CAMPING - TENTS & SWAGS
We always like to test gear on long bush trips, so when we heard that two of our group would be bringing their Black Wolf Turbo tents on a recent adventure we grabbed a test one so that we’d have a trio to compare.
One of the party had just bought a Turbo 270 Lite. The 270
model was made by Black Wolf exclusively for the BCF chain and was a size between the Turbo 250 and the 300. Another couple brought along their tried and tested Turbo 300 Canvas. The trio was complete when we picked up a test Turbo 300 Lite Plus. What were the differences, you ask.
The Turbo 300 measured three metres square when erected and
had Rip-stop poly/cotton canvas fabric for the tent and the fly. It also had a large fly awning that poled out, where the Lite 270 and 300 models featured a smaller, free-standing awning that was held in place by a U-shaped frame above the doorway.
The Turbo 270 Lite measured 2.7 metres square and had lightweight Rip-stop polyester fabric for the tent and the fly.
The Turbo 300 Lite Plus had the same lightweight fabric and
basic dimensions as the Turbo 300 Lite, but had an additional 1.8-metre ‘room’ attached to the rear wall. All Turbo tents had 2.1-metre headroom.
Ups and Downs
All three Turbo Tents had the same folding framework design that saw the tent fabric suspended inside the frame. The fly clipped over the top of the frame, leaving an air space between the fabric layers.
The 23mm aluminium tube frame consisted of four, triple-jointed legs that folded, umbrella-like, and clicked automatically into their locked positions.
Two people could erect a Turbo Tent in about the same time as they could the legendary OzTent. The main difference was that the OzTent was an easier one-person erection and folding job than the Turbo Tent.
As with the OzTent the Turbo Tent was stable with only four
corner pegs in place. Additional pegs and guy rope stabilising were included in the tent kit.
An advantage for the Turbo tent over the OzTent was that a
folded Turbo packed into a bag that was between 1.2m and 1.45m long, letting it fit inside most 4×4 wagons. An OzTent is a roof rack proposition for most people, although the Maverick model was more compact.
A plus for the OzTent was a heavier floor section than the lighter weight floor of the Turbo.
The Turbo Tent fly was easily attached by throwing it over
the tent frame and clipping it via plastic snap locks to the tent
corners. The fly had guy rope gussets with inbuilt rope pockets.
The Turbo 300 Lite Plus unfolded in the same way as the
smaller Turbo models and the additional room section was unclipped from the frame, then laid out behind the main tent. Secondary framing that was very easy to fit held the additional room erect.
Living with a Turbo Tent
The Turbo 300 Canvas tent that our mates took along on this
trip was one of the original models. It was originally delivered with plastic frame knuckles and a very tight-fitting fly that threatened to tear from the strain.
Black Wolf replaced the knuckles with aluminium ones, when
they became available and replaced the fly with a more generous one, free of charge. That tent had done many bush trips and was showing few signs of wear and tear.
Our mates were very interested in the Lite versions, noting
that they were easier to fold up and had the advantage of roof
ventilation that the original tents didn’t have. However, they preferred the canvas model’s poled-out, larger awning to the free-standing one on the Lite 270.
We evaluated the Turbo 300 Lite Plus in a mixture of weather
conditions and found it very stable and relatively flap-free. In hot
weather we didn’t use the fly, so the roof vents were open to the sky.
We found that when we didn’t need to use the back room, we
could leave it rolled up behind the main rear wall. However, in strong winds and when there was a threat of rain the Plus needed the rear room erected for stability and to ensure a good fly fitment.
The large, meshed side windows and doorway gave ample
ventilation, even with the fly in place. We appreciated the five stash pockets and the power lead entry flap.
The design of the Turbo tent put maximum headroom in the
centre of the tent, in contrast to an OzTent that had peak headroom across the width of the tent. If the sleeping arrangement was a pair of single beds that put the centre corridor under the highest point in the tent. A double mattress forced some compromises on headroom. We found that the 300 size gave adequate space for a double mattress, but the 270
was better suited to twin beds.
Would we buy one? Yep, we did. We chose a Turbo 300 Lite
that we can use for trips where we’re testing a vehicle that doesn’t have much load space or a roof rack. The Jet Tent Maverick is our bush home alternative.