200 Mile Reviews: Vaude Taurus SUL 1P Tent

Emily Woodhouse Gear

Full disclaimer before we start: I love Vaude tents, especially the Taurus range. I’ve been sleeping in them since I was fifteen and have never found anything more reliable or suited to UK camping. I spend 90% of my nights outdoors safely inside a vintage Vaude Taurus II tent that was my 19th birthday present.

I specifically sought out the lovely people at Vaude to ask whether I could borrow an ultralight version of my trusty Taurus tent. (Dragging a three person tent some 200 miles is a bit excessive, even for me.) I have also tried out a Vaude Power Lizard SUL 1-2P Tent, which I borrowed for my All the Tors Challenge expedition and didn’t get on with it at all. The Power Lizard was too lightweight and fussy to be Dartmoor-proof.

ANYWAY… here’s what I think about the Vaude Taurus SUL 1 person tent, the tent you’re actually here for! As I’m sure regular readers are fed up of hearing (thank you for your patience!) I spent last summer walking the John Muir Trail in America. So this tent went on a 200 mile jaunt across the Sierra Nevada in June, then had several more wet weather camps in the UK once I’d got back.

What you Get

FOR SCALE: tent far right in yellow dry bag, poles and pegs bottom right. Vs Neo Air Thermarest and Quilt.

Straight out the box, you get the tent itself in a roll top bag – think like a dry bag closure but long and thin. The two poles and short straight pegs, with a separate little sleeve for poles and pegs respectively. In short, you get:

  • The tent, inner and outer attached via elastic and clips
  • 8 pegs
  • 2 poles
  • 2 spare guys
  • pole repair sleeve
  • carry bag -> i ignored and used stuff sack

And quickly, some basic features:

  • A porch
  • 2-way zipped porch
  • 2-way zipped inner
  • adjustable guy ropes
  • interior pockets – the tiny one on the ceiling took me 100 miles to find…

There are some very swish close up photos available on the official Vaude Taurus SUL 1P tent website as well as dimensions, precise weights etc.

Using the Vaude Taurus SUL 1P Tent

The main features are that it is free-standing: put the poles in, walk away and it should stay upright without pegs. Secondly, it pitches outer first – or specifically, inner and outer together. This is unbelievable rare in tents for some reason, but means that when it’s lashing it down with rain, you don’t have to get the inside soaked while putting it up. As a SUL tent (super ultralight) it is also pretty darn lightweight to carry and packs down to almost nothing.

How to pitch the Vaude Taurus SUL

There are two poles: one that is long and straight until a distinct kink, the other that is slightly curved all along. Put the kinked pole in first, this makes the ridge along the top of the tent. Then put the curved pole into the sleeve above the porch. This simple tripod system creates a free standing tent. Note that there is only one way to put each pole in (both sleeves are sewn shut at one end. And unlike other Taurus type tents, the sleeve is underneath the outer. Still part of the outer, but on the inside side of it, rather than straight ontop. Be careful you are not getting tangled in the elastic that connects inner and outer layers, especially for the porch pole.

Tent from the back. Note the side guy attached to bottom edge and middle of outer.

Then, simply peg out the corners (bottoms of each of the main poles). There are two guy ropes, one on either side of the flanks of the tent. You do need to peg these out to keep yourself dry. Otherwise the inner and outer touch together. What’s a bit weird is that each of these two guy ropes is connected to the tent in two places and you peg out in the centre of the rope. This is kind of clever for weight saving but can cause a bit of trouble on uneven ground (more on that later).

Here’s what the pegs, peg loops and bottom of the porch pole looks like close up.

Zero Miles in…

My first impressions of the tent were mostly good. A relief really, considering I was about to take it 200 miles on a different continent. Pitching it in the garden for the first time, the Vaude Taurus SUL 1P tent looked good. It took me a second to work out the side guys and how not to get the pole tangled in the elastics, but otherwise all good. My one thought was that it looked weirdly high – which I guess is a proportion thing. This tent is just as high as the 3 man tent, but obviously nowhere near as wide. I wondered if that might make it less stable in high winds.

50 Miles in…

On the plus side, the ample height does mean I can still sit up inside the tent with no problems. I’m 5ft 6.5 and slim but found this tent plenty spacious enough to live in day after day. I’d say it was about one and a half persons in width and despite weighing barely more than a hooped bivvy bag, had so much more space and stability. It’s not a coffin like some one person tents.

Pretty spacious in here too

I was also very impressed with how small it packs down. I ditched the bag it came with, tied the peg bag to the pole bag (both tiny) and simply stuffed the tent fabric into a small dry bag. It was barely bigger than my sleeping quilt and about the same as my winter inflatable roll mat. Mental.

My first night on the John Muir Trail, incidentally my first night in the tent, I wondered whether I’d brought the wrong tent. – yes I probably should have tested it out before leaving. I was camping at 3000m above sea level (yes I did have a headache) in full winter conditions and deep, hard snow. I had to chop a ledge with my ice axe and cover the pegs in snow to make sure they stayed put. Then dig them out again with an ice axe in the morning. Although it felt a bit airy for the amount of snow, thank heavens I had a free-standing tent.

200 miles in… (and beyond)

I’ve skipped right ahead because it was the same at 50 miles as 100 miles as 200 miles and beyond. I had no problems. I pitched it everywhere, from on snow plateaus to spongy pine forest floor to rock ledges. I was careful not to deliberately pitch on anything too spiky, but sometimes there was no choice. Like one particular evening where I was stuck on a 3m square patch of land with uncrossable rivers on all sides. As such, I am confident that the groundsheet is tougher than it looks.

