Gelert Beyond Starview Four Tent

gelert beyond starview four

Note, Millets in Mary street gave me this tent to road test. To this review, you might say I threw it up first go and recorded the video straight after. A sort of this is how it may happen in real life, so it’s not perfectly presented in the video or images, as per a brochure lets say. As I use it I may add a few images….

However, one of the first questions I ask myself, from experience, when choosing any tent is always can I put it up on my own and how long will it take for me to do that.

I pitched the Starview Four the instructions of which are printed on waterproof material inside its carrier bag as a by the way, in about 20 minutes. In a world gone Irish weather, that’s kids inside and dry.

Of note: there’s no outer sheet to go over the supports, instead the supports run outside and the bedroom goes inside, after the tent is in place. Small other touches like the repair kit, a variation of doors and how they open and the curtains at the front roll down into pockets make it well thought. Also I love the pre bent poles. In short, it strikes me as the type of tent a camping enthusiast invented, for a camping enthusiast.

Some weeks ago I asked Aaron, store manager at Millets Mary Street about this and the Gelert Beyond Starview Four tent.

Gelert Beyond Starview 4 Tent (mp3)

The big thing for me to get used to will be that the bedrooms are side by side, which is much better for a family with a 1 year old daughter. The other is that we can actually stand up inside it and sit inside without the wind rushing through and water dripping into the tents reception. Also I’ve never owned a table as there was never room before. The carpet, simply adds to the quality.

All in all, the Starview Four is a cosy, well made, extremely well thought out piece of quality kit. More than that it is without question the best tent I have slept in to date.

update: first family usage at Lough Ramor over 4 days

Vital stats:

  • Fabric: Outer: Polyester with waterproof PU coating
  • Inner: Breathable Polyester
  • Groundsheet: Durable Matt finish Polyethylene
  • Dimensions: Outer:  L 480 x W 280 x H 200cm
  • Inner:  L 260 x W 220 x H 180cm 1 x bedroom
  • Poles:  3 x 12.7mm Fibreglass poles
  • Extension:  2 x 16mm Steel porch poles
  • Brow poles:  1 x 8.5mm Fibreglass pole
  • HH:  5000mm
  • Weight:  16.45Kg
  • Pack Size:  73 x 30 x 30cm
  • Colour:  Vibrant Blue/Steel Grey/Anthracite
  • Pitch:  Outer first
  • Taped Seams:  Yes

gelert beyond starview four tent

MSR PocketRocket™ & Titan™ Kettle

msr titan kettle pocket rocket

If ever there was a camping gadget essential I had to recommend to any type of outdoors enthusiast, the MSR [Mountain Safety Research] PocketRocket™  and Titan™  kettle that I bought maybe about 7 years ago is at the top of the list. Without question one of the best investments I have ever made.

I originally bought it when I used to travel Ireland a lot on my own. Put simply, it meant a cuppa whenever I felt like it and wherever. Since then the pocketrocket and titan™ kettle have been on every camping and great outdoors trip I’ve made. As a by the way, it says it’s a kettle… it’s also a big mug, a decent bowl and a small pot in one.

pocketrocket

Of recent years they were there when the electricity went and in a world gone festival where it’s a long way to your car and the coffee can be weak it’s even done Electric Picnic. For the size of it, you’d be surprised how many times it’s finished cooking the dinner when all of the shops are closed and one runs out of gas for the big stove. Of course it has also been road tested in the wilds whilst I was landscaping in Donegal when the cuppa was most welcome until the rains eased off.

The stats below tell a better story, but above all, it is tiny and pretty much unbreakable. The gas cannister fits in the kettle and the kettle fits in your pocket. I can’t remember how much they cost now – if anyone knows you might just leave a comment.

The PocketRocket stats:

  • weight: just 3 oz. (85 g),
  • dimensions: 4 x 2 x 2 in
  • output: Boils 1 liter of water < 3.5 minutes
  • Also: Tri-sectional Windclip wind shield protects flame. Glove friendly. No maintenance.

The PocketRocket stove tied with the MSR WhisperLite stove as Backpacker Magazine Readers’ choice for the best camping stove in 2005.

The Titan™ Kettle stats:

  • Ultralight titanium: Weighs just 4.2 oz. (118 g).
  • Compact: 0.85-liter capacity
  • Also: tight-fitting lid and drip-free spout for smooth, easy pouring.

