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Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team

Tents for 4 seasons

By alpjim | 03, Oct, 2011

Jim turns the spotlight on the development process of our 4 season geodesic tents

There are no better products which more sharply define an outdoor company's aspirations as a brand than tents. When the idea of Alpkit was first conceived, tents were high on the original wish list and we have always been keeping an eye out for factories, materials and construction methods to bring this dream to life. And now we have!

Early explorations with geodesics

We first started sampling geodesic tents back in 2006 but these were skillfully lost by DHL when we shipped them out to Melloblocco. As a result the project was put on hold and ideas put on the backburner, until about 3 years ago when we could finally fully commit to developing a range of tents we could be proud of. With well over 150 years of combined experience of using tents within Alpkit we set our standards very high. All of our staff and sponsored athletes have spent hundreds of nights under canvas, nylon and polyester, finding shelter all over the world in all sorts of weathers in tents of all shapes and sizes. Combine this with a strong outdoor design team capable of filtering thoughts, ideas and suggestions, we have a pretty good pedigree. We know to trust a product without question in extreme environments is a big ask and it is something we appreciate every time we see your photos of our products around the world. It fills us with pride and satisfaction, knowing we have earned your trust and we can’t wait to start seeing our tents on the base camps and campsites of the world.

Inner pitch first or outer pitch first?

Inner first... outer first... inner first... the argument rages on and everyone has their own thoughts on the subject. We decided early on we would make our mountain tents pitch inner first and there is no concrete reason for this. There are no clear cut reasons or advantages for either system. Most advantages can be twisted to become disadvantages for either system. The most important thing to remember which ever way you pitch a tent is that you have your own system for pitching, carrying and storage. If we had to pin a reason for choosing "inner first" it is probably that most of us use (own) inner pitch tents and have systems in place already to use them.

Why No Super Low Prices?

When we received the first samples and prices back from our factories we had high hopes of selling tents in a new way. However as we started to work out margins, shipping costs and competitor rrps we soon realised that the tent market has been badly skewed. Very few tents seem to be sold at list prices, discounting is rife and cut throat, especially online. At first glance this is great for you the consumer in the short term. But in the long term low margins can be extremely restrictive to further development, reduce service levels and as well as reducing quality. We decided there was only one way for us to go... make Alpkit tents as good as they can be. Use only the best materials, construction techniques and components. On top of this we looked at every detail of tent life and made the tents feature rich with additions to add to your camping experience. We feel the resulting products are some of the best ever made and the prices offer extremely good value for money.

Where are the lightweight backpacking tents?

We had hoped to launch a range of lighter back packing tents alongside the 4 season mountain tents but the first samples we have had haven't cut the mustard. We have gone back to the drawing board on this one and we hope to have some product during the summer of 2012.

Feedback

We're pretty proud of what we have achieved with these first designs but we are not ignorant to the fact we might have overlooked something that could improve the tents still further. We will continue to develop these designs as the years roll by and would appreciate any feedback good or bad. Give us a call or drop us an email, we will always be open to new ideas, improvements, criticisms. Open communication and collaboration with our customers is a fundamental value we hold dear at Alpkit.

Where can I see them?

As with all Alpkit products they won’t be stocked in any shops but we have tried to provide as much information on the site about them as we can but if you feel there is something we haven’t covered drop us a mail or give us a call. We have been on the road with various prototypes for the last year and there are a few stories about them on the net already. Test tents are currently with magazines and websites so more reviews should be appearing all the time. We will continue to take them to all the events we attend and anyone is welcome to pop into our warehouse, just call first to make sure the coffee pot is on.

We haven’t committed our family fortunes (we wish) to this project and as such quantities will be limited as we do not have any pre-sales to base orders on. This also means lead times on new stocks will quite long until a steady sales pattern has emerged. If you come to buy one in 3 months time and we have sold out, you can’t say we didn’t warn you!!

We currently have three 4 season tents in our range; the 2 person Kangri, 3 person Zhota and the volumous 4 person Heksa. Take a look at the specs and let us know what you think.

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