Wednesday, 29 June 2016

One Planet Goondie 1 30D Tent - Long Term Review

Do you want one tent that comes close to "does it all"?* Then this review may give you something to consider.

Winter 2011, six years ago now, saw the release of this shelter by One Planet. I had one last nostalgic snow camp with the massive old Olympus (lots of room but 3.6kg carry and hard to warm up with just one) and another using a pricey condensation-prone one-person 3-season model before the Goondie was released for sale. 

So this review is about the first release model, I would have purchased one of the first out the shop, which cost only about $350 with some haggling!  Exchange rates (made in China) have since worsened and the current improved version is about $560.  But keep in mind the versatility of this tent. With options, it may be the only 1-person tent you need. It is easy to set up and tough, with good local support from the maker. 

At the end of September 2011, I deployed it on the remaining High Plains snow in a solo snowshoe trip to Roper hut. Since then I have used it twice on 5 day summer sojourns around the Main Range, a wet 2 night trip to Mt Feathertop including a leech-infested site at Dibbins Hut, a cold overcast 3 day ski tour of a southern circuit of the High Plains in early July 2013 with temperatures getting down to -7 degrees overnight - but no snowfall, a dry trip to the Crinoline, a misty trip to Mac Springs and Crosscut Saw, a cold one night snow trip to Mt Stirling, another glorious 3 night winter trip to Mt Stirling where 40cm snow dumped,  another 3 night post-dump winter trip to Mt Stirling and a torrential night of biblical proportions on Mt Buffalo.  This shelter has performed well in clear sky, cold, snow and heavy rain.
Evening at a camp with a view, Mt Stirling.
Snow bench site at Mt Stirling, poised for a summit bid. Same site as above.
The Goondie comes in Goondie 1, 2 and 3 versions. There is a choice of mesh or solid nylon inners, and 15D (green sil/nylon, 3 season) or 30D (orange PU nylon, 4 season) flys are available. A similar design with heavier and more UV resistant 75D fabric has been released as the Wurley 1,2 and 3 and Wurley Snow. A cheaper variant is the Vagabond 2.

This variant has an orange 30D polyester/PU fly (510g), 15D nylon inner (655g) with a 210T 100 denier nylon PU bathtub floor, 3 X  9.1mm DAC Featherlite NSL alloy poles (494g), 2 "Mega" pegs for the vestibules, 4 Aluminium alloy hook pegs (130g) and 6 supplied guys with toggles. The floor is tough and you won't usually need a groundsheet. There are 4 guy pockets on the fly corners.  2 guys can attach to the vestibules to allow the vestibules to be partially rolled up.  Weight came to 1789g after I seam sealed the fly and floor. While not necessary, I reckon sealing protects stitching from UV and water and protects the adhesive on the seam sealing tapes from water penetration. The floor is transected by a taped seam.

I also added 2 alloy hook pegs and a small Aluminium pole repair sleeve.  The alloy pegs are a bit soft  and can bend, but they hammer back easily. They do work-harden with a bit of hammering when straightening.  You can save a few grams weight with more expensive and tougher Titanium pegs.

The 2013 catalogue mentions "unbendable tri-cornered alloy pegs" have replaced the 4 alloy hook pegs, and the mesh inner zips have a point corner.  You can use 10 pegs for maximum stability - the 4 guys, the 2 vestibules and the 4 corners.  A minimum of 2 pegs is required by the vestibules.  For snow camping I use 6 snow pegs (330g).
Goondie 1 30D Mt Feathertop
The main poles can be attached to the fly via velcro tabs.

There is a vent over the vestibule door.  A guy can be attached to a partly rolled-up vestibule giving better ventilation if needed.  I attached the 2 supplied spare guys in to the inner ceiling as drying lines.

The green 15D Sil/Nylon fly comes in 110g lighter at 400g. This brings the weight down to 1680g, with loss of UV resistance in the fly fabric. Sil/nylon may degrade quickly with the high UV exposure in bright sun, at altitude or higher latitudes.
Pretty Valley snow camp early morning gloom
The amount of shade offered by small tents and tarps might stop you getting a sunburn but won't keep you cool unless a breeze can pass through.  Use a poly or Tyvek tarp for shade and also to protect a tent from UV. Small poly tarps 172 X 110cm at 208g are portable and can provide shade and UV protection.  Tyvek Homewrap makes a very effective cool shade with great reflectivity. Check my post here how to make one.

