|All new – Wild Country Zephyros 1 Lite (1.25kg MAX)|
I don’t know whether it’s apparent on this wee blog where I tend to sit amongst the many ‘types’ of backpackers out there in the virtual world. But I’d like to class myself as very much in the middle ground (or at least I think so). I appreciate the merits, pros and cons of all sides – be it ultralight hikers to your heavyweights who don’t really give a hoot.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, despite appearances on my blog I’m not much of a gear freak in person. I’m interested, don’t get me wrong and any chat concerning gear is very much related to what I do for a living. It’s bound to be – it’s a tools to a means for me (and I can go through a fair bit of it). Of course, personal preference gets thrown into the mix too and that goes for anyone who may peep into here from time to time.
I’m very much a man of compromise too. Indecision is not a trait of mine (and I dislike it in others as well especially with work) and so it won’t come as a surprise with my somewhat ‘earthly eye on the world’ that I like it when gear companies strike the balance between good spec kit, weight along with durability at a favourable price. I’m forever encouraging others to take up activities in the great outdoors (least of all wild camping) and I’m well aware of how some have misconceptions of kit, brands and consequent costs to take it all on as a hobby (including those who work in the outdoors industry I have to add!).
Which leads me to some interesting developments at Terra Nova towers situated on the edge of the Peak District National Park.
I received an invite from the team to pop along to their annual product launch for the coming year ahead. All the kit is on display in a field in the Derbyshire Dales, which includes tried and tested stuff along with new products due for a limited release soon or next year. The event is really for retailers and the media in truth. Nevertheless, it’s nice to go along and catch up with old faces, discuss the brand and the outdoors industry with the Terra Nova team (who incidentally will be attending the backpackers social meet in August HERE).
Like last year I enquired if it were possible for me to bring along some fellow outdoors bloggers. Unfortunately not all those I invited could make the journey due to family (including pets) or work commitments but I did have Jake and Mark come along and it was a pleasure to meet them in person again. Personally, I think it’s great the likes of Terra Nova are happy for outdoors bloggers come along and see what the fuss is about. But I’ll leave that side of things to the other two – so do pop along to their blogs and see what they have to say!
For now, all I’m going to talk about is what I thought was the most interesting aspect of the day in a sunny corner of Derbyshire.
Personally, I found it really exciting what Terra Nova have got lined up with their Wild Country brand. Not just on the gear front but mainly as to how affordable and accessible they’re making such kit for those new to backpacking or who aspire to – but may find purchasing relevant kit to be expensive.
It’s certainly getting competitive out there, let me tell you. To think some brands have upped their prices due to rising costs in the Far East (that’s another story I’m sure many of you are savvy to or maybe even frustrated by) yet there are some who’ve chosen to up their game and spend their way out of recession. Much like Keynesian economics but I’m talking exclusively about private companies here of course and not including governments (Golly! This all sounds a bit deep when I’m talking about tents!).
The thing is, these are hard times and much of what we as a society have come to rely on thanks to economies in the Far East is changing. Not just due to the current economic climate but also how some of those countries are developing as societies and the consequences of that on cheap goods/labour. Even so, I’m not writing this blogpost as an essay concerning the outdoors industry and how it’s affected by all of this but more making the point it’s nice to see how some companies are adapting to that to be competitive.
Anyway, here’s a Press Release from Terra Nova which will give you an idea of what to expect for 2013:
Terra Nova Equipment has given its Wild Country tent range a major overhaul as part of a strategy to make the trusted brand more accessible to consumers looking for good quality tents.
The redeveloped range has a wider range of styles in sectors that Wild Country has previously had a limited offering. It also includes for the first time, tents at price points that will appeal to more budget conscious campers. The development comes at a time when many people are ‘feeling the pinch’ in the current economic climate.
With prices starting at under £100 and 15 new models on offer, this really does make the brand more available to a wider range of consumers and groups.
Andy Utting, Managing Director said’ We have focused development on the Wild Country range, after putting more recent efforts into the Terra Nova brand. Wild Country benefits from the filtering down of Terra Nova technical knowledge and enables people to buy into that heritage and expertise in a more affordable way.’
