Terra Nova Solar 2
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The Solar 2 is an ultra-light tent for two. The large floor area and train pole design create a huge amount of headroom and living space, while the generous porch make the solar 2 ideal for extended use. Please notes, this page also covers the new Terra Nova Superlite Solar 2.2 tent.
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Terra Nova Solar 2 Reviews
Reviewed by William Smith (York) on 2005-12-13:
General comments: The reason this is such a good tent is that it combines being a genuine 2 person/4 season tent with being lightweight, while still being very sturdy. I have had my Solar 2 for about a year and a half and have given it a fair amount of abuse in that time. It is reasonably roomy for a lightweight tent, certainly there is space for all your gear while still being able to cook in the porch.
Sleeping side-on is somewhat unconventional, and brings with it both advantages and disadvantages. It certainly helps if you are very comfortable with the person you are sharing with, since you have to climb over each other to get out in the night. On the other hand though, if you fully open the door you have effectively opened half the tent up - great for sunny mornings. It also means you can sit side-by-side both facing out into the porch.
I've read reviews complaining of condensation, I've personally never had that problem. I think there's enough flexibility in the door configurations (both inner and outer) to overcome any problems. It sounds ridiculous, but having a bright yellow inner does honestly help lift your spirits on a rainy morning. Also, it seems to hold the heat really well. If you zip the inner completely shut and there are 2 people sleeping in the tent it gets really warm, even if it's well below freezing outside. It feels like you are inside a giant gore-tex jacket.
It's relatively easy to pitch. I would say getting right tension on all the guys and pegs is crucial to getting it put up well. Also, because of the design I think you are best with either your head or feet pointing into the wind, this seems the strongest configuration. Pitching inner first is obviously a problem if it's raining, but does mean you can use just the inner if it's warm or you are abroad.
I survived a night on Blakey Ridge in my Solar 2 in what must have been 50mph winds. Didn't get much sleep, but the tent was absolutely fine the next morning!
Pros: Lightweight (even lighter if you buy the 2005 version)
Very robust (especially if pegged out well)
Light, strong poles
Sleeping sideways (if you like it)
Goes up very quickly
Cons: Sleeping sideways (if you don't like it)
Pitching inner first if it's raining
|This review has 2 comment(s):|
Ian Klek responded : Regarding your point on condensation I put this tent to the test properly last weekend and discovered how bad it really is.
It was pitched 2/3 of the way up Scafell Pike overnight and was met by torrential weather the next morning. I thought the tent leaked in water but now realise it was condensation. There was a small PDA sized pool of water in the corner of the tent, a thin layer under our roll mats, and droplets all over the inner. I think the factors that aided this situation though include being in the cloud itself and not opening the door for ventilation. I suppose when it gets REALLY cold you wouldn't want open the door, so you can cope with the condensation instead, but we were very warm on the side of Scafell. Knowing what I know now I guess it may have been prevented so this tent (for now) is still in my good books and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. (2007-09-18)
Mark Mortimer responded : Two of us used this tent for two nights last week up in northern Scotland. We had the full range of weather overnight - torrential rain, hail, snow etc and it was below freezing for the second night. No problem whatsoever with condensation. Felt bomb proof as well in terms of rugged resistance to the elements. Borrowed the tent, but very impressed indeed. (2008-03-27)
Reviewed by Chris Chaddock (Staffordshire) on 2006-01-22:
General comments: Weighing in at 2.55kg, the Solar 2 for Terra Nova is a superb lightweight, two man tent that affords loads of room to the user/users. I originally owned a 1 man tent for my wild camping trips but although been extremely light I missed the roomy feel of a proper two man tent and so purchased one of these. When in the market for a new tent, the only manufacturer that I considered was Terra Nova, as you are guaranteed workmanship second to none. The Solar 2 is easy to pitch and packs down to a very small pack size. Mine has travelled all over Europe and not once has it let me down. In heavy Alpine downpours the Solar 2 was tremendous and repelled the elements with ease. I would recommend the tent to anyone but there are a few niggles. You've also got a choice of which model to go for. The 2004 model (mine) weighs in at 2.55kg and is built in Derbyshire. However, the 2005 model weighs 2.1kg but is built abroad. The choice is yours, although most tents in retail shops will be of the newer models.