Alpinist Magazine Mountain Standards pick 2005 for “the best gear available today.” Titan Cookware is so light it “feels like it’s not even in there when it’s in your pack.”

The reason why these two pieces of MSR kit are with me still today is pretty easy when you read the story of Neil Anderson, Jim Lea and John Burroughs that are Cascade Designs. There is nothing that I love more than a man who’s been there making something for a man who’s going there.

UPDATE:

I noted the video above on Facebook and tagged MSR, as one does. I got this email from MSR

Dear Peter Donegan,
I apologize, however Mountain Safety Research recently had to remove a video post that you added to our Facebook wall.  We really appreciate your enthusiasm for MSR products and for your participation, however we would remind you to review our instructions and warnings for your own safety when using any of our stove products:
All of our stoves are for outdoor use only and the PocketRocket instructions specifically state:

CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARD

  • This stove can produce carbon monoxide, which has no odor.
  • Using it in an enclosed space can kill you.
  • Never use this stove in an enclosed space such as a camper, tent, vestible, car, or home.

Thanks so much for using MSR products!

McKenzie Holden
Assistant to Corporate Counsel

CASCADE DESIGNS, INC www.cascadedesigns.com
MSR®  Therm-a-Rest®  SealLine®   Platypus®   Tracks®
INNOVATION   •   QUALITY   •   SERVICE   

msr titan kettle

5 Camping Essentials

camping

The Scouts motto when I was growing up was Bí Ullaimh – Be Prepared. Family camping is something very different and not really about pushing the barriers to the extreme. More than anything it’s about the adventure outdoors together. And if you go to the places I’ve been camping, you realise just how beautiful this country is and the stunning landscape that sits right on our doorstep. Lough Ennell was and is a prime example of that.

The following for me, are five camping essentials that pretty much make life in the great outdoors just that little bit easier. They also didn’t really warrant an entire blog post to themselves.

I hope this list helps. You can also leave a comment below if you think I’ve missed out on anything.

1. The Sealey Booster Pack

sealey booster pack

You may be a little surprised to see a booster pack, capable of jump starting my jeep as my no.1 but their is serious logic in this.

Away for a bank holiday weekend lets say, the car sits stationary whilst acting as a power source for kids torches, or very simply the car is nowhere near your tent….

The Sealey booster pack comes with a cigarette lighter socket, which means it can recharge torches, lamps and as you can see here telephones. It weighs a bit, so it may not be one for the festival camper. I think I paid over 100 euro’s for this one. They can be got cheaper in some supermarkets, but do so at your own peril. I’ve already recycled one of lesser quality.

Buy in any good motor factors.

2. Thermos Lunch Bag

thermos lunch bag

The Thermos lunch bag is the absolute bees knees.

Whenever I go camping the food for the day is made in advance and usually a mixture of cold salads and what not from the garden. The trouble with Irish weather is that it may well be great sunshine starting out, as the food cooks slowly in the back of the car – but when you get there and it’s raining and the kids are staaaaaarving…. The front pocket fits the knife, fork and spoon set and the lining is leak proof.

3. Double Action Hand Pump

camping pump

Once again the no battery rule applies here and sure no-one likes them old foot pumps. But this baby is a real piece of basic principled essential camping kit.

For me it will do an air bed [which I personally dislike] in around 3/4 minutes. But the other side is it doubles up as a bellows, that assuming your place of camping allows barbeque’s or/ and fires. Outside of that, it comes with every connection possible so great for arm bands, or anything inflatable for that matter. It also does the reverse and deflates. Others seem to like the fact that I also use it to gently blows spiders out of the tent without hurting them.

4. First Aid Kit

first aid kit

Not the most exciting bit of camping gear I’ll admit….but definitely of the most important.

I think I paid around €30 for this first aid kit. The big tip on this is to overstock on the large plasters. More than not it has been used by others that camped near me too many times. And please for your own sake, make sure it is the last thing you put in the car, next to the food. Which means it is also first out.

5. Stanley Flask

stanley durable flask

I bought this pretty much unbreakable Stanley flask around 3 years ago. It cost a few bob [about €30] but a bit like my booster pack above – I prefer to but once and buy well.

It is the coffee on arrival after the tent has gone up, but far more important, flasks keep things warm as well as cold and as happened June bank holiday weekend just gone when temperatures hit 25 Celsius plus, it meant there was milk – that hadn’t been cooked – for breakfast the next morning.  This extremely durable beauty comes with a 15 year warranty for good reason.

