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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.

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

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. 

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

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 new 2 door Nordisk Telemark 2.2 is a very good improvement, with 2 entrances it will be possible to get a better airflow through it. So it would be better in the summer and will lessen condensation.

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). But if money was no object, the new Nordisk Telemark 2.2 would be my chioce.

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:

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

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

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

Terra Nova Laser Pulse for various single nights wild camping only.

I used the Nordisk Telemark 2 LW when hiking with my wife and for my children now that we’ve a new Tarptent StratoSpire Li. We used this tent on the Skye Trail in 2020.

I walked 1100 miles from Dover to Cape Wrath in 2020 and used a Tarptent Notch Li.

I’ll be using the new Lightwave S10 Sigma tent during this winter.

Further Reading:

Scottish National Trail walk.

My best walks for wild camping

My 11 Wild Camping Rules

Wild camping on the Norfolk coast in the new Lightwave S10 Sigma tent

Disclosure: Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself and my wife in our spare time, and we pay for its running costs ourselves. We do have some Amazon affiliate links and adverts on the site. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item we’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to us. This money goes towards the costs of hosting the blog. We would be extremely grateful if you could consider using our links when you next need to buy something from our advertisers. Alternatively, you can buy us a coffee here. Thank you so much for your support. Mark and Emma.

29 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.

  4. Fascinating blog. I’ve never seen such a detailed and knowledgeable review of tents before. Thank you.
    Just one question: you say that you chose to review these tents because “if you are looking for a light weight, 1-person tent for wild camping, you’ll probably be considering one of these.”
    Obviously there are many brands, and you can’t review them all, but I was wondering about the Vango F10 Helium UL. It seems to be a similar weight to the Terra Nova Competition but at a lower price. I’ve always been very satisfied with Vango products and received exceptional customer service from them (they once replaced a broken pole on a 15 year old Hydra tent for free when I simply enquired where I could buy one).

    Thanks for a great blog – it’s held my attention all evening!

    1. I have a Vango 2 person tent that’s very old so didn’t review it because it’s different to the new model. It’s lasted well and is well worth looking at buying one. They are not much heavier than the tents I reviewed.
      The tent you purchase is a very personal decision because every one has different priorities. I like to wild camp and cook in the tent porch, also carry the lightest weight tent that’s available. Price and space inside is less important to me. I’ve spent hundreds of days carrying my tents, and nights camped wild so I don’t mind paying top price for a tent because I’m not paying campsite fees. So want more comfort in the tent and less weight on my back.
      Thanks for your message.
      Mark

  5. nice write up there of your adventures and as they say in the SOTTISH PRESS –
    SCOTLAND IT`S BETTER THAN YOU THINK !!! ,
    did you do any DIY modifications to your TN LASER 1 tent like say semi permanently seam seal the fly hoop pole cover to the fly sheet to try to make it more rainproof or , any tips or tricks on how to live in a TN style tunnel tent keeping it as best you can condensation free as well as trying to be warm enough in colder nights .
    Any help would be appreciated . Thanks

    1. Hi David
      I’ve not had any issues with the Terra Nova tents leaking and I’ve not had to seem seal them, the design works fine. I like the side entry tents as it’s easy to get in and out off. It’s also nice to lay on my side in my sleeping bag making coffee/meals. The Competition is just big enough to sit up and get dressed in but does feel like sleeping in a coffin. I don’t mind it myself, warmer than most. I do cook in the awning but to reduce the condensation issues, I do leave the flysheet door open as much as possible. I also often leave the inner tent door open overnight so as not to trap moist air inside. Condensation is expected in small lightweight tents, so I tend to just stop during the day and air/dry everything whenever possible, usually while eating lunch. It’s best to put the tent up and it dries really quickly if there’s a breeze.
      I always carry dedicated sleepwear (including a down jacket) to change into in the tent, so I know it’s dry and I’ll be able to warm up when I stop. This is also my emergency clothing if I get soaked during the day, say falling in a river.
      Gear weight is important but I do tend to carry too much clothing so I know I’ll be warm enough whatever the weather does.
      I always carry too much food too. It can be pretty miserable if you’re ever cold or hungry.
      Hope this helps. Happy to answer any further questions if you have any.

  6. Hi! Enjoying the reviews. Could you please state the internal length of the TN Laser Comp? I need to check I can get my long legs and extra long air mattress in there!
    Thanks
    Al
    PS the term ‘one person tent’ rather than one man tent is preferable

    1. Hi. Al. I’ve measured the Competition 1 and the inner is 2100mm long but the ends taper back to 1800mm long which is then 650mm wide the rest off the length off the inner tent. So as long as your mat is no longer than 1800mm and no wider than 650mm it’ll fit. The Terra Nova Laser Competition 1 is a good value tent but can feel small inside if you’re not used to small tents. I like it because weight is more important to me, as it’s on my back most of the time. Hope that helps. Mark

  7. I take that back! You did say one person tent! I’m confusing this with other links to tents where they revel in sexist language. Not you though.
    😉

  8. I used a Nordisk Telemark 1 for the Southern Upland Way and Cape Wrath Trail and found the room ample for both me and my rucksack inside the tent and also my boots after having them frozen when in the vestibule. Unable to sit up but that is as much about my age, 72, as the tent. No problem lying on my side within the tent to operate the stove under the open flysheet even in the wind and rain. The only problem I have with the tent is condensation to such an extent that even in bad weather I always had the flysheet propped open with one of my trekking poles. I am thinking about purchasing a Telemark 2 and using the flysheet and pole with the Telemark 1 inside to give better circulation between the two and hopefully less condensation. Has anyone tried this with any tent? The additional weight is only 50g, well worth it if it works.

