Some of my most sleepless nights outdoors have been when the winds have been so strong that the tent either flattened against my face and sprang back each time a gust swept across, or the tent poles snapped because they were not flexible enough to bend under the pressure of a gust. Either way, high winds can ruin your night.
But how can a tent be designed so that it is flexible enough not to break, yet stiff enough to prevent it from springing up and down in the slightest breeze?
Power to the people
Vaude’s answer is the Power Frame concept, where the tent flysheet is attached to the external pole system with Powerclips. These unique clips have two parts: a soft grey clip to guide the pole but allow movement, plus a second red clip that locks the pole in place. The location of these clips form triangular trusses along the length of the poles, which work to lock the structure. According to the manufacturer you get a tent that is 80 per cent more stable than ones using conventional pole systems. The Power Odyssee XT features this Power Frame system and is specifically designed for people who head to the UK mountains to camp out in all winds and weathers. It’s intended for two people, and tips the scales at 3.3kg.
I took the Power Odyssee XT tent into the Lakeland fells to see how it performed with me and two dogs inside. The weather was breezy, and certainly windier than would be comfortable in a very flexible tent. Pitching was relatively easy once the instructions that were sewn to the stuffsack had been checked. It was not obvious immediately which pole goes where and how they should cross one another, so some colour coding would not go amiss. I also found that the plastic sleeves at the pole end tended to be a tight fit to the pegs they slotted into and they came loose from the pole ends easily. Again more niggles that irritated the pitching process. Some minor DIY treatments could improve these issues easily.
Once pitched the tent was very stable and those magic red sections of the Powerclips certainly boosted stability, without making the tent so stiff that it could not flex gently in the heavier gusts.
The tent is far bigger than you might expect given its 2-person rating. Indeed, I reckon you could sleep three inside in comfort, while the extended porch is also big enough to take three people’s gear.
With its Power Frame technology, the Vaude Power Odyssee XT is a valuable addition to the UK market, and ideal for two or three people backpacking and wild camping in the wet and windy British hills.
Poles shock-corded alloy
Inner 30D polyester ripstop 285T
Flysheet 40D polyamide ripstop 240T, both sides siliconised; 3000mm hydrostatic head
Groundsheet 40D polyamide ripstop 240T laminated; 10,000mm hydrostatic head
Internal dimensions length 225cm; width 155cm; height 115cm
Packed size 53x17cm
Made in China
Also available Power Odyssee £300, 2460g is narrower and would better suit two-person use
Stockist details – tel. (01665) 510660: www.vaude-uk.com
Verdict: The Vaude Power Odyssee XT has improved stability for wild camping; good weight for a three-person tent. But the plastic pole end-sleeves come out too easily; plenty of lower-priced tents out there (but they may not have this spec); bigger than two-person category suggests. Overall, ideal stability for windy wild camping; very spacious for two and useable for three backpackers.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2009