Pros: Ease of assembly and build quality are excellent. Both the poles and sleeves are colour coded for easy identification. The adjustable flysheet is also a good innovation, meaning that it can be tightened when weighted, e.g. rain and snowfall. The best thing for me is that because it is semi geodesic you get loads of room and you can sit up cooking easily. The tent is plenty roomy enough for two people. Another good feature is the internal zipped portion which can be fully open or just the outer can be openend leaving the meshed inner (recommended in summer). I also like the spacious internal end pockets. The poles are bombproof too.
Cons: I have found on occasion that water starts to pool on the top of the tent and if you don't keep an eye on it. it could cause you problems. The tent also condenses quite badly and it is recommended that you zip down the inner to give a bit of ventilation. One thing I don't like is the way the inner rolls up. Instead of rolling up, the inner on the Solar 2 rolls down which can sometimes be a pain. Another slight niggle is that when you tighten the flysheet it can sometimes be difficult to open and close the flysheet, which means altering the position of the tent pegs.
Reviewed by Matt (UK) on 2006-01-28:
General comments: The Solar 2 is a very lightweight two-man tent with a side entrance. I have used the tent in pretty foul Scottish winter conditions in fairly exposed locations and can vouch for its 4 season claim! The structure is very sturdy when properly set up and can withstand pretty severe weather. The poles are colour coded with their sleeves which makes pitching the tent quick and easy although the inner must be pitched first which is not ideal in bad weather. The porch area is vast which makes cooking in bad weather a doddle. As with every other Terra Nova tent I've ever used you do get a lot of condensation build up although this can be mitigated by opening up the solid inner door to reveal the mesh and allow more airflow. For me the best thing about this tent is the pegs...I've had it for a couple of years and used it quite heavily and in all that time I've only managed to bend one peg and that was my own fault for trying to hammer it into a buried stone! Compare that to the pegs that TNF tents come with and you'll be glad you paid the extra for the Terra Nova!
Pros: Lightweight, stable and strong design. Large porch.
Cons: Condensation build up. The inner must be pitched first so it will get wet if you're pitching the tent in bad weather.
|This review has 1 comment(s):
Rodney Branthwaite responded : I have used a wide variety of tents in all weather conditions and TerraNova tents are no more susceptible to condensation than any other.All tents benefit greatly by leaving ventilation openings even in sub-zero temperatures,The flap above the door opening ensures direct rain/snowfall does not enter the tent.I have a solar 2 and my only complaint is that i would prefer direct guying to the poles.Terra nova knows this but obviously omits this simply because they provide more suitable mountain type tents.It has been a very good tent and still serves me well.Closing vents even in cold weather compounds condensation problems in every tent.Balance of through-flow and comfort is an issue and is different from user to user.After over 25 years of camping and use of over 30 different tents all have compromises it is just finding what is your acceptible compromise. (2007-12-28)
Reviewed by Phil Stevens (Canterbury) on 2006-03-07:
General comments: Although I've only used this tent 4 times thus far, I'm very impressed with it. It's very light for what you get, and the weight is kept down by cool stuff such as titanium 'pencil' pegs which will make all of your mates jealous. The tent coped fine in nasty weather, but it is worth noting that you need to pitch it with its back into the wind - when the wind swung around for an hour or two the porch took a bit of a pasting. It's great that it's so big, but because it's got no pole it faps around a lot in the wind. Never had any problems with condensation, the venting options are there if you use them. As for the pitching inner first, pitching up to the point of adjusting the flysheet tension is so easy it can be done in 2 mins, which doesnt give the inner much time to get wet. Tensioning that flysheet appropriately is tricky to start off with though - it' definately worth practising pitching this tent at home as much as possible. Inside is nice and spacious, with loads of headroom - great if you're tall like me. I actually like having the door at the side - it makes cooking in the porch in foul weather so much easier. So, other than taking great care to anticipate the wind and spending some time getting used to it, I haven't got any real negatives about this tent!
