Last year I began a search for the perfect ‘basecamp’ tent. I need to clarify exactly what I was going to be doing with this tent, as I certainly wasn’t planning to head off to the Himalayas or Artic! First and foremost, I wanted a tent that would offer absolutely bombproof weather protection from the worst wind and rain you could imagine in the UK and would accommodate two people and a lot of kit in comfort, for extended periods of time.
This would need to be a tent that I could take to Mingulay (Scottish Outer Hebrides) for weeks climbing, pitch for wet, wintry weekend in the Lakes or use at an adventure race as a comfortable weekend base.
I borrowed and tired out lots of different tents but one stood head and shoulders above the rest; the Mountain Hardwear DW Satellite.
According to Mountain Hardwear “The Double Wall Satellite™ is a tough, expedition base-camp tent designed to withstand the elements season after season. The Double Wall Satellite accommodates four sleeping, or 6 if you’re celebrating a successful summit bid, and features a domed canopy with fly to distribute wind load. It is practically impervious to water and UV damage thanks to Silicone coated 70D Nylon taffeta. Ten Atlas XL poles help create a dependable shelter for rugged conditions.”
DW Satellite without the flysheet. Note the complex, interlocking pole design.
What does all this mean in practice? In terms of stability and wind resistance, without even guying the tent down, it’s so stable and strong that I can lean against it and stretch after a long run.
It has a bathtub groundsheet that rises up about 30cm above the ground to ensure that water can not get into the tent from below.
The flysheet can be clipped directly to the inner, via the poles. These attachment points line up with the guy points so that the tent can be locked down to offer the same sort of security and shelter from the weather that you would expected from a stone house!
I know that I am in danger of sounding to enthusiastic about this tent! However, there are a few negative points that need to be mentioned.
With ten poles and a complex design, putting the tent up quickly takes some serious practice. I’ve managed to get it down to about twelve minutes, whilst on my own, if everything goes right first time. Twelve minutes is a long time in the rain and wind though.
...and the DW Satellite with its clothes on.
There is no porch, which has two draw backs. First, the weather blows straight into the tent when you open it up and you then have to take off you wet and muddy clothes whilst in the tent. If the weather is really bad it’s impossible not to get some of the weather in the tent with you. However, there are two doors so you can use the most sheltered one and because there is so much room in the tent, its easy to leave some space by the door for wet kit, Secondly, with no porch cooking inside the tent is a task that requires extreme care and is certainly NOT recommended by Mountain Hardware. You’ll also need something heat resistant to place a stove on if you are not using a hanging stove.
With two windows, two doors and large roof ventilation ‘hatch’ the tent does feel surprisingly light and airy when the weather is nice. There is loads of storage space in huge mesh pockets along the inside of the inner tent.
The DW Satellite weighs circa 8kg so it’s certainly not a backpacking tent but then it’s not designed to be one.
I come to love this tent for the security and comfort that it offers. However, with a RRP of £900 you should expect a lot from the DW Satellite. In my experience the DW Satellite offers THE highest levels of quality and performance I’ve yet found in tent.
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