I bought a new tent today, to replace my Quechua Base Seconds 4.2 that is too large for single-handed use. The Quechua tent has served me well for three consecutive years and there would have been no thoughts of replacing it had there still been two of us on the trip. However, as I’m now travelling solo, down-sizing the tent makes sense. Setting up and taking down the tent will be easier for one person. As an added benefit, a smaller tent takes up much less space in the back of the Defender – and space is always at a premium when overlanding.
Trying to find a new tent in Bishkek presented a bit of a challenge, as finding camping stores isn’t that easy. In the end, I found three stores.
A general sporting store is on Moskovskaya Str. between Molodaya Gvardia Boulevard and Mir Avenue (aka Manas Avenue) on the northern side of the road. They had three or four tents in stock (and one set-up on display). They had the lowest prices but I none of the models were suitable for me.
The Red Fox camping store is located on Baitik Baatyr Str. (aka Abdrahmov Str.) on the junction with Kulatov Str. I recorded GPS coordinates on Kulatov Str., close to the store, as N 42.85961 E 074.61132. The shop sells the Red Fox brand of tents from Russia. At the time of my visit, they had three models in stock but none of them were on display. I was shown the photos and specs in a catalog but they wouldn’t set up a tent for me to see before buying. The salesman did offer to set it up after I bought it, so demonstrate the set-up process! The tent was priced at 15,500 Som (about $310). It was also orange in colour which makes it hard to blend in when wild-camping.
The third shop I visited was Sport Expert . It is located further south, out of the centre, on Mir Avenue (Manas Avenue) below Isa Akhunbaev Str.. I recorded GPS location at the store and can see the location on my Garmin but, unfortunately, the Garmin hasn’t recorded the coordinates. This shop had a number of tents in stock and one set up on display. The display model was the Salewa Sierra Leone II two-person tent and was the model that best suited my needs. It was priced slightly below 15,000 Som ($300) and I got a further 5% discount as the display model was the last tent in stock and the storage bag had a slight tear where one of the cinch-straps attaches.
As you can gather, I bought the Salewa tent. It seems to be a good size for one person so I shouldn’t feel cramped. It has a green outer fly that provides a bit of an annex outside the inner tent for when it is raining. The green colour will be less obvious when wild camping than the orange Red Fox tent. It has aluminium shock-corded poles that are colour-coded to assist with the set-up process. Specs for the tent can be located using this link – http://www.salewa.com/product/2+personen/sierra+leone+ii+tent-2
I took the tent back to Nomad’s Home and did a practice set-up in the garden. My first attempt at setting it up took about 9 minutes. I expect the time will reduce as I get used to the tent’s features. Dismantling the tent only took 6 minutes.
Compared side-by-side with the Quechua tent, the new tent takes up much less space in the Defender. This has allowed me to get things packed better in the lower storage section, without having to pile stuff on top of the mattresses and sleeping bags in the upper section.
To take advantage of the space-saving, I have had to remove the Quechua tent from the vehicle. It is a shame to have to say goodbye to it, as it has served me very well, but the opportunity to recover some additional storage space is too great. It looks like I’ll be donating the tent to Nomad’s Home, to do with as they choose.
When I’ve had time to evaluate the Salewa tent, I’ll post a review.