I couldn't wait to check out U.K.-based Terra Nova's Laser Ultra 1, which weighs a scant 1 pound, 1 ounce (or 1 pound 3 ounces in the full configuration). Less scant is the price tag: $700.
A Terra Nova brochure declares the Laser Ultra 1 is the "lightest double-wall shelter in the world." The three-season tent's design mirrors the single-arc pole set-up of the classic Hilleberg Akto (and, more recently, the GoLite Eden), with less than half the weight. The interior shell has a bathtub floor and anti-bug mesh, and the exterior fly is made of Terra Nova's high-tenacity ULTRA fabric.
Inside it's a bit too short to sit up in at 34 inches, and it might be a bit too snug for a full-size inflatable pad (not that anybody in the market for a 1-pound tent submits to such luxuries anyway).
Ultralight backpackers cannot resist the urge to examine a tent with specs like these: I ran into George "Tin Man" Andrews, creator of Anti-Gravity Gear, who seemed quite enchanted with the Laser Ultra 1 after crawling out from inside its narrow confines.
Of course it was impossible to judge how the Laser Ultra 1 would fend off a storm, though Terra Nova has a 30-year track record for building gear suited to the occasionally fierce weather that blasts across the North Sea into England. It's no stretch to hope some of this flyweight's qualities will eventually start showing up in the company's more reasonably priced models.
The Laser Ultra 1 arrives in stores in February and March of 2011.
Bringing Euro brands to the U.S. I learned during my stop at Terra Nova's booth that a company called Sport-Hansa is hoping to help Terra Nova and a few other European brands widen their reach into the United States. Terra Nova has dozens of tents, packs, and sleeping bags to its credit, and a large European following to match.
Matt Huff, a former K2 executive, launched the company to distribute Terra Nova and a few other well-regarded European brands in the United States. Best known among them is Montane, maker of ultralight outdoor apparel. Others include Gronell, which has been making boots since 1937, and Termoswed ("Thermo Swede"), a Scandinavian manufacturer of base layers designed to fend off the chill of a Nordic winter.
Stats for the Laser Ultra 1:
- Minimum weight: 1 pound, 1 ounce
- Packed weight: 1 pound, 3 ounces
- Packed size: 14 x 3 inches
- Max internal height: 34 inches
- Inner length: 87 inches
- Internal width: 29 inches
- MSRP: $700