On test Scafell Rock Stratus 2 tent, priced at just £19.94.Recently we told you all about the ultra-cheap tent we bought from Asda, the Scafell Rock Stratus 2. We also promised a full review. Well, never ones to break a promise, here it is'
The tent has been put through its paces over recent weeks, in conditions ranging from dry and sunny to torrential downpour. Despite one or two minor problems, and the odd occasion when I wished I'd had my regular Phoenix Phunnel tent, it didn't do that badly.
First the technical stuff. The Stratus 2 is a two-person dome tent with a front porch (complete with plastic windows). It has a polyester PU-coater outer attached to a polyethylene groundsheet and no separate inner. The poles ' three in total ' are made from fibreglass and slip easily through the nylon sleeves. The seams are not sealed but a small tube of sealant is included in the package.
The Stratus 2 weighs 2.75kg and packs down to a fairly compact 58cm x 13cm roll. It is 110cm high, 145cm wide and 205cm long (plus 90cm for the bell).
The tent comes complete with a storage bag, instructions and a repair kit.
And all this for under twenty quid (£19.94 to be exact).
The Stratus 2 is easy to pitch, assisted by good clear instructions printed on a sheet of paper sewn into the bag. The two longer poles slip through their sleeves and then pin into holes on each of the four corners, pushing the tent up into its dome shape. The third pole runs through a sleeve at the front to form the door arch. Once up, the tent can be moved into position and pegged out. There are sufficient guylines to hold it down in stormy conditions. However, in calm weather these do not need to be run out as the tent holds its shape very well without them.
The bell at the front has plenty of space and height for safe and comfortable cooking and gear storage. Handy storm flaps fill the narrow gap between the flysheet and ground to prevent the wind coming in. The plastic windows on either side of the bell are ideal for keeping an eye on the weather outside, or spying on your campsite neighbours!
The bell is separated from the inner by a zip-around nylon door and there is also a zipped mesh door, although the gauge of the mesh is fairly broad and let midges in when used by itself.
Inside there is space enough for two people, although it is quite cosy and there is not sufficient length for particularly tall people. There is room enough, however, to sit up comfortably and the steep walls increase interior space. There's a big mesh storage pocket and ties at the top of the dome suitable for hanging a lantern or torch. Up here there is also a mesh panel for ventilation, protected by a rainproof nylon hood.
Having only a flysheet and no separate inner, it is vital that you don't touch the nylon when it's raining outside as moisture does penetrate if you do this. We didn't, however, experience any leaks through the unsealed seams.
In conclusion, the Stratus performed well in wet and windy conditions, provided of course you didn't touch the sides. The accommodation is spacious enough and we really liked the space offered by the front bell. For twenty quid we had few complaints, although didn't feel confident enough to use the tent in extreme conditions. However, for summer use it is ideal and offers an excellent budget buy, or a fine first-time purchase for those new to camping.
Build quality is good, although we did find a rip in the mesh ventilation panel which, without prompt attention is likely to expand.
Interestingly, Gelert offer a tent constructed to exactly the same design for £59.99.
Also from Asda we bought a Gelert Kiara 65 litre rucksack. It cost £18.94 and features a padded adjustable back and external aluminium back support. The waist strap is well padded with lumbar support and there's also a webbing chest strap. In addition to the main storage area - which is spilt into two parts, the lower for a sleeping bag - there are two zipped side pockets and two zipped pockets in the top lid. A lot of features for very little cash.
To make camping trips more comfortable, I picked up a Scafell Rock Micro Pillow for £3.56 and a Scafell Rock Camping Mat (grey foam, weighing in at 180g) for £3.44. Gelert's Escape 300 mummy sleeping bag is available for less than £20.
For cooking outdoors, ASDA are currently doing the Camping Gaz 206S gas stove for £9.97 (Tiso, Dundee, were doing a special offer on the same stove, punting it out at a tenner) and Camping Gaz Bleuet 270 stove (uses re-sealable canisters - £2.97 each) for £11.97. Also from Camping Gaz, the 206L gas lantern costs £13.97. A Scafell Rock Knife, Fork and Spoon set will set you back £1.52.
For water storage, check out the 15 litre foldable plastic tank at £2.96 or the one-litre Scafell Rock aluminium bottle at £6.94.
Finally from ASDA, if you need a new compass, you'll get a Scafell Rock one for £2.73. It has a plastic base with various measurements plus a nylon lanyard.
Across town I popped into Primark to check out their autumn products. I came away with a fleece for a fiver. And a pretty good fleece at that - very comfortable and warm. The CS Active Performance top (pictured above right) is a mid-weight fleece with a half-length zip, two waist pockets and a zip-fastening chest pocket. The cuffs are elasticated and the hem has an elasticated drawcord. It comes in small, medium, large and extra large sizes and in various colours, including light blue, olive and black.
More bargains soon...Products featured sourced from ASDA, Kingsway East, Dundee; Tiso, Whitehall Street, Dundee; and Primark, Overgate, Dundee. All are subject to availability.