We’re planning to do an 8-country motorcycle tour of Europe next year, so I’m already looking for the best gear to take on the bike for the 3-weeks of sleeping under canvas in every condition from searing heat to torrential rain. I’ll be bedding-down with the Wife, so we’ll need a tent which can accommodate both of us, our luggage and bike gear, yet pack down small enough to bungee to a pillion seat. I may have found a strong contender in the Gelert Rocky 3.
There’s nothing massively special about the Rocky 3. It’s made from a simple polyester with a Hydrostatic Head of 1500 (Read what that means here) which should keep off heavy rain OK, and is constructed in a simple 3-pole dome and tunnel style. But, being a 3-man tent (read what that REALLY means here) there’s enough room for two people to ‘live’ rather than to just ‘sleep’. And it’s quite useable space, which is nice. You can sit up, get dressed without having to be a master of the tantric arts, and store your socks sufficiently far from your nose that you don’t dream about chemical warfare.
What IS special about the Rocky is that, despite its size when pitched, it packs down to just 60cm x 15cm x 15cm, which is small enough to fit in my bike’s top-box with room to spare. That makes it a viable touring tent.
At 4.2Kg it’s certainly not the lightest tent for its size, but you do get a 2-layer construction. The poles slot into the inner tent, which has a sewn-in groundsheet and is incredibly easy to erect. Then the flysheet (outer layer) simply ties onto the poles at the top and middle, and is pegged at the bottom. Again, very simple and quick to erect in minutes, even in restrictive leathers.
The only downside with an inner-first tent is if it is raining when you pitch… the inner gets wet.
The Rocky 3’s inner is 210cm x 180cm, which is big enough for a couple of six-footers to stretch out and stick a small pack to either side of them. We threw an Outwell double mattress in the Rocky 3 and were left with a load of spare room either side, which rapidly filled with clothing, magazines and a smelly dog. It never felt cramped.
The Rocky 3’s porch and door are a bonus. The door unzips both sides and is nice and wide for warm days. Overnight it closes down to provide ample storage for motorcycle leathers and panniers, and since we’ve tested it over 2-days of rain, we can vouch that it doesn’t leak. The permanantly attached groundsheet is handy, but can get grubby from shoes. Unlike a true Tunnel-tent, the porch doesn’t allow easy use for cooking in the rain.
We slept in the Rocky over a chilly weekend in August and one thing which impressed us was how warm it was. By 2am, when it was crisp and cloudless outside, we actually woke up because we were too warm. It has a large mesh vent in the roof of the inner tent, and a mesh door to regulate temperature. Combined with the large PVC windows in the porch area, the mesh door is an excellent way to spy on the neighbours before you get up in the morning.
SUMMARY: The Gelert Rocky 3 is a cheap and cheerful, simple designed tent. It would be fine for occasional, low-impact camping and its size lends it well to a touring tent for a couple with some luggage. Its pack size is impressively compact and it is very easy to pitch. Finish isn’t exceptional, but at £70 it isn’t a bad investment at all.