Tents Reviewed: Nordisk Telemark 1 and 2, Terra Nova Competition 1, Photon 1 and Laser Pulse 1
I have put these five tents together to review because if you are looking for a light weight, 1-person tent for wild camping, you’ll probably be considering one of these.
They all have fairly small footprints which is important to consider, as that makes it easier to find a suitable pitch. They are also low so they can be tucked away out of sight if you need to camp near civilisation (never ideal but sometimes unavoidable – see my 11 wild camping rules).
All of the these tents are pitched flysheet first which is good if it’s raining. This means the inner isn’t getting wet while you wrestle with the flysheet. The inner can also be left attached to the fly, saving time and energy when pitching or striking camp. I always leave them together.
There is a noticeable size difference in the tents when they are in their bags, as you can see in the photograph above. This is mainly down to the thickness of the materials they are made from. They are all stuffed in their bags similarly, except for the Photon which is fairly loosely packed and could easily be put in a smaller bag.
Tent weights (without pegs)
Nordisk Telemark 2 = 977g needs 6 pegs.
Nordisk Telemark 1 Carbon ULW = 837g ” 6 pegs.
Terra Nova Competition 1 = 964g ” 10+ pegs. (new design uses 8+ pegs)
Terra Nova Laser Photon 1 = 756g ” 8+ pegs.
Terra Nova Laser Pulse 1 = 520g ” 9 pegs.
Please note: The weights are in grams and as measured on my kitchen scales, complete but without pegs. The Nordisk Telemark 1 weight is for the carbon-poled ULW version of the tent, which is about 60g lighter than the alloy-poled LW version. I’ve put links to the cheaper LW tent because I don’t think the minimum weight saving is really worth the extra cost. The Terra Nova Competition 1 that I’m reviewing is the old design, but it’s not much different to the new one size-wise. The links will take you to the new model.
Tent exteriors – a visual guide
The tents are all stable in strong winds. I would be happy using any of them in normal UK winter conditions, unless heavy snow was expected. The only exception is the Terra Nova Laser Pulse which is better suited to dry weather or single nights out, because condensation can be a real problem in this tent if conditions are unfavourable. It’s also impossible to safely cook in the porch of the Pulse if the weather is bad.
The Nordisk Telemark 1 and 2 are best for cold weather and winter use. They have very little mesh on the inner tent so they are warmer, but this does cause more condensation. They are too warm for mid summer, unless you leave the doors open all night.
The Terra Nova Competition 1 and Laser Photon are OK for winter and better for the shoulder seasons too. They have more mesh on the inner tents and you can also vary the air flow by adjusting the vents to suit the weather. This helps temperature control and improved ventilation means less trouble with condensation.
The Terra Nova Laser Pulse is more roomy than its weight and pack size would suggest. I can sit up in it, just, with my head tilted and touching the inner tent, but it’s just possible to get dressed inside. When laying down it does feel a little like I’m inside a coffin, but I find that OK after a long day on the hills. As the weight and pack size is so small, I hardly know it’s in my pack.
Tent interiors – a visual guide
The Nordisk Telemark 1 and 2 have a more spacious feel to them, but when lying down the inner can push down, touching your face when it’s windy. This isn’t always a pleasant experience. The Terra Nova Competition doesn’t feel as spacious around my head but due to the single end pole design, it doesn’t have the same issue with the inner on your face.
I’ve used my winter sleeping bag (PHD Hispar 400K) and a Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm regular sleeping mat for reviewing the space inside each tent.
Head space – a visual guide
All the tents are a similar length. However, the design of the tent has an impact on the way the inner hangs near the sleeping bag. This is an issue if the inner is wet from condensation and the amount of contact they have with you and your gear will affect how damp everything gets during the night.
The Terra Nova Competition 1 has the best design of the five for keeping the inner away from the sleeping bag. When it’s windy, the Nordisk Telemark 1 and 2 inners tend to get pushed down onto the sleeping bag or my head depending on the wind direction.
The Terra Nova Laser Photon and Pulse are both very small inside. With the Photon it’s difficult to avoid touching the sides and with the Pulse it’s impossible to keep a winter sleeping bag from touching the inner. This results in a damp sleeping bag in the morning.
Remember these are light-weight stealth tents for wild camping, so none of them have huge porch areas!
The porch space is very small in the Nordisk Telemark 2 (a lot smaller than the Telemark 1) but the inner can easily be pulled inwards to allow more space for cooking and storage. This would be especially good if you need to sit out bad weather. However, you can only really do this if using the tent solo. There is not enough room to pull the inner in and expand the porch area if two people were inside the inner.
Personally, I feel that Nordisk Telemark 2 it has too much space for me which I don’t really need. I would rather save the weight of 140g and carry the 1-person Telemark 1. However, if I know I might be sitting out bad weather on my own, it’s perhaps worth the small weight penalty to carry the larger Telemark 2 to have the extra space.
The Terra Nova Competition 1 has a reasonable amount of space for storage and cooking. The Laser Photon has a smaller porch than the Competition, but it’s just big enough for the lightweight gear you are likely be carrying using this tent. and just enough space to cook in if you’re really careful.
The Terra Nova Laser Pulse again has porch space for a small rucksack and boots, but I wouldn’t dare cook in it. There’s a very high chance of damaging the fly sheet or worse, of setting it alight.
Porch space – a visual guide
The head room is tight on all these tents as you would expect, but just bearable. It’s nearly impossible not to touch your head on the inner tent at some point.
All of the five tents reviewed here are very good, fairly tough and extremely well made. I have not had any trouble with them failing through faulty or bad manufacturing or materials. However, the Pulse is made from lighter weight materials, so I treat it more carefully than the others. It wouldn’t stand much rough treatment.
None of these tents are really suitable for hot weather camping, when a full mesh inner would be better. These all have solid inner tents which are best suited for colder weather. The Nordisk Telemark 1 and 2 particularly have very little mesh and air flow inside. They would be my top choice for colder and non snow winter conditions.
The Terra Nova Competition 1 and Laser Photon are good all-round tents outside of mid summer, and are also suitable for snow-free winter camping.
The Terra Nova Laser Pulse is a great little tent, very light weight, tiny pack size, quick to put up and just big enough to sleep in comfortably. However, I wouldn’t use it for more than a night or two away unless I could guarantee good weather or somewhere I could dry my gear regularly.
The tents all look similar at a distance but are quite different. You should consider this carefully before purchasing. I have read many reviews with people complaining about their purchase, often blaming the tent for having bad condensation or for being too small, when actually they’ve bought the wrong tent for how they want to use it. They are often missing the true benefits of the tent they’ve purchased.
I like all the tents for different reasons and still use them all regularly. The following list may help with what I used them for:
I’ve used the Terra Nova Laser Pulse for various single nights wild camping only.
Please read My 11 Wild Camping Rules
Update: It appears Terra Nova have stopped making the Photon at present.
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