Base camp

By Nick

All to often we have found ourselves on a wet campsite fighting for air in lightweight 2 man tents whilst all around us were layed back with their feet up in large, family frame tents. Over the years we have seen these transform into large dome tents which just looked like grown up versions of our own. We couldn't avoid the fact anymore, large tents looked cool and a lot more comfortable than ours. With the market saturated by 3 main types of tent (ridge, dome and hoop) it may seem that tent design has stood still since the day Buckminster Fuller bodged together some triangles, but we think there is still room for improvement. You just have to take a look at young companies such as Nemo to see that there is still room for structual and technical innovation. But there are other factors that we are interested in such as how do we use a tent. Manufacturers such as Terra Nova have taken a modular approach, allowing small satellite tents to dock with a main communal section. The way we travel has an impact on what we carry with us. Low cost airlines have made international travel cheaper.. but they are also cutting luggage allowance. What impact does this have on groups of people travelling together in groups of 4-6. Modern materials and construction techniques have done a lot to solve the problems of yesterdays frame tents. They are lighter, stronger and dry quicker. We all think we know a little more than the family who pulls up next door and pops up their caravan tent but why do most of us end up with tents suitable for a Himalayan ascent. Alpkit wants to develop the base camp concept and come up with a cost effective design that satisfies our needs.

We are intrigued by the modular design concept. On paper zipping tents together and creating a connected living space seems like great fun. An ideal solution for individuals who like to get together often, or for families with kids who go off on scout camps. It doesn't have to be dull either, Richard Leonard has pointed out that Quechua are doing some pretty crazy things with their TBase design. You purchase the sections you need to make your living space, Swedish functionality combined with French flair. It is a neat idea, but in practice does it work? Is the modular system added value or an added complication?.

The forum is open. Nick

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