Tents are an integral part of camping and fishing experiences. Love ‘em or hate ‘em they are sure here to stay. There are a couple of factors that will determine whether or not they are a success: their ease of set up and their degree of protection against the elements.
There’s a lot to be said for a top quality tent that can be set up in around twenty seconds once it’s rolled out of the bag. If we take a close look at the Northern Tourer, this strongly constructed unit fits the bill exactly.
The Northern Tourer, one of seven in Freedom’s Touring range, is an Aussie-made tent that uses a centre pole to keep it upright, with pegs in the corners and along the sides to secure it down.
The Freedom is 3.2m x 3.2m and 2.6m high. While it is not as large as some of the two and three room dome tents on the market, the beauty of the big Freedom is that it’s ideal for Mum, Dad and a couple of youngsters and set-up time is brilliant.
If it’s raining or as cold as a frog’s under belly, setting up and getting inside for a night’s sleep is so quick compared to other styles of tents.
The second major issue, protection against the elements, is where the Northern Tourer really does well. It features a very heavy canvas construction for roof and walls with a sewn-in floor that is totally waterproof due to its heavy-duty PVC and internal stitching.
The canvas roof is double layered to keep out rain and the tent’s special centre pole is spring loaded to provide a degree of controlled flexing for those times when the tent is standing in strong winds.
I had a mate push hard on the side of the tent and the spring gave nicely – although some upper flexing of the tent was obvious, there was little strain on the pegs holding it down. This is a smart idea because there are times when storms make tenting far from fun. There’s nothing worse than having to retreat to the car and watch the tent blow away.
The Freedom has plenty of big windows. There’s one on each side plus one at the back and all are equipped with fire-retardant mesh, which is fine enough to keep out those nasty sand flies. Side windows feature a reinforced longitudinal central strip for extra strength while further reinforcing exists around all zippered areas. There is also extra webbing on corners to allow plenty of stretch between pegs for maximum size and ground contact.
With the front door rolled up a further mesh window is available in front to allow a free passage of breeze when desired. A small but useful front awning requires a pair of poles and guy ropes to keep it place while side windows are easily roped out to provide ventilation and shade, or simply rolled up with Velcro straps to keep them up out of the way. All heavy duty YKK zips can be pulled down to totally seal the tent against the elements.
Setting the Northern Tourer up is simple. Unfold all sides, place a peg in each corner in the reinforced metal ring provided and open the door to allow the centre pole to be put into place and extended upwards. Once the pole is locked up the tent is ready for sleeping, with more pegs to put in if it’s breezy. I managed to set up the Northern Tourer in 20 seconds.
Folding for storage will see the pole come out and the tent go down. You need to pull all zips down and remove the pegs. Fold side to side around the top frame and then pop it back into the bag. This might take longer, perhaps 30 seconds.
For ease of setting up and great comfort as far as weather protection is concerned, Freedom Tent’s Northern Tourer is very hard to beat. The tent is not cheap but will give years and years of trouble-free camping.
This oddly shaped little hammer is specially designed for knocking in, or removing, tent pegs. It’s made from impact-resistant plastic material and features a non-slip hammer surface and a smart little hook in the base for peg extraction.
From experience I’ve found that virtually anything can belt a tent peg in. I’ve left hammers behind on camping trips in the past and have stomped pegs into soft ground with my boot when trout fishing. However, on one memorable occasion at Somerset Dam I tried a using a half brick which was not heavy enough for the job. It ripped my hands about badly so I then settled for the base of the car jack to pound pegs into the rock-hard ground. I bent quite a few.
The WakJak is small enough to remain in your tent bag permanently and as its sole job is in connection with camping it would not be removed for any other reason. The makers claim it has near perfect weight and balance and I would agree, having tried it out. The slightly triangular shape fits the hand quite well and provides a sure grip at all times.
To remove a peg, you need to grasp the WakJak by the head and slip out the hook in the base. By pulling back in a quick motion, the hook will engage with a jerk and easily remove a reluctant peg.
The little WakJak is very useful and should make tenting just that much easier.Reads: 3825