|Terra Nova Voyager Ultra 2|
A couple of months or so ago, I was invited by Terra Nova to take a peek at their 2012 product launch on the edge of the Peak District National Park – not too far up the road from where they’re based.
Not wanting to participate in this meet all alone, I was kindly given permission to bring along a few friends – my best pal Eion (who I did the Coast to Coast with last year), fellow bloggers Martin from Summit and Valley and James at Backpackingbongos.
And what an enlightening and exciting trip it was for all concerned.
I was informed there would be gear we couldn’t go public with until the beginning of the outdoor trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany – or go public on some prototype gear Terra Nova were working on. So, having passed on this info to Martin and James – we set about asking probing questions on the gear, taking pics and notes and generally behaving like kids in a toy shop.
The day passed by in a blur for me, if I’m honest – I had only had a few hours sleep due to arriving back late from a few days backpacking and filming – and was also mindful of my next trips work to follow the next day. So, you may want to head on over to the other guy’s blogs to read about the day and it’s products in more detail.
All said and done, it was nice to see they guys be impressed by the Terra Nova team – their passion, enthusiasm and keen ears for feedback was something to be inspired by. Every one of the team has some interest/hobby involving outdoors pursuits, which is heart warming to know considering the reputation of their products.
So, what did we learn or come away with?
|“I’m a backpacker! Get me out of here!”|
Personally, Terra Nova are not resting on their laurels concerning their products – the mantra being to continue to be successful (never mind the current economic climate) and innovative all the while listening intently to feedback from their customers – which in turn should bring them more or at least maintain their customer base.
They’ve covered a lot of bases, too – there’s something for those on a budget or new to backpacking and of course at the other end of the scale products for those where money is no object when it comes to quality and saving every last gram.
So, it won’t come as a surprise to some of you that Terra Nova are continuing down the route of developing more gear with their ‘ULTRA’ fabric – and even having that work in tandem with other fabrics (rucksacks being one example).
|The obligatory thumbs up pic – checking out the Voyager Ultra 2|
Now, it has to be said that the ‘ULTRA’ fabric is a particular grade of cuben fibre but there are many variations of this material – of which Terra Nova have come up with their own after 18 months of research and development. In time, they hope to see the price of it decrease when they finally get their own bonding machine in the UK and not have to rely on others abroad.
|Dwarf found in Laser Comp|
The tear strength is incredible and I even tried puncturing the material with a pen – I was soon reprimanded as it wasn’t wise to do it on one their new products on display (naughty me!). All seams are stiched through and bonded to ensure maximum durability at key stress points. So, it will be interesting to hear in time how folk get on with the ULTRA fabric – or at least with these modifications for 2012.
Terra Nova have every confidence in it’s ability having thoroughly testing products with this material. It’s see-through, extremely waterproof but not breathable. So, condensation could be a problem – but I can’t comment on that as I’m yet to try one of their tents with the fabric.
It was nice to see some of their down sleeping bags, too – finally after some manufacturing problems they’re good to launch. Top drawer down is used of which baffles are constructed from Terra Novas own fabric (classified as is per the course with some gear from Terra Nova).
|What am I wrapped in? Errrr….it’s a secret tissue (or at least that’s what it felt like)|
They don’t feel quite as silky smooth as Pertex Quantum, for example – but the bags were incredibly light and most features were covered, too.
For example, the Laser 300 Elite has a comfort rating of 10c and weighs only 330g!!
No zips on this range though. 900 fill power of european goose down, with a hood. Cost? £340 RRP.
- Laser 600 – Comfort rating 0c, length 215cm, weight 630g, £500 RRP
- Laser 900 – Comfort rating -10c, length 25cm, weight 990g, £700 RRP
Not cheap eh?
But then you’ve got the more affordable Voyager sleeping bags with 800 fill power of down, with half length zips.