    1. Hi Steve
      I have trouble with condensation in all my small tents, including the Nordisk Telemark 2. It is very slightly better than the Nordisk 1 but not much, there just isn’t enough airflow through them. They seem to be designed to keep you warm and are best for extremely cold weather. The difference between the Nordisk Telemark 1 and 2 is: the inner is bigger in the 2 as you’d expect but the flysheet isn’t ‘much’ bigger than the Telemark 1, hence the small weight difference. The vestibule area is a lot smaller on the Telemark 2 than on the 1. It’s a good idea to use the Telemark 2 as a solo tent because of the small weight penalty. It will give you more space in the inner and you can, if needed, pull the inner tent in making it smaller to give you a larger vestibule when needed, ie for cooking etc. But not sure it will be much better for condensation. I find I have to leave the inner tent and flysheet doors open all night to limit it. The Lightwave S10 Sigma could be a consideration, I’ve reviewed it as far as I can but I’ve not been using it long, so I can’t really advice you buy one. I’m pleased with it on the few nights I used it around the Norfolk coast in March.
      I’m jealous of your Southern Upland Way walk as I’ve only done a small section of it. I loved the Cape Wrath Trail, I used a Terra Nova Competition 1 on that. It has a better airflow through it, but I was walking it in July. So no trouble with condensation. (more difficult to pitch than the Telemark tents though)

  9. It’s strange that none of the manufacturers has thought to sell a “summer” inner tent as an extra with a much higher (close to 100%?) mesh content. Perhaps it wouldn’t be robust enough. In business these days selling add-ons and extras is where the profit is made!

    1. Hi Graham
      Thanks for your message, good comment. The manufacturers seem to make either winter or summer tents. I do own a full mesh inner for my Six Moons Designs Deschutes Solo Tarp, which is great in summer but I’ve found that being all mesh, grit/sand blows through it annoyingly. In warm weather partial mesh seems best, with solid material to about 300/400mm up from the ground sheet.

    1. Hi Jonathan
      I’ve not reviewed pillows but have used a few different sorts and not really slept well on any off them. All are OK but not that comfortable it’s a compromise over weight against comfort. I lay a fleece over the pillow to make it more comfortable and keep it in place better. I’m tempted to try a heavier down/insulated type pillow for more comfort.
      My favourite pillow at the minute is Klymit and prefer it over others because it’s part of my Inertia O Zone Sleeping Mat and it doesn’t stays in place over night. I can also stuff things under it to get a better height and it’s a good size.

  10. Hi Mark,
    Excellent review!
    I’ve used the Laser Comp 1 and Telemark 1 ulw for several years now and agree totally with your assessment of their relative merits. Indeed I replaced the ulw’s carbon fibre pole with the alloy version after it broke pitching in strong wind. The alloy pole is much stronger.
    A feature/gimmick of the Telemark is that you can link 3 of the corner poles to form a support for holding the door open tarp style – Nordisk even provide a loose guy for this purpose. Personally I find it easier to use a trekking pole!
    A small amount of water tends to collect on top of the fly at the foot end, I’ve often found Ice there in a morning. Hence the Telemark will not shed snow well – The Laser Comp is much better in this regard,
    Stube

  11. Hi , it was great to read the reviews. Concerning pillows, I have had problems with sleeping generally for years. Then I found the Decathlon Helium pillow. It is cheap- about £12.99. I was stunned by how comfortable it was. I even used it when I was admitted to hospital because I find their pillows are so uncomfortable. I recommend trying it, because if you don’t like it it is easily returned. It is so small and light you can tuck it any space.

    1. Hi Anne
      Thank you for your message, I’m always looking to improve my reviews. From what I can see, the Decathlon Hellium pillow weighs 170g which is too heavy for my kit list. But may be worth trying for shorter trips where comfort is more important. Great price too.
      Thanks. Mark

  12. Excellent reviews and sometimes an old school visual review works better than video reviews..
    Price needs to be taken into consideration really.. I value some extra space over a bit more weight..
    I’m wanting to do some long trails in the Black Forest ( the Schluchtensteig) so this has got me interested. I left Scotland 16 years ago but did a lot before leaving, happy memories of Cape Wrath etc.. Links to other kit shown in the images would be good. If I need to buy I’ll be using the links to support you..
    Thanks

  13. Hi Mark,
    this is a very deep review, thank you for sharing!
    A question about the pegs. Do you think these pegs are good enough or would you recommend to change them with some models with a better grip?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Alex
      I usually wildcamp in long grass and/or wet soft ground so I tend to change the pegs that come as standard with the tents. I leave the standard ones behind and take bigger pegs to suit and conditions that I’m expecting. The pegs supplied with the Tarptent and Nordisk tents are OK and probably the best for UK conditions.
      Thanks for your message
      Mark

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