For big base camp trips, having a little extra room – like being able to stand – in your tent makes the experience exponentially more comfortable. After Bergans of Norway introduced the Lavvo, we have been testing it out in various conditions to find it is a brilliant shelter for nearly every situation.
It may seem on more casual trips that the Lavvo is somewhat over engineered. As a ten-sided pyramid it also has ten corners from each of which two guy-lines are attached giving you 20 points of connection to help support the tent. Add to that 20 stake points for the base and this tent is staying put. If you set up camp (as we did on one trip) near a creek bed where the ground was loose and pebbly, a spiderweb matrix of lines surrounded the tent to attach to various pieces of shrub and small riparian trees. Since there wasn’t much wind, I didn’t really need to run every single line out, and that’s something to keep in mind. In more benign situations, you only need 5-10 guy-lines to stabilize the tent. But if you’re setting up in a snowy, windy mountain environment (for which this tent was designed) dig some pits and set up individual deadman anchors for each line and you’ll weather the storm just fine.
For winter camping in particular, the floor-less design is awesome for being able to carve out benches, sleeping shelves or whatever other customization suits your setup. The bummer of course is you have to keep a column strong enough for the center pole. For those less stoked about having an open floor, a perfectly fitted decagon footprint with clip buckles is available as an accessory from Bergans. Also sold separately are mesh netting covers for the entrance and the vented top of the pyramid. Naturally, these accessories are more geared towards the summer user who will be dealing with bugs and pests. Not to many of those while snow camping.
Even without digging out and customizing the floor, the Lavvo has a 40cm (15″) vertical wall around the base to make the full footprint useable space. The base wall includes a few mesh covered vents that can be opened or closed from within the tent to help improve circulation.
The big surprise for me was the way the center pole breaks down to be packed away. Instead of a telescopic (which would have the chance of collapsing once the tent was erected) or a bungie pole like many smaller tents (there are a number of reasons this wouldn’t be convenient), the pole breaks down into a number of individual segments. Like a puzzle, a certain sequence of flipping one or the next segment allows the pole segments to nest within each other. Flipping each segment the opposite way keeps the segments from sliding completely into one another and forms the rigid pole needed to keep the tent up. If for some reason you need to move the tent or just the center pole, be sure to grab it by the bottom segment or everything below the mid level segment you grab will collapse under you.
The Lavvo comes in three sizes, 4-6 person, 6-8 person and a massive 10-12 person option. Details are available at bergans.com.