Ultra-lightweight tents are increasingly popular, and not surprisingly – who wants to go back to trucking heavy canvas around? However, prices have started to fall of late too, boosted by new fabric tech and production processes. The headline news here is that the Alpkit Ordos 2 tent is revamped for 2016, weighs 1300 grams, costs £190, and claims to be a 3 season, 2 man tent. So is it any good? Read on for our initial Alpkit Ordos 2 tent review – initial in this case because we’ll be updating with proper mountain testing as we go.
UPDATE: We spent a week valley camping in Chamonix with the Ordos 2 2016, and discovered that a) it’s somewhat palatial for one, snug for two plus mountain gear. b) the mesh is very fragile indeed, we holed the door in spite of considerable care and attention. c) the velcro tabs on the inside of the flysheet need to be ‘tightly’ wound around the poles, otherwise everything prolapses gently. Other than that, the Alpkit Ordos 2 fended off drunken Euro campers, pre-dawn alpine starts and several thunderstorms with aplomb. Fine show.
On an unrelated note, win a rather handy Suunto Vector HR (Ordos 2 review continues after the break:)
Topline then, it’s relatively cheap, and pretty light for a 2 man tent. Build quality is excellent, but the materials are inevitably flimsier than a 4 -season mountain tent, so if you’re careless or want a bombproof winter shelter then you’re out of luck. We’ve always been supporters of Alpkit’s ethos though, and they’ve had some amazing products over the years, some for absolutely bargain prices.
The Alpkit Ordos 2 tent could be said (sorry Alpkit) to be very comparable to the Big Agnes Seedhouse, allegedly because it’s actually the same design as now-defunct US ultralight tent-maker Golite’s Imogene UL2 . Confused? We are too. In short, the Ordos 2 was originally launched by Alpkit in the UK back in March 2015. The 2015 versions (there are 2 and 3 man versions available) were very much re-runs of the Golite Imogene UL2/UL3. However, Alpkit have made some improvements for this, the Alpkit Ordos 2 tent 2016, which we’ll get into as we go.
It’s an inner-first pitch, which means if it’s chucking it down then you’ll be very wet. However, Alpkit have – to their credit – taken criticism of this onboard and the 2016 model now pitches outer-first if you wish. This means you can dispense entirely with the inner tent (above) if you like, just pitching the flysheet tarp-style. Although that’s an intriguing concept and a nice-to-mull over, we’re betting most won’t, especially in the UK and Europe, where weather happens. The company has also improved the inner tent for 2016 by minimising the mesh, making the overall structure far more wind-resistant.
Spec wise it’s a strong proposition – taped seams, Dac Green poles, and a new-and-improved hydrostatic head rating for both the flysheet and the bathtub groundsheet. Although the figures are better, the material still feels very lightweight indeed, so a footprint is definitely a good idea. The fly is upgraded to 3000 mm hydrostatic head, and Alpkit has not used additional fire retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) on the fabric, which is an eco win.
Pitching is slightly more faffy than a burly mountain tent, and there are plenty of ‘sensitive’ bits, where you’ll want to have pitched it before to get things aligned right, which is really down to the ultralight design. The poles are connected together with the clear swivels below, so there’s no chance of forgetting one, but equally requires a bit of origami to get them back in a bag.
For example, the clear connectors above need careful alignment otherwise the tapes get twisted, spoiling the tension of the inner tent. The ‘knobs’ on the end of the DAC poles clip neatly into plastic retainers, and if you’re as dense as we are you’ll find the image above useful – the black plastic loops on the flysheet clip over the top of the clear ones. Certainly a tent you’ll want to pitch at home before trying it in the dark and rain.
Aside from these small cautionary areas, the Ordos 2 pitches pretty easily, and the single vent with it’s inbuilt micro-pole is a nice touch.
Guyline points are nicely reinforced, and overall the build quality is very good indeed, although using a footprint is definitely a plan – the groundsheet is super-thin, and won’t handle anything like boggy ground.
It’s big enough to sleep two in reasonable comfort, although the porch space is a little limited for 2. Alpkit claim the porch is 105 cm x 90 cm, which is pretty snug for x2 sacs, boots, etc.
However, as it’s the same weight as a light bivvy bag each it’s a definite win for lightweight wildcamping of all kinds. Our tent came with quite a selection of guylines, (5) which is lovely, but does make us wonder how many you’d need to tie it down in a hoolie. To be fair to Alpkit, they’re super-clear it’s a 3 season tent, so winter storm resistance is a bit above and beyond. The new, improved design has pushed overall weight up according to official figures, but after losing a few guylines and labels our scales put pack weight at 1257 grams, which isn’t bad.
Overall, it’s a decent showing, if a little lightweight. However, if you’re all about shaving the ounces and on a bit of a budget, this looks like a brilliant shout.
The Alpkit Ordos 2 tent is available now direct from Alpkit, in Chili or Kelp colours, for £190.
Total weight: 1300 g
Flysheet: 400 g
Inner: 426 g
Poles: 320 g
Pegs: 92 g
Guylines: 30 g
Tent bag: 18 g
Pole bag: 8 g
Peg bag: 6 g
Pack size: 42 cm (L) x 41 cm (C)
Here’s Alpkit’s own video rundown of the 2015 Ordos 2, which is very very similar – although you’ll notice the higher ripstop on the inner tent, marking out that lower overall mesh area.