The orange Vango Force 10 tent is one of a small number of design classics that is iconic and still identifiable over 40 years since it was first introduced with its distinctive shape (and stealth tent colour ).
It is still the benchmark for robustness both in extreme weather and longevity. This is all despite the rise of the lightweight funky shaped tunnel, dome and geodesic tents. So how has the design changed over the years and how is the current model in comparison to one that is 15 years old. Our family tent is a Vango Force 10 Mk5 Standard and has been used all round Scotland both on sites and remote wild camping, at sea level and in the mountains. The new tent is the Vango Classic Standard Mk3 which I’ve had the chance to use this year.
Looking at the bag, for a two man tent, it’s not that different from the current batch of funky whizzy pitch themselves do it all tents. When I compared it to a Wildcountry Quasar two man tent there was not much difference in size.
The only real difference is that the bag is orange, very orange and the feel of cotton is just nice compared to the manmade fabrics of most other tents. The tent including poles and pegs weighs in at 5.6kg. Also included is a very nice wee repair kit with spare clips and material.
Once out the bag, being a Vango Force Ten, erection is simplicity it’s self. Peg out inner with sewn in ground sheet, put up the two A frame poles connected with a straight ridge.
Put the pole ends into the brass eyes which ensures everything has the correct positioning, connect the inner to the fame with two clips at the apexes
and another mid ridge, throw over the flysheet, connect the two mid panel clips and then the pegging point and peg out.
No threading colour coded poles and working out what goes where. I still found that I could pitch this tent from bag to finish in well under 5mins on my own which is testament to its simplicity.
The basic design has not changed from the 15 year old F10 but I have to say there are quite a few wee innovations that have added to its functionality. The door with its single curved zip works really well though I’m unsure if it is the same on the new Vango Force Ten Mk4 /5 as opposed to the old style Central full length and foot zips.
The Poles fixing to the inner at the groundsheet pegging point, which means that it is very easy to pick up and move like modern geodesics.
Other than that, nothing’s changed except the groundsheet material which though seeming lighter than the old green one, still appears to be a lot heavier and more robust than any modern tent I’ve seen. Certainly having used it last summer (???) with some heavy rain and soaking under foot conditions, it never leaked. The modern solution of ultra light tents with groundsheets that you could spit through then buying a heavy footprint is daft. The old heavy duty groundsheet is still to be beaten. The cotton material that the tent is made from appears to be similar to the old stuff but is advertised as DWR Cotton Protex which is presumably a modern waterproofing. It does work well and again it never leaked despite many damp days over the last year.
As with most modern tents, there are Velcro patches down the fly zip. I find these a pain in the backside as they always catch the zip. The vent at the top of the door worked well letting air in and out without any midges. Inside it does not have the same amount of head space as tunnel or geodesic tents which have vertical walls. Same groundsheet space which for a two man tent is fine as long as you are lying down or sitting up along the middle. Plenty of pockets around the bottom of the inner where the old tent only has two.
The one big advantage of a cotton tent is evident when you get up on a cold morning to a dry tent as it breathes. I’ve yet to try a man made fabric tent that does not suffer from bad condensation on the inner of the fly at least. They also feel warmer though whether that is due to the orange colour or what I don’t know.
So, all in all I was pleasantly surprised that on the whole the Force 10 has not gone the same way as most other design icons with cheap materials and cutting corners. Would I buy another one to compliment my existing Mk5, definitely, especially when I see the complexity and fragility of modern tents. This one seems to be well built and the materials up to the Vango Force 10 standard but only having used it for a summer, only time will tell.