Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 review: The ideal UK hiking tent?

What's The Best takes the Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 tent field testing in Scotland.

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 in a valley at sunset

by Chris Williams |

With plenty of us itching to explore the outdoors again, What’s The Best Contributor Chris Williams took the lightweight Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 tent field testing in the Scottish Highlands to see if this value-for-money tent really is a proper 3-season hiking tent.

Specifications
Weight 1.95kg
Dimensions 230cm (L) x 130cm (W) x 92cm (H)
Packed size 30cm x 19cm
Flysheet Stormtex P4000
Groundsheet Aquastop P5000
Poles 8.5mm main pole, 8mm end poles - Superflex alloy
Shape Tunnel
Pros Cons
• True 3-season tent • Small porch space
• Light and compact • Not free-standing
• Basic but well made
• Good value
• Easy pitching

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About Wild Country and the Zephyros Compact 2

Wild Country is a sub-brand of Terra Nova. But where Terra Nova-badged products sit at a reasonably high price point and are aimed at experienced specialists and enthusiasts, Wild Country offers better value, but not at the expense of quality and therefore caters to a wider customer base.

The Zephyros Compact 2 is, unsurprisingly, a lightweight and compact hiking and backpacking tent that has high weatherproofing designed for three-season use. It has been designed to cater for two occupants or a more spacious one. Though solo trekkers looking for a more compact version can consider the smaller Zephyros Compact 1.

How we tested

I took the Zephyros Compact 2 on a four-night expedition in the Scottish Highlands (one of which was actually in the Lake District on the way up).

There were two of us using the Zephyros Compact 2 in order to see how it went as a two-person tent. We didn’t just lug it from campsite to campsite in the car either, we carried it in a pack along with all our other hiking gear to test how compact it was when packed away.

Waterproofing

There was no mucking about in testing the Zephyros’ waterproofing. Our first night was spent next to a stream in a valley in the Lake District, not too far from Britain’s highest inn. The ground was already damp when we made camp and ominous gunmetal clouds were looming ever closer. Drizzle was in the air and evolved into steady rain from 11pm and was still falling when we left at about 7am the following morning.

At no point did rainwater penetrate the Stormetx P4000 flysheet of the Zephyros, or the Aquastop P5000 groundsheet. Both of these are seam-sealed, but I was still genuinely surprised and impressed by the waterproofing.

In regards to condensation, the Zephyros did rather well. It has meshed ventilation panels at each on the inner and flysheet (all of which you can close if you wish), plus a partly meshed door. We had at least some breeze on three of the four nights, which allowed for good airflow and no condensation in the morning. On the last night of our trip, the air was still and we did wake to a little condensation on the inside of the flysheet.

Pitching

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 pitched in a valley
©Photo: Chris Williams/What's The Best

Pitching is very straightforward once you know what to do. There is a single central pole arching over the centre and a small one at each end; put the poles in place; peg out the guylines at each end, at which point the tent will stand up; then peg out the rest of the tent, including the other two guylines. The poles are 8.5mm aluminium alloy and are simply excellent.

The inner comes attached to the flysheet and pitching is a two-minute job with another person or a five-minute one on your own. This was well received by me because it meant that the tent went up in a jiffy and we could enjoy our Spam and Mug Shots (and perhaps a tipple of whiskey) beneath the towering Highland hills, momentarily stained pink by the setting sun and with grazing deer nearby.

The red pegs are lightweight alloy and are in a V-shape. The ground at our campsite in the Lake District was surprisingly hard, but the pegs penetrated into the dirt fairly easily – certainly more easily than the traditional pegs used by my mate pitching his tent nearby.

The end result is very sturdy and easily capable of coping with tempestuous wind, provided you peg it down properly. Wind gust up the valley in the Lake District during our first night, in addition to the rain. But the Zephyros stood totally indifferent as if the blustery air was merely a zephyr. The Zephyros is every bit the three-season tent Terra Nova says it is.

If you find the flysheet a little slack, make sure that the end poles slope out at about 15 degrees, and on the inside between the flysheet and inner you can make the construction tauter with straps.

Space

Interior of Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2
©Photo: Chris Williams/What's The Best

This version of the Zephyros is meant for two people. And it’s just as well it has the word ‘compact’ in its name because when sleeping two, it certainly is that. If I weren’t already engaged to the person I was sharing the tent with, there’s a fair chance I would've been after that.

Don’t be naive. This is a hiking and backpacking tent and was never going to be as spacious as glamping Zempire. The two of us managed OK, I’m 6'2" and my cohabiter is 5'5" (and a bit, she insists). However, we filled the inside, which in itself is fine, but the porch area is not big enough for one let alone two packs. So they had to squeeze inside with us. The porch has enough space for boots, but that’s it.

