Helsport Reinsfjell Superlight 2

 

Reinsfjell is a tent model just on the edge between a three- and four-season one.  After finishing Te Araroa with the Helsport Storsylen tent we wanted something lighter, especially since we were going to Australia next, without compromising too much on durability and comfort. We wanted exactly the same for our trip across the Nepal Himalaya in winter. We were not going to spend the bulk of of our nights in a tent, so weight was first priority. Still, it had to be sturdy enough to survive camping at extreme altitude in very exposed conditions. Reinsfjell is a freestanding dome that is quick and easy to set up with two entrances, two luggage compartments, and a broad usage range that only excludes the harshest of winter trips or mountaineering expeditions. This tent proved its absolute reliability not only in the worst of Australia’s surprisingly tough south coast climate, but even on exposed high mountain terrain and in Himalayan winter conditions.

Tent Specifications

Packed dimensions: 18×40

Weight: 2kg (tent, poles, pegs)

Pole length: 1x370cm + 2x347cm

Includes reparation kit (weight: 0,15 kg)

Entrances: 2

Luggage storage room: 2

 

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The Helsport Reinsfjell 2 is truly an amazing tent and we have absolutely loved using it. It will be our companion on many adventures to come and in many different circumstances. In the paragraphs below we will explain why based on the tents’ weight, durability, construction, weatherproofness and comfort.

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Weight & Durability

Reinsfjell Superlight weighs two kilos, not the lightest tent in its class. However, and here I quote a Bibbulmun volunteer: “That’s a hell of a lot of tent for two kilos.” Divided over its users its weight comes down to a kilo per person, which I would say is currently midlevel in weight for modern two-person tents. Neither of us has ever been bothered by its weight. The sails, the poles, the pegs: they are all constructed out of light materials. The tent packs down really small while the poles easily fit into a side compartment of a pack. It’s convenient to split the tent between two people: PJ usually had the sail, while I carried the poles and pegs.

Where Reinsfjell really makes up for its weight is in durability. Though not sold as a four-season tent it was sturdy enough to live through four months of Himalayan autumn and winter hiking, including many nights below -10ºC and a couple of windy camp spots on high mountain passes (here I’m talking +5500m). I wouldn’t take it to cross Norway’s mountain plateaus or the Lapland mountains midwinter, but it can stand snow, wind and rock. Already on the Bibbulmun we realised this is a strong tent: Australia is a rather unforgiving environment, camping was done merely on gravel ground. A few storms blew over us from the Southern Ocean, exposing the tent and zippers to wet sand and dust. After the Bibbulmun not a single spot on the light fabric showed wear and tear and all zippers were in perfect condition. We tested it extensively in Norway in the snow before taking it on the GHT. In the Himalaya we added pointy rocks on moraines and glaciers, sharp ice crystals on the ground on truly cold nights, and lots and lots of dust to wear the zippers out even more. One zipper has slight problems in the bottom, but otherwise the tent and its poles are still ready for another big run. This I find truly impressive. IMG_7294

Construction & Set-up

Helsport Reinsfjell Superlight 2 is designed as a freestanding dome with an easy to set up 3-pole system. Helsport uses dome tents with 3 color-coded poles that enable the tent to be set up fast if conditions require this. Built in Norway, the tent is set up from the outside first to keep the inner tent sheltered from the worst of weather. The inner tent can remain attached to make the process even quicker, or can be removed for quicker drying. On either side of the inner tent is an entrance, a luggage compartment, and a ventilation hole that is easy to open and close. In case of rocky underground the tent does not need to be pitched, and the guy lines can be used to tie the tent to available rocks/branches to keep it in place in heavy winds. Storm flaps to weigh it down and tighten the sail with rocks/branches are optional.

