I had a simple set of requirements when I started researching which tent to buy for the West Highland Way. I wanted a tent that was big enough for me and my pack, that I could sit up in, that was easy to pitch on my own, that pitched flysheet first, that was light enough to carry along with the rest of my kit, that was not difficult to get in and out of, and that would last more than one trip. Not much on the list then…
My Vango Banshee 200 pitched at Drymen Camping.
I could have spent hundreds and hundreds of pounds. I mean, there’s this fab looking Hillberg Staika tent that is freestanding and has all kinds of special features that comes in at a whopping £990. The popular MSR Elixr 2, that loads of long distance hikers and adventurers seem to have (and I probably would have too if I’d had the money), comes in at around £240. But my budget was basically “spend as little as possible”, and you don’t have to spend huge amounts to have adventures
After much research and some recommendations, I purchased the Vango Banshee 200, a small tent that promised to match my requirements pretty much exactly. I bought it in the Blacks sale for £87.20, an absolute bargain. I really couldn’t ague with the size to weight to value ratio, and trusted that my sub-£100 Banshee would be my ticket to decent sleeps for lots of trips to come.
In practice, the tent worked a treat. It weighs 2.4kg all in and I was able to fit it in my Lowe Alpine Manaslu pack without any problems – I took the poles out of the tent bag and had those upright in the main compartment, leaving the flysheet, inner and pegs rolled up nice and small in the bottom section. The tent bag itself seems a little big but it compresses down small enough, and it’s waterproof so I didn’t have to worry about any residual dampness seeping through when I packed it away in the mornings.
Putting the tent up is very simple. It has just two poles, the longer one forms the main area of the tent and the shorter one gives you some space over your feet, which is much appreciated. I guess this is where some of the weight is added in comparison to some other tents on the market that just have the one pole. The pegs that come with the tent are better than very basic but not the best, so far they’ve all survived without bending so maybe they’re more sturdy than they look. If I wanted to reduce weight I could purchase some better pegs, but these will do for now.
I practiced pitching the Banshee a couple of times in the garden before heading to Scotland, intending to get over the stress of using a new tent for such a big (to me) adventure, but thankfully it didn’t lead to any tears or frustrations. I was able to get the tent up in about 15 minutes, which I know isn’t the quickest but that was with plenty of faffing, drinking water, taking photos and chatting in the mix.
There is definitely best practice when pitching the tent, such as placing the rear pegs in a line rather than at an angle, and remembering that the two sides aren’t symmetrical so you’re not going to get it looking that way. I found the easiest way to pitch was to leave the inner attached to the flysheet when putting it away, so I only had to do things once. These are techniques that you learn over time as you get used to your own tent.
Pitched on Loch Lomond shore at Sallochy.
Once pitched I had plenty of space for me to sit up when reading or rummaging through my pack, and I could lay completely flat without touching the ends of the tent (I’m only 5ft 2 ish so toe wiggling room should really come as standard!). I didn’t want to feel like I was in a coffin or like I was getting tangled up in my own stuff, I thought that would lead to frustration and reduce the enjoyment of a camping trip. There was ample room for my pack to be inside with me, one of the key requirements I had as I didn’t want to leave it outside to get damp or, worse, stolen. The Vango Banshee 200 is listed as a two-man tent but as we all know, that doesn’t mean it’s actually good for two people plus luggage. I wouldn’t want to share this with anyone!
Looking out over Loch Lomond.
Some of the features I appreciated on the tent included the double zips on the doors so I could open them from the bottom for access and the top for airflow. The little window at the head end of the tent was also useful for airflow, and the mesh at the doors meant I could have light and air inside the tent while keeping the midges out. The doors are on the sides of the tent and open really wide to make getting in and out thankfully very easy. The pegging points had reflective sections on them and the guy lines have reflective material sewn in, meaning I could see them easily in the dark. Mine is the grey version, which might not blend into campsite grass as much as the traditional green, but it is still discrete enough if I want or need to pitch off the beaten track somewhere. The dark grey colour kept the inside of the tent dark, which was mostly good although it did mean I needed an alarm to wake me up in the morning!
I’m really impressed with my Vango Banshee 200 and am pleased with my purchase. Easy to pitch, plenty big enough for one plus luggage, and light enough to carry myself for days. There are no doubt better, lighter, more robust tents out there for sure. But they come at a price way bigger than the £100 you need for this one. For something that has a great value to weight and size ratio, the Vango Banshee 200 is an excellent choice. And I stand by mine. I can’t wait for my next adventure under canvas!