A Detailed Look At The Vango Banshee 200
The Vango Banshee 200 tent is the most talked about shelter in the wild camping community but should you really buy one?
Well, I’ve been wild camping for 30 years, and I’m going to take that experience and delve into the features and the performance of this canvas habitat not just in the field but up real mountains, and not only on Summer’s evenings but in high winds and snow.
No sunny photos in National Trust camp sites on here!
My waling Banshee has been taken round the block, out in snow storms and tonight she’s out under a full blood-moon. She’s been tested to the limit and now it’s time to tell you exactly how good she is, what’s wrong with her and whether you should hand over your hard earned readies for one.
Having been made for decades, the Vango Banshee 200 is now regarded as one of the best tents for its size and price. Although it’s advertised as a two-person tent, it hardly is, and we’ll see why! It’s made by Vango in Scotland who have been making tents since 1966. The Duke of Edinburgh Awards officially recommends their tents, and even Sir Alan Hinks (the only British man to have summitted all of the World’s 8000m mountains) used a Vango when climbing Everest.
How tricky is it to get up?
I honestly believe that the Banshee 200 is one of the easiest tents to pitch. After pitching a few times it should really only take 5 minutes or so.
Two pins, two poles, two pins, four more pins, 6 guys. Boom.
Vango Banshee 200 Instructions can be found here.
So, is the Banshee 200 really a two man tent?
No. Unless the two ‘men’ are 12 years old, it’s not really a two-man tent. The Banshee is a good sized one but you definitely wouldn’t fit a double mattress in it OR two single mattresses.
The size of the Banshee is really good for hikers because we have boots and a big bag of stuff. Once I’m in the tent and have the bed sorted out I stash my bag at the bottom and empty the goodies around me at the top – food, camera, phone charger. There are two pockets either side, very handy for lifting the phone off the cold floor, your bottle so you know where to get it.
Inside, there are two tensioning straps which reduce movement in the long pole. This was introduced in 1993 and works great by the way. It is also very useful for hanging your head torch on!
If you want a tent big enough for two fully grown real people you buy the Vango Banshee 300 (see below).
Will the Banshee blow away at the first sign of a gust?
A positive no this time. The Banshee won’t blow away in wind, it has excellent strength in high winds.
What’s the secret to you not waking up at 2 am with the tent collapsed, and pegs strewn across the hillside is? Buy proper pegs! The stakes you get with the Banshee are cheap aluminium hooks and to be fair they are fine for valley camping IF the ground is soft but who’s to know? Even the National Trust campsite at Great Langdale is rocky under the turf. The cheap hooks bend.
The structure of the tent is excellent, especially the Tension Band System which stops the mid pole from bending side to side in a changing wind. The design, such as where the guy lines are and how they stop movement, is also top-notch.
It’s all fine and dandy reading blogs about camping in Lake District campsites and seeing beautiful shiny photos in the sun. Lovely, but where this tent shines is when you take it onto a summit, go to sleep and find that a snowstorm with 40mph winds and -20c temperatures have been and gone. You slept through it!
For me, wild camping in extreme weather conditions, I need pegs that are long enough to have a great hold in the ground as on the ‘bitty’ base of Blencathra Summit but also hard enough to get there in the first place. They need to be tough enough to be hammered into a limestone plateau-like Ingleborough or in the natural cracks around slate.
Now I’ll have to write an article on tent pegs!
So do the pegs actually work?
The cheap aluminium pegs that Vango supply are crap for general wild camping BUT perfect for valley camping when the soil on the ground is deep enough for them to be pushed in.
You will find them fine until you start adventuring up the hills. Then it’s time to invest in anchors to suit your needs.
Will it keep me dry in a downpour?
Yes. The fly, being made from 190T Ripstop Polyester, is not the lightest or most durable material, but you need to spend £400+ to be getting that. For reference, it has a 5000mm hydrostatic head; this means that if you would have to sit 5000mm of water on the material before it penetrated, some tents in the range have 6000 but some have as little as 2000mm!