The tent is airy by character, yet this means it ventilates well. For extra ventilation two small flaps are constructed that can be opened and closed on each entrance. In sub-zero or very damp conditions we did have to make sure that these were open, otherwise enough condensation would gather in the tent to make the inside of the outer sail wet and make our sleeping bags feel moist. Condensation is an issue with many 3-4 season tents and especially in domes, and we found the amount we got inside Reinsfjell acceptable. It was never uncomfortably damp in the tent.

There are two minor downsides to the construction of Reinsfjell Superlight. For one, it’s a tight fit for two of Therm-a-Rest’s lightest air matresses: NeoAir X-Lite. Sometimes it is possible to put them in opposite directions so the narrow feet part lines with the wider top of the other one, but when camping on somewhat of an angle (as it often happens in the mountains) this is of course very uncomfortable for the person having their head downwards. Second; the ventilation mesh of the inner tent cannot be closed. This makes the tent very airy, which is nice in summer, but unfortunate on cold nights. When strong winds blow out there is always a bit of a draft inside the tent. If there would be a possibility to close this it would increase the versatility of the Reinsfjell Superlight even more.

Weather Resistance

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Waterproofness was one of the main reasons why we chose Reinsfjell over similar tents, such as the Big Agness Copper Spur or the MSR Hubba Hubba. These tents may weigh a few hundred grams less, however, we did not want to compromise almost half of the waterproofness on the outer tent (Helsport’s sail has a rating of 2000mm, while the other two are merely at 1200mm). I think, again, this is a feature from having tents built with Norwegian weather in mind (the setup of the other two is the other way around too, you start by putting the inner tent up and then attach the fly to it). The groundsheet as well is rated over more than half of similar tents, at 3000mm, and this especially seemed like a more comfortable alternative in areas with vegetation and soil moisture/dew. The ground sail on Helsport’s Pro Superlight tents is made from the same material as they use for the sails of their Extreme range. This ground sail is light but it can take it a lot of beating and a lot of bad weather.

We dragged this tent through a couple of storms on Australia’s windblown south coast, and it saw 3 weeks of straight (sometimes torrential) rains in the beginning of the GHT. Though it may have been soaked through on the outside, it was only wet once on the inside: when a late monsoon shower hit us at full force and flooded the entire mountain slope we were camped on so water seeped in from below. The rain came down so hard the tent poles started to bend under the weight of it on the windward side, yet it did not collapse. This was the only time we ever had to turn it upside down to empty a good few liters of water from inside. Luckily the fabric dries very fast, and even when it looks like the tent has been swimming it only takes about 30 minutes to an hour for the sails to dry out with a bit of wind and some sun.

Keeping the rain out was really crucial for us to keep our big down sleeping bags dry and prevent hypothermia in the night. We’ve also had this tent out in several storms during the years we’ve used it, both pitched and tied down to rocks when we camped on barren ground. We’ve seen the poles bend deep and even felt them on our face from time to time, but were never under the impression that the tent couldn’t hold it or would snap. This is not only reassuring, but quite essential to know that your shelter can cope with severe mountain weather.

Comfort

Many of the things we mentioned above make it a very comfortable tent: each has their own entrance to fiddle around in and pack up in, the ease of use, etc… Because of the dome set-up the sleeping compartment is quite high and you can comfortably sit in it, making it a nice refuge to hang out in the evening or in bad weather. It does have enough space to store things inside you might not want to leave in the vestibules (wallets, electronics, water, etc.) and even with a few things inside it does not feel cramped. Other than that there are a few nice features that increase user-friendliness: pockets line the inner tent to conveniently store small items, and the tent flap can also be opened from the top down to let in some extra breeze on hot summer nights. Not that we’ve used it a lot, but it’s good to know we won’t be too warm inside this tent either.

Conclusion

While the Reinsfjell Superlight is not the absolute lightest alternative in its category on the market, we found it a very enjoyable and reliable tent to have with us that offers a great compromise between weight and comfort. Its lightness does not sacrifice durability, comfort or weatherproofness. It’s a great tent for any hiking or through-hiking adventure that runs through some tough mountains.

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