Vaude Ferret 1 Ultralight Tent REVIEW

Two-person, double wall tunnel tent with one small door, good usable space, and high quality construction at just over 4 lbs.

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by Will Rietveld | 2006-01-24 03:00:00-07

Overview

Vaude Ferret 1 Tent REVIEW - 1
The Vaude Ferret is very storm worthy. The fly and inner tent are connected. Two lateral poles slide through exterior sleeves on the fly, making set up fast and easy.

The Vaude Ferret 1 Ultralight is a two-person tent that is tunnel-type, double-wall, lightweight (not ultralight), and is not freestanding. Its use of lightweight fabrics to reduce weight is offset somewhat by the use of heavier than needed webbing and connectors. Still, at a little over 4 pounds (1.92 kg), the Ferret provides a lot of space plus a few extras (like three stow pockets and a clothesline) for its weight. Most of the interior space is usable because of the tunnel design and rectangular floor. Entering the Ferret is a crawling experience because of its small and low door, and is hard to do without some moisture transfer if the tent is wet. Its storm worthiness and bug protection are excellent. Ventilation is generally good, but could be improved with the addition of mesh panels inside and a second vent on the rear. Overall, the Ferret is a product of fine German design and craftsmanship, and is built to last.

In Brief

  • Double-wall, two-person, single door tent with a small vestibule
  • Lightweight fabrics reduce weight
  • Easy to set up
  • Adequate room for two people and some gear
  • Good (but not excellent) ventilation
  • Tight entry and exit

Specifications

  Year/Model

2004 Vaude Ferret Ultralight

  Style

Double wall with floor

  Fabric Description

Fly is 40d polyamide ripstop 1.7 oz/yd2 (58 g/m2), silicone coated both sides, water resistance rated to 3000 mm hydrostatic head; inner tent is 30d polyester ripstop, 140x100 thread count, 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2); floor is 40d polyamide ripstop, 140x100 thread count, laminated (not coated) waterproof layer, 2.2 oz/yd2 (74 g/m2), water resistance rated to 10,000 mm hydrostatic head

  Pole Material

7001 T6 aluminum, 0.36 in (9.2 mm) diameter

  Weight Full Package
As supplied with stuff sacks, stakes, guylines, etc.

Backpacking Light scaleManufacturer claim
4 lb 3.6 oz (1.92 kg)4 lb 6 oz (1.98 kg)

  Weight Minimum Package
Tent body and fly, minimum necessary stakes and guylines, no stuff sacks or extra hardware.

Manufacturer supplied minimumBackpacking Light minimum
4 stakes, 10 ft (3 m) guylineSame as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes, 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Aircore 1 Spectra guylines
3 lb 15.5 oz (1.8 kg)3 lb 14.8 oz (1.78 kg)

  Floor/Vestibule Area

Floor area Vestibule area
29.1ft2 (2.7 m2) 8.3 ft2 (0.77 m2)

  Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.46 ft2/oz

  Dimensions

InchesCentimeters
Width49/43125/110
Length89225
Height3490

  Model Year

2004

  MSRP

£270 GBP (approximately $479 USD)

Features

Usable Features/Ease of Use

Vaude Ferret 1 Tent REVIEW - 2
Door openings in both the vestibule and inner tent are small and low, so entry is a crawling exercise, with hands and knees on the ground. The zippered entry through the vestibule is only 24 inches high due to the large vent at the top of the vestibule. The inner tent's door measures 26 inches high and 31 inches wide, and zips completely open except for a 2-inch hinge. When the tent is wet, I find it hard to enter or exit without some moisture transfer. The zipper on the inner tent is only one-way, so you have to reach to the far left to grab the slider. A two-way zipper would be appreciated.

The inner tent and fly are attached with ten elastic connectors plus four corner straps and the two are set up as a unit (similar to Hilleberg tents and the Exped Vela series). The user slides two 111-inch poles through exterior sleeves on the fly, then stakes it out. This design makes the tent very easy to set up, but is a disadvantage when drying it or packing it when wet because the pieces are attached.

Setting up the Ferret Ultralight is very simple: 1) lay the tent out on the ground, 2) slide the two poles through their sleeves and connect the ends, 3) stake the rear of the tent, 4) stretch and stake the front of the tent, 5) make adjustments and add additional stakes or guylines as needed. Four stakes are used for a minimum pitch, eight stakes for a more secure pitch, and two more stakes are needed if the wind guylines are used.

A fast and light setup (fly, poles, and stakes only) is possible with this tent, but the numerous and complex attachments between the fly and inner tent make this option very impractical.

Inside the tent, there are three pockets (10 inches wide x 9 inches deep) and a ceiling clothesline. The bathtub floor rises 4 inches up the sides.

