Update: 9 March 2018
Our twin tent the Ultralight Tent Illumina X Hiking Tent in Green Colour has arrived and is our latest addition to our precious lightweight tent collections! The Illumina X ultralight tent in Green is the exact similar tent to our Illumina X Hiking Tent in Amber Colour. Weight wise, due to material colour differences here is approximately a slight addition of 100g difference in weight.
So much hype and googling about the new Illumina X Hiking Tent ultralight tent that recently seemed to have popped out of nowhere within Australia, but to most of our customer's dismay, you were not able to find much information about it (well hopefully this post will change it)!
Therefore finally, this is the:
Long awaited gear review (ok, an internal one) on Illumina X Ultralight Hiking Tent! But then we're an honest bunch of outdoor enthusiasts who have a taste for good quality gears consumption and we love our own tent (sounds a bit narcissist, yes...).
What is this Illumina Amber X Hiking Tent ?
If you didn't google and land yourself here voluntarily, you've probably never heard of this tent before until now, that is why we're writing this post!
A Little Background on the Hiking Tent
The Illumina X is Novapro Sport's special edition of curated ultralight tent direct from factory to consumer. Our Ultralight tent features tents weighing below 2kg in total packed size.
The quality of the Illumina X is mentioned by some customers to have similar features to Big Brand tents with retail prices of approx AUD449.50 as at point of writing.
If Novapro Sports is to follow a distribution retail model, we do agree that our Illumina Amber X tent will be priced around that range or even much more if we spend on marketing to market ourselves as a big brand with the amazing quality it has.
If this is your first extreme ultralight hiking tent (yes it is called extreme because some 2kg tents are also called ultralight), holding an Illumina Amber X tent (total pack weigh at 1.3kg) is going to make you feel ecstatic.
The feel of the tent bag material itself may send you the thrills. We really mean it!
For the team at Novapro Sports, we are a little more of perfectionists in what we stock, and we want to stock only quality products or at least, value for money ones that are not junk.
Our observation is that big retailers seem to be headed towards stocking very low quality products to hit "cheap" pricing. In order to hit cheap pricing, a lot of things gets compromised and thus you get low quality products.
Factories would cut quality control, lower the quality of zips, use lower quality waterproof coatings, materials...the list goes on just to hit a "cheap" price point.
We all want the real value of product we are paying for - or more than what we pay for.
Nobody wants to pay too much, but sometimes we just like something a little better with quality without costing an arm.
This is where we stand, and our products are based on. The saddest thing is to purchase a value for money AUD40 2 man tent from big retailers and then face quality issues at first use and the AUD40 gets totally wasted including the time to repurchase, exchange or even refund. The worst thing is if the quality failure happens during a trip.
Sometimes we are not sure if it is even worth our time to go back for a refund hassle when all you wanted was just a good tent!
It may have been better to get an AUD90 quality tent that lasts longer in this case.
Novapro Sports target is to hit the balance to provide tents that lasts (oh an important note here: we're definitely not comparing the Illumina Amber X with an AUD40 tent, we're comparing this to AUD450 and above tents!), with quality instead of low cost disposable tents and camping gears.
Lets Dive In to Gear Review!
Now for the best part, you must all be dying for pictures! Some of these pictures come from our happy customers and a big thank you to our customers and staffs who sent in these pictures!
Feature #1: High Bucket Side Walls
One very main feature that puts this tent above most other tents in the market is its high sides that experienced camper will understand if you have had sleepless nights before due to cold chilly wind blowing into the tent from the sides.
With the Illumina Amber X Hiking Tent, sleep will be comfortable and warm again!
This tent amazingly combines ventilation while blocking out nightly chill with the high bucket sides.
The upper part is back to the usual mesh that allows ventilation.
Just for the chill? Of course not!
It shields you from heavy downpour rain splatters escaping and splattering in from the sides as well.
So without the chill, snuggle up cosy while you fall asleep enjoy the sound of the rain pitter-pattering on your tent and ground around you...
