Monday, 7 June 2010

The Vaude Power Lizard UL

Recently I purchased the Vaude Power Lizard UL from Bob and Rose at backpackinglight. You can find the link for them in the Links section in this blog. They are a superb outfit and I am indebted to them for their assistance. I published this review at blogpackinglight, a blog I follow with some interest. I commend it to you. However, I now thought it would be fitting to have that review, for completeness, as my first on my own blog - I hope it is of assistance and please comment if you like. The ongoing review for the Power Lizard after its first trip can be found here. An excellent review by Mac E on his blog Stayin' Alive can be found here.

Specifications (as weighed by me)

  • Weight of fly only: 388g 
  • Weight of inner only: 401g 
  • Poleset (including bag): 202g 
  • 10 Vargo Titanium Pegs (and bag): 42g (comes with 8 titanium pegs, but I have replaced them) 
  • Main bag: 15g (although could be replaced by smaller, cuben fibre stuffsack) 
  • Total: 1048g 
  • Floor space of inner: 90cm x 228cm

    To review the Vaude Power Lizard UL, an introduction is prudent to place this review in
    context as any criticism of the tent may be tempered by my relative lack of experience with different types of shelter. My inaugural foray into wild camping began with, in 2006, a Mountain Hardwear PCT 1, my first single person "lightweight" tent, secured from eBay for the princely sum of £80. It performed admirably on several trips to the Brecon Beacons but before long I concluded, perhaps somewhat inexorably, that fast & light was far more preferable in the hills. I ditched my 50 litre Berghaus Crag for an OMM Villain MSC & appended to that a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1, stowing the PCT 1 in my rapidly expanding gear cupboard.

    At 1275g, with some Vargo titanium pegs, the Seedhouse is a great tent: roomy & light. It tends to be a touch fresh in the UK early Spring & late Autumn (the inner is all mesh above the bathtub groundsheet) & the apex of the tent is just far enough back from the entrance to make activity in the porch area slightly cumbersome for 6' people. All those reasons, & to trim even more weight, are why I began looking at the Laser Competition. An excellent tent, no doubt (accepting its flaws), but as I was bidding on one on eBay, I was taken by the Vaude Power Lizard UL reviewed so deftly on

    I found the interior "space vs. weight" balance to approach virtually the perfect symmetry for my purposes. Two people could easily fit in this tent, should an emergency arise. The purported strength under severe wind, given most camping would be above 600m, led me to consider this new tent, recently released by Vaude, worthy of a venture. I spent some time picking Bob's brains (at BPL) & after ordering, it arrived within days. It really does pack down small - smaller even than the Seedhouse - but to achieve its optimum pack-size, a smaller stuffsack would be necessary to compress the pack size. MYOG that out of cuben fibre and not only would it be obscenely light but strong and waterproof too. Given a friend of mine works for North Sails, I am hoping to procure some.

    That it packs so small derives from what is immediately apparent when picking up the tent: the materials used, the fly particularly, are almost ethereally diaphanous. The inner bathtub base seems more substantial & (contextually of course) 'tougher'. I am not sure, on balance, that a groundsheet protector would be necessary. A much thinner, yellow/cream coloured nylon upper with small mesh areas for ventilation completes the inner. I am, I must confess, somewhat concerned about the ventilation in the tent but will report on that after a camp or three. The interior is palatial & when lying down there is none of the face-hugging criticism leveled at the Comp (for reference, I am 6’ tall and 80kg). Two small pockets just off the floor (next to the door at the ‘head end’ - just visible in the photograph below) are a nice touch for phone & specs, head-torch or whatever needs immediately to be to hand. There is enough space to sit comfortably cross-legged & deal with matters in the vestibule area, which is large enough to accommodate two pairs of boots, two rucksacks and perhaps other paraphernalia. There is a small loop at the highest point of the tent too.

    Basic pitching is quite straightforward (flysheet first, with the inner actually left, when stuffed, connected to the fly) but fine tuning takes some practice, although this may be a product of my inexperience rather than tent design. This can be done, once the tent is pitched, via the line-locks at either end of the small poles (outside the tent) and via the straps at the two corners of the inner on the side where the door is located (which can be done from inside with some contortionist hilarity). There is also a line inside the fly, running with the main pole, that can be tightened. A note of caution - the two small end poles should be 53cm in length. Mine, as supplied by error, were 54.5cm and this is too long and makes pitching extremely tough and puts undue stress on the fly. Were it not for BPL contacting me to tell me, there would be absolutely no way of knowing this. BPL replaced them through Vaude for me.

    Across the middle of the fly are several clips. These are attached to the main pole, via the middle clip first and descending alternately on each side and then, when the pitching is finished and fine-tuned, the red tabs are clicked into place to hold keep the shelter robust in severe weather. I intend to locate the middle of the main pole and paint a mark on to assist me in poor light or bad weather.

    Again, in consultation with Bob from BPL, I have drafted a crib-sheet for my own use which I reproduce for your edification, should it be of assistance. I should, at this stage, venture a commendation for the exceptional customer service I experienced at the understanding & knowledgeable hands of Bob & Rose at BPL. So unusual these days & gratefully received. I will update these initial observations after using the Power Lizard in the Carneddau in May.

    Putting up the Power Lizard UL

    (i) Designate each point at each end of the tent 1, 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6 where 2 and 5 are the short poles and 1, 3, 4 and 6 are the corners;
    (ii) Lay the tent out and peg 1,3 and 4,6 to keep tent on ground if windy;
    (iii) Put poles into 2 and 5 but do not peg out guys;
    (iv) Make sure inner/fly connecting tension adjusting straps at 1 and 4 are loose;
    (v) Attach centre clip to centre of main pole and then work downwards alternately on each side;
    (vi) Pull 1 and 3 taut so that sides of tent are tight as possible;
    (vii) Pick up tent using points 4 and 6 and jiggle around/pull until the tent is taut at all four corners, then peg out 4 and 6 - check the inner at this point;
    (viii) Peg out 2 and 5 through black ring then tension guy lines;
    (ix) Peg out sides of main pole - you may need to observe the tent from the ends to see if the main pole is evenly space - sometimes it can list to one side and simply moving the tent by the nipples of the poles in their grommets is enough to achieve this;
    (x) Pull inner tension line across main pole and mini-lock - need not be too tight but it gives strength to main pole;
    (xi) Adjust tension straps at 1 and 4; and
    (xii) Peg out guy lines for main pole.


    1. Hey Maz,
      now that you've owned and presumably used the Power Lizard for a while, what would be your long-term verdict?
      Is it usable, and up to which conditions? Is it safe in high winds?
      I'm considering this one, and would value your input.

    2. I don't like it - its a personal thing and these are just niggles but I find the setup fiddly, the zip on the door catches, it's too big for me, the inner is not taut when the outer is stretched tight as a drum (which is not easy to do either) and I honestly don't think it's as wind resistant in the real world as claimed. Terrybnd has done a review of the smaller version and I'd advise you look at that too (the Power Tokee). That said, friends have used it and loved it - for 1kg you get a lot of good tent - I just don't like it.