No Stupid Questions: Which Tent Should I Take On Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way?


A reader writes:

I am 63 and next year I’m planning to ride the complete Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, which you probably know is about 2,100km. I will do it on my six speed Brompton, using the rack and a waterproof backpack on the back and the Brompton 30 litre waterproof bag on the front. The Brompton has the 44-tooth front sprocket to reduce the gearing.

I have a Terra Nova Pioneer 2 and a Hilleberg Nallo, but I’m also considering buying a Hilleberg Akto or Enan. Which tent would you take?

Oh, I should add that I fold up my Brompton and put it in the vestibule for security, thus taking up quite a bit of space. Also I’m 190cm tall.

I’ve just been looking over the specs of the tents you mentioned. And if the question is literally which tent I would take on the Wild Atlantic Way, then of the two options I’d go with the Terra Nova Pioneer 2.

Here’s my line of reasoning:

Both the Nallo and the Pioneer 2 are two-berth shelters built for 3/4‑season use, can handle plenty of wet weather, and pack down to a similar size and weight. 

In these respects, they’re similar to many of the popular cycle touring and bikepacking tents I’ve listed here. (The Nallo is already on that list, in fact.)

But when put against your criteria, the Terra Nova Pioneer seems to have the edge. I imagine I’ll find the freestanding design of the Pioneer more versatile than the Nallo’s tunnel design when wild camping. I’ll have one of the Pioneer’s two awnings dedicated to the Brompton and the other to use as an entrance, whereas the Nallo only has the single entrance vestibule. You know how bikes seem to grow when you bring them inside? The same is true of folding bikes in tent awnings (I’ve tried it!).

The Pioneer is also a touch lighter at 2.1kg versus 2.4kg packed – not a vast difference, but it’s low-hanging fruit, so I might as well take it.

Some might argue the Nallo’s tunnel design a better choice for high winds, and I suspect that will sometimes be a factor on the west coast of Ireland, though I haven’t ridden the route myself. I could address that with the Pioneer (or any other dome tent) by choosing sheltered campsites, as well as being fastidious about pitch quality: I’d get into a habit of using the guylines, looking at the forecast, adjusting for the surroundings, and pitching with prevailing winds in mind. (More on successful wild camping here.)

I’m assuming you’ve already used both tents and know you’ll fit in them, and that your height isn’t an issue. If that’s not the case, it’s time for a dry run in the back garden!

As for buying a new tent for this trip, the Hilleberg Akto is of course a classic, tried-and-tested ultralight one-person shelter, and the Enan looks similar but lighter still. Compared to the Terra Nova Pioneer, I’d save about 400g with the Akto and nearly 1kg with the Enan – but I’d also sacrifice versatility, headroom, and living space. If I was trying to keep weight to an absolute minimum, and money was no object, I might well swing towards the Enan. But I find most people go cycle touring for pleasure, and thus prefer the comfort of a roomy 2‑person tent – and it seems I already have one that fits the bill.

More generally, I think we’re talking about choosing between premium products that are time-proven and will almost certainly perform as expected. 

So your question seems mainly about matching the tent to the specifics of the trip and your personal preferences. 

Nail those down and the question might just answer itself!

Postscript:

When I drafted the above reply and emailed it to the questioner, I got the following response:

Of course there isn’t a perfect answer to my question but you have really explained the reasoning for each tent very well.

I’ve pretty much decided on the Enan for these reasons:

  1. Low weight 
  2. Good wind stability 
  3. Easy to pitch 
  4. Small footprint 

I thought a lot about the freestanding issue but decided that Ireland is more likely to have suitable ground conditions for pegs. It certainly won’t be too dry!

Which just goes to show that – when all’s said and done – the only person qualified to make the final decision on a gear purchase is you!

Comments (skip to respond)

2 responses to “No Stupid Questions: Which Tent Should I Take On Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way?”

  1. zero_trooper avatar
    zero_trooper

    Excellent reasoning, pity you wasted your time 🙈

    1. Not at all – the reader asked which tent I would take, and this was a great demonstration of how there’s no right answer sometimes!

Something to add?