The Power Lizard UL is Vaude’s lightest tent. At 2 pounds 5.4 ounces (1060 g) measured total weight, it’s also the lightest two-person double-wall tent to be found anywhere, beating the Terra Nova Laser by nearly a half pound. As a matter of fact, the Power Lizard UL is strikingly similar to the Terra Nova Laser, which was recently reviewed by Backpacking Light. So how does the Power Lizard match up to the Laser?
Further, many superlight tents (like the Laser) achieve their low weight by downsizing the tent; so how does the Power Lizard stack up as far as roominess and comfort for two people? And how did they come up with that name?
|Year/Manufacturer/Model||2010 Vaude Power Lizard UL (vaude.com)|
|Style||Three-season, two-person, double-wall, non-freestanding tent with floor and one side entry door with vestibule|
|Included||Tent body and fly, 3 aluminum poles with sack, 8 stakes with sack, storage bag|
|Fabrics||Fly is 20d ripstop nylon silicone coated two sides, 3000 mm, seam taped; inner tent is 15d polyester fine mesh; floor is laminated ripstop nylon, 10,000 mm|
|Poles and Stakes||One aluminum center hoop pole and 2 aluminum end struts, DAC Featherlite 7.5 mm 7001 T6 aluminum; stakes are 6 in (15 cm) titanium shepherd hook|
|Floor Dimensions and Inside Height||Measured dimensions: 89 in (226 cm) long x 45 in (114 cm) wide at head end x 36 in (91 cm) wide at foot end; center height 35 in (89 cm), end height 18 in (46 cm)|
|Features||Lightweight fabrics, side entry door with vestibule, 2 mesh storage pockets, two end vents|
|Packed Size||16 in x 5.5 in (41 cm x 14 cm)|
|Total Weight||Measured weight 2 lb 5.4 oz (1.06 kg), manufacturer specification 2 lb 5 oz (1.05 kg)|
|Trail Weight||Measured weight 2 lb 4.5 oz (1.04 kg), manufacturer specification not available (excludes stuff sacks)|
|Protected Area||Floor area 23.8 ft2 (2.21 m2), vestibule area 5.2 ft2 (0.48 m2), total protected area 29 ft2 (2.69 m2)|
|Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio||12.7 ft2/lb (2.6 m2/kg)|
Design and Features
Vaude Power Lizard double-wall two-person tent on a cold windy early summer morning at 12,600 feet (3,840 m) in the southern Rockies.
The Vaude Power Lizard UL is a two-person double-wall tent with one side entry door and one vestibule. The inner tent and fly are connected and set up as a unit, which simplifies setup and keeps the interior of the tent dry when setting up in the rain. The tent is supported by one lightweight aluminum center hoop pole and a 21-inch (53-cm) vertical strut on each end. The poles are DAC Featherlite 7.5 mm 7001 T6 aluminum, which are very strong. This tent design minimizes the number and length of poles required to support the tent, while still resulting in an easy to set up taut tent that has excellent wind and storm resistance.
The Power Lizard incorporates some notable innovations and advances. The fly is silicone coated on both sides, which is an advancement because heretofore larger companies have been reluctant to use silnylon because of its flammability. The siliconized fly is claimed to have 6-12 times more tear strength compared to a PU-coated fabric and 3-4 times more UV resistance. And the fly is seam taped on the inside using Vaude’s own process of ultrasonic welding, which is the first use of seam tape on silnylon that I know of. Finally, the floor is a very lightweight laminate, with a very high hydrostatic head.
As noted, the Terra Nova Laser tent utilizes the same basic design, as does the Tarptent Scarp 1 and 2 (double-wall) and Tarptent Moment (a single-wall tent). After I have fully described the Power Lizard and commented on its performance, I will relate it to the Terra Nova Laser and Tarptent Scarp and Moment tents for some interesting comparisons.
Views of the Vaude Power Lizard UL. The tent has one center hoop pole that provides the main support for the tent (top left). Each end (top right) is supported by one vertical external pole that fits tightly in a sleeve at the top and a grommet at the bottom. There is a protected vent at each end. The top view (bottom left) shows the shape of the tent. Entry is through a zippered door to the left of the center pole, and is protected by a vestibule (bottom right).
