What! carbon fibre trekking poles at 35 quid per pair and 700 fill power down sleeping bags for 80 quid? The new kids on the block at Alpkit are a breath of fresh air in the outdoors kit world...
It's a funny thing the human brain - you know those Stella Artois
articles, the 'Reassuringly Expensive' ones? Yep, sometimes we
actually feel more comfortable paying higherprices, subconsciously
you're thinking, 'you get what you pay for'...
It's an attitude that's definitely around in the outdoors world
too - a 20 quid fleece? Must be rubbish eh? Or is it? The guys from
new outdoors company Alpkit wouldn't agree. Three quarters of the
four-man team are sitting in my kitchen drinking tea and periodically
producing budget priced miracles from a great big bag.
75 per-cent of Team
Alpkit - good kit at good prices on the web
A pair of trekking poles for 35 quid? So what, except that the
Alpkit trekking poles are made from wonder material carbon fibre and
weigh 220 grammes each. Then there's the Tokay rock boot, a
neat-looking, sticky rubber creation with a padded heel aimed at
all-day routes. And the range of white goose down sleeping bags which
use 700 fill power down in three different sizes to give comfort
ratings from -5 to -20 C and, get this, are priced between
£79.99 and £120.
I'm fiddling with the base Alpine Dream 500 and trust me, it has
pretty much everything you'd expect from a decent bag - box wall
construction, a down-filled baffle, adjustable hood. Nothing flash,
no trapzoidal baffles or elasticated linings or flashy fasteners and
superlightweight fabrics, but it feels dependable. And it retails -
get this - for £79.99. That's a down bag with top quality down
weighing 1200 grammes for under 80 quid. It's emphatically not
And there's more with Fat Eric, an enormous self-inflating
sleeping pad coming your way soon for around £35, a mooted
UK-made merino / polyester baselayer top at a guesstimate price of
£20 in the pipeline and some foolishly cheap down jackets also
on the way.
The Alpkit Story
Fat Eric, a 35-quid super
in the pipeline...
So what's going on? Alpkit are four guys, three of whom, used to
work with Outdoor Designs. Last year they sold their kids,
remortgaged their houses and started up on their own with the aim of
producing quality outdoors gear which they'd sell at killer
Between them they have all the skills needed - two kit designers,
a web expert and a far east-based outdoors kit sourcing expert. That
cuts their overheads dramatically, then to rationalise things even
further, they only sell direct from their own web site, where the
price you see is the price you pay, including postage and packing,
VAT etc. And for that you get next day delivery too.
They're not trying to compete with ultra-high end kit, but what
they do aim to do is offer decent quality, basic kit at really good
prices. And even at those prices, they say, they're making enough
margin to make it worth their while.
They're also reassuringly up front about the limitations of their
kit - there's a streaming video of them destroying one of their own
trekking poles on the site - and they're happy to admit that you can
break the carbon poles if you try hard enough, but then you can break
pretty much anything if you want to. They'll admit too that the
Tactel nylon fabric they use for their sleeping bags isn't the
lightest fabric out there, but it's durable and downproof and,
reassuringly, the TOG value of the bags has been tested by Leeds
They want to be a general outdoors brand too - "We're not just a
single specialist area brand, we want to be a proper outdoors brand
selling good honest kit."
We have a pair of the carbon fibre poles, an Alpine Dream 500
sleeping bag and one of their bargain basement, five-quid LED
headtorches on test and we'll get back to you in a month or two with
some user impressions. Right now though, we're well impressed with
the Alpkit attitude and the promise of some really effective-looking
kit at stunningly affordable prices. What more can we say except
watch this space. Oh, the URL? It's www.alpkit.com
and we think you'll be hearing the name a lot more over the next few