To start with, you don’t get much for your outdoor pound when buying tents or anything else for that matter. So to find a tent that can get you out and about wild camping for about thirty quid can’t be bad. A quick google search will reveal that there’s a loyal fanbase for the Gelert Solo, but the same holds for Justin Bieber so doesn’t necessarily follow that the product is any good.
The first impressions of the Gelert Solo tent when it arrived was that it was very compact, if a tad heavy in the hand. Officially advertised at 1.5kg, but in reality it tips the scale at over 1.8kg. However, all tent manufacturers have been known to advertise tent weights without pegs and so on, and it turns out that the pegs, made of lead (possibly!) weigh in at a hefty 300g! Neither would I expect many who pay £30 for a tent to actually test that out. All that said, 1.8kg is still a very reasonable weight that you could reduce with some cheap aluminium pegs later on. There’s also a lot of chaff attached to the tent bag that while adding some weight, makes it difficult to pack the tent back into the bag. We found that with decent pegs and removal of the labels brings it closer the advertised weight.
On unpacking the Gelert Solo, you realise that the tent feels well made and the fabric durable and tough. Of course, for more money you get thinner materials and less weight, but that’s a given when you’re spending £30 on a tent!
It pitches inner first easily enough, with the only problem being that you need to actually tie, with a knot, the poles to the fly in order to pitch properly. I hadn’t realised that the first night it was used, and awoke to find the foot of the tent collapsed because of this (it had been a particularly windy night and the tent performed really well). The peg bungees also tended to fall off on first use, but were easily re-tied back on.
The biggest concern on pitching is that you realise how tiny the tent actually is. You could almost argue that this is almost between as tent and a bivvy, its that small. If you’re much taller than 180cm then you may struggle (that’s my height and I was just about OK). You can just about fit your sleeping gear and a small pack inside. If you’ve only got a rigid, bulky pack then that’ll have to go in the porch, or if you’re cooking, outside! You can actually store under the fly on the opposite side of the porch, but you can only access that from the outside.
Headroom and general space means that you’ll need to be pretty flexible to get undressed/dressed inside the tent, but it’s possible with a bit of care. Cooking in the porch is something else to consider as there’s not much space (a recurring theme!), but with a lot of care you can. It’s probably not recommended, and you’d certainly not light a meths or petrol stove in there, but we found we could prepare breakfast with gas inside the porch. Otherwise, cook outside or lift up the porch door with a pole to make an awning.
For £30, there’s no wonder that there’s a following for this tent. It’s reasonably light, where similar budget tents advertise themselves as lightweight at twice the price. It has a low profile and copes well with the conditions on the Welsh hills in summer and seems to cope with the conditions as well as the Terra Nova Laser Competition it was tested against. The only issue we’ve got with the tent is the room inside, but that’s the compromise that’s necessitated by the tent’s weight and low price. Highly recommended if you intend to dip your toe in the wild camping water.
Manufacturer (RRP): Gelert (£49.99 – though usually £30-40)
Weight: 1.76 kilos (1500g advertised)