We enjoy hiking so much that we would like to do it for a few days in a row. We obviously can’t sleep in a farmhouse every time, so we went for a Quechua 2 Seconds Air III instant tent.
Saturday, the 14th of July we tested it for the first time.
Pitching and taking down times are as stated by the manufacturer. It pops up in two seconds plus the time for pushing pegs in. Once you have learned the move, it’s easy and quick to close and fold away.
Choosing the 3-person version although we are only two proved the right decision. There is enough room for our backpacks and it also allows for a narrow corridor between the two mattresses. Between the internal and external door there is a little shoe storage space. We understand that in this line of products the declared capacity refers to the number of people the tent can fit without considering baggage, but who would ever go camping without bringing anything?
The tent held up to the wind that blew at 80 km/h all night, with peaks of 110 Km/h. The free-standing fibreglass structure twists a little when hit by a gust of wind, but then it is soon back to the original shape. Not bad for a relatively cheap tent (70 € on sale at the same price of the 2-man version).
Mosquito nets at the entrance and on the sides proved useful in keeping the tent cool during the afternoon in the presence of pesky horse flies. We kept the two side panels closed during the night because of the strong wind, but airing was granted by the openings at the bottom.
The 15°C Quechua ultralight sleeping bags proved of the right thickness for a summer night at 600 m asl. I found the “mummy” shape less unconfortable and narrow than expected. Although our two sleeping bags are of different sizes, they can still be zipped together.
All went smoothly, except that in the morning our cheap inflatable mattresses were almost completely flat. No big deal, we had not sweated much inflating them: the foot pump we had carried with us is very handy and efficient because it lets you inflate and deflate as well. My old pump made entirely of rubber was lighter, but harder and slower to use.
The Quechua 2” is sold as a tent for itinerant camping, but it is quite bulky to carry if it takes, as in our case, 30 minutes’ walk to reach your destination. Let us say it is not impossible to carry it a short way, but it was not made for this. Not so much because of the weight (4,6 Kg), but because it turns into a 75 cm diameter pan when folded: worn with straps, it makes you look like a satellite dish.
Sadly, free camping is not allowed in Italy, so buying a portable trekking tent would not have made much sense. We then decided to pick one that would at least offer hassle-free pitching and enough living space, with the aim of using it not during hikes but as a sort of base camp between hikes on the same weekend. However, it is not a long stay tent, not suitable for family holidays: no canopy or living area, and you can’t stand up.
We don’t like campsites very much because they go against the authentic spirit of camping, and above all because they’re overcrowded. We are going to use them anyway as they are still a good alternative to spending the night in a B&B or hotel, but we’ll choose a different solution when possible. So, having to chose a place for our first camping trip, we thought of something between a proper campsite and a bivouac in the middle of nature, and pitched our tent outside a mountain hut. I’d rather not write the name of this refuge…or it will soon be packed just as any other spot!