Argos Pro Action Hike Light 1

Some items of gear are bought in the knowledge that you will use it to destruction or use it a fair bit with no chance of selling it on because the residual value is so low that you may as well donate it to the local Scout Group. You may even buy gear against the chance that it may not see a great deal of regular use, but if the purchase price is low enough does it really matter?

I have read plenty of favourable reports on the web about the Argos Pro Action 1 tent over the past few months. The latest being the Lake District trip report over on BG's blog where he used this tent for a multi-day backpacking and wild camping trip. That was good enough for me, I took the plunge and shelled out £24.44 for one of the last three remaining at my nearest branch of Argos. I also bought a packet of wine gums with the change from 25 quid!

The tent fills a gap in my camping quiver. I wanted something that I can throw in the back of the car or backpack for a few days away. The intended use is for commercial sites where I need not worry too much about having expensive equipment stolen, low-level wild camping in reasonable conditions, not too big and heavy and something that I can sit up in. I have several tents of different layouts and sizes, from lightweight backpacking to multi day wilderness canoe trekking. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a technical masterpiece crafted from exotic materials, I just wanted something that will work well within it's limitations. The Pro Action 1 looks as though it fits the bill.

It seems to be a close copy of recognised American tent designs, such as Sierra Designs and MSR etc. It'll come as no surprise that the Argos Pro Action 1 is made in China. The nylon pu coated fly claims a hh of 2000mm and all seams are taped. The poles are pre-shaped alloy and the pegs are alloy. There are three guying points fitted with nylon lines and plastic sliders, one on each sidewall and one at the rear. The tent is erected inner first and the fly is tied to the poles by tape and attached by clips to the inner by webbing straps and ladder-lock buckles at the pegging points. It's a tried and tested design that works well in most three season conditions. There are toggle and loop tie-backs on the inner and outer doors.

All of the seams have accurate stitching. The fly can be pitched fairly taut, given the nylon material, with only a bit of flappiness along the bottom of the door. Overall, the Argos Pro Action 1 is made of good, functional materials at an amazing price. So far, it's only been pitched in the garden, but despite being left out in heavy rain the tent did not leak. At just under 2kg, it is heavy for a single person backpacking tent and not one I would consider for multi-day long distance backpacking trips. But, you get a lot of tent for a bargain price and of good enough quality to withstand any reasonable use. I'm looking forward to using it.

The inner tent has some mesh panels to save weight. It is a very tight mesh and should cope with Scottish midges. The bathtub groundsheet extends for several inches up the sides of the inner and should help cut draughts. The fly is a good fit and not too short from the ground - as I have found to be the case in more expensive tents.

The Inner is suspended from the two pre-shaped poles by tape and plastic clips. This could be a possible weak point on such a cheap tent, but the tape and clips are quite substantial and should be up to the job.

The tent comes in a stuff sack. The stitching which retains the drawcord soon parted and needed re-stitching.

There is a four-page instruction sheet packed with the tent.

Two pre-formed shock-cord linked poles and ten alloy pegs with a spare peg, guyline and slider come in their own bags.

The vent is held open by a stiffened strut and curved, reinforced rim. The strut is held in place by velcro.

The fly attachment is by webbing straps and buckles. The bar-tacking is good and should cope with the strain of moderate winds and cinching down when tautening the fly.
There is a reasonable separation between the fly and inner. The pole tips are located in metal eyelets in the guying straps.

Overall, the Argos Pro Action 1 is close in construction, materials and layout to more expensive tents such as the MSR Zoids. I'm 6' tall, there is more than enough length to lie flat. The inner tent roof does not sag and touch my face, which can be a problem with tents of this type when laying down. There is enough headroom to sit up inside. The porch is roomy enough to use a small stove with care.
It's not too long ago when a tent of this standard of manufacture and attention to detail would have been considered state of the art. We live in a world of new materials with weights and performance that would have been inconceivable only 15-20 years ago. These new materials make less exotic tents like the Pro Action 1 look heavy and staid, but at less than £25 for a perfectly usable tent who cares!