(Tips for more warmth if you haven't already been doing it: Chuck in a few hand warmers into your sleeping bag!)
Note: There's also a net pocket as seen in the picture for you to store your stuff and a hanging hook for hanging your lantern / light up there in the tent roof (its pretty much standard expectations but we are surprised there are tents that do not have these out there).
Feature #2: Suitable for Snow Conditions
This four season tent is suitable for less severe snow conditions. Perfect for skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and other snow seeking adventurers. The frame can withstand overnight snow loading although you should avoid using this under harsh snow conditions / snow storms. (No, don't bring this to Mount Everest!)
Feature #3: Ventilation Is No Problem
We get a lot of questions about ventilation.
Some customers may have had bad experience purchasing single-walled tents made from polyester and that would be pretty awful in terms of ventilation and condensation.
No problem for this quality tent as you get the mesh from middle and up side of the tent.
The tent is also a 2 layer tent addressing ventilation issues, which combines waterproofing with ventilation. However, similar to most expedition tents out there, there may still be some condensation depending how warm you keep your tent inside. The best way to address this is to let some air into your tent when it is not raining through the front vestibule door. Material is made from nylon, similar to most expensive big brand expedition tents out there with rip-stop pattern weave. If your tent gets a hole in it, it can be repaired without worrying the tear growing bigger with the rip-stop weave. (Yes! We've done stress testing on our tents and it stood very well!)
Insider Tip: As this is a high performance tent geared very well for alpine / cold weather trails, this means that it is made to keep you more warm and snug compared to other type of 3 season summer tents in cooler camping environments. However, when camping with this tent in more humid areas (i.e near water sources like rivers / seas / base camping / summer time), it will be good to understand more on how to manage condensation in tents.
Basically, try to leave a side of the vestibule open for some cool air to enter instead of tightly sealing yourself in the tent because your body warmth and water vapour from your breath will cause condensation in the tent.
Feature #4: Waterproof Ratings
Combining nylon fabric for ultimate lightweight with strength (rip-stop weave) and waterproofing is an art that requires fine tuning.
Image Source: Novapro Sports
Our fabric for this tent achieves a waterproof rating of 8000MM (Fabric PU5000MM + Coating PU3000MM) and seamed sealed.
Waterproofing coating is the industry standard to add further waterproofing abilities without being dependent solely on fabric waterproofing (or it will be extremely heavy).
Like all tents though, read below for tips to take care of the waterproofing coating if you are a heavy user.
Image Source: Northwest Tech
If you want to know more about waterproofing, we love this guide – How It Works: Waterproof Jackets & Fabrics.
Insider Tip: As this is a nylon tent, when the fabric gets damp, it stretches, you may need to tighten your guy lines to keep it in shape. I.e especially in humid areas or near water sources (river, sea etc).
Feature #5: Insect-Free Mesh
We feel a bit silly talking about this as it is pretty much standard expectation but for 2 layer tents but for very new adventurers we will cover a bit of this.
The mesh is important to keep bugs out, especially if you are doing very remote hikes into remote areas, sleeping among creeks and all kind of wild bugs.
We've woken up with bugs and spiders all over the mesh outside the tent, feeling blessed none of them managed to get in!
When airing your tent after a night's sleep, it is always important to keep the mesh door closed while the fly waterproof door open (bugs may go inside).
For 1 layer tents, this is going to be a problem as normally 1 layer cheap tents are just made of 1 layer of fabric, usually polyester (which is probably not very comparable to the Illumina Amber X.)
Feature #6: Lightweight! & Small
It is hard to find a good lightweight tent with all these features at the price out there.
Our Illumina Amber X Hiking Tent Weighs only approximately 1.3kg (Tent + Pole).
Most tents are advertised without poles (which doesnt seem to make much sense as you can't bring the tent along without poles to erect it).
We've also got questions if it can fit into a backpack.
Yes! It can ;) Its only as big as this:
How can it be so light? Is it strong?
