The Vango 400 Storm Shelter is an essential bit of kit of you’re walking in a group in foul weather, especially if you’ve got any kids or even newbies in the group.
These group shelters pack to nothing, well about the size of a honeydew melon (it’s always got to be comparable to a fruit for some reason, either that or Wales, and it’s certainly not that big) and around 500g in weight. So as group kit, that’s not much over 100g per person for a group of 4. We’ve fit three in it in anger on Snowdon which allowed the party to warm up and stave off potential hypothermia, and I’ve managed to fit half the girls from one Year 8 class in it (It was a field trip, before you get worried) – or rather they all went in and used it as a mobile shelter while walking across a flat beach. Practical for that, perhaps not. But certainly great fun!
Ensure that any ground rules are set out before you get in as it’s not amusing when someone mistakes it for a mobile smoking shelter. If someone does, then there is an air vent at least! It soon warms up with just the three of you in there, and just being out of the wind makes a massive difference. If anything, it can get a bit warm and definitely cramped. Get your sandwiches to hand before getting in.
Plastic windows along the sides allow you to keep an eye on the outside, most useful for spotting other people if you’re waiting, or perhaps to keep any dogs from marking it as their territory. Any other outside conditions will be immediately apparent anyway.
About the only disadvantage is that it’s next to impossible to return to the bag. While the bag is part of the shelter, so you won’t lose it, it could do with being half as large again. This really does deter me from actually using the pack if I’m out in a non-professional capacity as being too much faff. However, if you’re leading a group then this Vango Storm Shelter is as essential as carrying a first aid kit. If hypothermia is a possibility, then climbing into such a shelter is a lifesaver, and the worry of packing it down small really does become an irrelevance.
The colour, bright orangey-red makes sure you’re visible in the landscape and can be located easily in an emergency or even if you’ve stopped to wait for the rest of the group. Reflective trim on the top helps at night. You can see an image above of one captured in the wild – you can’t miss them!
They’re available in various sizes from 2 to 8 man, and the model we reviewed was the earlier 4 man model with weights and sizes quoted below for the latest model – they’ve become lighter!
- DofE recommended kit
- Protex® 3000HH HC polyester 68D
- Sealed seams
- Fire retardant fabrics
- Crystal clear window
- Vents with mesh covering
- Drawcord at base
- Reflective strips on top
- Waterproof seats
- Integrated Stuffsac
- Dimensions: L:130 x W:120 x H:110cm
- Weight: 500g
- Pack size: 19 x ø14cm