Wednesday, 29 June 2016

One Planet Goondie 1 30D Tent - Long Term Review

In 2011 I was looking for a new tent to replace a 20 year old 3.5kg Olympus. Nothing I looked at checked all the boxes. I had one last snow camp with the Olympus and a cold night with a condensation-prone 3-season tent before the Goondie was released for sale. The One Planet Goondie was released in late winter 2011. I would have purchased one of the first available, and the cost then was about A$350.  Exchange rates (made in China) have since worsened, upgrades have been made and the current version is about A$560. With its silnylon and PU nylon fly and mesh and solid inner options weighing from 1.6kg to 1.8kg, 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. This review is about the first release model. Some changes have been made since then.

At the end of September 2011, I deployed it on the remaining High Plains snow in a solo snowshoe trip to Roper hut. I have now used it twice on 5-night summer sojourns around the Main Range in perfect weather, a wet 2-night trip to Mt Feathertop including a leech-infested site at Dibbins Hut, an overcast and cold 3-night ski tour of a southern circuit of the High Plains in early July 2013 getting down to -7 degrees overnight, a dry trip to the Crinoline, a misty trip to Macalister Springs and Crosscut Saw, a 1-night snow camp on Mt Stirling, five 3-night winter trips to Mt Stirling (the first having a 40cm dump of snow) and a torrential night of biblical proportions on Mt Buffalo.  During the 40cm snow dump I was camped all alone in a large clearing among mountain ash gums which I could hear breaking limbs and falling all night long.  In the morning the road was blocked with downed trees and snowfall continued with about a 20cm imprint in snowshoes. This shelter has performed well in clear sky, cold, snow, graupel, precipitation freezing on contact and heavy rain.
Evening at a camp, Victorian Alps, 2012
Morning sun on a snow bench site in snowgums, 2012.
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) flies are available. There is also a 2,750g Goondie 2 Snow version now.  A similar design with heavier and more UV resistant 75D fabric has been released as the Wurley 1,2 and 3 and Wurley 3 Snow. A cheaper variant is the Vagabond 2, weighing 2,500g.

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. 
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. 
Seam 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. 

Light snowfall in the Victorian Alps, 2017. About to decamp for the summit.

The floor is tough so a groundsheet is not needed unless you expect to camp either on sharp gravel, sticks or on muddy bog and want to keep the floor a bit cleaner.  Note: There are some alpine plants that surprisingly can pierce tent floors.

I also added 2 alloy hook pegs and a small Aluminium pole repair sleeve.  The alloy pegs are a bit soft but they 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.  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 (about 330g). Sticks can also be used in this situation.
Goondie 1 30D on a rainy November trip to Mt Feathertop
The main poles can be attached to the fly via velcro tabs. Might be useful in wind.

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

The green 15D Sil/Nylon fly comes in 110g lighter at 400g. This brings the weight down to 1680g, but has less UV resistance.
An overcast Pretty Valley snow camp
The quality of shade offered by small tent and tarp fabrics is poor. It might stop you getting a sunburn but won't keep you cool unless a breeze can pass through.  A poly or Tyvek tarp can protect a tent from UV and give cool shade underneath. Small poly tarps 172 X 110cm are 208g   Tyvek Homewrap makes a very effective cool shade with great reflectivity. Check my post here how to make one.

Considering the Goondie as part of a strategic transformative  upgrade, I have reduced the weight of tent, pack, sleeping bag, pad and stove carry by over 4kg from what I was carrying in the 1990's and gained improved function and safety in that transition.
Camped at Roper Hut
After-snow-season camp at Roper Hut, 2011.
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, boots 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 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 bathtub groundsheet setup is now available.
  • Highly visible safety colour orange (or sil/nylon 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
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 design feature is good for ventilation and does much to explain the low condensation levels. 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 the solid inner during the set up, and any that did was easily mopped up. The inner-first setup concern is often overrated, but may have greater relevance for those users in really wet areas.  Setup takes about 5 minutes.
Victorian Alps camp after 10cm snowfall. Goondie snow shedding capability is shown, 2014.
The Goondie 1 30D has performed well in many snow trips now.  It sheds dry snow well and from inside it is difficult to determine if it is snowing at all.  Last trip I had ice buildup deforming the structure, popping an inner hook from the pole and restricting interior space plus snow buildup at the base restricting air flow making for a damp clammy interior that required a 4am maintenance task with snow shovel. I found that it may help to open the inner for the first few hours of sleep, but close it up later to keep damp air flow from settling on the sleeping bag. 

The solid inner helps boost air temperature a few degrees and that usually means something above 0C in our snow conditions. A pack can be stowed in either vestibule and there is enough room in the inner to store large ski boots in a sturdy plastic bag to prevent them freezing.  I use the second vestibule infrequently. The extra internal space in a larger tent like the Goondie 2 may be used to store a pack and spread out gear.  While a larger space feels colder it is less clammy.

