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Nordic Outdoor's resident adventurer Harvey is back from lockdown and again writing up his review on Nordic Outdoor's best kit. This time Harvey and his Dad tackle some Munro's with a Tentipi Safir 7 on their back. You can read more now and start planning your next adventure!
First and foremost, I’ll begin by quickly covering the inspiration behind Tentipi’s innovative construction, the Sámi kåta.
The Sámi are the only indigenous peoples of Europe, with loosely defined borders within the Sápmi region, extending through Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.
Originally hunter gatherers, they turned to reindeer herding around the 17th Century, by means of moving their herds over great distances between grazing grounds.
This nomadic way of life demands a robust home for the harsh Nordic conditions, with a simple lightweight construction for moving quickly overland, and so the Sámi kåta was born. The kåta consists of a basic wooden frame, with a wind resistant shell, and a hole in the top to draw out smoke from the fire.
With such a rich and diverse culture, it’s frustrating to see that Sámi history is somewhat overshadowed by other Nordic cultures in the history books, especially given that the Sámi are the original European people that still exist today. But thankfully in the last 50 years there has been significant efforts to bring Sámi heritage back to the surface, what with the formation of the Sámi Parliament of Finland and collaboration of modern Sámi with the film industry to bring about awareness through recent feature animations such as Disney’s Frozen 2 and Netflix’s Klaus. Not to mention Tentipi's informative statements drawing attention to their Nordic roots, drawing parallels with the Sámi way of life.
Today, with modern materials and manufacture techniques, Tentipi have developed the principle of the Sámi kåta into their own brand of Nordic tipi.
As with most of their Nordic Tipis, Tentipi have a range of design styles by name [Safir, Zirkon, Onyx etc] of which merit different design features, these styles branch off in various sizes and come in two base materials. CP [Cotplomex] and Light [Traillix], these have their own subcategories with properties in line with the requirements of the design.
For the Safir, Cotplomex P is the material of choice, as with the Cotplomex family it consists of a tightly woven cotton polyester blend allowing for the best compromise of water repellancy and breathability. This Cotplomex blend merits a more advanced resistance to UV degradation, maintaining durability in the harshest conditions all year round. Furthermore, the beautiful khaki colour is not faded over time, retaining its “warm and pleasant atmosphere”. The weight of the material is approximately 285g/m2, giving a total weight of the Safir 7Cp on its own at 12.3kg.
Regarding the construction, as with all Tentipis the Safir consists of one single pole that breaks down for transport, adjustable ground tensioners to peg down the edge, and storm cords [guy ropes] at various elevations depending on the requirement [how windy].
This simple design makes for a rapid erection and collapse. The preferred method being to unroll the canopy, orientate it [face to door to your desired direction] peg down the edges with the ground tensioners at full length, erect the pole, tighten the ground tensioners, and peg the necessary amount guy ropes, and further adjust until the canopy is taught and symmetrical [the pole may have a tendency to lean, so make sure it’s upright].
Once practiced, this process should take no more than 3 minutes either way. And almost immediately, you have a comfortable storm-resistant shelter with plenty of headroom in its most basic form. From here, you can begin to build in additional features to make it the perfect outdoor home. Scalable floor, inner tent, inner mosquito net, porch, drying rail, stove and even an open fire. Just remember that the ground tensioners may need to be loosened before trying to attach some of these accessories.
The open fire draws us nicely onto features that are already integrated into the Safir canopy itself. The doorways have double zips and integrated mosquito nets, the inside has various fastening points for all the accessories, and there is a sleeve for the chimney of the Eldfell Stove to slot through. However, if you decide to use an open fire with no chimney, Tentipi have constructed a clever method of drawing out the smoke. Simply pull the built-in cords to reveal an opening in the ventilator cap in the leeward side to the wind, and on the opposite side on the ground, lift the canopy to create a small second opening. This will create a flow of air that will draw out any smoke, without having to much of an effect on the inside temperature, in line with how the Sami will have drawn out smoke from their kåtas.
In my quest to familiarise myself with this already well renowned tipi, I decided to get a bit out there, and so started to plan how best to manoeuvre this sizable tipi up a mountain.
It’s all very well splitting the load between a 7 man team in backpacks or pulks, or reversing your 4x4 up to the campsite and unloading your Safir with all the available accessories, as is common practice. But what if you do not have a large team to share the load? Or there are no roads to your intended site? And maybe you enjoy having plenty of space for admin, or yoga?
I did not have a large team available to split the load, only my father, nor a road, and I quite like having an unnecessary amount of room to dry my socks. With that we picked a route just East of Loch Tay, intending to tab 2km to an altitude of 700m, set up camp in the shadow of Meall Ghaordaidh quickly summit, and return to camp to stay the night, break down camp in the morning and retreat off the hill.
With the route in mind and a team of 2, it seemed that the Safir 7 CP would be a manageable split between my father and I, considering the wight of rest of our equipment for sleeping, eating, and winter mountaineering in Scotland in February.
We arrived at the start line and started checking our personal equipment, whilst also setting aside the team kit to split up; the Safir 7cp, a fire box, and a small bag of firewood. It was at this point my father [who is a seasoned mountaineer] announced he had his Winter Mountain Leader assessment coming up and didn’t want to risk injury through a heavy carry, so kindly offered to take the wood.
With that, I top flapped the Safire 7cp in its entirety, and we set off up the hill. It was of course somewhat laborious, but with someone breaking track through the snow ahead of me, it could have been a lot worse. After a short while we arrived at our intended site, unpacked the Safir, and began the build, which only took a few minutes. On the inside we scraped back the snow with our snow shovels over the inside edge to further secure the tipi, anticipating the high winds of Storm Dennis fast approaching.
Finally, we built a fire ready to light on our return and rejigged out kit for a rapid ascent of the Munro. This took no time at all as we had already gained most of the hight. Miraculously we were blessed with clear views at the summit and began to have a local knowledge contest naming other Munros on the horizon.
As the light started to fade, we quickly descended the hill to our home for the night, lit the fire, and got scoff on the go. As it was an open fire, we had to tweak the openings to draw the smoke out, a simple task, and although a small amount of smoke was present, it was floating above our heads.
Despite the start of Storm Dennis arriving through the night and lashing the canopy with freezing winds, we had a remarkably comfortable sleep. That morning we broke camp during a lull, this took extraordinarily little time to get all the components into the stuff sack and top flapped. Once we were confident our litter sweep was thorough, we descended the rest of the mountain, and declared yet another successful trip.
This is an outstanding piece of kit, providing robust and comfortable shelter in extreme conditions. The design of the Safir cp range is such that it has become the absolute best tipi available for any trip where weight is not so much a consideration. Ranging from a low-level family wilderness retreat, to a die-hard expeditionary seeking shelter in the plains of Africa or the ice shelfs of the Antarctic.
The Safir 7cp is a heavy bit of kit. Lumping the whole thing up a hill through the snow was not the easiest of ascents. However, it proves that it is absolutely man packable, satisfying the nomadic principles of the Sami kåta. And there are of course ways to remedy the wight issue, such as recruit a larger team to split the load, use a smaller Safir cp model, or the alternative Safir Light [nearly half the weight, but sacrificing durability].
Whatever the decision, the design of the Safir is simple and proven to offer a comfortable stay. The optional accessories allow the user to scale it to their needs, just be sure acquire the correct Tentipi items that are compatible to the size of the Tentipi where necessary.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the Safir 7cp and look forward to getting my hands on the new Olivin for a repeat trip, but on a lighter scale.