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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.

I’ve tested all of them in exactly that situation on my Land’s End to John O’Groats walk, Cape Wrath trail, TGO Challenge and many other trips. So they have all been well tested.

Similarities

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. 

They are all green for a reason. I nearly always camp wild so like to be discreet.
The tents all look very similar but they have some big differences

Size differences

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

Nordisk Telemark 2 LW
Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW
Terra Nova Competition 1
Terra Nova Laser Photon 1
Terra Nova Laser Pulse 1

Weather considerations

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

Nordisk Telemark 2 LW. Head end.
Nordisk Telemark 2 LW. Foot end.
Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW. Head end.
Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW. Foot end.
Terra Nova Competition 1. Head end.
Terra Nova Competition 1. Foot end.
Terra Nova Laser Photon 1. Head end.
Terra Nova Laser Photon 1. Foot end.
Terra Nova Laser Pulse 1. Head end.
Terra Nova Laser Pulse 1. Foot end.

Head space

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

Nordisk Telemark 2 LW
Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW
Terra Nova Competition 1
Terra Nova Laser Photon 1
Terra Nova Laser Pulse 1

Foot space

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.

Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW
Terra Nova Competition 1
Terra Nova Laser Photon 1
Terra Nova Laser Pulse 1

Porch space

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

Nordisk Telemark 2 LW
Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW
Terra Nova Competition 1
Terra Nova Laser Photon 1
Terra Nova Laser Pulse 1

Head room

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.

Head room in the Nordisk Telemark 2
Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW
Terra Nova Competition 1
Terra Nova Laser Photon 1
Terra Nova Laser Pulse 1

Conclusion

Nordisk Telemark 2 LW

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 Nordisk Telemark tents are the quickest and easiest to put up and the Terra Nova Competition 1 is the best value for money (at the time of writing).


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 used the Terra Nova Competition 1 on the Cape Wrath Trail in July 2017

I used the Terra Nova Laser Photon 1 on the TGO Challenge in May 2018

I used the Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW on the LEJOG and 3 Peaks walk February to April 2019

I’ve used the Terra Nova Laser Pulse for various single nights wild camping only.

I use the Nordisk Telemark 2 LW when hiking with my wife or for my children now that we’ve a new Tarptent StratoSpire Li tent for us.

I’ll be using the new Lightwave S10 Sigma tent on the Scotland End to End – Scottish National Trail walk.

Recommended reading:

I could not think of doing any of my long distance walks, without my waterproof phone which I use for navigation and safety. Read my review of the GPS and mapping here.

My best walks for wild camping.

Please read My 11 Wild Camping Rules

Update: It appears Terra Nova have stopped making the Photon at present.

The new Lightwave S10 Sigma single-wall 1 person, 4 season tent review.

Disclosure: this review contains some Amazon affiliate links. This means I receive a small payment for any purchases made as a result of clicking on the link, at no additional cost to you. These payments help to finance the costs of the site and have not influenced my review of the product.

7 Replies to “Best tents for wild and stealth camping”

  1. Nice to see a review of all these tents together. I have a Terra Nova Photon 1 for backpacking and a Terra Nova Competition 2 for cycle camping. Both have yet to fail in any way after extensive use. I intend to walk the Scottish National Trail in 2020 and will take the former, but like a MacPac Ultralite and another older Terra Nova, it is starting to sag. I’m not sure what I would replace it with? MSR Hubba NX is good value or maybe throw the boat at and get a Hilleberg.

    One question. I always use a footprint. Do you do the same?

    PS. I wrap the inner in the footprint to keep it dry when packing, if needed.

    1. Hi Martyn
      Thanks for your message. I will be on the Scottish National Trail during April and May, the Terra Nova Photon is on my gear list for the walk but that may have to change. Depending on the weather and the tents I have to start the walk with, as my wife and 2 youngest children are walking the first 2 weeks with me. I find that on my long distance walks I appreciate an easy life over having the lightest rucksack. So will sometimes carry a heavier tent than I need to, I used the Nordisk Telemark 1 on my LEJOG walk just because it takes 6 pegs to pitch and it’ll stay standing with just 2. Condensation is always my biggest issue with small tents, that’s why I like the airier Terra Novas. The Competition 1 being the least prone to it out of the 5 reviewed. I’m currently experimenting with trekking pole tents and tarps, as the height can be adjusted to increase or decrease airflow. I’ve never carried footprints for the tents and haven’t got any noticeable holes in the inner tents. Wrapping the inner tents to keep them dry is a good idea, I usually put the tents up to dry during the day while I’m having lunch etc. Good luck on your trek.

        1. Yes, South to North. I walked the Cape Wrath Trail North to South in 2017, it’ll be nice to walk that section in the other direction. Due to holidays I’ll be setting off early April.
          Thanks.
          Mark

  2. Hi Mark & Martyn, I will walk it too! At least, I’m planning it. I even go to PYB for a full navigation course next weekend. I should start around 20th April and hope to be back home before the end of May. Happy to find out that I will not be alone. My daughter & I, we took (1 section last summer) and will take again the Nallo on the South West Coast Path. A little bit heavy, but so comfy 🙂 I haven’t read your blog yet Mark but I will!
    All the best to you both,
    Isabelle

  3. Half the extra weight of the Telemark 2 over the 1 is down to the fact that you have the LW version of the 2 and the ULW version of the 1 – and you already said you wouldnt buy the ULW again as the minimal saving isnt worth it. So the net difference between equivalent 1 & 2 man versions is more like 80g. To me that is worth it for the extra space that you get in the 2 – and you can keep your bag inside with you if its dry and have extra space or extend the porch and keep it out there along with cooking there if wet. The ability to decide whether you want more living space or more porch space is really clever and very useful.

    1. Yes I agree with you fully. I would say that some people may find that 80g is worth saving because every gram matters on a long distance hike, but comfort is also important when you’re living in the tent for weeks or months. It’s all a compromise and personal preference. Both tents are good and I would happily take either on Lejog again.

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