I have reduced the weight of my tent, pack, sleeping bag, pad and stove by over 4kg from what I was carrying in the 1990's and gained improved function in that transition.
Camped at Roper Hut
A just-after-snow-season camp at Roper Hut
Inside it is 2300mm long, 1000mm high and 700-800mm wide. I am 183cm and find it long enough with room at the ends to store clothing and gear bags. I can also sit up to get dressed, but elbow room is limited.
  • Self supporting (technically, the vestibules need pegging out). The guys are not needed to setup the tent and, depending on the site and wind, I usually don't use them.
  • It has a tough floor, so it saves the weight of a groundsheet.
  • Guy cord pockets on fly keep things tidy.
  • Condensation off the fly is a non-issue. Vent over the door vestibule.
  • Good headroom lying down (at either end). I find it hard to tell which is the wider end.
  • Occupies a small footprint. 
  • Semi-geodesic design and crossed poles = stability in poor conditions.
  • 2 vestibules. More than enough storage space for pack and gear.
  • Inner access port to opposite vestibule. Useful in wet.
  • Can sit up and dress in inner tent.
  • Sheds rain and wind well.
  • Solid interior is warmer than a mesh inner.
  • Inner-only setup for hot, dry, camps (recommend purchase of mesh inner) 
  • You can add a small fly tarp verandah/annex using 2 trekking poles.
  • Fly with groundsheet setup is now available.
  • Highly visible safety colour orange (or green).
  • Robust construction

  • Weighs a bit more than trekking pole shelters.
  • Some may find it cramped in width, although I have seen a trip report of 2 sharing this tent(!) 
Weston Hut. Pots in second vestibule ready for fast breakfast access.

Pro or Con or is it Just Me?  The fly doesn't extend close to the ground, as you can see in many of the photos. I could probably improve the pitch and tighten down an inch or two and also some of the sites fell away a bit (like at Weston hut).  This is good for ventilation and goes some way to explaining the low condensation performance.   I understand the vestibules of the updated fly extend further and 10cm has been added to the vestibule panels but not the ends.

The inner-first setup is a deal-breaker for many.  I have set it up in driving rain and found very little water got in during the set up, and any that did was easily mopped up.  It is much the same under snowfall. The inner-first setup concern is generally overrated, but may have greater relevance for those in really wet areas.  Setup takes about 5 minutes.
Victorian High Country Camp after 10cm snowfall. Goondie snow shedding capability is shown.
The Goondie 1 30D has performed well in many snow trips now.  It sheds snow well and from inside it is difficult to determine if it is snowing at all.  The solid inner will help boost air temp a few degrees above 0. The empty pack can be stowed in the vestibule and there is enough room in the inner to store large ski boots in a sturdy plastic bag to prevent them freezing.  The extra space in a larger tent like the Goondie 2 may help to store a pack and spread out gear.  I usually take a small snow shovel as this helps to sculpt the bed shape and a foot trench near the door to stop kicking snow in and collecting cold air away from the inner. You can also build wind breaks with snow walls or an igloo (it took me 4 sweaty hours on Mt St Philack). When expecting heavy snowfalls I have dug a small trench around to collect the fall-off and delay its build-up on the walls.  It has coped easily with a 30cm overnight dump.

Goondie 1 with the lighter 15D Sil/Nylon fly.
A mesh inner is available for warmer conditions. These are about 50g lighter than the comparable solid inners, however condensation off the fly may then become more of an issue.  It would be worth the manufacturer to consider using a solid ceiling on these to catch condensation.  I have had condensation on the inside of the fly (e.g. 7C camped at altitude and in fog or cloud) but this did not penetrate the DWR solid inner. Mesh inners allow the inevitable condensation inside the fly to subsequently rain on any occupants.

A solid inner will increase the air temp several degrees but it may be a bit more humid too. Hoar frost from breath will collect on the inside of the inner in cold conditions, but this is easily wiped off and disposed of with a cloth or paper dish wipe.
The Goondie can be pitched in cramped sites like this one on Long Hill.
There is a single vent above the main vestibule. It has a very stiff wire inserted in to the hem.  I wonder if a softer wire would work just as well.  I use this wire as the axle when rolling up the fly.  This single vent, along with the high ground clearance of the fly has contributed to a condensation-free interior when nearby ventless tents have failed.

This tent copped a biblical deluge on Mt Buffalo without a drop leaking in.

The Goondie 2 30D comes in at 2120g (1000-1200mm wide, 2 doors, so will just fit two mats) and should be considered for base camping, solo snow trips or when becoming tent-bound by bad weather is likely.  The 15D fly brings weight down to 1960g.  Big enough for two but not cavernous. Note: It's 15cm narrower but 10cm longer than the early 1990's version of the Macpac Olympus, which also has massive vestibules at each end ideal for snow use. The Olympus is also integral pitch.

