“What’s a mountain tent?” I hear some of you ask. “It looks just like my Argos one!”. Well, something called a Mountain Tent is build to withstand some serious wind, rain and nasty conditions when you’re stuck up on the hills, rather than 5 minutes from the nearest chippy and within reach of a hot shower. A real mountain tent has to take less than a millimetre of fabric and make it keep you from dying.
And Sprayway’s effort is a pretty good one, although I’ll be clear that we haven’t tested it in any mountain storms.
We pitched the GX3 with the supplied 7-shaped steel pegs on a stony field with only a mild amount of swearing at the ground. The tent is supplied with 5 long aluminium poles, which are colour coded and very simple to slide in to the external pockets. The ends of the poles have mushroom heads which slot in to webbing lugs very easily, and if you’re careful it can be pitched by a single person.
The flysheet, which is a shiny coated polyester with a Hydrostatic Head of 5000mm, is attached quickly and easily to the lower sections of each pole via quite solid plastic clips which are easy to use when wearing gloves, and slide enough that if the poles are bent (by hamfistedness or wind) they won’t tear the flysheet.
The GX3 pole configuration is a X-dome shape with reinforcing poles on each arm of the X. This makes for a structure which can be physically shaken very hard indeed before it feels like it will give, and is designed to stand up to gale-force winds on exposed hills (within reason). The shape also helps rain run off the tent quite well.
The GX3 has a dozen guy lines which are reflective (ours were blue, unlike the photo above) and really hunker down the whole structure very well. Even if you don’t know anything about tents you can tell that the GX3 isn’t going to blow away easily. You also get plenty of vents (6 according to the blurb) which make for a more pleasant time when it’s warm, or your partner stinks like an old sock.
The inner tent of the GX3 is a substantial mesh construction with sewn-in groundsheet which hangs from the flysheet on toggles. With doors at either end of the flysheet it’s easy to attach. The inner is symmetrical and fills the dome portion of the GX3, leaving the light blue end as a porch for your gear. The sharp rake of the door at this end makes it a total sod to open from inside, so avoid the obvious look of this being the entrance and use the other door for access.
The GX3 is sold as a 3-man tent, which means that you can physically fit 3 average adults shoulder-to-shoulder to sleep. Forget that unless you’re on a lightweight mountaineering trip, because this (like most other 3-man tents) is a comfortable 2-men-plus-gear tent, with room for a pair of self-inflating mattresses and backpacks in the porch. With 135cm height at the centre of the dome, two people can comfortably sit up to eat in shelter.
Price wise, the GX3 is keenly positioned at the lower-end of the Mountain Tents range, at £229. It goes head to head with offerings from all the big names in tents and fairs well. I think that there’s a lot of subjectivity when it comes to buying your perfect tent; where you prefer doors and porches and how you’ll use a tent dictating what type you’ll go for.
The GX3 packs down quite small and weighs in at 4.5Kg, which is manageable for the size and strength of the tent. Sure, you can get lighter tents, but would they survive a storm as well…? Who knows. One pet peeve is that the GX3 is a total, utter sod to get back in its bag. I’d have liked a bigger bag with more compression straps.
The couple who shared the GX3 for 4 days in a wet and cold field recently gave it a very high accolade indeed – they wanted it for their new biking tent. I didn’t let them have it. I’m mean like that.
SUMMARY: If it’s wet, windy, snowy or otherwise not really the weather to be in a tent, then the Sprayway GX3 is one of the better places you could be. It’s built to fend off the elements and it hunkers down solid and sturdy. It’s keenly priced, easy to pitch and comfortable to live in for multiple nights. As a mountain tent for UK shores it doesn’t lack much at all.
More: Sprayway Camping