There’s lots to talk about so here are some what I think are key points of interest with pictures. The overriding thought I had about these products was how affordable they’re going to be (can’t say pricing just yet but you’ll be very surprised, take the hint with the PR release above) and more importantly how clever Terra Nova have been in terms of the designs used and the selected materials. They have a habit of pulling a “rabbit out of the hat” and this year they’ve done the same but somewhat different to what you might expect.
For example, there is the current flavoured tent of the year for many going to the Zephyros 1 and 2 tents. Essentially an affordable version of their Terra Nova Laser tents. However, the new additions are something a bit extra in terms of quality….
|Mark darted off like a startled hare to check out the Voyager Ultra.|
|More of Terra Nova’s Laser range of tents. Again, no changes on this front. I must admit I recall the lawn being much more lush. Here it appears to have been a drought ridden summer….or is that just me?|
|And here is the Wild Country Zephyros 1 Lite. 1.25kg, same dimensions as the Zephyros 1/Laser Competition 1.
This new model comes with 8.5mm Alloy pole and 4000mm rip-stop SilNylon that’s PU backed (hence the label is seen to be coming through the inside of the tent as not much sticks to silicone).
|Looking out the Zephyros 1 Lite. Incidentally it packs 45cm x 14cm. Compared to the Zephyros 1
which is 52cm x 14cm and the Terra Nova Laser Competition 1 which is 40cm x 12cm…..hmmmm…
|Here’s the Zephyros 2 Lite. Same materials as it’s smaller brother but weighs 1.4kg. And
pitches as one like most of Terra Nova’s tents.
|View from within a Wild Country Hoolie 2. It’s a very roomy (aren’t they always!) tunnel tent.|
So, as you can see just by this quick sneak peek of new gear from Wild Country there’s some impressive shelters if you want to take up backpacking/wild camping with minimal weight penalties and packed size too (on a bugdet, sorry can’t say owt for prices at the mo!).
I always pack my shelters loose in my rucksack anyway. I prefer not to have to be concerned with the bulk of a tent in it’s stuffsack and find I fill every nook and cranny better in my pack better as a consequence. Spare dry clothes and sleeping bag tend to go in a large drysac so they’re protected from any wet tent I’ve stuffed away. Poles slip down the corner inside by the hydration bladder sleeve and pegs go in a pocket. Aye, if the tent’s wet things might be problematic when it comes to pitching later on and you find all is a bit damp.
But this is soon dealt with by giving it an airing (if the weather’s nice) or with a quick wipe of a camping towel. Not ideal if you want to pedantic but I’ve got by no problem when out night after night.
Considering these tents will be starting at an RRP of less than £100 and those that are already out can be had at snip (hint! hint!) then you can see why I found myself quite intrigued and genuinely excited about these new shelters from Wild Country.
I’ll admit that even some companies like Vango have upped their game (being privvy to their 2013 kit) but in the main concentrated they’ve focused on another part of the market (even then it’s cheaper than most – it’s war out there ya know?) and with that in mind, it appears Terra Nova have gone for the jugular at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to kit and money from all types of consumers/backpackers.
So, bearing in mind my somewhat lengthy and deep introduction to this blogspot (and arguably not that detailed but there are reasons I’m sure you can guess for that) you can see why I think to a degree these are exciting times for those who wish to participate in backpacking/hiking activities. You could say it’s never been better but then again, generally we’ve less money in our pockets!
At the end of the day, these are only my thoughts and take on things. I’m not one to preach. But I’ve always been one only to happy to share the joy of the great outdoors and given the above I’ve talked about (and more in the future from other brands) you can likely see why I’m a little giddy.
Moreover, as Jake put it to the Terra Nova team when we were at the launch “You’ve potentially got some giant killers here! Why spend more on X branded tents?” And to be fair, me and Mark were thinking the same thing including with some of Terra Nova’s very own tents that aren’t under the Wild Country name…
|Jake’s overwhelmed by the toys he’s seen and decides to take a lie down.|