Develop - what's new from the Alpkit Design Team
Ben’s cycle tour
By Kenny Stocker | 30, Oct, 2006
Back in February Ben quit his night shift at Tesco and began preparing for a cycle tour from the UK to Italy. His kit list included a Wee Airic camping mat and a AlpineDream 700 sleeping bag.
Dear Alpkit, Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on creating an innovative service to the outdoor enthusiast. Your website efficiency, combined with low costs, make Alpkit a promising venture for people like myself. I have literally just returned from a six week cycle tour, from my home town which is Accrington, in Lancashire. I travelled through Wales, France and Italy, ending in Naples. I covered almost 3500km, which, for me is a great personal achievement. I am now starting the process of reviewing all my equipment which I purchased including my Alpkit items. I chose Alpkit for it's sleeping bags and camp mats, after advice on various forums, for its low cost and good solid performance. I must congratulate you on a wonderful down sleeping bag. It kept me wonderfully warm throughout various climates. In order to recommend future enhancements, may I recommend:
- Some amount of waterproofing to the outer fabric. As, morning tent condensation would transfer to the bag, which seemed somewhat absorbent. A higher cost would be acceptable I think. However, the bag kept me warm even when damp.
- The decals have all but rubbed off my bag, and the embroidery to the compression sack have shed. My bag says ALPKIT.C
- The bag stitching on the panelling has shed in a couple of places.
- The most prominent improvement I can suggest is that the buckles on the compression sack are far too weak for good compression to be attained. On mine, they have 'bowed', which makes strap movement and release very difficult.
For the Wee Airic mat however, my review is not so good, unfortunately. When I recieved the mat, It inflated, and held its air for a while. I tested it our before my trip. However, I had never used an infalting camp mat before. So, I was unaware of the issue. After a few days into regular use of my Alpkit mat, the mat deflated after an hour or so. Which made me realise something was not right. I managed to locate the apparent problem, which was poor glueing at the valve area. The air was escaping from the side of the valve. I used the repair kit to try to cover the area, however, I was unable to glue the contact area between the material and the valve, which was the main issue. So, unfortunately, For the rest of my trip, I slept on a deflated airic mat. My tent was waterproof so things were not too bad. It wasn't until I met a fellow tourer who let me try their thermarest, did I realise just how good a truly inflated mat can be. I now have the mindset that a thermarest is the only mat to have, which my intelligence is telling me is unfair.
Anyhow, I am writing to you to see if you can offer some support on my airic mat. I will be more than grateful for your assistance, and any help will only improve my beliefs in Alpkit, and help with my reviews. I hope that by my next tour in March 2007, I will be raving about alpkit.
Ben kept a blog during his travels in which he also runs through the gear he took with him.
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