Monday, June 30, 2014

Sleeprite Cot Quick Review

Official site of Sleeprite Cot.

My current camping accomodation is Therm-A-Rest Scout . I have the Regular 183 cms pad which weighs 680 gms and can fit quite easily in my backpack. It is a great self-inflating sleeping pad and it has seen action at places like Mossy Forest, Bako National Park, Kem Baha, Broga, Gunung Datuk. It has given me many comfortable night's sleep. Even on uneven rock surfaces, it is so darn comfortable to sleep on and your body warmth actually heats the pad up. My only complain if any is its weight! Budget does not permit me to buy the more expensive and lighter pads!

I picked up the Sleeprite Cot  for days when I (may!) do car-camping or beach camping WHEN WEIGHT DOES NOT matter. It comes in a small portable pouch which together with all its trappings clocks at 2.87 kgs. 

To put things in perspective - folding aluminium camping beds as we know it like this weighs 6+kgs, is bulky and not exactly portable without some huffing and puffing but costs in the range of RM150-200.00. The other big difference is that these sit much higher above ground : we're talking in feet. For Sleeprite Cot (or LuxuryLite for that matter), they sit considerably lower to the ground : we're talking in inches here. The idea is that your body is off the ground - whether it is 2 feet or 6 inches should not matter in reality since you are already isolated from the ground environment.

Dimensions : the cot sits 175mm above ground (no load), is 1960mm in length, and 740mm in width. Basically it can sleep a 6 footer more than comfortably. Once you are on it, the cot fabric will sag down much closer to the ground - so depending on where your bum is located in relation to the support frames - in my case, the lowest point was 70mm off the ground. 

Sleeprite Cot at 2.87kg is much lighter in a compact package compared to traditional camp beds. But if you wanna go crazy, there is always the Therm-A-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot - which in Kuala Lumpur is being sold at RM999 but weighs a waifly 1.47kg only. But let me be the sour grape and tell you that I have molested the LuxuryLite before - it is darn crazy light BUT, the durability of the oval foot packs of the bow-frame is honestly questionable. It is made of some kind of light plastic, which looks and feels fragile. I have read a review where a user claims to break the foot on its first use - in his living room!

The Sleeprite has foot packs made of solid aluminium and is rated to carry up to 300lbs.

Everything is shock-corded : so no pieces are liable to be misplaced or dropped. The aluminium poles are not your ordinary heavy generic tent poles - they are lightweight and is similar to the poles used by the MSR tents. Handsome and light. I like. And the red color : very pretty. Very MSR Hubba Hubba NX .. ahem ..

The 6 support frames are not evenly spread out - 4 of them are bunched more closely together where most of your body weight is : head, upper torso and bum. So note the White Arrow which tells you which way your head should be. Sleep the other way and your body weight may not be properly distributed - which I assume can break the frame. Who knows?

So how easy is it to setup and dismantle? Actually very easy. I fumbled in the first try but by the second and subsequent attempts, I can get it up quickly in a leisurely 2 minutes. Bringing it down is even faster. My tip is:
1. use the ground as leverage for setup and dismantling.
2. fix the support frames on either end of the cot FIRST, before doing the intermediate ones.
3. slot the frame on the left side of the cot, stand the cot sideways on the left and press down to slot the frame on the right side of the cot (which is elevated). The leverage by pushing the frame down enables you to easily bend the frame to ease slotting.

Sedap siol! The bed is firm, there is sagging but your torso doesn't ball up like it would when in a hammock. The fabric is held taut and gives just a little when your full weight it on it. It makes noise when you move : if you are a tosser-turner, you might piss off the guy sleeping next to you. It is not very noisy but it is audible.

1. When your wife gives birth and you can only get a Single Room. An instant bed!
2. Day trip / picnics for an afternoon siesta by the beach.
3. Motorbike camping - what is 2.8kg in the panniers dude?!
4. A non-fussy sleeper guest drops by the house
5. Watch World Cup when the rest of the sofa is already taken up by other family members.
6. Overnight camping gets tricky:
(a) setup a flysheet above you; or
(b) have a very big tent

For Malaysian climate, 6(a) is very very doable and would be much preferred.

Last question : would I hike up a mountain with it? Answer : NO. My Hubba Hubba (2.04kg) with the Gear Loft (85gms)and  and Footprint (140gms) is considerably lighter, can sleep 2 comfortably, has an ace view of the stars minus the insects and mozzies and keeps me out of the elements.

Price paid RM340.00 (2014)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Living with : The MSR Hubba Hubba Review

This is my second Hubba Hubba - after the first one was stolen. I like the tent so much that I'd buy this again if I have to.

Keywords of things I like about it: lightweight everything, build quality, view, packs very compactly

At first glance, the Hubba Hubba looks like a variation of the dome tent but it is far from it. Hubba Hubba comes with a single pole design - every single piece of the entire pole structure is shock-corded together as a single unified piece. The pole itself is amazingly ultralight - most people when they handle the pole for the first time and get awestruck by its light weight - will just blink the eye and buy the tent. :) It is called DAC Featherlite and weight probably only 1/10 of the normal weight of the traditional 2 piece aluminium dome tent poles. It is that amazing.

Before I bought this tent, I shortlisted a few others - an orange Marmot being one of them which was in the same price range as the Hubba Hubba. I tested the Marmot in a showroom in Singapore - actually was very impressed with the entire package until I saw the tent spikes. For an ultralight tent which went to great pains to save weight - it uses the traditional heavy as lead steel tent spikes. Locals would call those Paku Pontianak. FAIL.
The beautiful MiniGroundhog stakes

MSR made no such mistakes as it went all the way right down to the ultralight and beautiful MiniGroundhog stakes - which looks the business and weighs next to nothing. And they even supply you with insufficient stakes! For this iteration of Hubba Hubba, it came with only 4 stakes - when ideally you need 6 minimum to fully guy the tent in strong wind conditions. One stake costs RM11 so you should grab at least 2 extra.

My recommendation is to buy the tent with the Hubba Hubba Footprint

The Footprint enables me to setup the tent pretty much anywhere I want - protects the tent from rough surfaces underneath and allows me to setup JUST the rainfly without the tent. There are some occasions when you just need the shelter without the tent - so you raise the poles using the footprint and then raise the rainfly. The practical advantage is that when it suddenly rains, you can quickly layout the footprint, raise the rainfly first to get out of the rain, and only then raise the tent underneath. You are dry and the tent is dry : this is one ability which most tent systems do not have.

Full mesh 360 degree view if you remove the rainfly

The tent is almost entirely full-mesh. For hot nights, you can fold the rainfly away and have a awesome view of the sky. The interior is spacious - you can sit up with no problems of hitting the roof of the tent and put Therm-A-Rest side by side. There is now a new version of this tent called  Hubba Hubba NX - it has shaved some 500 gms further making it one heckuva UL tent. But I haven't upgraded .. because of its weight saving improvements, the tent is no longer 360 degree full-mesh. It has side walls and the view is impaired. View or weight savings? 500 gms vs 360 degree views?

NO TENT - Only the rainfly is raised - you can configure shade coverage however you want : half, quarter etc.
Vestibule for gear storage and light cooking away from the wind and elements.
I found the MSR Gear Loft useful : I store my handphone, wallet, watch, keys - and you can use it to put a small light to illuminate the tent.


The coldest I camped was 11 deg - there was condensation outside the tent but it did not get into the tent. I have camped it in extreme high winds - at the time when I didn't have enough stakes. It felt like 20-25kmh winds but with proper guying, the tent stayed up all night. Rain? No problem absolutely.

Price Paid : RM1200.00 for the tent only (2011)