Let’s talk about gear: What’s new from Terra Nova and Wild Country for 2014?

Polar Lite 2 Terra Nova
NEW: The Polar Lite 2 Micro from Terra Nova

I’ve been hammering a lot of gear in the past few months and not mentioned much about it on here. Though those who follow me on Twitter regularly will be much more aware of what’s been in action and why. For example, I’ll ‘tweet’ a picture of a new tent I may have the fortunate privilege of using on one outing or I may make comments on a waterproof garment and so on.

In-between recent trips, I’ve visited some trade shows too where I’ve been able to take a look at kit that’s due out soon or next year. In all honesty, they’re a bit boring and that’s mostly down to the fact there’s nothing particularly revolutionary or evolutionary being produced in my eyes. If you’re a ‘gear freak’ then you just might find it of interest. It’s all lost on me. I’m in no rush to visit any of the big trade shows again.

For example, I’d been out in the Lake District for several days camping on the fells when the weather turned for the worst. So I took up an invite to visit the KORS show in Kendal. Strolling in there one morning dressed in outdoor kit, covered in dirt (and me no doubt smelling a bit off) felt a bit weird to say the least!

I’d been outdoors, to attend somewhere indoors to talk about the outdoors. Go figure.

Don’t get me wrong. There is some interesting new kit coming out next year, some of which has been mentioned in the press. But it’s all few and far between in my eyes. Wondering around the halls chatting with reps and hearing the latest spiel about next season’s products can make one very weary – more so if the kit on display is bugger all different to the previous 5 years – except it’s in a new colour, or a zip has been re-positioned. And they often know it too.

It’s not unheard of to hear me say “Cut the crap. It any good? Why?”, before rolling my eyes and moving on. But as always it is nice to catch up with some folks I know well from other companies. It’s quite the tight-knit community. Every one knows every one. And I enjoy a good chin wag with many of them about what’s coming out, feedback, trips out, the future and so on. The ones who don’t hide behind PR talk at least. No offence to any one or ought.

One new product that caught my eye recently comes from Vango. A new type of camping fuel in the form of a gel! Appeared to work a treat and could possibly make for an alternative to meths (works in meths stoves incidentally). Also a new and affordable NeoAir mattress from Thermarest piqued my interest. Any decent gear that’s cheap always winks at me and lulls me over. But more of that chit chat in another post.

This write-up concerns what’s new and different from Terra Nova and Wild Country next year. Some time ago, I attended their product launch event amongst the delightful hills of the Peak District, close to where Terra Nova HQ is located.