I usually take a small snow shovel for these trips as it helps to sculpt the bed shape and a foot trench near the door to stop kicking snow in, this also helps with putting boots on and getting out and also it collects cold air away from the inner. It is also useful for clearing snow buildup around the fly restricting ventilation.

You can also build wind breaks with snow walls or an igloo (it took me 4 sweaty hours on Mt St Phillack) but unless you are camped in an exposed site these just serve to restrict useful air flow. When expecting heavy snowfalls I dig a small trench around to collect the fall-off and delay its build-up on the walls.  This keeps ventilation working for longer and requires less attention overnight. The tent has coped easily with a 30cm dry overnight dump. A couple of times now ice has formed and built up on the fly overnight.  This has required a quick 4am clearing.

Goondie 1 with the lighter 15D Sil/Nylon fly and solid inner, 2013.
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. Mesh inners are great for warm weather or when the air has a low moisture content. The solid inners are great for snow camping and will help to keep condensation forming on your sleeping bag in cold conditions as it reduces the ambient temperature difference inside the inner compared to inside your bag.  

You may not need to use the fly, weather permitting.  For summer daytime chilling-out on the Main Range just put up the mesh inner and then rig a Tyvek tarp over to screen the high UV and heat.  At night in summer I usually put the fly on but leave the door open in temps around 4 or 5C and enjoy the starry sky. It would be worth the manufacturer to consider using a solid ceiling 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 with a dish cloth.
The Goondie pitched in a cramped site near The Crinoline.
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: Surprisingly 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.
Sil/nylon tarps are ineffective for cool shade. It turns out Tyvek HomeWrap is better. 

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.  One Planet has since added  re-inforcement on the upper zip end on subsequent manufacture.

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
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.
With tents you are always comparing apples with oranges.  For those travelling fast and light there are lighter tents with more internal room that will serve well in low wind, low snowfall conditions. Some arched single pole tent designs are roomier and marginally lighter, but not self supporting. These 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 and snow well compared to many trekking pole shelters with their annoying large-span flapping panels.
A very cold Ryder yards morning. This site is surrounded by frost hollow.

Possibly my coldest camp. 4am and -7 degrees. I put on nearly all spare clothing, the inner was coated in hoar-frost.
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.  

The floor is tough - reassuring when rivulets run underneath.  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 run-off zone.

Exposed site near North Rams Head.  Fortunately the wind stayed down. The Goondie can hold its own with many tents when it comes to wind.
Choose a wind protected campsite if for no other reason than to have an undisturbed sleep.

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 in mild winds ( <20kph). 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.

Disturbed sleep on an exposed Mt Twynam camp after a noisy buffeting 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, a table and a wood stove to warm you and dry gear. Some wood stoves will also provide a hob for a brew up or a hot meal. A strong fire is required to boil water on them. A fire in the pot belly stove makes them a lot more appealing for social activity especially at night.

An update of the Goondie now supports fly-first pitching using a special groundsheet and a plastic crossover point pole connector. 
Partial collapse effects of about 1 hour of heavy "sugar snow", or graupel, Victorian Alps, 2018
A heavy snow dump will stop airflow and partially collapse the fly.  I had this occur this winter and it resulted in the tent inner closing in and wetting out. The structure of the tent distorted. The effect is claustrophobic. At 4am I needed to get out and clear the snow all around the fly with a snow shovel in order to get the ventilation back. I also needed to adjust the fly as under the weight of snow pressure one of the inner clips had squeezed off its pole.  Since I had dressed for bed all I needed to do was put on bread-bag booties (very slippery but effective).  10 minutes of vigorous work was required but now nicely warmed up I had no problem getting back to sleep.  This has been the only ventilation failure incident of the tent system in several dozen snowbound nights now. If I know a dump is expected I recommend digging out a trench around the fly big enough to collect the forecast snow load and stop it building up enough to restrict air flow.

Another night I left the fly and inner open to improve ventilation but after a few hours I found condensation forming on my sleeping bag, so it is best to do this only for short spells and/or avoiding the coldest and dampest parts of the night as the condensation forms because of the temperature differential between the air inside the tent inner and the air inside the bag. I closed the fly and tent inner and slept on soundly.

Sunrise after a night at Wallace hut, BHP.

A comfortable and warm night was spent at Wallace hut with no condensation issues.
High camp on the treeline in the Victorian Alps, 2017.

A rare winter sunset displays between a leaden sky and sullen earth below in the Victorian Alps, 2017.

I bought the Goondie with my own funds and I have no relationship with One Planet.

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