The poles, pegs and guys for the Goondie 1 and Goondie 2 are the same.
Mt Townsend shelf camp. Sil/nylon tarps are ineffective for cooling and deliver poor shade and they are quickly degraded by UV exposure. Tyvek HomeWrap makes a much better sun shade. 

Problems Experienced:
I did have a failure of the inner door zip top attachment to the solid inner. The zip end was only lightly stitched to the inner seam. One Planet repaired it with re-inforcement and stitching, and supplied a couple of extra guys as a sweetener, all without charge.  I also then decided to re-inforce the zip attachments on my Goondie 2 as well with some additional hand stitching and a small safety pin. One Planet has since added  re-inforcement on the upper zip end on subsequent manufacture and it looks like the new door zip shape have been changed to eliminate the curve.

If you have an early model Goondie, then I recommend you check this top zip attachment point.  It is easy to hand sew on a few stitches between the zip tape and the inner seam and add a small safety pin across the zip tape to stop the slider from forcing itself off the end of the zip.  One Planet say to make sure the zip is fully open when entering or exiting the tent.
Zip attachment problem in KNP
Some small safety pins held the zip together.

One Planet seem to make ongoing alterations to the design without notification.

A cold camp 4pm July, Pretty Valley. A much gloomier view the next morning.
For those travelling fast and light there are lighter tents out there that will serve well in fair conditions. With tents you are always comparing apples with oranges.  Some arched single pole tent designs are also roomier, but not self supporting. These are suitable for snow camps and weigh around 1400g without a groundsheet.  The Goondie 1 with Sil/Nylon fly weighs a little more than these but it has a stable self-supporting semi-geodesic structure for its weight. It handles wind well compared to many trekking pole shelters with their annoying flapping panels.
A very cold Ryder yards morning, and this site is surrounded by frost hollow.

4am, -7 degrees night at Ryder yards. I put on nearly all spare clothing this night, the inner was coated in hoar-frost but I kept toasty warm!
I have been just able to cook with a gas stove in a half open vestibule during an extended downpour.  The rain was extended so I collected water off the fly.  
A small tarp can be erected to extend the vestibule and would be useful in prolonged rain if wind is not a factor.  
Condensation is close to a non-issue probably due to the vent and high displacement of the fly from the ground. 
The floor is tough - reassuring when rivulets run underneath. Just go back to sleep!
The fly does not protest and flap loudly in wind like pyramid or double pole designs do. You can pick it up and move it quickly if the wind shifts or you find you have camped in a runoff zone.

North Rams Head camp.  The Goondie can hold its own with many tents when it comes to wind.
In calmer weather you can deploy a light tarp that rests on the tent as an annex with 2 sticks, trekking poles or skis as support at the front. I found this arrangement surprisingly easy to configure and adjust, even on a mildly windy saddle. Useful for cooking in sustained drizzle or light snowfall, provide shade or shelter from mild winds.
I am giving it 4 stars rating ****  Highly Recommended.

Mt Twynam camp after a buffeting and noisy wind overnight.

Possible improvements including recent feedback from the designer:
  • Mesh addition on the small vestibule port. (Update: Done ?)
  • It might benefit with extra guy attachment points at the top of the vestibules for those windy pitches.
New Fitzgerald Hut. I am pitched at the entrance to the front door of the original hut.
The Fitzgerald hut appears to be made out of recycled red gum sleepers.  Huts will usually offer you a seat out of the wind and a wood stove for a brew up or a meal. A fire in the pot belly stove makes them a lot more appealing for social activity especially at night. Kelly hut is about 15 minutes walk away.

An update of the Goondie now supports fly-first pitching using a special groundsheet and a plastic crossover point pole connector. 

Sunrise after a quiet night at Wallace Hut
This nice pitch, with snow scoop bed, at ancient Wallace hut, a mecca for ski tourers for decades now, was done in about 15 minutes right on dusk. I slept like a log all night! I found the hut pretty gloomy, with no proper seating, fireplace meshed over and unusable, poorly ventilated, freezing and with an active, but well behaved, hut rat. The tent was heaps nicer to be in!  Maybe a more functional winter hut should be built nearby.

One Planet do repairs, clean and fill bags, make packs, gaiters, rain jackets and some other items at Sunshine, Melbourne, with other production (including tents) made in China. One Planet now has its own outlet in central Melbourne.

This is an awesome tent with a great range of applications.

* caveats apply

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