Outside features. The poles and stakes provided with the Power Lizard (top left) are quite light. The three aluminum poles weigh just 6.9 ounces (196 g), and the eight titanium shepherd hook stakes weigh just 1.5 ounces (42.5 g). I added the Easton tubular stakes to better secure the ends of the tent. The tent body attaches to the hoop pole with some strong clips (top right) that grasp and hold; they don’t slide once they are clipped on. The entry vestibule (bottom left) is 18 inches (46 cm) wide at the center. Here’s a close up view of one of the end vents and strut pole (bottom right).
Inside features. The outer door ties back with a loop and toggle, and the inner door rolls to the left and secures with a loop and toggle (top left). The tent is extra long (89 inches/226 cm), so the best way to utilize interior space and maximize headroom, is to sleep with feet all the way to one end. Doing that provides about 24 inches (61 cm) of storage space at the head end of the tent (top right), which is to the right of the entry. The floor is just barely wide enough to fit two standard width sleeping pads side by side (bottom right) and still be able to zip the door closed. The tent has two side by side mesh storage pockets at the head end (bottom left).
I tested the Power Lizard on several solo backpacking trips where I camped at high altitudes (12,600 to 12,700 ft/3,840 to 3,871 m) in early summer (left, and first photo at the top of the review) and experienced some strong winds at night, with gusts up to about 30 mph (48.3 kph). My wife and I also slept in the Power Lizard several nights while volunteering on the Hardrock 100 endurance race near Silverton, Colorado (right). I also used it on some summer backpacks where I got caught in some torrential downpours.
The Power Lizard is average for ease of set-up. The tent and fly are attached to each other and set up as a unit, which is good. The set-up process is to spread the tent out on the ground, insert the end poles, attach the center hoop pole, stake one end, then extend the tent and stake the other end, and finally stake out the corners and guylines. The end poles fit tightly in their grommets and require some muscle. Similarly, the clips fit very tightly on the hoop pole and require some muscle to put them on and get them off (I think they’re over-engineered a bit!). The whole process takes about five minutes.
As a solo tent, the Power Lizard is luxurious. It has more than enough room inside the tent and in the vestibule for me and my gear. I am 6 feet (1.83 m) tall, and found the inside headroom (claimed to be 37 inches/94 cm, measured to be 35 inches/89 cm) to be adequate if I slept with my feet to one end, placing my head closer to the center of the tent.
On two windy nights at high elevation, I tensioned the tent at bedtime, but it still flapped quite a bit during the night and was fairly noisy. The flapping came from the unsupported canopy to each side of the center hoop pole. Outside of the flapping, I still found the Power Lizard to be very wind stable; its tapered shape handles wind quite well.
In the southwestern US, we have something we call the summer monsoons, which is afternoon thunderstorms with strong wind gusts and very heavy rain. I experienced two torrential events while testing the Power Lizard. Again, the tent flapped a lot in the wind, but it held steady. Since the fly is silnylon, the tent sags a lot when it gets wet, to the point where the fly is contacting the inner tent. After re-tensioning, the tent stays tauter, but it’s hard to get out and do that during a thunderstorm!
So, how does the Power Lizard accommodate two sleepers? As mentioned, the tent has only one entry door, so you know what that means - the person in the back has to step over the person in front in order to enter/exit the tent. The first time my wife saw the Power Lizard set up, she said something like: “Oh my God, are both of us going to fit in there?” Actually we did, but it helped that my wife is short. It also helps for one person to enter the tent and get settled before the other person comes in, and it further helps to leave the inner door open to provide a little extra elbow room. In summary, space is very limited, including headroom, but it’s workable for two people who are close friends.
It’s notable that the inner tent is made of a thin fabric rather than no-see-um mesh, so the Power Lizard retains heat fairly well if the inner door is closed at night. With two people in the tent on a chilly night, I measured a temperature difference of 12-15 F (7-8 C) between the inside of the tent and outside.
Finally, I note that the Power Lizard has reasonably good ventilation, so there is little condensation when there is some air movement. However, on one calm night with a large temperature drop down to about 25 F (-4 C, with the inner tent door open and vestibule zipped shut), we had so much condensation on the inside of the fly that it was dripping down on us. The amount of condensation was equivalent to a single-wall tent. Also, note the amount of sagging when the tent is wet.
