Tent on the shore of the Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland (Shutterstock)
Review 05 May

Traveller's Guide to Tunnel Tents

Often lower in weight and a bit more spacious, a tunnel tent is a good just-in-case option if you find yourself in need of shelter on your travels…

Inner- or outer-pitch first?
Good tents are made up of two layers: the inner and the outer (or fly sheet). Some tents are inner-pitch first (great in good weather) others are outer (better if it rains), many tunnel tents have two layers connected straight out the bag for easy pitching.

Poles
You’re looking for a good balance between sturdiness and a lighter weight. Colour coded ones make it easier to erect fast – though you can colour code yourself.

Weight
Expect to pay more for super light poles and fabrics. If using your tent for several days on
a backpacking trip it will be worth the cost.

Porch
Outside the inner tent but under the waterproof protection of the fly sheet, this area is
mainly for bag storage. You’ll also use it for wet shoes and bad-weather cooking (though you still need to keep the door open to prevent a build-up of fumes), so ensure it’s large enough.

Pegs
Good pegs are key in tunnel tents so check they are strong enough to use in the terrain
you’ll be heading to.

GuyLines
These help add stability, particularly in high winds, and are vital for tunnel tents.

Why a tunnel tent?
Tunnel tents are usually winners when it comes to low weight. Geodesic or dome tents
are freestanding, so offer good stability, but with a tunnel tent you need to peg it in the ground as its structure relies on the traction that you create when doing this.

Features
You need to ask yourself how much time you think you’ll be in your tent. If it’s a fair bit then space is important. Then think about how many entrances you'd like. Also look for extras like bug shields.

Regatta

Halin 2 From £110
Pitch time: 12 mins, 48 secs
The test: The sacrifice for the low price is the weight – it’s the second heaviest here (2.62kg) and is at the bulkier end of the scale too (though compression straps help).


Regatta Halin 2
Regatta Halin 2

There’s a picture of the tent on the bag to help guide your pitching and it’s outer-pitch first, then you have to toggle the inner to the fly – which is a bit fiddly. It’s constructed using two colour-coded metal poles (good for durability and in strong wind) but they clip into pegs to secure (rather than eyelets), which is also harder to do. The pegs are fairly light but not that robust compared to others.

Entry is via one door, and there’s also a groundsheet in the porch, which is nice though unusual and adds weight. The porch isn’t the biggest but you can fit in two bags and cook too. Space-wise, there’s room enough to sit at the front but your head will touch the top. There’s little ventilation, with only a thin strip at each end, so condensation could be an issue. The inner and outer can be a bit saggy, so you’ll need to be good at pegging out to stop them touching. Packing away is not the easiest as the polyester fabric is quite bulky.
The verdict: Not bad for the price, but a few design niggles and heavier weight make this one for those on a tight budget.
In brief
Features: ★★★★✩
Design: ★★★✩✩
Packability: ★★★✩✩
Ease of use: ★★★✩✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★✩✩
www.regatta.com

Wild Country

Hoolie 2 From £140 
Pitch time: 6 mins, 36 secs
The test: Spend a little more and you can get a much lighter tent (2.51kg; third lightest) and much more room too. There’s a picture on the bag and this outer-pitch first model is really easy to put up – two identical poles go in the sleeves, then it’s down to traction.

Wild Country Hoolie 2
Wild Country Hoolie 2

The inner comes ready clipped to the outer and is then also secured into the poles for extra stability. The pegs are very good: light but nice and chunky with a good grip in the ground. The porch is a decent size, taking two bags while leaving space for cooking.

There’s one entrance, which is at the front. Inside, there’s an excellent amount of space between the inner and fly sheet, which is good for air circulation; this is helpful as there are not many vents – one at the foot end and one at the top third of the door. It feels wide and is easy to fit two people in, and for them both to sit at the door if needed; however, height-wise my head did touch the top, even at the front when sitting. Another plus is that it packs away without too much trouble.
The verdict: A good size and weight for the price, though lacks some of the nifty details and height of the higher-end models. Wanderlust best value buy.
In brief
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Packability: ★★★★✩
Ease of use: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★✩
www.terra-nova.co.uk

Nordisk

Halland 2 From £200
Pitch time: 6 mins, 44 secs
The test: Throw in some more cash and you will get more length and height. That does add extra weight, though (2.98kg; heaviest here). There’s a picture to make pitching easier (outer-pitch first) along with two colour-coded poles and both the inner and fly come pre-attached to speed things up. The pegs are a good weight and feel suitably sturdy.


Nordisk Halland 2
Nordisk Halland 2

Entrance is through the one door, which boasts a large porch with plenty of room for bags and cooking. There’s an adaquate amount of space between the outer and fly, but getting traction tight takes some effort to stop it sagging. There is a large vent at the foot end and the door is also a flysheet.