Weight/Sizing

At 4+ pounds, the Ferret 1 is a lightweight tent, but not an ultralight tent as claimed. A truly ultralight double-wall two-person tent, like the Montbell Hexagon, weighs a pound less, has a little more floor area, but fewer features. The Ferret is a good balance of light weight, usable space, and features.

The area/weight ratio of 0.46 is good, but not the highest we have reviewed in this tent category. Vaude makes good use of lighter fabrics to reduce weight, but gains some of it back from using heavy webbing for the stake loops, along with ten elastic straps that attach the fly to the inner tent. The tunnel design efficiently uses two shorter (9 foot) hoop poles, rather than the long diagonal poles used in wedge designs.

Usable Space

I found the inside dimensions "adequate" for two people. With two sleeping pads side by side, there are 4-5 extra inches on each side. The length is sufficient for a 6-foot tall person, or a taller person if he/she doesn't mind touching the ends. Headroom (34 inches) is adequate for a 6-foot person, although my head brushed the top.

Because of the nearly vertical sidewalls of the tunnel design, nearly all of the space along the sides is usable; this is a real benefit of the design.

Vaude Ferret 1 Tent REVIEW - 3
Interior space in the tunnel section of the tent is ample for two people and some gear. Most of the space is usable because of the tent's steep sidewalls and nearly rectangular floor. The foot end has a flatter slope (about 45 degrees) and less headroom. Shorter people could use the extra length for additional storage.

The tent's 8.3 square foot vestibule is minimal, but ample to accommodate two medium packs or a wet dog. Since the entry is through the right side of the vestibule, half of the space is not usable

Performance

Wind stability

With its sloping ends and rounded center section, the Ferret is aerodynamically shaped to withstand wind. There are a total of 11 staking loops around the base of the tent. Two provided guylines attach to loops on the front and rear pole sleeves to provide extra anchoring in very windy conditions. Although I did not encounter any significant winds during my field tests, in my opinion, the Ferret is well designed for wind stability. However, during high winds you will want to face the angled foot of the tent into the wind and use the additional guyline options; the steep sidewalls will deflect more than wedge design tents.

Storm Protection

I used the Ferret in mountain snowstorms and desert rains and found it to be very storm worthy. I had no problems whatsoever with leakage. Snow tended to accumulate on the top and ends of the tent, and required some slapping on the tent to make it slide off. Accumulated snow compressed the ends of the tent (especially the rear) because of the flatter slope, and blocked ventilation from the bottom of the fly.

Ventilation/Condensation Resistance

All of my testing was under winter conditions, with nighttime temperatures ranging from 20 to 35 °F. In above freezing/dryer conditions, the tent stayed completely dry inside. In sub-freezing/dry conditions, I had some frost on the inside of the tent. In sub-freezing/damp conditions, I had heavy frost on the inside of the tent. Finally, in above freezing/very wet snowy and rainy conditions, I had heavy condensation inside the tent and the top of my sleeping bag was very damp. The latter situation is not unexpected because there is no place for the moisture to go (unless it's windy), so heavy condensation is inevitable.

The inner tent (including the door) is thin polyester ripstop, which allows some airflow, but not nearly as much as mesh. A mesh ceiling-panel and door, along with a rear vent, would significantly improve the tent's ventilation.

Vaude Ferret 1 Tent REVIEW - 4
The Ferret on a frosty January morning in southern Utah. The fly completely envelops the tent, leaving a 2-inch gap at the ground. This design usually means limited ventilation in other tents, but the Ferret does better because of a large air space (about 6 inches) between the fly and inner tent, and a large vent (20 inches wide by 6 inches high) at the top of the vestibule.

Insect Protection

The inner tent is sealed completely and provides total bug protection. While the good usable space makes this a nice tent to hang out in, the lack of mesh limits your views in these conditions.

Durability

The Vaude Ferret is exceptionally well made. Fabrics used are a good balance of light weight and durability. The sewing shows excellent craftsmanship, and there is extra reinforcement in stress areas. I experienced no durability issues during extensive field testing.

When I used the Ferret in the desert, I found that dust and silt stick to the silnylon and do not easily wipe off. This grit is easily removed by rinsing the tent with plain water.

Value

The Ferret is well designed, exceptionally well made, easy to setup, and provides a lot of usable space for its weight. However, with a price tag over $500, it is only a fair value.

Recommendations for Improvement

Add mesh panels to the inner tent and a second vent to the back of the tent to increase ventilation.

Raise the vent on the vestibule to improve ease of entry.

Extend the tunnel section of the tent to make the back of the tent the same angle as the front.

Add a second slider to the zippered entry door.


Citation

"Vaude Ferret 1 Ultralight Tent REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/vaude_ferret_1_ultralight_tent_review.html, 2006-01-24 03:00:00-07.

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