If you read our Wild Camping on a budget article, where we camped out in Snowdonia with £80 to spend on gear, the Yellowstone Matterhorn 1 tent was the obvious choice. It was definately light and cheap but would it cut it during a night in the shadow of Tryfan?
To start with, the weight is advertised as 1200g or so, but as you can see below – this is wildly optimistic! This is the dodgy practice by some tent manufacturers (one we thought extinct by now!) to quote the weight of the poles, inner and outer tent only – excluding the tent bag and pegs. Good luck wild camping without your pegs. Even if it is a bit porkier than it claims, it still only weighs a respectable 1.545 Kg.
Our first impressions were of a sturdy tent that appeared well made. The groundsheet appears tough, and is raised all around as it should be and the tent fabric reassuringly thick to the touch. The porch is quite generous for the tent size and has plenty of room to store excess kit overnight. Inside, there’s ample room for one person (180cm) without feeling like you’re sleeping in a body-bag. The headroom is however limited, tuning the process of undressing for bed into an impromptu yoga session. It is essentially a one man bivvy, and as such it’s actually roomy.
We tested the tent in some challenging weather, with the wind at around 50 kph and gusting significantly higher. The tent stayed up, to it’s credit, but did drip enough water onto my face to wake me up a few times during the night. This appeared to be coming from the seam, but as it was the highest point of the tent, could also have been condensation. So we think this tent needs seam sealing before use, something we’ve never had to bother with our other tents. The mesh inner was also quite draughty, which should have reduced the condensation issue and why we’re suspecting a leaky seam.
After one, admittedly poor night out, there were bits of the pole sleeves that had come undone. While the conditions had been a bit off spec for what we’d normally test a tent like this, we still don’t think it should have begun to come undone! This is possibly as the poles fit quite tightly and were over tensing the sleeve. One of the door toggles had also blown away during the night (we found it not too far away and reattached it).
If you’re on a serious budget, and willing to seam seal and strengthen certain sections of the tent yourself, then you might be happy with the Yellowstone Matterhorn 1. The pole might need a bit of adjustment as well. Therein lies the rub. In the past we’ve had truly miraculous bargain tents such as the Argos Pro-active 1 that worked out of the bag. This tent isn’t that good, and is let down by it’s construction rather than by the design or choice of materials, but could so easily have been a great bargain tent rather than an adequate one.
For £34.99, or usually less, it does serve as an adequate tent for a first wild camp, without being too heavy or cramped. Build quality isn’t the best we’ve seen and you may end up having to maintain the tent after each use. You may even end up learning a lot about tent care and repair into the bargain!