Pros: Weight, space, gucci pegs!, generally clever design, true 4 season performance
Cons: Care required when pitching to avoid porch getting blown in during the night, flysheet tensioning is a bit of an art!
Reviewed by Paul (Mnachester) on 2006-03-13:
General comments: The Solar 2 is an amazing piece of kit, it is a 2 person, lightweight four season tent with a side entrance. I have used it in some of the worst weather the UK can throw at it, and it just stood their laughing! Even after lots of hard use it is in excellent condition. The side entrance is a brilliant idea, it allows an easier access, gives more space in the porch and as long as you donít mind climbing over the person you are sharing with, it all works out fine. If positioned correctly, it is possible to have the front porch open even in torrential rain. Another good point is the tents ability to retain heat. This means that two people will keep the inside of the tent several degrees above the outside temp. An important point in winter but can cause you to get too hot in summer. Condensation can be a small problem, but this occurs with all tents. Keep it well ventilated and it will be fine. The shape of the Terra Nova Solar 2 does allow you to sit upright when cooking and eating; this is exceptionally useful in wet weather.
Pros: The whole tent. If you want the best lightweight four season tent then buy this
Cons: None. Its Terra Nova!
Reviewed by Pete Baars (Merseyside) on 2006-04-06:
General comments: This was the tent I chose to take to Tanzania to live in for 7 weeks and these are the reasons why. It's made by Terra Nova, so I knew that it would be up to the job, over the last 25 years I've used tents made by all the major manufacturers, but i keep coming back to Terra Nova, why? Well for starters their British and I don't see anything wrong with buying British, supporting British design, innovation and industry. But that's not the main reason, the main reason is the fact that they have NEVER let me down. In all kinds of weather, I've never had a problem that I couldn't fix well enough to get me through the night and out of the problem the following day. The designs are simple enough to allow running repairs. So my reasons for choosing the Solar 2, well it needed to be light enough for me to carry on my own (it was). It needed to be spacious enough that when I was base camping in it, i didn't feel cramped (it didn't, there's plenty of headroom and space to spread your gear around if your using it solo), it needed a reasonable size porch so that I could cook in it if I had to (I had to and it was plenty big enough), It needed to be strong, (it was). I've heard the Solar 2 described as being a 4 season tent, personally I think that's a bit strong, but it's definitely a 3.5 season tent. The design makes it incredibly strong, the strength comes from the crossing poles.the Solar minor is a single hoop design which is also very strong but its strength comes from it's ability to flex and buckle with the wind, the Solar 2 has 2 very strong points where the poles cross relative to the low-profile of the tent, this makes it incredibly strong, my only concern with it sstrength would be against a massive snowload if used in real 4 season conditions, it won't have the strength of a Quasar to take that load, but that is it's only real weakness. It's the only lightweight tent I've ever spent a prolonged period living in and been truly happy with.
Pros: Very comfy, spacious, well built, light enough for a solo trip, big enough for 2 in relative comfort.
Cons: It's not really a 4 season tent, 3.5, but the best 3.5 season tent I've used.
Reviewed by Dave (UK) on 2006-08-14:
General comments: I bought this tent a few months ago and since then it's been used for a very wet weekend in the lakes, a week in Scotland and the full length of the Coast to Coast walk. The first thing you notice about the tent is the quality materials Terra Nova use. Yes, you pay a premium for the brand in my opinion, but this is worth it for the quality of little things such as the zips, pockets inside the tent, peg loops, colour coded poles and so on. they all go contribute to making this a great tent. The 2006 version is even lighter than the 2005, just over 2.2kg and down to a minimum of 1.97kg - perfect for backpacking! The porch was also a big factor of me purchasing this tent as I like to be able to spread my stuff out!