- Voyager 600 – Comfort rating 10c, length 200cm, weight 600g, £230 RRP
- Voyager 800 – Comfort rating 0c, length 215cm, weight 843g, £335 RRP
- Voyager 1200 – Comfort rating -11c, length 215cm, weight 1200g, £470 RRP
To be fair, as nice as these bags were – I’m not totally sold on them. Not from a normal everyday backpackers point of view. The Voyager sleeping bags are competitive for sure but I’d want to try one out properly in the hills before making any enthusiastic conclusion to them. I can’t remember if I’m honest on how they are constructed and the like. So, there you go….I’ll dig some info out in time.
Of course, there will be those who will spend whatever it takes to save weight – which leads me to the tents.
The Voyager ULTRA 2. I won’t go into detail on here – you can view the video below. But it certainly was an impressive shelter. Spec-wise in dimensions, it’s a like for like of the standard Voyager – with some clever design features to help bring the weight down (including carbon poles, more of which in a future post). However, RRP was eye-watering – at least £1000!! Sheeesh!!
Unbelievable on many levels, eh?
Saying that, for us mere mortals one tent leapt out for me – the Solar Competition 2 (one I’ve chosen to test over the next few months). Again, for further info take a look at the video below. Why did it stand out for me? Well, check out the stats in the vid. There was plenty of room for two people – well, two people that are good friends but not to the degree whereby it maybe a requirement you are lovers or something. RRP? £390.
Essentially, it’s a Solar Competition 1 but with a front facing porch and a pole that splits at the rear to aid strength and stability.
Other shelters which stood out were the new Wild Country tents, the Zephyros 1 and 2 – both clones of the Laser range of tents at a budget price with low weights. Not ‘lightweight’ per se as you’ll find nowadays but given only 3 years ago their stats were something to be excited about – well, it puts the realms of lighter and comfortable shelters to those that are new to backpacking within reach at a price they can afford – which can be only a good thing in these hard times.
Both tents have been sold via Field and Trek on an exclusive one off deal – but these babies will go retailer wide in the coming months ahead.
On closer inspection, they’re bloody ace – some tweaks can be made to save a few grammes if you’re pedantic about it. But otherwise, they seem very durable and uncompromising – one tweak being no pole hood cover like on the Laser Competition/Photon. Details like this along with the fabrics used up the weight – but even so, the final figure aint nothing to be scoffed at.
- Zephyros 1 – Sleeps 1, max weight 1.57kg, 3 season, 4000mm flysheet, 6000mm floor, £120 RRP
- Zephyros 2 – Sleeps 2, max weight 1.79kg, 3 season, 4000mm flysheet, 6000mm floor, £150 RRP
Not bad, eh?
|Obligatory thumbs up pic #2 – Eion tries out the Chock 2 from Wild Country|
And there’s the Chock 2. Bit stronger than the above two tents, weighing in at a max of 1.8kg, internal height of 85cm, 10cm less than the above shelters and with the same hydrostatic heads. RRP? £100. What a fantastic price! I’d buy one of these or at least recommend one to a newbie just on a first look!
An alternative to the likes of a Vango Banshee or Gelert Solo – two budget backpacking tents – but this tent has a little more room, larger porch and on our inspection less likely to have a flapping porch/door area in high winds (something that bugged me with the Vango Banshee).
Another lasting impression I got from this launch was how Terra Nova are bringing so much of what can be seen in the outdoor gear US cottage scene – into the mainstream. Some products now and many in the future.
|Twas a good product launch with great company|
It was really quite exciting to see and learn – and all from a British company – which is saying something in this day and age! They maybe few and far between, but they still pack some punch in the international arena.
Anyway, this post has gone on longer than I intended – I’ve got some work to complete with tight deadlines. But before I go, keep an eye out for some very interesting new rucksacks from Terra Nova, too. And do check out Martin and James‘ blogs – where I’ve no doubt they’ll put out more details.
It was a good day with good like-minded company….