For unpredictable UK weather an outer-pitched-first design is my preferred choice of tent as you can pitch (erect) and strike (take down) it in any weather and stay reasonably dry, so full marks to Blacks straight away with the Octane 2. The poles slip through colour-coded sleeves to make pitching easy, and ladder-lock adjustment around the base ensures the flysheet is taut. The inner hangs inside from clips and can be left in situ. The outer door gets a window and opens from the top or bottom or either side, which is ideal. The porch is nice and spacious, making it suitable for a couple of sacks. The inner door has a separate zip-out panel to expose a midge net. The inner does not have lots of mesh so this is not as draughty as some tents with loads of mesh. A great design for wet-weather camping. But the floor is black, which feels gloomy, and when combined with the red flysheet the tent feels a bit like a seedy nightclub! Airflow is not as good as others, particularly as there is no vent at the tail, so this could get hot and steamy… as the colours suggest!
Design: 2-pole tunnel
Poles: shock-corded alloy
Inner: ripstop nylon
Flysheet: 30D nylon; 3000mm hydrostatic head
Groundsheet: Hypalon; 5000mm hydrostatic head
Internal dimensions: length 210cm; width 140cm; height 85cm
Packed size: 44x16cm
Made in: China
Stores in the UK: 60
Verdict: In many ways this is an excellent tent for UK backpackers, but the colour and lack of venting let down an otherwise promising shelter.
First published in Trail magazine, May 2008