Much prolonged decision making went into choosing our tent. Let’s just say it involved a spreadsheet. There were a few main contenders: the Robens Raptor and Robens Lodge, MSR Hubba Hubba NX, Vango Halo, Vaude Space L 3P. Although drawn out, we learnt a lot in the process and we now know far more about tent flys and their materials and coatings than we ever thought was possible.
Unfortunately, living in Portugal there were approximately zero places other than Decathlon that we could go to check out any tents before purchasing. We couldn’t find many reviews of the Robens Raptor in English, so we watched an awful lot of videos in German and Dutch and used Google translate many times to understand the reviews that we could find. In light of this, we vowed to write a review of the tent if and when we did buy the Robens Raptor.
To us, the most important decision making factors were:
- Waterproof-ness : we used HH (mm) measures and many lightweight tents gave values we felt were too low, this for us ruled out the MSR
- Free standing : we wanted to be able pitch the tent with having to use pegs, meaning we could pitch on rock or concrete if we needed to
- Two good-sized porches : we knew we were going to have a lot of bags …
- Reasonable head height : our previous tent was a Vango Banshee 200 which, although an excellent budget tent, does compare well to a coffin. We wanted ours to be atleast 1m high inside so we could both comfortably sit inside
- Colour : we knew that we would be spending a lot of our time wild-camping and so definitely didn’t want something bright red or orange
- Weight: we weren’t after a super lightweight tent as we were more concerned that it would be durable and last (our trip plan being about 2 years) – we set a benchmark at under 4kg
- Price : although we were going to be buying our home for the next year or two we didn’t want to break the bank. This ruled out all Hilleburg and Exped tents straight away
- Material & Coating : tent flys tend to be made of either nylon or polyester and to be either PU coated or silicon coated.
- Nylon has a better strength to weight ratio that polyester, but the fabric stretches when wet. Polyester stays taut when wet and has better UV performance than nylon. However, polyester has to be slightly thicker than nylon to be as strong, which is why its typically not used for lightweight tents.
- PU coatings peel, heat-age and weaken whichever fabric they are applied to, whereas their silicon counterparts do not. The seams of a silicon coated tents cannot be taped in the usual way, you seem to have to deal the seams your self, but we were happy to make that compromise.
- We were after a silicon coated polyester tent, of which there were remarkably few options
Our decision was finally made when we stumbled across a Robens Raptor on sale (30% off), for one-day only, on a miscellaneous outdoors website. Price was one of the two reasons we hadn’t been so sure about the tent, the other being the colour. But, with all other criteria satisfied we went for it.
When the tent finally arrived, much to our relief, despite all pictures online making the tent look like a 1970’s brown/orange combo, the outer tent was infact khaki green with a bright yellow inner. Which in our opinion was excellent news.
With an exciteable test install inside our apartment in Lisbon, we found the footprint of the tent was bigger than either of us had visualised. So big that there wasn’t sufficient floor space anywhere in the flat to put it up – we had to balance it on top of the bed, letting the porches float either side in mid-air. This was either a reflection of the size of our flat or the size of the tent.
In the field though, over-size hasn’t been an issue. A few times in some really tight wild-camping spots we have had to do a little ‘gardening’ to trim some trailing spikey foliage, but other than that it’s been great. Infact, I might prefer if the tent was just a little longer; I’m 180cm and the tent 215cm, but on some mornings I have found that my feet have ventured to the bottom of the tent and the end of my sleeping bag is damp as my feet have pushed the inner and outer tent together. This hasn’t been a major problem so far, but we haven’t had any nights of torrential rain yet either.
The porch space is excellent – that alone almost feels as big as the inner of the old beloved Vango Banshee 200. There is plenty of space for all our bags and to cook sheltered from the elements on rainy nights.
The tunnel structure of the inner definitely makes the tent feel spacious, in contrast to other more dome structured tents such as the Robens Lodge 2. I’m tall and I don’t feel that I am limited to the centre of the tent for sitting space.
We’ve had a couple of super windy nights, but pitched in the right orientation and with the guy lines deployed, the fly is taut and doesn’t flap or make a sound. The poles are DAC and so as expected are holding strong.
The poles aren’t colour coded, but given the structure of the tent it’s not hard to tell which poles should go where. Despite the fact that the poles for the sides of the tunnel run in a sleeve the whole way across the arc, it takes us no time to get the tent up – easily less than five minutes.
One deciding factor for us was that the fly of this edition of the Robens Raptor was made from silicon coated polyester. As it was silicon coated, the seams were not sealed, so we decided to do this ourselves before we left with McNett SilNet. We’ve had a number of rainy nights by now, but every time we’ve been cosy and dry. Only time will tell how well the material ages.
We wanted a tent with a high HH rating for the fly and the floor so we could be sure the tent would keep us dry and so that we wouldn’t need to carry an extra footprint with us. The Raptor has HH ratings of 4kmm and 10kmm for the fly and floor respectively. We’ve camped in places with super damp floors and have never come away with wet sleeping mats.
The tent is definitely built for the northern European climate – the outer fly has two small vents on either side of the tent and the inner has remarkably little mesh, only a semi-circle at the top of each inner door. We generally keep the top of the outer doors unzipped to get a bit more ventilation and airflow through. Without doing this, in moister camping spots we tend to wake up to quite a condensation coated tent, both inside and between the inner/outer fly.
When taking it down, the fabric is slightly “slippery” but not so much so that it was difficult to fold & roll back into the bag. The bag has ample space to easily slide the tent back inside and has a dry bag type roll-top closure on the top.
Despite the generous inner volume of the tent, it packs down amazingly well – with a rolled height of an ortlieb pannier and 16cm diameter.
We added an Exped luminous gear loft to supplement the gear rope that was already inside, which is great for chucking in sunglasses, hats, headlamps and other small bits and pieces which always seem to get lost in a tent.
Time will tell, but so far we’ve pitched our Raptor nearly 100 times and have no tent regrets. We’d highly recommend.
Disclaimer: we’re not supported by Robens in any way… we just really like the tent 😉