Tents are getting lighter, but the lightest often carry a whopping price tag. However some brands are making lightweight tents that are far more affordable – and the Helix 100 is the lightest and lowest-priced model in Vango’s new range.
At £100 for a one-person tent weighing just 1573g, the Helix 100 should strongly appeal to weekend backpackers. But if you want more space check out the other models in this range, such as the Helix 200 (£110/1.85kg), the Zenith 100 (£120/1.72kg) and the Zenith 200 (£140/2.12kg). On paper they all look like great low-priced options.
The Helix 100 comes packed in a very respectable 12x48cm stuffsack. The inner is pitched first, with shock-corded alloy poles being slipped through mesh sleeves, and four pegs hold the structure in place. The flysheet goes over the top with ladder-lock adjustment, making it easier to get a taut structure even when you can’t place the peg exactly where you want. Two guy lines at the front help to stabilise the front pole. It all came together very easily, and on a gusty hillside I was impressed by the tent’s stability. I’d prefer an outer-pitched-first design for wet weather, but while the fabrics, cords, webbing tape and pegs are heavier than some higher-priced lighter tents’, they feel robust and easy to work with.
There is a front entrance with a good zipped opening: two zip pulls let you open it from the top to bottom for venting. This door is rolled aside to give access to the porch, then the inner tent door can be zipped to one side to access the sleeping area. The porch is quite small and the headroom is definitely less than many high-priced tents near this weight. So weight loss and price reduction do mean less living space.
When I got inside the Helix 100 I couldn’t sit up comfortably; but I could sit with my head tipped forward and easily recline with my elbows propping me up. The head height also reduces quite rapidly toward the foot.
The porch is on the limit, size-wise; but I got my 50 litre pack inside, which took up a lot of room but did mean it was out of the rain. There wasn’t a lot of space for cooking, though. Having said that, for one or even two nights the Vango Helix 100 is perfectly workable. For camping in wet weather, however, I’d like more space.
Flysheet fabric 70D Protex hexagonal polyester
Inner fabric polyester
Groundsheet fabric 70D polyester
Poles shock-corded alloy
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 220x90x83cm
Packed size 12x48cm
In terms of weight and price the Vango Helix 100 would be ideal for solo peak-bagging and backpacking trips; but for regular use in wet weather many will prefer more living space, and perhaps an outer-pitched-first design.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2014