The Octapeak F8 is the family backpacking shelter I’ve been looking for since the kids came along. It’s a pyramid design, which equates to good stability in strong winds for its weight, with two doors and (crucially) two porches for cooking and wet gear. There’s lots of space inside, making this a genuine four-person shelter. It’s versatile and can be pitched as a single skin – which would make it a great group or cooking shelter at a base camp or festival – or with a large single inner, or with two single person inners, leaving a large central area for cooking etc.
The single inner that we use is a bathtub design with a mostly mesh upper, and is very breathable – there have been no condensation issues for us. It can pitch inner or outer first. There are some nice touches in the design; strengthened hook and eye connections on the doors, and some structure provided on the fly from two lengths of tape across the corners, which can be unhooked to avoid a trip hazard at the door if conditions are benign. Otherwise, frills are kept to a minimum. There are pockets inside but they aren’t very deep, and the inner can sag a little as it only attaches at the roof and the ground.
The weight all in is about 2.8kg, and it can be split between the group – so it’s a practical unit which can be backpacked with, and shows family sized tents don’t need to weigh 15kg! The central pole for support needs to be purchased separately, and the fly needs to be seam sealed by the owner. I’d also recommend extra guys to really bolt this to the ground, but ignore the extra prep time and this is superb value for a very weather worthy shelter.
► Verdict: Well designed, useable and packable group shelter.
► Best for: Cycle touring, backpacking, festival groups.
Review by David Lintern @davidjlintern