For expeditions and light weekend away camping, the dome tent is becoming the popular versatile choice for shelter needs due to its aerodynamic well balanced shaping. Jack Wolfskin have the defiantly hexahedron shaped Skyrocket dome tent which comes in two variations for sleeping two or three persons. The Skyrocket III has plenty of internal storage, a design that certainly looks the part and a minimal total 3.1kg packed weight. But is the £250 associated price tag a fair request?
Sometimes tent makers supply instructions that due to the layout of imagery and text appear overly complex. This was the case with the Skyrocket III, but the fact is it’s an absolute doddle to pitch by one person in under 8 minutes without racing. We just yearn for more consumer friendly and visually instantaneous understanding of how it should be pitched in the instructions. Regardless, the process had us smiling from beginning to end, with intuitive designs like the flysheet buckle clipping neatly and speedily onto the interior tent. Likewise the inner tent forms a structure in haste, with no fabric ties, but instead snap-locks onto the frame.
It is unquestionably a distinctive shape; not quite as remarkable as the inflatable dome Heimplanet Cave tent, but nonetheless we like its overall appearance and the shade of green on the yellow (seen internally) is particularly to our taste. Weight and bulk have been put under the magnifying glass by Jack Wolfskin and the results are quite impressive. The expanse of tent structure we get from such a lightweight and tightly packed bag is very admirable. They’ve been able to achieve some of this with the recognised use of aluminium poles and pegs, and leaving no excess material where it is not required. But what really drives down that weight is the polyester 75D PU coated flysheet (3000mm water column) and breathable 68D polyester inner tent with abrasion-resistant groundsheet. Flysheets all weigh radically different amounts depending on variable factors, and sometimes when they’re lighter like this one, they can be a bit naff, but this flysheet has already had a number of heavy hawthorn twigs blown into it and has no tears or even marks to mention.
An interesting comparison is the Snugpak Scorpion 2 tent, aiming at a similar demographic of traveller, which may be lighter at 2.65kg, with an identical price of £250, but sleeps one less than the Jack Wolfskin III tent which weighs in at a 3.1kg. With that 0.45kg extra weight we get not just a bit more floor space but a substantial more roomy area to inhabit. It’s really quite impressive and perfect for comfortable mountaineering! Some other niceties of the design were the luminous zip sliders and guy ropes, making the nightly trek back to the tent easier, and the zippers can be undone in haste too!
Comfortable is the best word to describe the interior of the Skyrocket III tent. Its easily accessible space from two doors is good; we could realistically and comfortably sleep 3 regular sized persons, with remainder room for each of their backpacks too. Along with all this we were happy with the atmosphere on these colder autumn evenings; the two surrounding polyester layers appear to preserve organic body heat rather well when the two side vents are zipped up. Also gusts of wind that catch the bottom of the tent do not disturb the inner shell and it was a generally pleasing experience to sleep in. Each inner door is nearly entirely made of breathable mesh that helps the overall atmosphere avoid becoming stuffy.
Of course, the inner tent isn't sculpted to the same dome shaping as the exterior: that really would be an interesting crawling experience. Instead it’s a rectangular area measuring 225cm x 170cm. Two pairs of triple corner side pockets are positioned at opposite ends of the tent, and these are large enough for keeping a paperback book or a smartphone, etc., within. A removable roof compartment mesh can be equipped for extra storage: ideal for larger frequently used possessions like an iPad.
Performance in Varying Climates
Since pitching the tent at our studio premises we were treated to the extremities of heavy downpours of rain, gusty winds of around 40mph and blue sky days to boot. With this combination of weather variations the Skyrocket III hasn't shown any signs of its flysheet fading, leaking or expanding. Interestingly though, the location we pitched the Skyrocket in for the first night was struck by intermittent severe gusts, but the tent's guy ropes weren't pegged into the ground, and there was no one in the tent weighting it down, with only the edges pegged down, but the tent didn't budge or show signs of stressing any of the pegs out of the ground. This confidently proves that the aerodynamic dome design is effective and that in more severe and bleaker climates it could meet the task at hand with guy rope support.
For mountaineering, where you’re moving locations frequently, the Jack Wolfskin Skyrocket III tent is able to be pitched and taken down in 6-8mins without rushing. This in itself is great but the attribute of actually being able to truly accommodate 3 regular sized persons and their backpacks, whilst keeping its weight at a respectable 3.1kg, is what makes it a solid choice for avid outdoorsy types, all on a budget of around £250.