- Nylon does not generally absorb water, thus when it gets wet, it remains light. Tent fabrics do get wet due to humidity (camping near rivers / water source, or during warm / humid days or in humid environments).
- The fine weave of our Illumina Amber X is reinforced with 'rip-stop' net pattern in the weave. This allows fabric to be made extremely thin yet strong at the thicker threads area of the weave pattern. This method of weaving prevents a tear from laddering / propagating through the fabric in the event that something sharp puts a tear through the tent fabric.
Feature #7: Self Standing
What does this mean?
It means that the tent structure can stand itself without pegging.
Of course we always recommend pegging as you never know when it gets windy and you risk having your tent flop into the air (yes, it is only 1.3kg after all).
However, for easy construction and temporary shelter (say if it's raining or snowing and you need to quickly erect your tent), it’s just perfect.
This is done by having easy pole holes at the corners of the tent and essential points like the one shown in the picture below.
You just insert the poles into these holes and it can stand by itself.
Easy lightweight clips to clip onto the pole.
Bundle of goodies.
But what if you've forgotten the tent poles at home? Don't panic, all is not lost! Here's one way to tap into your inner MacGyver and pitch the tent without poles.
Read more about this article by Paige Russel here.
Feature #8: Easy Assembly
Collapsible pole that allows you to easily extend all the way into tent's X structure (no further assembly required to put the poles together).
Lightweight strong clips to clip onto the pole.
Feature #9: Footprint custom cut to size
Our tent is made to be used without requiring any extra footprint or tarp at the bottom.
However, for those of us who wants to prolongue the tent's life, or just feels safer with an extra layer at the bottom, the Illumina Amber X comes with a quality footprint / mat (optional purchase) which many other brands do not offer. Some campers will just use a tarp but that wouldn't be very suitable in its weightlessness.
What's great, the footprint is custom to fit your tent! Why is that important? For better performance and precision, footprints should slightly be smaller than your tent base or just about the same size so that rain water do not gather on your footprint and slid under your tent.
Feature #10: Extra Pegs
Our pegs are extreme ultralight weight aluminium tent pegs technologically made to be light as a feather yet practical for its use.
Extras are always welcome! We give you extra pegs, approx 12 in a bag whereby you only need about 4-6 for a real hike. So that's at least an extra 50g extra the peg bag (make sure you take the extras out for a super lightweight trip!)
Tent Care & Tips
Basic care for your tent: Peg it down as you never know when the wind comes and you may not be in your tent.
The team has tried only 4 pegs (minimum) and it seems to hold well!
When pegging the tent, use proper hammer tool as the lightweight pegs are not strong towards violence. From our stress testing, shoes and stones will break these weightless pegs easily.
So bring some spares if you plan to bring only the minimum of pegs you like.
- Fly sheets
Air these after use, don't immediately bundle and shove it into the pack.
Or, at least once you get home, give it a good airing. Never store it wet!
- Tent waterproof coating
Avoid leaving your tent set up in direct sun or extended periods.
Try to minimise UV rays to the tent as it degrades the fabrics in the rainfly and canopy.
Use a footprint whenever you can. That's to prolong the life of the inner tent bottom fabric layer. Though our tents are made to perform without footprints!
- Don't keep food inside tent (at some areas)
Just for some newbies...also depending on your area, may be good not to store food inside your tent in case there are wombats, and they can definitely tear through your tent for food.
(Anybody have a picture to contribute?!)
It will probably be alright in alpine areas though!
Good to keep foods in a backpack in the vestibule or hang it high up on a tree branch if possible if ground camping.
Well that's it for now...happy camping! We'll update this post as we go along and with your comments and feedback we can improve it ;)
If you've got pictures to contribute on our Illumina Tent or just any fun pics, send them in to email@example.com! We already love you for that :)
Update 16th December 2019: We've got an external review of this tent! Read Gear Review on our Illumina X Hiking Tent by Darren Edwards from Trail Hiking Australia here. Thanks for the awesome review, Darren! We really appreciate you taking the time out to share your experience with us ;)