The FIRST ARROW is recognised as the premier, double-skinned, expedition tent for lightweight travel in snow, across exposed country and in severe weather. This tent has many functional advantages over other shapes and configurations, something that most of its owners only come to realise after extensive use in conditions ranging from blizzards to torrential downpours. Don't get hung up on its mountain heritage! The FIRST ARROW has also been the choice of bushwalkers and general backpackers who need one tent that will perform from tropical lowlands to high, snow covered passes. Such has been the success of this model that we repeated every functional aspect of it in creating the compact, super-lightweight Second Arrow model.
The choice of high-tenacity, 30d Nylon 66 with 3000mm HH sil/sil coating gives the outer tent the best possible performance and durability, all at reduced weight. Water repellency, snow shedding and UV resistance are all improved with this fabric. This lighter-weight fabric option presents no compromise to the life-expectancy of a properly cared for and maintained tent.
The FIRST ARROW inner tent has snug shoulder width for three people and plenty of length. The drawings show the main dimensions of the tent, including vestibule space. On ski tours we often have three in the First Arrow - at close to 700 grams per person that's very lightweight double-skin shelter.
The tapered tunnel shape with its low entry point and sharp 'cut-off' at the large vestibule end give the tent an excellent natural stability in high wind coming from or oblique to the small end direction. You will see this low resistance profile in nature where wind is a constant environmental agent, in sand dunes, snow drifts and water waves. Besides great aerodynamics it has other nice consequences when applied to tent design.The large arch provides sit-up and working room exactly where it's needed. The tapering shape minimises volume and outer skin surface area so heat loss and weight are also minimised.
Compared to other designs the continuously rising shape of the tent to the high point in the cut-away eave provides the best possible still air convective ventilation and a direct exhaust path for cooking vapours rising from the vestibule. Even at low wind speeds the low pressure created over the main vestibule positively sucks air through the tent. With other designs the top part of the tent must flood with warm moist air before it reaches down to vent level. The First Arrow vent opening, formed by unzipping the vestibule panel down from the top of the main arch, is carefully matched to the eave shape so that ventilation can continue even during steady rain or snowfall.
The tent is structurally designed for and should always be pegged out with maximum lengthwise tension. The precisely canted main and small pole arches transmit skin stress equally from the canopy to the front and rear vestibules. The outer tent zips exceed the strength of the fabric panels they join by many times. Operating the bottom sliders on the main zip leads immediately to the inner tent doors for convenient and independent double-sided access. The centre arch provides essential support and stability to the canopy in high winds and snowfall.
Access into the tent (depicted by the red arrows in the sketch) is provided both sides of the large arch, and at the small end. Gear can be stowed out of the way in the main vestibule and is immediately on hand from the inner tent. No need to fall over packs, boots and cooking gear to get in and out. Snow for melting can be stockpiled immediately beside the outer at either entrance. Once you've experienced these features other designs don't retain much appeal.
Both ends of the outer and inner layers can be unzipped for full ventilation and views. If you wish you can lie in the tent looking out at the stars, the vestibule canopies simply unzip all the way down from the top to lie as a cover over your gear. The zips around the main and small arches are protected by tensioned eaves.
Just three pegs are needed to pitch the tent. Six more will fully guy the tent and once in place give the tent a unique combination of stability and energy absorbing flexibility. This built-in flexibility is crucial to resisting the strongest winds. As a result of perfecting the important details of the outer and inner tents it is not possible to simply erect the inner tent on its own. It can be done only with a spiderweb of guys and pole straps.
Both ends of the inner tent have fully zipped door panels and mesh screens. You can unzip just the screen covers or the entire door panel depending on requirements for ventilation, access to equipment, and so on. The whole wrap-around inner tent front door assembly can be zipped off to either side for open access to the equipment and cooking gear stowed in the vestibule. You can then also easily detach the front end of the floor pan from the outer tent attachments and pull it back to clear extra ground space for cooking or packing up in bad weather. The inner tent is provided with a three-compartment mesh pocket suspended within easy reach under the centre pole arch, as well as a lengthwise hanging line.
Being suspended by nylon loops, the inner skin tension is maintained through changing weather conditions. The angular inner design allows excellent, unobstructed airflow between the two skins without compromising inner tent space. You have the option to leave the inner tent attached to the outer tent so it all goes up and comes down as one unit. Otherwise the toggle attachments between the two layers simply unthread from the loops under the outer skin so the tent layers can be packed and carried separately.
Our unique tub-floor design on the First Arrow has special advantages. The simple, folded corners are not stitched. This is possible because the floor pan hangs freely from its attachment points to the outer tent, located well above ground level. A stress-free floor pan improves the life-expectancy of the floor fabric coating in particular. This PU coating on the tough, 40 denier, highly waterproof, nylon fabric we use is light grey in colour. It is easier to find lost items in the tent, light levels improve on dull days and, against the black fabric beneath accidental coating damage is easily identified for repair by liquid sealant application.
The links beside the picture at the top of this page lead to a wide range of information, advice, instructions , technical background, and so on, probably much more than may interest you. If you purchase or already own this product we strongly advise you to read the use and care pages carefully. The info on the DIY repairs page could also be worth a scan, just so you are prepared incase of a field mishap.