Make sure that when you get it home you hang it up to dry so that no mold grows.
Is the Banshee 200 a supermodel?
She looks pretty good to me. This photo makes it look a bit too butch to be she, hmm. Some tents do look daft; they try to make some look more aerodynamic as more people are merely buying online, testing is what matters. The Banshee looks excellent, very Hollywood Commando, and most importantly, it works great.
Maybe Vango will send me a new one to show how good the new double door system looks! I can see the sun setting now through the two open doorways.
How easy is it to take down and pack away?
Not only is this tent easy to pitch, it’s easy to pack. Lay the tent down on the ground and fold it to form a long strip about a foot wide then roll it up around your pegs. Leave the bagged poles to the side. The rolled up tent will now be smaller than the bag, fits in nice and ANYWHERE in your ruck sack. The poles should find a pocket in your pack separate as they are long. If you roll the tent around them, as delivered, it’s too awkward to pack.
Why tent manufacturers make it so difficult to get a tent into it’s bag is beyond me. Vango have simply made a bag big enough for what it holds and then fixed a strap to that bag which not only tightens and squashes air out of the package but also acts as a carry strap. Brilliant.
If you’re tight for space in your ruck sack you can always pack the Banshee all together and strap it to the outside of your bag.
What weight is it and how does that relate to similar tents?
My Banshee 200 weighs 2.07kg, including the pegs that come with it. The newer Banshee Pro 200 is 2.39kg; this is actually on the heavy side for a one-person tent. Weigh up the pros and cons. The additional support straps will play a small part and two poles.
When I developed M.E. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) I had to reduce my pack weight dramatically if I were to continue camping high and my pack can now be as light as 5.5kg, my Trailstar tarp is less than 1kg all in but just that alone cost me nearly £400.
Be realistic, unless you’re going to pay this sort of money your tent will be between 1.4kg (like the Coshee which you have no space at all in) and up to about 2.5kg (cheap crap made from heavy materials). The Banshee may be on the weighty side, but it does the job that it says on its tin.
Is the Vango Banshee 200 the best wild camping tent?
No. The Banshee 200 is not the best wild camping tent by far. That tent has a price tag of nearly four times the Banshee. What I will say is that the Vango Banshee 200 is the best wild camping tent you can buy under £150.
Vango Banshee 200 Positive Points
- Easy to pitch
- Excellent size for one person
- Great in bad weather
- Very easy to pack up
- Look good
- Great price
- British company est. 1966
Vango Banshee 200 Negative Points
- Not lightweight
- Not a two man tent as Vango claim
- Pegs not up to wild camping on rocky ground
- Pack size is bigger than some one man tents
Should I buy a Vango Banshee Pro 200?
If your budget is about £150 yes you should buy a Banshee 200 (if your budget is £80 it’s time to wake from your slumber and either pay for a decent tent or see if you can find someone who’ll part with one). P.S. I bought a Bandicoot II, a Coshee and something else before buying one. I wasted money, but I did gain a good bit of experience ‘learning the hard way’.
Buy one and use the hell out of it.
The Banshee 200 has been the recommended tent for the Duke Of Edinburgh Award for years! That’s not just down to some deal they did I’m sure.
Start in the valleys and move up as you get used to the weather and what it brings. Don’t just jump straight up to summit camping, grow into your new surroundings and you’ll thrive in them.
You can buy direct from Vango for £155 (and it’s out of stock at the moment), there may be benefits to this, but I didn’t get a reply from them yet. Amazon is the cheapest place you can get one, and it’s the two-door version. Here are a few links to the Banshee 200, 300 and some accessories you might want to add.
Now, Wild Camping Kit…
If you’re new to wild camping, need to know you’re packing the right gear or want to reduce your pack size and weight, this is the blog for you. Have a read about what I take and copy the list yourself. I never get to camp and realise I’ve forgotten anything; you can be this prepared too.
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