The length and height of the tent is good and you can sit up near the front; it’s not as wide as the Wild Country model but is fine for two people. There are some nice extra features, such as hooks for a lamp or headtorch.

Putting it away is straightforward, though the wire on the vent can be a pain to stuff in.
The verdict:
A good length and size with some nice extra touches, though the weight may be a turn-off for some.
In brief
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Packability: ★★★★✩
Ease of use: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩
www.nordisk.eu

Eureka!

Twin Peaks Duo From £300
Pitch time: 4 mins, 14 secs
The test: If you can afford another £100 you can cut your weight considerably – this is just 1.65kg (lightest and least bulky on test). There’s a picture to help with pitching but it is ludicrously easy to erect. It’s inner-pitch first (so in hot countries you could use the inner tent only) with a simple two-pole design – one long for the front, one short for back – that clips directly onto the inner using welldesigned clips. The outer simply goes over the top and secures easily.


Eureka! Twin Peaks Duo
Eureka! Twin Peaks Duo

Entry is via the one door, and inside the ventilation is superb – with every wall of the inner being a vent/bug shield allowing great air flow. The only downside is the size – it feels smaller than the others. Width is good but the door is not wide enough to allow two of you to sit at it. Height-wise, from the reasonable height at the door it reduces quickly at the foot end. You will also need to be good at pegging to keep the inner and outer from touching. The porch is big enough for two bags or to cook in, but fitting in both would be a squeeze. It’s very easy to put away as the bag is wide.
The verdict: Easy to pitch, friendly on the luggage and not too bad on the wallet – it’s not the biggest but is versatile and good for a just-in-case travel tent. Wanderlust best in test.
In brief
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Packability: ★★★★★
Ease of use: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★
www.eurekatent.com

Fjallraven

Abisko Lite 2 From £490
Pitch time: 7 mins, 36 secs
The test: Once you crack open the serious money you start to see well-designed features for lower weight (this is 2.17kg; second lightest) and smaller packsize. The Abisko has clear instructions on the neck of the bag and is outer-pitch first with the inner pre-attached to cut-out faff. The two colour-coded poles slide in the sleeves and connect to ‘cups’ (rather than eyelets) to secure – though I found these quite tricky to master (both putting in and taking out).

 Fjallraven Abisko Lite 2
Fjallraven Abisko Lite 2

There’s one door on the side of the porch, meaning the porch is pegged out well to allow a decent amount of space inside for bags and for cooking at the door. There’s a good amount of space between the inner and the fly, and there are two vents – one at the foot, which opens up entirely if needed, and one in the door, which also zips up to a thicker layer, so is good for colder climes.

Height-wise, it’s at the lower end; you can sit up by the door but it’s a push for two of you to sit up together. Inside, there’s a washing line too – handy for travel. Putting it away was straightforward with the bag provided.
The verdict:
A good weight for some well-designed features, though some may want more height for their money.
In brief
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Packability: ★★★★★
Ease of use: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩
www.fjallraven.co.uk

Nigor

Didis 2 From £629
Pitch time: 7 mins, 36 secs
The test: If you’re planning on multi-day hikes or lots of extended camping trips, then this is the ideal tent. With a picture on the bag to help pitch, colour-coded sleeves and three colour-coded poles, this outer-pitch first model is easy to put up and the inner is pre-clipped in. The pegs are a good combination of lightweight and sturdy – though I’d have liked a few more included.


Nigor Didis 2
Nigor Didis 2

The main plus is the size. Compared with all the others here it’s huge, and still a good weight (2.53kg; fourth lightest). The porch is about the same size as the sleeping area and has two doors: one at the front and one at the side, giving you the option to store kit in the front and then cook at the side door, or use it as a changing area. You can both sit up at the door, though your head may touch the top.

There’s good venting and the inner and the side door both have bug shields. There’s a good distance between the inner and fly, although pegging out near the foot end takes practice to stop them touching. Putting away is easy, although there’s a lot of fabric!
The verdict: A huge tent for a low weight, with nifty design features too – if money is no object or you plan on doing a lot of camping, this is the tent to get.
In brief
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★★
Packability: ★★★★✩
Ease of use: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩
www.nigor.eu

How we did the test…
We asked gear manufacturers to submit the tents that they felt were most suitable for adventurous travellers, being small, lightweight and easy to pitch in all terrains. From the 10 we were sent, our editor, Phoebe Smith, took them out on the road to see which performed best. The time it took to pitch each model is shown along with the ‘Value Buy’ and ‘Best in Test’ for the overall best buy.

Main Image: Tent on the shore of the Jokulsarlon lagoon, Iceland (Shutterstock)