George Bullard, October 20, 2011
I took the Jetstream 3 on an expedition to the Arctic circle this summer, to a place where many expeditions destined for the north pole leave from – Svalbard. Commonly regarded to be the home of the polar bear and the land of the midnight sun, Arctic Svalbard coughed up some great testing conditions for this tough tent.
Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic, located between northern Norway and the North Pole at 90 degrees north. The island is home to a wealth of breeding sea birds, marine mammals and of course the infamous polar bear. Spending time in the area is inherently dangerous, but as mere visitors to the area we have to take every precaution against the native dangers.
My major piece of gear for this trip came from warmer climes on the Iberian Peninsula. Based in Portugal and founded in the late 1990s, Ortik is something of a rogue in the adventure scene. Built upon a common principle of sharing passions and adventures, the company designs performance products for the most demanding expeditions.
The spacious Jetstream 3 was a pleasure to live in, even in high winds and harsh weather outside in Svalbard’s summer. Feeling safe and warm in one’s temporary accommodation is paramount – indeed the tent provided. The comfort of the tent comes through a combination of suitable structures and technologies which I’ll explain now.
The structure of the tent is one of the Jetstream’s unique selling points; having 14 crossover points, the poles gave the tent extra stability in high winds. Camped on an open, but dry, glacier (below the snow line), the winds were swirling off the tops. It was almost impossible to orientate the tent in the correct direction but as a result of the tent’s pole structure, it didn’t matter one bit. The tent was durable and dynamic, holding in place well.
Elsewhere, the use of mesh for valences and pole socks meant that the tent itself was well ventilated. This feature was especially helpful when my team was cooking inside and releasing dangerous gases into the sleeping area. Another simple dimension that I particularly enjoyed was the sheer size of the tent. Even at 6ft 4in, I was able to rest comfortably between the upright sides and spacious corners; usually in the corners of tents I am bent double.
Once inside the tent, there are many areas/loops/pockets for storing bits of personal equipment. This feature prevented ‘kit explosions’ when we were spending long periods of time inside the tent with our gear.
However, from this mesh arose the only issue I have with this tent: the size and material of the valences. With mesh for protection, the snow drift can come right up through the valences and create havoc inside, filling your boots and covering your rucksack in drift. If you are going to spend time on snow and ice, have larger valences fitted to the outside so that more snow and ice can be used to weigh it down and prevent drift from coming inside.
For long or short expeditions in groups of three the Jetstream competes with the more established tentmakers out there. Weighing in at just over 5kg when fully packed, this is your adventure bolthole for wherever you want to go.