The thing about music festivals is that, in reality, you only need two things: a steady supply of intoxicants and a strong stomach in order to survive the Toilet Experience. Everything else is optional.
Nevertheless, Yellowstone has come up with a bunch of other non-essential items that can occasionally come in handy. You know… a tent, sleeping bags and all that stuff. And with festival season having recently got underway in the UK, it makes sense to package all of that lot together and flog it to festival n00bs.
Enter the brilliantly-named Standard Festival Pack. For a grand total of £94 (a discount of £43 from purchasing the components separately on their site) you can enjoy:
- A two-man tent
- Two sleeping bags
- Two foam sleeping mats
- Two chairs
- One rubber mallet
- One lantern
- One torch
- Two festival packs (two water bottles, two glow sticks, two flags, two hand sanitizer ‘pens’, two marker pens and two plastic rain ponchos)
The idea, presumably, is that you won’t want to risk taking expensive camping kit to an environment that would make the bowels of Hell look like a childrens’ tea party, so a more affordable option is the preferred route.
But that also makes it disposable… and that’s not a good thing because disposable = landfill.
And before you point out that all good music festivals promote charity recycling of tents and wotnot – have you seen the state of many of the cheap tents that are left behind in the wake of the murderous masses at festivals? You couldn’t even make a headband out of most of them. So although lumping everything you might need together in to one compariatively inexpensive purchase might appear convenient, I’d be tempted to query the environmental impact of such an idea. But that’s just me.
Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the individual items in the Yellowstone Standard Festival Kit.
Well, let’s put it this way – if you pay £94 for a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, chairs and lights and still expect quality items, then you’re a complete nugget. This stuff is cheap and performs as such.
The two-man tent, for example, is a single-skinner. Which means it has a fly sheet and no inner. Which means that if it rains (which it probably will) and you so much as look at the inside while thrashing around during another fit of vomiting you can expect water to come through and to see your only pair of Y-fronts sail off out the door in the direction of the car park. And it’s also too small. I’m 6′ 1″ and when lying down with my head pressed tight against the fabric at the far end my feet still poked out of the door. Mrs Muz also found her natural ‘starfish’ sleeping position a little restricted. And, there’s not much room to store the rest of your stuff inside the tent once you are in there, unless you plan to use it as a pillow.
The door, by the way, might well be graced with a fly net but it’s not blessed with a zip at the bottom that closes the entire thing against the elements, or a guy-line so the outer layer can stay taut in mild wind. So in effect you can’t close the tent properly.
In fact, when we set the tent up at GWA HQ for the night – during which time it rained – wind blew the bottom of the door up and the water straight inside. So even without touching the fabric it was still a washout and we got wet sleeping bags.
The (three-season) mummy sleeping bags were too tight and short for me, but they do seem adequately warm for close-proximity sleeping, and the rollmats… well, they don’t unroll. You can hold one end and force the other end away from it but as soon as you let go it springs back so quickly it could easily remove most of your face. So using it for its intended purpose is likely to be such a challenge that by the time you finally get on it it’ll be tomorrow and time for the first band/pint/burger of the day.
The chairs look OK, but aren’t particularly strong. They are also brutally straight-backed and cut off the circulation in the back of your legs, so given the option of lounging around in a pile of discarded chips or on one of these I would choose ketchup-arse every time. That said, how many chairs have actually survived a festival unscathed? Perhaps a sitting-rug would be a better option.
The lantern is so badly-designed that you can’t switch it off unless you remove the AA batteries – despite the fact that the power button features the word ‘off’. A button press gives you a reasonably adequate two-stage torch function at the end (not to be confused with the separate torch which is also in the ensemble), and another press unleashes the lantern which is bright enough to illuminate the small tent providing you pull down on the unit to open it up and expose the LEDs.
If you wanted to hang it up inside the tent to help you roll your next herbal cigarette there’s a terrifically useless ‘D’ loop on the top (not a hook) – but no hanging loop inside the tent. So you’re stuffed. If somehow you do manage to hang it up, the weight of the unit pulls itself open so you’ll always have light whether you want it or not. And because you can’t switch it off you’d better well want it.
Even the marker pens, which are obviously intended to be used to draw phallic symbols and rude words on the flags, aren’t permanent. So remember that rain I mentioned earlier? When that arrives and you’re bailing out your tent you can watch with dismay as your carefully-crafted ‘Marry me Olly Murs!’ declaration of lurve washes away along with your dignity. You loser.
Oh, and the rubber mallet hasn’t got a hook in the end of the handle to help you pull out the tent pegs, giving you another reason to abandon everything to landfill when the dust settles and the hangover kicks in. Its packaging suggests that it should – ours didn’t.
Despite all of this, there are some good points to the Standard Festival Kit.
For one, the hand sanitizer pens are nifty. Squeeze a bit out, rub it around in your hands and marvel as the liquid disappears like magic. Another is that the water bottles don’t leak. Oh, and the glowsticks glow and the ponchos make you look stupid, which is standard poncho behaviour.
In conclusion – and I’m being diplomatic here – the Yellowstone Standard Festival Kit is rubbish. The best thing to do is to take £94 out of your bank account in fivers, tape the notes together and sleep under that. But keep a couple to one side to burn as a light source. Seriously – you’d get much more bang for your buck and you’d save yourself a quid. Bargain.
Alternatively, have a look around their site and a good think about what you really need to take to a festival, and cobble together your own kit – there are some decent items on there which would last longer and be better value in the long-run – tents and sleeping mats in particular.
More: Outdoor Camping Direct