However, I've definitely found a few weak points. When erecting the tent you have to be careful sliding the poles through the sleeves, as if you cross the sleeves accidentally the tent will not erect, or it will and the expense of possibily ripping the fabric! You also have to leave the tent door slightly open in warm conditions to prevent the inner being soaked in condensation in the morning, I feel there is room in the design for a few mesh panels as seen on the North Face Tadpole, this would also reduce weight even more. My final weak point is the outer, you have to make sure that is pulled completely tight so rainwater runs off, otherwise you can end up with water pooling on top of the tent and a few drops came inside when this happenned.
The pegs are also rather strange - althought titanium and very strong and light - they do resemble tooth picks and can be quite hard to push into the ground.
Side opening door takes some getting used to - but I love sitting there with it wide open and having a panoramic view of the countryside!
The new tent sleeves also take some getting used to as they are continuous black material and not mesh. With 2 people it is not a problem taking the poles out as you can more or less pull them out with one person pushing, but if you are on your own it is very tricky to put them in and take them out. Clips are definitely the easiest but this may compromise on strength,
Would definitely buy again!
Pros: Quality of materials and design, lightweight, big porch
Cons: Pole sleeves are troublesome, condensation problems, pitching outer takes time to get used to.
Reviewed by beccie (Cambridge) on 2007-11-08:
General comments: The solar 2 is an amazing piece of kit, it is a 2 person, lightweight four season tent with a side entrance. I have used it in some of the worst weather the UK can throw at it, and it just stood their laughing! Even after lots of hard use it is in excellent condition. The side entrance is a brilliant idea, it allows an easier access, gives more space in the porch and as long as you donít mind climbing over the person you are sharing with, it all works out fine. If positioned correctly, it is possible to have the front porch open even in torrential rain. Another good point is the tents ability to retain heat. This means that two people will keep the inside of the tent several degrees above the outside temp. An important point in winter but can cause you to get too hot in summer. Condensation can be a small problem, but this occurs with all tents. Keep it well ventilated and it will be fine. The shape of the tent does allow you to sit upright when cooking and eating; this is exceptionally useful in wet weather.
Pros: Good in all weathers
area for cooking
Cons: Gets to hot in it in the summer
Reviewed by David Gilbert (Peak District) on 2007-11-19:
General comments: Like pretty much everyone else here I think this is a top tent. We got it to do the GR11 in one go, and camped out on sites and wild for about 30 nights of the trip - sometimes in really rough thunderstorms. Since then we've used it in the Alps, mostly camping wild at altitude, sometimes in really poor conditions. We needed a tent that was lightweight, and would be big enough for 2 people with a lot of kit, and the porch was a strong factor in our choice - I don't think we saw any other lightweight tent with the sort of inside space and porch space on offer from the Solar. Pitching is incredibly easy - we can literally put it up in one minute flat - though as others have said you do need to get the tension right to avoid water collecting on the top and leaks developing, but this comes with practice. We haven't had much trouble with condensation, and the double door system works pretty well, I think. For wild camping I'd always go for the green flysheet rather than the rather unpleasant red.
Pros: really spacious for the weight, with a big porch. easy and quick to pitch.
Cons: fair enough, the porch can be a bit flappy if you haven't got the tension right and you are facing into the wind, but other than this I've got no complaints.
Reviewed by H. Colledge (Cumbria) on 2008-03-10:
General comments: I have had my Solar 2 for years and it's a brilliant little tent. It has never let me down. Even in pretty extreme weather on the coast of Skye which snapped a pole on my friend's posh new Hilleberg, this little tent just flapped its porch about a bit and then settled down as if nothing had happened.
It's really easy to pitch and with practice can be erected really quickly, amazing all those around you!
