Years and years ago, Argos released a range of tents under the brand name Pro-action. One of these, a one-man tent for £25, was called “the Tigerpaw” and was one of the greatest bargains ever created on earth ever anywhere any time ever.
Astonishingly, I managed to get one in about 2008, and I’ve used it in all my backpacking trips ever since, having just used it to camp on Skye last week. Weighing in at just under 2kg, packing down to 40cm by 16cm (not much bigger than a sleeping bag) (and I remind you it was made by Argos) it’s an absolute blinder of a backpackers tent.
This is me camping in it in 2009, halfway through an epic 30 mile hike from Bellingham to Otterburn in the Northumbrian hills, on the May bank holiday. Both of these hikes, despite being weekends in brilliant weather, I did not see a soul.
That’s a lie – near where I camped in Northumberland, there was a remote cottage, marked as a shieling on my map, so I expected it to be ruined. When I got there, I could see a little wind turbine, and walked a bit closer until someone started shouting at me.
At first I thought he was telling me to clear off, but no, he was asking if I fancied a cup of tea, so I ended up sitting and chatting with him. He’d been living out there for years, on his own, off the grid, having put up his own solar panels and wind turbines, and was in the slow, laborious process of building a barn across the yard; it was taking him ages as he was wheelchair bound, with a quad bike for getting around in. What a great guy.
Anyway. When I was on Skye, I did realise that my little Tigerpaws wasn’t all that great in a torrential downpour and two inches of standing water. So I am going to splash out on something similar, but that will probably cost five times as much, and won’t be as adorably cheap, cheerful and brilliant.