The following table compares the Vaude Power Lizard UL with tents of a similar design.
|Tent||Floor Area ft2 (m2)||Vestibule Area ft2 ( m2)||Ventilation||Mfr.Weight oz (g)||Cost US$|
|Vaude Power Lizard||23.8 (2.21)||5.2 (0.48)||2 end vents||37 (1050)||400|
|Terra Nova Laser||20.8 (1.93)||7.0 (0.65)||2 end vents inside the fly||43.7 (1239 )||509 (as of 7/24/10)|
|Tarptent Scarp 1+*||19.0 (1.77)||12.5 (1.16)||2 top vents plus raised side walls||44 (1250)||295|
|Tarptent Scarp 2||31.0 (2.9)||12.0 (1.11)||2 top vents plus raised side walls||54 (1530)||325|
|Tarptent Moment**||18 (1.67 )||6.6 (0.61)||2 top vents, 2 end vents, mesh perimeter||28.8 (810)||215|
|*The Tarptent Scarp 1 is a one-person double-wall tent with two doors and vestibules.|
|**The Tarptent Moment is a one-person single-wall tent, but it shares the same design as the other tents.|
Some highlights and observations from the comparison table:
- The Vaude Power Lizard UL is 6.7 ounces (190 g) lighter (based on manufacturer data) than the Terra Nova Laser, granting it claim to the lightest two-person double-wall tent in the world.
- The Power Lizard costs US$109 less than the Laser, and it comes with “real” stakes – eight titanium shepherd hook stakes to be exact.
- The Power Lizard also has a little more floor area than the Laser, but the Laser has two entry doors, while the Power Lizard only has one.
- The Power Lizard has better ventilation than the Laser, but neither tent has really good ventilation. Neither has a top vent, and the fly extends to the ground on both tents.
- The Tarptent Scarp 1+ is a one-person double-wall tent that has nearly as much floor space as the European two-person tents, and twice the vestibule area. It weighs a little more than the Power Lizard, but it has two doors, much better ventilation and costs US$105 less.
- The Tarptent Scarp 2 has much more floor and vestibule area for two people and costs US$75 less, but it weighs a pound more than the Power Lizard.
- For comparison, the Tarptent Moment, a single-wall tent with the same design, has nearly the same protected area as the European tents (two-person!), weighs 8-15 ounces (227-425 g) less, and costs half as much as the European tents. However, it has similar condensation problems.
When you read my experience with two people sleeping in the Power Lizard, and Ray Estrella’s similar account for the Terra Nova Laser, you quickly realize that these tents are miniaturized to lay claim to the honor of “lightest two-person double-wall tent in the world.” (Either that or Europeans are very small people!) From a PR standpoint, that’s quite an accomplishment, but from a user’s standpoint it’s only meaningful for two very small people who are good friends. For the rest of us, these amount to fairly roomy one-person tents, and pricey ones at that.
For someone who wants a double-wall one-person tent, the Power Lizard is a good candidate. Some of the design details are better than the Terra Nova Laser, and one door is enough for one person. But, as the comparison table above shows, the Tarptent Scarp 2 has much more room inside, is a better value, and has much better ventilation, albeit a pound heavier. It is also easier to enter, has more usable space, and has better headroom. Further, the Tarptent Scarp 1+ (a one-person single-wall tent) nearly equals the Power Lizard for floor and vestibule space, has the other advantages mentioned for the Scarp tents, and weighs a half pound less.
Bottom line, the Vaude Power Lizard UL can claim its record for lightest two-person double-wall tent, but it’s not a very roomy or convenient two-person tent (unless you’re an exhausted adventure racer and you don’t care). It’s much more suitable as a one-person tent, but that said, there are better options on the market.
- At 37 ounces (1049 g), it’s the lightest two-person double-wall tent available
- Side entry protected by a vestibule
- Strong aluminum alloy poles and titanium stakes
- Two functional end vents
- Two mesh storage pockets
- Gear in the entry vestibule can easily be reached from inside the tent
- Extra long length will accommodate tall hikers (but headroom is limited)
- Very wind stable and storm worthy
- Plenty of space for one person plus gear
What’s Not So Good
- Only one entry door
- Too little space to comfortably accommodate two people
- Limited headroom
- Canopy flaps in the wind
- Clips are difficult to attach and remove from the pole
Recommendations for Improvement
- Add top vents
- Use lighter and easier to attach clips