Nervous as anything I start my snowmobile. Through the layers of helmet beanie and buff I can just about make out the engine revving up. My heart is pounding and I am still getting use to the restricted movement from wearing 4 layers of clothing. I am in this dream state were everything is new to me. The snow is heaped in massive mounds, a good 3-4meters high. Beautiful slag heaps every 15 yards. Can this be real? Are we really going to go and camp in what would turn out to be – 26 Celsius!
I along with 3 lucky colleagues went to Sweden, to a town 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle called Arvidsjaur. The purpose of our visit was to put a Safir 9 Tentipi Nordic Tipi to the test in conditions that would usually be associated with expeditions rather than recreation. We were joined by 4 other outdoor enthusiasts, along with 2 guides.
We set off in convoy following the snowmobile tracks out off town. Gliding along on powder dry snow, we were winding our way through pine forest in an area of Sweden more commonly known as Lapland. What would await us for the next two days and nights?
Our mode of transport might not be the most traditional but it certainly proved to be a lot of fun. It allowed us to carry the provisions needed to survive in this frozen wilderness as well as drag race across every frozen lake at 70mph! Functional adrenaline transportation.
We reached our campsite and started unloading. We split into 2 groups of five. We were handed a bag the size of a 50 litre back pack and told to start stamping down the snow in a circular shape. The first step I took my leg disappeared up to my thigh in the snow. This was going to be a bit of a workout and a lot of mucking around. The hardest part of pitching the tent was stamping down the snow to give us a firm base to sleep on. The tent, pitched in all off 10 minutes. With 8 pegging points and 1 pole it is incredibly simple even to do on your own. We added to this an Eldfell wood burning stove with chimney and five Reindeer skins.
I was starting to cool down again after stripping off layers to avoid sweating whilst stamping down snow for half an hour. The temperature was dropping fast as the sun was setting, and along with it the realisation of what was to come. We split into further groups on campfire, latrine and nesting duties. I ended up nesting (sorting the Tentipi Nordic Tipi for habitation) this involved stoking the stove, laying out the reindeer skins along with sleeping mats and sleeping bags. Within minutes of getting the stove going I could feel sensation returning to my extremities as the temperature climbed into single digits and then low teens inside the tent. Outside was a totally different story!
We huddled around our fire pit and eagerly wolfed down a traditional potato and speck meal. This was complemented by some whiskey and beer that was freezing in the neck of the bottle as you were drinking it! It didn’t take much convincing to turn in for the night, as our tent was a lot warmer than outside.
I love the atmosphere the Nordic Tipi creates. Due to the stove/ firebox in the tent, it is very cosy. The way that you have to arrange the sleeping mats like spokes on a wheel, makes for a much more communal space, rather than the usual sardine tin. You don’t have to crawl over anybody, to get up during the night and waking up before others in the morning isn’t a problem either. I can see why this shape has worked so well for nomads over the centuries. The Tipi really makes the most of the limited space.
During the night we had to stoke the fire a few times but that was just part of the enjoyment. Waking up to the regular breathing of your fellow campers and stoking the fire, watching the fire reflecting on the canvas, adds to the overall experience.
The next two days was filled with getting snowmobiles stuck waist deep in the snow, ice fishing for trout and more whiskey and bbq’s. Lapland is a truly magical place, where the hostile environment is met with unrivalled natural beauty. The Nordic Tentipi really makes this landscape a lot more accessible with very little effort on your part. It also gave me the opportunity to turn colleagues into friends.
Bristol Store Assistant Manager