Terra Nova says that the Zephyros is meant for short and medium-length trips for two people, but even with smaller packs, the Zephyros could do with a little more width in the porch. At present it is 30 centimetres wide – another 15 or 20 centimetres would be enough to make all the difference.

As a one-person tent, the Zephyros Compact 2 is good for a trip of any length.

Features

Ventilation panel on the Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 tent
©Photo: Chris Williams/What's The Best

Those with active night-time bladders will be very pleased to hear the Zephyros Compact 2 has a door on each side. My cohabiter was able to slip in and out on a couple of nights without my knowledge. The zips on the doors of the inner tent are superb. They glide easily when pulled from any angle and the doors on the flysheet have useful two-way zips.

I found that the ventilation panels provided an additional service than merely reducing moisture. They also act as a little peephole, allowing you to survey the world outside and check the weather without even sitting up and opening the doors.

Inside the tent, there is a small pocket on the wall that has enough volume for a couple of phones and torches.

As you would expect, they guylines are bright yellow and reflective, and the sleeve for the main pole also bears reflective patches.

Packing up

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 packed up next to a hiking pack
©Photo: Chris Williams/What's The Best

All too frequently, hiking tents are a finger-busting nuisance to pack up because the bags are too small. I am happy to report that is not the case here. Needless to say, I was unable to emulate the flawless folding that goes on when the tent is packaged at the factory. But folding the Zephyros a couple of times and rolling it up with the peg and pole bags is all that is required to pack the tent away neatly and easily in the bag. And the bag itself won’t fall apart in five minutes, because it opens wide and means you don’t have to strain the material each time you’re packing up.

Sustainability

One of the places we camped at was a barren and beautiful valley that flowed into the sea, with no evidence of humanity except an old farmhouse, a bothy, oh yes, and a beach completely strewn with discarded fishing ropes, nets, bottles, and other human pollution.

human pollution on a Scottish beach
©Photo: Chris Williams/What's The Best

It is therefore incredibly important that we assess the sustainability behind the Zephyros tent and Terra Nova as a brand. I asked Terra Nova about the sustainability of its tents. One of the biggest issues with waterproof outdoor gear is the use of C6 fluorocarbons – a type of PFC – in Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coatings.

Terra Nova says there is no viable alternative at present that is as durable. While that is true, there are other, more eco-friendly options. German outdoor brand Vaude has developed PFC-free DWRs and is using them in its products. Vaude says that its PFC-free DWR isn’t as durable as the fluorocarbon alternative and re-waterproofing with a fluorocarbon-free product is necessary. But surely that is a worthwhile interim while a durable PFC-free DWR is developed?

But Terra Nova no longer uses plastic zip pullers and ship customer-ordered tents in recycled cardboard boxes. And in terms of caring for tents during their lifespan (which should be long, given the quality of construction), Terra Nova does well. It offers a full repair service and stocks spares for popular discontinued models. Where its tents are replaced under a warranty, Terra Nova fixes the old tent and sells it on via its factory shop.

Verdict

Overall, I am very impressed with the Zephyros Compact 2. The value for money, quality of construction, lightness, ease of pitching, and performance make for a superb hiking tent. The primary niggle lies in the lack of porch space.

For those after a well-rounded hiking tent for most scenarios, the Zephyros Compact 2 (or 1) is definitely recommended by us.

Score: 4/5

Pros Cons
• True 3-season tent • Small porch space
• Light and compact • Not free-standing
• Basic but well made
• Good value
• Easy pitching

What gear I used with the Zephyros Compact 2:

Marmot Nanowave 35 Synthetic Sleeping Bag

Marmot Nanowave 35 Synthetic Sleeping Bag

View offer

Full zip, mummy shape sleeping bag. Comfort rating 7u00b0C, just over one kilogram, Bluesign-approved.

Berghaus Peak Compact Self-Inflating Mat

Berghaus Peak Compact Self-Inflating Mat
Amazon

View offer

120cm x 51cm x 3cm. Very light at 460g and compact when packed away at 29cm x 11cm. Nylon ripstop material.

MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Portable Stove

MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Portable Stove
Amazon

View offer

73g, boils one litre of water in under four minutes.

Trangia Aluminium Mess Tin

Trangia Aluminium Mess Tin
Amazon

View offer

160g, perfect for food and can do drinks, too.

Trangia 25 Series Kettle

Trangia 25 Series Kettle

View offer

190g, 0.9 litre volume. Sturdy handle and ventilation hole to prevent boil-over.

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Chris Williams is a Commercial Content Writer for What's The Best. He also writes for CAR and Parkers.

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