I have always fancied a tipi style tent. The traditional single pole style just looks like everything that is camping to me. The ones I have seen, though, have always either been too bulky to work for the kind of camping I like to do (car and motorcycle road tripping where I’m putting up and taking down the tent on a daily basis), or have been very much out-of-my-price-range, coming in at in excess of £1,000. Being given the opportunity to test and review this year’s iteration of the Robens Green Cone, then, filled me with excitement.
On paper the specification of the Robens Green Cone looks really great. There is space for four people, you (well, I) can stand up in it, there’s a large porch area for storage or sitting, lots of vents to allow air to flow through the inner, is very sturdy and waterproof, and it packs down to a reasonable size and weight. All for the mid-range price of £350. You’ll be pleased to know that in practice, after overcoming the challenge of how to pitch it successfully – more on that in a moment – this tent delivers on its promises. And I really like it.
When camping by motorbike, gear size and weight is hugely important. Add a bit too much weight, and the bike is less than comfortable to ride. Even though we do our touring on two bikes, which gives us a bit of extra space for gear because we can share quite a lot of it, we are still limited to the kind of tent we can use. Lots of bikers travel with small and super lightweight tents, but to be honest, we’ve always valued our space and are willing to carry something a little bit bulkier in order to achieve this.
To be fair, even when car camping, the size and weight of a tent are still important. I don’t want a tent that’s so large it fills up my entire boot space, and want to be able to get it from my car to my pitch on my own and in one go.
The Robens Green Cone comes in at 5.5kg, contained in a pack size approximately 64 x 24cm – which is about the same as the old three man-tent we decommissioned at the end of our Zartusacan road trip, and much smaller and lighter than the Quechua Arpenaz we’ve been using for the last couple of years. It easily fits inside our 90 litre LOMO roll bag along with a few other bits of camping paraphernalia, without issue, meaning we can easily camp for a week or two with this and the bikes.
Pitching the Robens Green Cone
As someone who has pitched a lot of different types of tent, from old Scout ridge and bell tents to lightweight backpacking tents, and pretty much everything in between, I have to admit I found pitching the Robens Green Cone rather frustrating to begin with. It was a bit embarrassing really; I felt I was following the instructions sewn into the tent bag to the letter, but just could not get the wall of the tent to sit right. I couldn’t work out if it was the offset centre pole that was throwing me off, or something else.
In the end I spoke to my PR contact at Robens who was hugely helpful and talked me through it, which lead me to alter the provided instructions a bit over the next two or three tries in the privacy of my garden. While I don’t think I’ve quite gotten a perfect pitch just yet – thanks to sloping ground or not quite a large enough area, I can now pitch the tent in about 15 minutes, and be happy with the result.
I made a short video to help anyone else who has one and is having similar issues – the written instructions are below:
These instructions assume you are pitching with the inner tent already attached. Lay the tent out and loosen the guys so you’ve got plenty of length to play with. Then you start at the back and work forward…
- Start by pegging out the six guy lines around the back of the tent loosely, so the tent is the right shape on the ground. The guys should be in line with the stitching. I use my own heavy duty pegs rather than the ones that come with the tent, because we often end up in rocky or solid ground.
- If you are on your own, also loosely peg out the door in roughly the right place. You will almost certainly need to move these once the pole is in, but it makes the next step less tricky.
- Standing at the door but without opening it, insert the pole so it sits correctly at the top of the tent, and place roughly at the right point on the ground – it will be in the middle from left to right, but slanting away from you.
- If you are on your own you will now need to re-peg the door so the pole stands up on its own in the correct place. If you are with someone else, they can peg the door while you hold the pole in place, meaning you should only need to do this once.
- Peg the remaining two lower guy lines (the ones immediately to the left and right of the door) in line with the stitching. I found pegging these with the rest in step one meant getting the pole in very difficult, hence why I do them at this point.
- Open the main door and move the pole into the correct position, which now you have a good view will become very clear, and use the velcro strap to attach it to the bottom of the inner. You can also peg the centre of the inner down if you wish – I haven’t needed to do this yet but I imagine that in very windy conditions or when the ground is very uneven this might be necessary.
