AS a youngster I was fortunate to be taken on plenty of camping trips to the bush and beach and that’s probably the main reason for my great love of the outdoors and nature today. It didn’t matter if we were under a tarp next to a creek, in a tent at a camp ground or in a camper trailer in a free camp, it was always exciting.
These days I’m still happy to rough it in a swag when heading out with the boys, but if I’m doing a family trip, having a few more creature comforts is definitely the way to go. Over the recent September/October school holidays the family and I enjoyed a camping trip to Noosa at Munna Point, where I had the opportunity to test a BlackWolf tent.
BlackWolf has been designing adventure and camping gear for about 20 years and has built a solid reputation for producing quality equipment. Testament to this is the company’s massive range of quality tents that cater for everyone, including everything from a lightweight hiking tent to a full-blown setup.
On this occasion I tested the Turbo Lite 450, which I would class as the pinnacle of BlackWolf’s family tent line-up. The Turbo branded tents come in a mix of sizes and designs so you can pick one that best suits your camping situation. You also have the choice between a heavier-style canvas and the Lite version.
Making this decision comes down to how you plan to use your tent, but I was pleased my 450 was the lighter version. With a weight of 30kg, I could carry it by myself, though the bag it comes in is fairly big. One positive here is it was easy to get the tent and poles back into the bag come home time.
Conversely, it does take up a bit of room, so you would have to consider this if space is tight on your travels. Now the question I know you will be asking is: “How easy was it to set up?” Well I think the days of arguments as the tent goes up are over. The Turbo Lite 450 goes up very easily and could be erected by one person, but it is even easier with two people.
The tent’s structural poles are already attached, so it is just a matter of extending a few of the roof poles until they click into place.
You then open the side poles so they lock and there you have it – a solid, light structure that can easily be moved around while erected. To fit the fly and front awning assembly you just slide it over and click it into place with the attached straps.
Then all that’s left is setting up three poles for the awning and pegging it all into the ground. To reach this stage takes as little as 15 minutes, which really makes this aspect of camping much easier. When camping, I like to put mesh under the tent and awning area. This takes a bit of extra time but is definitely worth it, especially when you have kids, because the mesh keeps the majority of sand and dirt out of the sleeping areas and feels nice under foot when walking around.
On this occasion we also had an extra awning and side panels to fit, so that took a little longer, but we were staying for a week and had packed plenty of gear that needed to be stored out of the elements. As you can see in the photos, the side mesh panels don’t actually reach the ground. You could lower the poles a little more to make the gap smaller, but I didn’t mind the idea because it let the breeze flow through.
Obviously this means the awning section isn’t 100 percent waterproof (it also doesn’t have a floor). We were able to test the tent’s waterproof capabilities on the first night during a torrential downpour. You’ll be happy to hear everyone in the main tent compartment remained very dry and cosy.
Unfortunately I didn’t read all the instructions until after the first lot of rain. The instructions indicate you should hose down the seams on the awning before using it. I hadn’t done this, so a little bit of water seeped through on a seam, but this wasn’t a problem the second time we got some rain.
A notable feature of the BlackWolf 450 Lite was the massive amount of internal room it afforded. In the sleeping quarters, which could be divided into two rooms, each with their own door for exiting and entering the tent, we managed to fit a port-a-cot, two kids’ stretchers, a queen stretcher and a heap of bags.
Nothing is worse than having to climb over everyone in a small and poky tent, and fortunately that wasn’t a problem here, even with five people inside. To power the tent, two dedicated spots allowed access for a lead and these closed tightly so as not to let any creepy-crawlies inside. On the ceiling of the tent, two large vents provided good ventilation and could easily be closed if it got a little cool.
The windows also catered for a mix of conditions and you could either have them fully closed, partially open (which was still weather proof) or fully open to allow plenty of light and breeze through. Another nifty idea was the way in which the guide ropes were stored in their own little compartments. This way the right rope was always exactly where it was meant to be and could quickly be packed away for easy storage.
It is worth noting all the guy ropes were orange and easily visible. Overall, the BlackWolf Turbo Lite 450 ticked plenty of boxes, and while probably one of the more expensive tents on the market, you do get a premium product that will last, is versatile and best of all very quick and easy to set up.
For more information on this and other tents in the range, check out www.blackwolf.com.au