———–

NB: I have always tried to buy as local as possible. In this, I found it difficult to make this list from Irish made. If you do know of any do let me know or/ and leave a comment below.

That aside, I like the slogan over this camping store.

outdoor trek camping shop

Review: Gelert Wind Up Lamp

gelert

This is the Gelert wind up lamp. I bought it in Millets camping shop in Mary Street. Not costing over €20, that I remember [I’m open to correction on this…. I lost the receipt so couldn’t double check], it is a pretty genius piece of what I now call one of my camping essentials.

gelert wind up lampI have another LED type light that I’ll review later but, this wins top marks for a few reasons.

I love the two light level settings. Really important when camping and considering others inside and outside of your tent. More than that it’s light enough that doesn’t wake a one year old by being too bright.

The big reason I like it so much, is the fact that one always forgets the batteries or leaves the light on overnight. In this case it doesn’t matter. I also left this outside over night in the rain for the craic, something that always happens with torches. It was grand the next day. It’s also quite durable and light wieght.

For this Irish camper it scores 10/ 10.

This is the lamp demo during the day. Recorded July 4th.

This is the lamp at night time. Recorded June 12th.

The Tribesman – Our Great Outdoors

peter donegan landscaping

This week, nee the last twenty four months, have been a mass roller coaster of highs and some lows for me in every possible sense of being a horticulturist. I am fully aware it has been like that for a lot of businesses, but I can really only and honestly refer to myself and my experiences.

Back to it, in my mind and in my humour I like to say that that depends on how you look at it. In reality, I think I knew what I was getting into as regards the landscaping industry when I started growing plants under my bed as a nipper, when I went to college to study horticulture and further when I started my own gardening business almost eleven years ago – in Ireland.

The reason the last twenty four months have been particularly tough is more reasoned by the weather than anything else in my opinion and the snow last year did more than beat the stuffing out of plants. It really did take a lot from people like myself who are reliant upon the great outdoors for a living and as a way of life.

In terms of how tough it was…. well, you can quote me on this

I’d rather be held down by four hundred Oprah Winfrey fanatics and made watch the double season finalé episode of Desperate Housewives than go through it again.

But whilst hindsight is a great thing, I realise and know that the weather in this little island has always been contrary. What it has equally made me realise is what a great country we do live in and how more than ever when times become a little rocky do we depend on those we know best.

More than that, I think I began to realise that as a gardener based in Ireland – sub category – Dublin – sub category – North County, Fingal – that the guy who manufactures, invents, makes and creates, employs, sells and services in a sub category most closest to my home was the business I really should be going to. In short, shopping local. Or, as local as is possible.

In the grander scheme of thinking, the weekend past has seen Irelands largest gardening event, Bloom In The Park, just pass us by. It is phenomenal to think that just five years ago there was no garden show for Ireland.

To put in context what it has achieved, last year almost sixty thousand people crossed the ticket barriers of the largest annual gardening event in the country. That, one should bear in mind in just five years in operation. Contrasted with The Chelsea flower show, on the go since year dot and it attracts around one hundred and fifty thousand guests per annum.

But Irish garden shows don’t simply stop at the gates of The Phoenix Park – there are many,  many more around the country and in saying that I realise quite quickly that there are a lot more great people in this delightful little place I like to call home.

I’ve always had a theory in my head that to get a staunch non gardener, outside – into the great outdoors is a logic first stepping stone. Be that as discussed in last weeks article, via my non gardeners group or, as I found myself doing in the depths of autumn some years ago, down at the Irish Conker Championships in Freshford in Co. Kilkenny – and the more I think about it the more I see that all over Ireland there are so many unsung heroes in so many villages striving to make a something a little brighter and very much for the better.

In my own little village, a population I believe that at the last census had no greater than six hundred people and within, there sits a pitch and putt club. Two of the volunteers, a husband and wife team, aren’t even from the locality. That, makes me smile.

Vince, the husband, was seventy years young just two weeks ago.

I know that there are Tidy Towns committees, horticultural societies, village fairs and fetes, to name but a few examples, being organised all over the country, literally as I type. I also know that somewhere in between my front gardens and the end of the road I may have only enough time to say thank you, to applaud or even just to admire the work others have done. More than that I know that this business, in whatever format, that I like to call the great outdoors isn’t that bad after all.

Maybe, I just need to be a little more like Vince.