Mac E says:

    Good report Terry, I was checking out the new Laser models on the TN website and they do seem to have made some inprovements, the split struts are a good move as long as they haven't been weakened as I found the 1 piece poles too long for some of my packs.

    Looking at the pic's on the TN website it's amazing how much inner/fly separation there is at the ends compared to the Power Lizard which almost touched in places probably down to Vaude trying to maximise inner tent space.

    One thing I'm not clear about is whether the new style Laser's have a means to tension the strut top and bottom. On the older Laser the strut located in the fly at the top and on the tension strap attached to the inner at the bottom, this helped fix the angle of the strut and stopped it slipping towards the inner when the guyline was tensioned. I found this a problem on the Power Lizard as the strut was free to move at the bottom and tended to pop out of position as the guyline was tensioned. On the TN website it's unclear if the strut is fixed top and bottom although on your video it appears that it is.

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  4. Interesting stuff. Even for a tent nut like me, the Ultra is just too expensive. Also I don't like the see-through flysheet, so I don't think I'll be getting a Cuben fibre tent at all. Did you rake any video of the other TN tents. The Solar Photon 2 looks interesting.

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  5. terrybnd says:

    @Mac – Thanks. They mentioned the Power Lizard with gentle humour as a sincere form of flattery;) To be expected, I suppose. Re: the struts, well on the Ultra all is the same as the Laser Comp and Photon. As for the other Lasers, I don't know to be honest. Sorry.

    I was on a schedule for the few hours I was there. Most of my time was spent with Alpkit and filming/talking through their new range of tents.

    @Blogpackinglight – It was interesting and I know what you mean. Upon viewing it in the flesh, my concerns about the see-through factor became irrelevant to a degree. Like I said, it's more like a steamed up bathroom window per se. It's not that bad as you may think. Even so, in the early hours of the summer months, the sunlight at 5am will shine through and could be a nuisance!

    I only glanced through a few of the tents as they didn't have the whole range and even then not the 2011 versions. The modified Voyager looked bloody good though. Very spacious, strong and just over 2kgs.

    As mentioned, I was really at the show for Alpkit – of which more in another post to come.

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  6. Martin Rye says:

    New Laser tents look good. Don't get the Ultra 1. But if I ran mountain marathons I reckon I would. Good to see a UK firm leading the light weight innovation chart.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    £200 Cheaper in the US $699 Thanks Terra Rip-off

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Maybe you could get an answer as to why terra nova sell it in the US for $699( = £429!!! )They have to ship it there ! it's made in the UK so why the £#*k are we paying £220 more this is crazy ! Btw great site terry

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  9. terrybnd says:

    Hi 'anonymous' and thanks for your kind words.

    Interesting point you raise on the price issue, not something that surprises me or was aware of.

    I'll speak to Terra Nova and let you know in these comment boxes as soon as I get an answer 🙂

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Dear Terry,

    Firstly have to say, amazing website, coming here every week to see wats new. secondly I have to ask, I'm very interested in buying laser competition but I am 6'6'' tall so I am bit worried if I'll fit :-/

    Zdenek

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  11. John Roan says:

    It's good to see manufacturers starting to use cuben fiber, but they seem to be trying to get rich off of it. Check out zpacks.com Hexamid tents and tarps…my twin tent weighs just 10.6 ounces (300 grams?) and prices are very reasonable. Full review on my site.
    John

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  12. terrybnd says:

    @Zdenek Apologies for the late reply, I wasn't aware you had commented on this post. Sorry.

    I'd say you're a bit too tall for the Laser Competition tent. You'd get in but likely be touching both ends – just.

    @John Roan, thanks and I kind of agree. I think using this fabric (which has been altered slightly) is costly because it's new from a production line. And of course there is our perceived value of the product to think about. Hopefully they'll come down in price very soon as other manufacturers cotton on to it all

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