Internal dimensions: Length 230cm, Height 70cm, Width 95cm
Construction: PU coated 75D Polyester, Alloy poles and pegs
Pack size: 45cmx17cm
- Great build quality
- Striking design
- Relatively cheap
- Tough to pitch correctly
- Damp problems
- Limited storage
I bought my Gossamer from OutdoorGear.co.uk for £75 last April, before the BoldlyGoes trip to Spain. I initially chose it over the Wild Country Zephyros 1, due to it’s interesting design and £35 price difference. The two-pole tunnel design isn’t a popular tent design, but it looks great and pitching is a breeze, even in bad conditions.
The build quality of the Gossamer is remarkably good, 10 months after purchase, and dozens of pitches later, all of the seams are still tight, the DAC poles are as good as new, and although I lost one peg, the others are all still straight despite quite a lot of abuse. The one component which requires improvement is the ground sheet, which professes to have a 5,000mm hydrostatic head, but will let beads of moisture through by the morning. The tent includes only 10 pegs while the design actually requires 12 including guy lines, but unless it’s very windy, these are optional.
The design of the Gossamer straddles the line between the low, compact, hooped bivvys and the roomier 1 man backpacking tents with room to sit up and porches to store your backpack. This fusion results in a compromised experience, just entering the tent requires some thought, the door is at the head end rather than at the side, this requires you to stand up in the entrance, then filter yourself into the tent and your sleeping bag at the same time, feet first.
The Gossamer has a large unsupported mid section, which ends up sagging however tight I pitch, this sag, seen in most hooped bivvys is not an issue with single walled gore-tex designs. But coupled with the double walled design of the gossamer, this sag results in condensation soaking your clothes or sleeping bag after even the smallest movements during the night or morning. This sag could be solved easily with two extra guy lines halfway up either side of the tent, but the curved design limits the options there without pulling the top of the tent flat. Having pitched the tent in a number of ways, I can’t seem to adjust it to the point where there is a gap between the fly and the mesh inner. This wouldn’t be a huge problem in a tent which was slightly larger, I’ve seen several larger double walled tents with no space between the fly and the inner, but if you roll over in your sleeping bag at night in those you won’t be touching the sides of the tent. In a compact design like this one, it results in guarranteed dampness when you move around.
The lack of a porch or any storage space is an issue; there isn’t room for anything larger than a 35 litre backpack inside next to you, and only boots can be stored in between the two walls. If you’re camping in colder weather or have a lot of gear with you, the only option is to stick the whole lot in a dry bag and leave it outside, not entirely secure.
Once you are inside (and as long as you don’t move too much), the Gossamer is very cosy, the lack of space actually means it warms up very quickly. There is a useful guy line running along the ceiling of the tent where you can hang lights, it also tensions the ceiling to stop a little bit of that lethal sag. The low design lends itself to stability in high winds and the position of the side pegs does afford some control over the airflow into the tent.
As I’ve said, the Gossamer has slotted itself into a strange place in the market, where it finds itself competing with budget tents, more expensive entry level backpacking tents and most hooped bivvys. My second choice when looking for a tent was the Wild Country Zephyros 1, this much roomier back packing tent features a porch, room to sit up and change and weighed slightly less, but it was £35 more expensive. The Snugpak Stratosphere Hooped Bivi features a superior construction quality and materials, but had even less storage space and the same £35 price difference. The Highlander Blackthorn 1 was the budget option at half the price of the Gossamer, has the same design as the now legendary Gelert Solo, but suffered from terrible build quality.
In conclusion, the Gossamer 1 would be a great first tent for anyone given its modest price tag, but it is let down by the lack of conviction in it’s design, or possibly it’s total conviction to not be like any other tent on the market. When I want to sit in my tent and watch the rain, I am forced to just get up like when I am bivvy bagging. When I feel cosy and warm like in a bivvy bag, I get damp from the condensation like I am in a cramped tent. It’s the best and worst of both worlds, but no one fault completely hampers the experience.
I don’t regret the purchase and I can see it surviving at least two or three more seasons, it isn’t too heavy or bulky enough to put me off carrying it on longer hikes. However, if it broke I would not buy it again, if I were buying a tent in the same price range again, I’d spend a little extra for the added comfort and gear security offered by the Wild Country Zephyros 1.
Entry level gear that we probably wouldn’t buy again if it broke.