The only instance where I had any minor trouble pitching was when I was camping in narrow gaps in the landscape. For instance, pitching in a small patch of melted ground surrounded by steep snow walls (imagine a tent-sized hole melted through a couple of meters of snow). This meant that I physically couldn’t extend the side guy ropes all the way out, so had to improvise tying a knot in the middle to reduce the length. It worked kind of fine but I could never get the tension right this way. If they had been two separate attachments there would have been no problem.

My little home served me well all across the mountains of California, whether in high Sierra snow or hot Yosemite valley afternoons. But in all of a month in California, it never rained. When I got back to the UK, I spent a week sleeping in the garden to try to help with the jet lag. It rained the entire time (after all, it was August). The wind wasn’t very high but I didn’t get wet through the side gaps.

Definitely not California…

Some months later, I unexpectedly went to Kendal Mountain Festival at very short notice. Thanks to this tent I was able to camp for 2 nights in only a 30L rucksack. I arrived at the campsite just outside of town – it was a mud bath – and was given my allocated pitch. It was lovely and flat grass, but also right on the rise of the hill in wind gusting 50mph… I had no choice but to pitch the tent, weigh it down with what little belongings I had and run into town to meet a colleague I was already late for. It was 7pm and I resigned myself to the high chance that I’d be picking my tent out of the bottom hedge at 11pm when I got back.

Reader: it was completely as I pitched it when I came back. Vaude tents – even their ultralight ones – are made of sterner stuff. And if it could stay pitched in high winds while almost empty, I was certain it could withstand anything while I was inside it weighing it down.

What Went Well

If you haven’t already guessed by now, I’m pretty in love with this tent. Still, we must be fair so here is a breakdown of what went particularly well, to be followed by the bits with room for improvement.

Durable

As proven by 200+ miles, snow, rain, high wind and sun, this tent is everything-proof despite being an ultralight tent. I’m usually sceptical of ultralight tents, but the fabric showed no sign of wear after almost a month of nights camping. Of course I was a little careful not to camp on anything too prickly but I wasn’t too careful.

The simple two pole construction into a tripod is incredibly sturdy and really can withstand anything, despite the extra height to width as a one-man Taurus. Honestly, I wouldn’t be that surprised if someone told me it could withstand a dump of snow on top.

Small and Light

This tent is incredibly small. Sure, I’m new to ultralight kit, but this was a game changer. It packs down smaller than an average sleeping bag and is much lighter. The poles fold down to shorter than a forearm and if you ignore the bag it comes with, you really can make it into a tiny package. This is very useful on multi-day treks where you have to carry a week’s worth of food at a time, plus water etc etc. And if not, you can casually throw it into a bag and go camping straight after work without anyone noticing.

Could do Better

And now for a couple of things that might put some people off the tent, or could perhaps be improved…

The Side Gaps

This is not a winter tent (not that you expected that) and the sides are very open. This takes some getting used to, in terms of privacy as well as a generally airy feeling. This is of course great for ventilation in summer and isn’t a problem in a dry winter. And honestly no one standing up would be able to see in. But if you lay down on the floor next to it, there’s nothing between you and outside. I can imagine a couple of cases this could be an issue. Firstly, if you’re in a packed campsite, or with a group and want to get changed without anyone accidentally seeing your underwear. Secondly in very wet or exposed camps. I didn’t get wet in any of my autumnal tests in bad weather. But I can imagine there is definitely a pitch location and wind direction combo that would get you soaked. I haven’t found it yet, but I’d think twice about camping on top of a tor in a January rain-pocalypse.

Well hello there…! Looking out through the side of the tent.

Linked to this, on steep slopes or when surrounded by close steep slopes, the side guy lines make matters worse. When they’re not able to peg in at ground level, the outer sags and could flap or let the damp in by touching the inner. If you were in love with the tent for all other reasons and really couldn’t live with this, I’m fairly sure you could solve this by cutting the side guys in two. That way you’d have a standard top guy and a short bottom guy that didn’t need to form a perfect triangle to work. You’d probably need another couple of pegs and maybe some extra cordage to make it work.

The Carry Bag

I really don’t know what’s happened to Vaude’s tent bags. Gone are the days of struggling to squeeze your wet tent into a close fitting roll top bag with frozen fingers. But equally, I cannot recommend the finicky velcro/roll top combo with strange strap arrangements. Mostly because I cannot think in the early hours of the morning and frankly don’t want to. I guess it might be useful in a bikepacking context but even so, a simple dry bag or stuff sack would be much better. No one wants to have to take their gloves off to faff with velcro, buckles and straps in the morning.

Small Porch

Almost didn’t include this one, but just a very quick note to say that the porch is a little on the small side. Fine if you have a small bag. Something to be aware of if you have a rigid framed rucksack like I did. The Osprey Ace 50L pack only just fitted width-ways into the porch, overflowing a tiny bit on the corners.

Overall Verdict

The Vaude Taurus SUL 1P tent is a bomb-proof, no-nonsense free-standing one person tent that pitches outer first in too poles… but scrunches down into a 5 litre dry bag. I had to send this tent back (borrowed) but I’m so attached to it, I’m very likely going to buy one for myself!

 


If you’re new here… Hello! I’m Emily. I like long walks and sleeping on the floor. Never mind spend faaar too long talking about gear.  You might want to start here first (I’m a female adventurer based in the UK). Or while you’re here, have a read of some of my other mountain adventures in walking, mountaineering and winter. (No, we want GEAR – MORE GEAR!) Fed up of my sporadic use of social media? Then you need to be in the Adventure Squad! More like a chat with a cuppa and as far from doomscrolling as possible.