In a nutshell, here’s a list of what’s new and other info coming from the highly respected brand:
Sleeping Bags
  • New permeable fabric for Laser sleeping bags
  • Unique Terra Nova fabric development offering waterproofing, breathability and air permeability
  • Lightest 10c rated bag on the market
Tents
  • New Polar range of tunnel tents
  • Five new models designed for severe environments
  • Low weight and high level of weather performance
Wild Country Tents
  • Popular Hoolie range of tunnel tents extended.
Tarps
  • Range expanded to capture interest in minimalist camping
  • New Uultra Mini Tarp and Laser Mini Tarp
  • Flexible but minimalist, easy to adjust to suit weather conditions and individual needs
Now, much of the above is literally a straight lift from their marketing material. Nothing wrong with that of course, but I’ll talk a little now to what I personally thought of the launch and the above info.
As far as backpackers are concerned (which includes me and likely yourselves reading here of course) there’s no ‘huge’ news. Last year and the one before, all the hype was on the new Wild Country tents. Particularly the Zephyros shelters and then their lighter cousins. Arguably, these ace tents would cannibalise Terra Nova’s Laser series of tents I thought. After all, why pay twice as much for a Laser Comp when you can have the Zephyros for the sake of a few extra grammes? I know which one I’d go for!
Alas, on the Wild Country front there’s no changes.
The big story is Terra Nova’s new range of tunnel tents designed for 4 season use. Upon closer inspection these shelters appeared extremely well made, nice attention to detail and more importantly bloody bomber for the weight.
You can’t beat a tunnel tent for volume, and these babies look seriously good. Good for winter use and not too heavy for lugging about the rest of the year. The fabric’s specs are impressive too, with purported high abrasion resistance and tensile strength. Terra Nova believe these will be the strongest tunnel tents available.
I’m yet to use one in vain just yet, but I’d be tempted to once winter kicks in proper if Terra Nova offer the opportunity.
What also caught my eye was the new pre-shaped tarps. A SilNylon version and of course one with Terra Nova’s ‘Ultra’ fabric. I’m no fan of pre-shaped tarps in truth. But I did like the look of these. Just enough cover for one to sleep under and out of inclement weather yet still feel exposed and in tune with the outdoors.
Needless to say, you can do all the above with a regular tarp. With the added benefit of pitching how you wish, when you wish, wherever you wish. Hence, I’m no fan of pre-shaped tarps. But I can admire the new Mini Tarps for their overall ease of use. You can erect them quickly, adjust their height easily and get under it in next to no time. There’s no faffing about. Perhaps the ideal product for those who wish to try out tarping? I’d imagine so. 
To complement the tarp, Terra Nova have updated their Moonlite bag cover. A lightweight bivouac. And it really is lightweight. Packs tiny! Weighs 210g, includes seams sealed, mozzie net cover (new for 2014) and it’s hydrostatic head is close to 15 whole metres (though Terra Nova are saying 10metres in their product descriptions), yet still breathable!
Astonishing. But it’s something to take care with when bivvying proper as the groundsheet is not re-enforced in any capacity. Stick a piece of polythene sheeting under you, and you’re sorted would be my recommendation. Cheap and cheerful remedy.
The Laser Mini Tarp weighs 250g. So, that along with the Moonlite bivvy, and you got a bit of a luxury night out on the hills, with all the exposure you need to feel in tune with your surroundings!
Anyway, here’s some pics of some of the kit mentioned above. All should be hitting the shops in the coming months ahead – usually, Spring 2014 and in the next few weeks I’ll post another concerning other gear and talk in more detail about the kit I’ve been hammering….

Terra Nova tents
The usual Terra Nova tents on display.

Terra Nova Voyager 2.2
An old favourite of mine. The Terra Nova Voyager 2.2. Top shelter this.

Terra Nova Ultra Mini Tarp
The Ultra Mini Tarp.Weighs 196g, packed size 29x7cm, measures 1.45m x 1.22m. The new Mini Tarps come with an adjustable pole too.

Laser Mini Tarp Terra Nova
The Laser Mini Tarp. 250g(inc pole), packed size 29x7cm and same dimensions as the Ultra equivalent. You can pack these tarps smaller of course. I’m just stating the numbers they say. I did give em a good squeeze down while I was there. Once you dispatch the pole elsewhere if you need it. You can use a walking pole of course.

Terra Nova tarps
The two tarps side by side for comparison and another angle view. Pitch em as low
or high off the ground as you like.

Terra Nova Mini Tarps
An easy (or lazy!) way to get into tarping. Good idea from Terra Nova I think. Of course, pitching them low to the ground would afford one some comfort during a storm….but then we’re in the realms of why not choose a tent?
At least with tarps you save weight and space in your pack and feel more in tune with your environment.

Terra Nova Polar range of tents
ALL NEW: The Polar Range of tents from Terra Nova.

Terra Nova Polar tent
Some nice features on the Polar tents for added comfort and useability. Nice bathtub inner too.

Roomy enough for two people on an expedition who wish to save some weight.

The Polar tents appeared to be sturdy, strong and durable for 4 seasons use too. For example
the ‘Storm’ tents in the new range, the fabrics have in excess of 1000n tensile strength!
That’s tough.

Terra Nova Polar Lite 2
The Polar Lite 2 Micro. Weighs min 2.7kg, packed size 50x19cm. Flysheet 6000mm HH, floor 10000mm HH.
4 season snow conditions tunnel tent with all the usual bells and whistles.

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