Inside, the tent is a really nice design because two of you can sit side by side looking out of the 'front door', chatting and eating your tea and admiring the view.
I must admit I haven't really had a condensation problem with my Solar 2 but this could be due to my choice of camping sites, as I tend to go to fairly exposed and windy places - and I always leave the outer and inner doors open at least a little bit, so there's plenty of air moving in and out of the tent.
The tent seems totally waterproof and I have never had a leak no matter how torrential the downpour.
Unfortunately, since acquiring a dog that likes to come camping and sleep in the inner tent with us, the Solar 2 isn't getting out as much as it used to as I've had to buy a slightly bigger tent. But this is still my favourite by a mile.
Pros: Sturdy and reliable.
Cons: Inner sleeping area not quite big enough for two people plus a dog.
Reviewed by A Williams (Wales) on 2009-03-09:
General comments: Have been using mine for last 5years in all weathers , condensation controlable by venting . Sat out some pretty rough weather in mountains and beside the sea, bombproof ! Porch is fantastic for cooking and pack storage.
Pros: Awesome porch, lighyweight, bombproof!
Cons: Pitching inner first in the rain, Access in night when sharing.
Reviewed by Derek brown MBE (Morpeth) on 2009-05-10:
General comments: I bought my tent a number of years ago when the solar 2 came out and it has provem to be first class.
Bombproof in wild weather and plenty of ventilation when required. After i bought this tent I read a review that said it was the Aston Martin of tents.
I could not agree more.
Pros: Compact, stable good head height and great dorr arrangement.
Cons: None now but when I bought my tent the poles were not colour coded so trying to sort out which pole was which in a hurricane was not easy. Sorted it afterwards with a wee dab of colour tape.
Reviewed by Harry (Edinburgh) on 2009-08-31:
General comments: Firstly it should be pointed out that the solar 2 is now a discontinued model, and has been replaced by the Solar 2.2. The new model now has doors on either side of the tent, making it even more user friendly for two people. It also uses new light weight material.
I bought my Solar 2 in 1998, when it was cutting edge in terms of size and weight. I've used it all round the world, backpacking and cycling and was very pleased with it. The two cross poles create a strong structure, that easily withstands rain and strong wind. I've had no real problems with condensation, and lying side on to the door makes cooking very easy in the porch. A great little tent, and the joy is Terra Nova will support all their products and pegs, poles or material can still easily be ordered for it.
Pros: Strong structure to withstand wind and rain. Compact inner, but well though out design that can genuinely fit two adults without being too intimate.
Cons: Second occupant had to climb over first to get out, but this has been overcome with the Solar 2.2.
Reviewed by Jay Russell (Bradford) on 2010-08-25:
General comments: Had my Solar 2 for 12 years. It has been all over the UK, seen sunshine snow and howling gales. Its also been to the Picos de Europa twice, the Pyrenees, the Sierra de Gredos and Valencia. I love this tent! The porch is huge, easily enough to fit two 70L+ rucksacks, 2 pairs of boots and still allow space for cooking.
The only mainentance mine has had is being brushed clean and dried after use, and I lubed the zips once. The only wear it has is a small hole in a pole sleeve.
WIth practice it goes up super-fast negating any problems of inner pitch first. It can be pitched inner only which is great in the heat.
The options on door opening is fantastic and I've never had a complaint about condensation, the door can be opened and the hood keeps the rain out.
Pros: Lightweight, spacious, strong
Cons: Sleeping sideways means someone is 'at the back'
The new model makes mine look heavy! (drat)
Reviewed by Al (Hereford) on 2012-07-15:
General comments: Good 3 season tent, roomy, light.
Not for windy Scottish mountains or coasts, fine to about force 6.
Pros: Large porch
Cons: Poor in high wind. Poles will bend if you guy it out in high wind; the attachment points of the guys prevent the poles flexing at that point.
Prone to pooling water in downpours unless you get flat ground and can pitch it well.
Poles stick to fabric as you attempt to insert them.