Currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand (06/12/2013) - 31200km cycled

5 Nov 2013

Tent Review: Vango Banshee 200

Posted by Will

Bought for the princely sum of: £80
Used for: 20 months
Weight: 2kg
In short: Fantastic tent, especially for the price.

p1010699-800It isn’t every day one gets to review their home. I’ll give it my best shot but don’t expect a dispassionate report. I’m deeply attached to my tent: the smells, stains, rips and resident insects could all tell a different story. It’s protected me countless times against the wind, rain, snow and sun, not to mention the infinitesimal species of bug that has tried to ‘get me’ in the wild. It hides me from the world when I want to escape and sets me free when I want to explore. I can’t imagine travelling without it.

But this isn’t meant as an ode to MY tent. You won’t be buying MY tent. You’ll be buying the same model in a new and shiny form which will no doubt smell nice and clean. I mean to review the Vango Banshee 200. Vango is the company and Banshee 200 is the model. Mine’s forest green with an orange inner-lining.

The Vango Banshee 200 is a one-and-a-half man tent. It’s too small to hold two unless you’re a recently united couple or EXTREMELY good friends. However, it’s roomy for a single traveller and that’s a real luxury for long-term backpackers and cyclists. When it rains all morning it’s important to have some space to wriggle around in and manoeuvre your stuff. I can quite easily fit all my bags inside (4 panniers and a large rucksack) with enough room for sleeping.

Of course, it’s not necessary to store your bags inside because there’s a small porch off one side of the tent. That’s one distinctive feature: although it’s a tunnel tent its porch lies on one of the long sides, not at the head-end. As a result, the porch is long and thin. There’s plenty of storage space but cooking can be a little cramped. A one-pot meal will work just fine but if you’re relying on swapping pans backwards and forwards under cover of the outer canvas you might struggle. I don’t think any single-sleeper tent offers much room for sophisticated cooking though so I don’t consider this much of a drawback. For any handy items not suited to the porch (like a penknife, torch or valuables), there are four internal storage pockets sewn into the inner lining of the tent.

As I mentioned, the Vango Banshee 200 is a tunnel tent. That means it’s structural support comes in the form of two poles, a long pole holding up the tent above your head and a shorter pole near your feet, both in parallel with each other. The sleeping space is long enough for me (I’m 1.75m) but anyone standing 10% higher than me might be cramped. The same can be said for sitting up. It’s high enough but only just. Tunnel tents aren’t the strongest but still the Banshee 200 has weathered all storms I’ve camped in. The ferocious winds of the Pamir Highway, battering rains of Siberia and desolation of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia were never too much for this tent. Unless you’re on a serious expedition, there’s nothing to worry about structurally.

Pitching the Vango Banshee 200 is easy and takes no more than 5 minutes once you’ve got the hang of it. I never detach the outer lining from the inner lining which speeds up the process and has never compromised the durability of the tent material. The outer remained waterproof for a solid 16 months until a small hole developed near the rear meaning a small leak. I can’t fault the manufacturers though. I have put up this tent in the spikiest bushes, atop the most jagged rocks … I wouldn’t expect the toughest canvas to survive forever. The included groundsheet (some top-end tents make this a required additional purchase) remains entirely intact. One of the zips on the inner is broken, but zips break eventually. 16 months is a long life. Otherwise, the inner performs it’s function perfectly despite the heavy layer of cyclist-induced grime on its surface.

vangobanshee200I have been especially impressed by how waterproof the Vango Banshee 200 is. Even in -10C snowy temperatures in northern Scandinavia, the inside remained snug, warm and dry. The tent breathes well through the inner, your warm breath escaping out of two flaps, one at your feet and one at your head which both can be opened according to rainfall and preference. Water has NEVER leaked through the groundsheet and the waterproofing of the porch has proved resilient too. I’m careful not to touch the inner-lining against the outer in cold or wet weather – that would be a disaster for all tents. So long as you’re careful where you’re flailing your limbs and storing your baggage you will stay dry in the Banshee 200.

What else is in the bag besides the tent? Well, there are the poles which come in their own small bag and over a dozen light aluminium pegs. The poles are durable, snap together easily and only started to warp after well over a year’s use. Despite warping, the tent is perfectly usable and I am yet to repair a single split pole. That’s always the problem with cheap plastic pole tents. The aluminium pegs are light but soon bend out of shape which will sometimes make driving them into the ground a frustrating experience. Again though, name a tent that doesn’t have this problem? The tent storage bag itself doesn’t tear easily although once it does, it starts falling apart fast. Mine tore after around 16 months and now lies truly tattered around the tent canvas. Not a big deal though.

As I’m sure I’ve conveyed, I couldn’t recommend the Banshee 200 more highly. It was great value when I bought it almost 2 years ago and I’m sure it can be picked up nowadays for a pittance. It will always be a bargain. There are probably newer models out there by now and I hope Vango have continued to improve on the strong foundations they created with this tent. If you’re looking for a great value tent to travel solo with for the long term then this is the tent for you.

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2 Comments already on “Tent Review: Vango Banshee 200”
  1. 5:28 pmpermalink
    10 Dec 2013

    Gazza

    It’s a 3 season tent, not really good enough for English winters – I had snow on mine, and it quickly pressed the flat-ish roof onto the innner. Wet kit, so straight onto ebay for someone else to try.

    There are several tents with much better porches and headroom (Zephyros 2 is a good one). And a 1-man tent at 2KG is heavy, compared to the competition.
    The main problem is that for someone my height , 6ft2, you cannot sleep in this thing – it’s too short. Also, with your head right up/iinto one end, your face is pressing up against the roof of the tent, as it slants at a steep angle.

    Overall, you get what you pay for with this tent – nice design concept, but it needs more headroom at one end, slightly longer overall, and a much wider porch for cooking/storage for use in wet European winters. I can’t work out how anyone can get a 75 Litre rucksack and wet boots in the porch – it’s too small.

    • Will

      2:02 ampermalink
      11 Dec 2013

      Will

      I completely agree with you on all the inner-space issues. I’m approx 175cm (5ft10) and only just manage to lie/sit up comfortably. At 6ft2 I can imagine the tent is pretty useless. My brother owns this tent – he is 6ft1 – and has said exactly the same. So if you’re not on the vertically challenged side of the spectrum, this tent probably isn’t a good choice.

      However, I’m surprised that snow crushed into the inner on yours. I remember having the same problem the first time I camped in snow with this tent (mid-way up Sweden in early April 2012) but found it could be avoided by making sure the fly was very tight on future occasions. Once I’d figured out how best to stretch the tent to full tension using the seemingly endless little loops for pegs I never had a problem with sagging in the way you describe. In the ‘Finland’ section of my photos you can see the tent covered in a fairly thick level of snow. I kept nice and dry that night. But I can imagine though, at your height, whenever you sat up in the tent your head (and feet when you lay down) would press against the outer causing water to come in. That’s definitely a problem.

      As for the porch, I think it probably depends on how complicated you want your cooking to be and how much space you like to have. I would say I have far more equipment than any kind of backpacker: I have 2 60L pannier bags, 2 25L pannier bags, a half-full 70L backpack, plus my helmet and waterbottles. There’s a space enough to cook (on a Whisperlite-sized stove) without setting anything on fire although it’s too cramped to use a chopping board alongside the stove.

      Overall, I think you’ve picked up a large weakness in this review: I haven’t tried enough of the competitors. For me, it’s dry, its porch is big enough and it’s long enough and I’m happy, but that said, I haven’t experienced how much better it could potentially be. For the price though – I really can’t believe there’s much better.

      What tent do you recommend most highly? (Zephyros 2?)