In a recent post, I mentioned that I’m giving up on my failed experiment with the Trailstar, and switching to a mid instead – specifically, the Luxe Hexpeak.
The new shelter arrived on Tuesday and I had to wait a couple of days before the weather and the ground was dry enough to pitch and do the seam sealing. And I’ve now had a chance to pitch the shelter for a second time and get her properly ready for use in the field.
As is common when pitching a new shelter, it took some time from getting it out of the generous stuffsack it came in to work out what went where. And of course the first time you pitch a new tent, you tend to follow the instructions.
The recommended method is to pitch the central rectangle first, then insert whatever you’re using for a pole (an actual “proper” pole in my case), before then staking out the back and front points.
My first challenge was the thin pointy end of the pole – in a hurry to get on and get the tent up, I couldn’t be doing with undoing the internal shock cord and attaching the blunt cap. Instead I found a little plastic green thing that stops you poking your eye out on garden canes from the shed and stuck that over the end of the pole. It did the job so well, I kept it. I’ll probably adopt the tennis-ball-cut-in-half approach that others have adopted longer term though.
Next challenge was the guys. With loops at both ends of each tie-out, it took me a while to realise that the one to peg out was the underneath one of the two as they appear under the linelok. The other loop is an aid to pulling the guy to tension it or for double guying, I suppose. I eventually, sorted out all the slipping guys and put the right ones round pegs.
Now for the inner. It took a while to match the various corners to the corresponding points on the outer. Recent experience attempting to do the same with an Oookstar under a Trailstar stood me in good stead here, and I quickly spotted which long sides needed to match up. All the same, I thing I’m going to colour code the guys on these corners to match what I’m doing on the outer (more on this later on).
The whole shebang erected, I got inside and tried it for size. I was relieved that space-wise it met my expectations – plenty of room in the porch area, including importantly decent headroom, with the trade-off being a bit less in the inner – but still enough for sleeping in. This is where recent experience with an Oookstar came in handy – it had set my expectation for the sort of thing to expect.
Next job was seam sealing. First I used the supplied sealant to seal various seams on the PU-coated inside of the shelter – the 6 main vertical seams and the horizontal set near the top. I also dabbed a bit around the tie-out attachments.
Then, while this was drying I moved to the outside – I like to seal my shelters on the outside where the rain is, not just on the inside – I’d rather be dry than win beauty contests. So I mixed up some Silnet for this side, being silicone-coated nylon. To ensure I was happy with the consistency, I first did the repair I needed on the Trailstar – patching the hole in the fly and sealing it in. While I was at it, I also topped up the existing seam-sealing on the TS.
Back on the Hexpeak, I sealed everywhere there was exposed stitching on the outside, and also sealed as best I could the seams on the apex (above the horizontal seams). This is area that will take the brunt of the rain etc, so I felt it was sensible to reinforce the sealing on both sides here. I’ll see how I go before deciding whether to continue the sealing all the way down the sides – they’re a bit tricky to do a neat job, and I was a bit clumsy about it as it was.
I left her to dry and later took her down again.
A nice day, and the prospect of the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo bringing some wetter weather during the coming week, prompted me to do the 2nd pitch. And I also wanted to be ready in case an opportunity to use her for real comes up.
This went much more smoothly. I staked out the 4 central rectangle points quite quickly and easily, slotted the pole in and did the back and front.
I then set about the guying tweaks I’d identified I wanted to do – nothing radical: just adding some pull-outs for half-way up the sides where loops are provided for that purpose, and adopting some colour coding to speed things up when I want to get the pitch done as efficiently as possible.
Firstly, I measured the length of the corner tie-outs already on the shelter – about a metre (I judged by measuring them without undoing and allowing for excess to tie loops etc). Second, I dug out the spare 3mm cord I got from Decathlon when I did some guying mods to my old Quechua T2 Ultralight Pro and cut off a metre length. I then replaced the back corner guy with this. Being bright orange, this makes it immediately clear which is the back and hence allows me to lay the tent out right for pitching quickly. I used the remaining 2.65m to make a long mid-guy for the tie-out halfway up the back corner – I wanted to make this one longer to give flexibility to tie to trees etc. I used a luminous line-lok on this.
Now I stood back to admire my handiwork and to decide what to do next. I wanted to create side pull-outs for the other corners too – not necessarily to attach them, but certainly to make them so I have them if I need or want them. With 10m of orange cord left, I had enough to do it, but this would mess up the effect of the colour coding. So I left this for another day – a trip to Decathlon to get some green 3mm cord will sort this out.
Now I ventured inside – my old groundsheet from Cub Camp fits quite well in the porch area, with a small bit of the two front corner folded under to stop them protruding. I’ll probably get some lighter material and do a MYOG groundsheet in due course, but this gives me almost the template I need.
I laid out the inner and even more quickly than before lined up the various corners – lining up the seams on the inner to the seams on the outer helps here too.
The first two corners went on fine, although I needed to go at almost full stretch. But the third didn’t want to reach and when I looked outside it was obvious – the inner was protruding outside the tent. No amount of pulling and adjusting made it fit. I was also concerned that even so, the inner was going to stick out the back of the tent – it did that on the first pitch too.
This is where I took inspiration from Luxe’s own video (in German) showing the pitch. Here they used the two pullouts from the short sides of the tent as extenders for the two front corners of the inner, and hooked them onto the front outer corners rather than the middles of the sides they naturally line up with. I didn’t want to remove those guys as that conflicts with my standard belt and braces approach to guying (if there’s a guy attached, I use it). So I solved this and the poor fit at the back with some shockcord.
I used three 50cm lengths of 3mm shockcord, looped each one around one of the 3 back corners of the inner guys and a loop in the other end of the shock cord then secured around the relevant peg.
On the front corners I used a metre length because of the extra reach and this worked fine. With these 5 stretchy extensions in place, the inner now pulled taut, stayed in the right place and, importantly, left enough separation from the outer at the back – critical given that in breezy conditions it will usually be the back bearing the brunt of the weather.
Better separation of inner and outer
The little yellow string by the inner door I looped around the pole and secured with a broken Easton stake that I usually use to keep my Scarp inner in place.
I shut the outer door and tried the space out in various positions that I typically use – both lying and sitting up. I had plenty of space and was already starting to visualise how I will use the tent on a real backpack.
I do need to try her out using trekking poles, but I think the first time I take her out for real, I’ll probably take the dedicated pole too, so I can see which I get on with better.
Already I really like this shelter, and this second pitch has helped considerably in ensuring that I can get it up speedily under backpacking conditions. I can’t wait to get out in her now.
For the sake of completeness, here’s Bob’s video on the Hexpeak, which you can also get to from backpackinglight.co.uk
She’s called Matilda, by the way 🙂