- Adjust all the lower guy lines so the tent sits up properly. Your tent should be standing up tall with a longer back and shorter front – a bit like an escarpment.
- Next up, undo the guy lines around the tent middle and hook over the same pegs as the lower guy lines. This lifts the fly sheet out and creates a gap between it and the inner – important for head room and if it rains. This can make the tent look a bit untidy, especially when the ground is uneven, but it’s an important step for stability. We had the tent up in very windy weather, and in heavy rain, and it coped very well.
- Finally, peg out the inner tent. These pegs go just under the fly sheet which is a little awkward when on a slope, but it’s much easier to get the rest of the tent up and worry about the inner last than doing it the other way around. I just haven’t been able to get a good pitch when starting with the inner pegs.
- You can adjust the gap between the fly and the inner using the straps; reach under the fly from the outside and pull as tight as you need. This allows you to create more or less air flow as needed.
And that’s it. As with any new tent, I always practice in the garden first, because pitching a tent for the first time is stressful and you don’t want to be getting angry with a bit of kit on a campsite!
The Features I Like
I have really enjoyed testing out the Green Cone. We took it over to Spain for our recent motorcycle road trip, and I am already looking forward to using it on a couple of solo camping trips in the next couple of months. There are a few features that definitely need a mention.
What makes this tent unique is the single offset pole, which means there is a lot of space – it sits in the porch area and leaves the whole inner available for you and your stuff. There is plenty of space inside for two people to sleep alongside two lots of bike gear – our boots, helmets, pannier, bags, jeans and jackets didn’t get in the way. I would definitely say it would be a squeeze for four to sleep with gear; the steep angle of the sides means you would have tent in your face, but the sizing of tents is always about floor space to sleep rather than taking any gear into account.
In addition to the wonky pole up the middle of the tent, there are a number of small corner poles sewn into the inner. These create a short wall that adds extra useable space inside the tent – unlike most tipi tents the slanting side doesn’t go all the way down to the floor. They’re only short, but they mean you can shove a bag right to the edge. They also mean that the vents around the bottom of the tent actually work; they are low down and do help a draft move through the tent when there is one available.
I very much appreciate the large porch area, which is great for storing stuff or for cooking. There is just about enough of an overhang to stop rain coming in to the inner, but it’s not enough to sit in the porch when it’s raining and stay dry. And for the record, the tent is certainly waterproof; I used the garden pitching as an opportunity to spray it with the hose pipe, and we did get some heavy rain in Spain too. The water did pool at the back of the tent by the middle guy line points, so just be sure to empty those occasionally.
I have to mention some small disappointments about this tent, because I always like to be balanced in my reviews even when I’m really and genuinely enjoying something I’m testing out. There were three niggles right from the start… which surprised me as Robens has a reputation for exceptional quality.
First up, the tent arrived with one fewer peg than I needed to pitch the tent fully. It made no difference to me as I have some heavy-duty stakes that I use anyhow, but I’m glad I did a test pitch (or two) before heading off with it or I’d have been very annoyed. Secondly, a couple of the guy lines were already frayed when I received the tent, one significantly so – I will need to keep an eye on that and replace them before too long. And finally, one of the toggles on the door came unknotted after about three uses – and once that happens, unless you have something to seal the knot you’re forever reattaching it. In fairness, little things like this are easily fixed, and are just small annoyances, but when you’re spending £350 on a tent you do expect it to be perfection… I still recommend the Green Cone but it is not flawless.
The Robens Green Cone Overall
I genuinely enjoy my Robens Green Cone and know I’ll be using it a lot. It’s been absolutely brilliant for motorcycle touring this year, and I’ll be chucking it into the car for at least two more trips later this year. It looks great when pitched and I love having a tipi style tent with all that space. Now if only I could get it in my backpack for hiking…
You can find the Robens Green Cone for £349 on the Robens website.
I was gifted the Green Cone tipi tent by Robens in return for an honest review here on Splodz Blogz. As always, this review is based on my own experience of using the product in question, and it is not a sponsored advertorial. If you have any questions about the tent please do ask below and I’ll do my best to help out.