Better than expected
Alpkit is a company I hadn't heard of until now, I was looking into replacing my old dome 3-season tent to a geodesic, with a bit more headroom and survivability. Two names came up on the Walk Highlands forum - the Terra Nova Quasar and the Alpkit Kangri. After months of researching and reading the two two, I took a gamble on the Kangri, after reading unfavourable reviews on the quality of the Quasar tent poless. Delivery was quick and a thank you note in the package was a nice touch to the overall experience and worthy of 5 star customer services.
Keen to try it out the Kangri and put it through it's paces, I pitched on the tail end of Storm Connor, that hit the Outer Hebrides with 90-100mph winds and driving rain. Gusts were still about 50-60mph on the day, but if the tent couldn't survive that, it would certainly not be a mountain grade - 4 season. Pitching proved challenging with one person in these conditions, with a few attempts required to get the poles in the right place and the occasional creek as the poles found their form. (As in previous tents, I've marked out the eyelets on the inner with orange/yellow cord, to make pole-to-groundsheet orientation quicker in future) The clip on design of the fly sheet is a welcome touch, especially with cold hands in winter. Then the buckle straps can be pulled to secure the fly sheet in place and make it taut.
As the footprint was out of order, I purchased this without the footprint, with the intention of adding this at a later date. In the end, I ended up using a 212D Oxford Tarp groundsheet, weighing in at 310g to reduce wear and boost the already 10,000HH the bathtub sheet is rated at. Using without a tarp will not cause leaks into the Kangri, but for longevity of the groundsheet, it's always recommended to use one.
Once pegged out and sitting, it remained surprisingly stable compared to using a dome or a ridge. I should add, that although the tent comes with 20 candy cane pegs, for the purposes of this review I was using an old set of aluminium Y pegs and later ordered Alpkit's Apex V Titanium pegs, for the extra guy points this tent comes with. Due to the extreme whether I camp in, candy canes are too easy to pull out.
Despite getting the inner quite damp in rain, none of this had leaked through to the inner part and remained touch dry. As this is designed to offer better airflow and reduce condensation, the inner was completely dry within about 10/15 minutes. In previous tents, breathing after about 20 minutes would cause condensation on the sides. So even closed up, the Kangri offered impressive breathability, without being drafty or having to vent using the doors.
After emptying and stowing a 65litre pack, I realised what I had been missing with these newer tents. With extra pockets running along the inside, glow in the dark zippers and 2 roomy vestibules, I felt right at home. Even a small hood on the door, to allow the tent to vent a little, without getting rain inside proved useful. Being 6.4, tent height is often a problem with me sitting up or moving around. Pushing the inner against the outer everytime I needed to move, I felt like some sort of whac-a-mole game. But plenty of space in the Kangri to move about, even for 2, so I made the right choice with a geodesic design.
After adding a few more tweaks , I took the Kangri out on a second weekend trial. I was expecting freezing conditions, heavy snow, rain, sleet, hail, thundersnow and gales. Ideal conditions for a weekend camp out I thought! Pitched the tent just below a ridge line on a sandy hill, rear facing into the direction of the wind. With a bit more confidence and speed this time around, I had the ground sheet to last guyline done in about 9 minutes, in 20-25mph winds. As an added precaution, I crossed the Y pegs with the candy canes that came with the Kangri, as the ground was more sand than dirt.
That night, the conditions were worse than thought and there were a few moments I felt that I would need to bail and seek shelter. Had I made a misake going out in this with a Kangri? Wind direction had changed and hit the tent side on, with winds recorded at 83mph for the area! Hail stones the size of marbles and heavy rain made the night sleepless and noisy, with the occasional rumble of thunder thrown in. In the morning, I woke up and surveyed any damage that may have been caused. In a rookie mistake, I had forgotten to place rocks to secure the guy lines down. Even with 2 pegs to each guyline, all the wind facing pegs had moved near 90degrees in the opposite direction, but remained pinned in by the Candy Canes. In sand, this would have been trouble and most certainly, a new tent job. Shaking the ice off and checking stitching and areas I would expect a tent to fail, I found no stress or tearing. When dismantling the tent, about a litre of water had pooled between the ground sheet and the footprint. Hadn't noticed any leakage though, despite all the moving around in side, squashing the two sheets together. Couldn't believe it, the tent had done exactly as advertised!
As someone new to the brand, I was extremely hesitant to fork out this much money for something unknown. The weather here in the Outer Hebrides is harsh and unforgiving, but the Kangri stood up as a quality tent and one I would feel confident to take anywhere. It's comfortable and the small additions do make a difference overral if you are weathered in. The days of having only one vestibual are over, making cooking and changing wind directions easier to cope with. While hestitant and sceptical at first, I have every confidence that Alpkit do quality items at some really, insane prices. I look forward to seeing how this performs in my more extreme ventures. Well done Alpkit!