If you're expecting a review of a 'tent' in the traditional sense of the word then you might leave a little disappointed ... however, if you're interested in 'ultralight shelters' rather than 'tents', you're in luck.
|All zipped up.|
The AlpKit Delta is a tent that didn't quite make the grade. There are a couple of issues with the inner that stop in getting full marks when compared to it's ultralight tent peers. We don't care about that though, we're really not interested in anything the inner has to offer ... what we want is a lightweight, waterproof, well made, compact shelter that doesn't require a bank loan to buy. I have to say here that the Delta is not a cheap tent, in fact just the opposite is true. The fly is high quality silnylon, the poles are 'green' DAC alloy, the lines are Dymena and it comes fitted with mini linelocs on all guylines and pegging points ... the Delta is an expensive tent being sold cheaply.
|One door open. You can just see the webbing tension strap across the floor.|
The first thing I did when Gwyn the postie dropped the Delta off was unclip the inner and put it to one side, I wouldn't be needing it. There's 2 poles, a very long one which gives the tent it's arched back and a much shorter one which clips on across the top. Pitching is straightforward enough ... slide the long pole through the (very obvious) external sleeve and locate the pole ends in some eyelets. Now put 6 pegs in around the perimeter, clip the cross pole into place and finish off by pegging out the 4 guylines - simple. Now, I've just said 'locate the pole ends in some eyelets'. If you're using the inner, these eyelets are located on a short piece of webbing which is sewn to the outer and clips to the groundsheet ... but we haven't got an inner. In the tent bag is a length of webbing with a clip on both ends, I believe this webbing is to be used when you don't have an inner. Things might get a little confusing now but bear with me ... my length of webbing had female clips on, the clips on the fly/outer also had female clips but the clips on the groundsheet were male, meaning I could fasten the inner to the outer but couldn't fasten the outer to my length of webbing. Or to be correct, I couldn't until I liberated the clips from the groundsheet and put them on the webbing strap - I'm unsure whether you'll have to do the same, I may have got a rogue strap but it's worth noting.
|Light and airy!|
I know I keep going on about this webbing strap but it's crucial and I imagine easily overlooked. Not only does it keep the ends of the pole where you want them, it also enables you to adjust how much tension is on the pole, which in turn has a ginormous effect on how the tent pitches and how stable it is. I've spent quite a while playing with the length of the strap and seeing what effect it has and I think I've reached a ball park figure of 85" from clip to clip. You also need to remember that it's possible to adjust both ends of the strap independently which could result in an 85" strap length (which is good) but much more tension one one end of the pole than the other (very bad) ... you're aiming to set the pole so both ends are at the same angle where they meet the ground.
I've made all that sound rather complex and difficult, it isn't, it's probably actually quicker to set it up than it is to read about it, especially after a practice pitch.
|Webbing tension strap - try setting it at 85" long.|
Once pitched the Delta feels very stable, not in the way something heavy and immovable feels stable. It does move a little in high winds but in a good way, it behaves like a boxer rolling with an incoming punch, moving away to lessen the impact, so even strong winds seem to roll over it rather than trying to tear their way through it ... difficult to explain but very reassuring to experience.
|Aim to get both ends of the main pole to look something like this.|
|Door tie quite low - easily cured by adding a second one to the guyline point.|
Even though the Delta is a 2 person tent it's still quite unusual for there to be 2 doors. There's one on each 'long' side and they're slightly offset from each other. It's a real bonus, it stops those middle of the night clambering over each other sessions and it allows you to always have an entrance out of the wind. Both doors feature 2 way zips so they can be left partially open for venting or opened right up and tied back. You might just want to add an extra tie for the doors though. The standard ones are quite low which can allow the top to unfurl, it's not really an issue but if you were cooking near the doors just be careful.
|Right guyline taking tension of the door panel.|
As with much lightweight kit the zips on the Delta aren't chunky, they're more than up to the task but don't abuse them. There can be quite a bit of pressure on the zips when closing the doors so help them out when you pitch. In the picture above you'll see that the right hand guy is pegged so that it's pulling the tent fabric towards the door opening. Pegging the guys in this direction (rather than straight out) takes some pressure of the zips.
|Extra guyline points should you need them.|
|Strange shape outside = lots of room inside.|
There's a lot of internal room in the Delta but more importantly there's an enormous amount of usable room in the Delta. I'm sure the situation is helped in no small part by the extra cross pole. It flattens the roof and lifts the walls up and out creating a shape with walls much nearer vertical than if a single pole was used. Besides creating more head and shoulder room it also means that any condensation that forms is more likely to run down the walls rather than dripping onto your sleeping bag. As a single person shelter the Delta feels like a palace, with two inside it's still more than roomy enough, especially given the two doors. Two mats will happily live side by side without forcing anyone too close to the walls.
|One of these is a tent peg ... the other isn't.|
Something you will have to change are the standard tent pegs. Ultralight tents nearly always arrive with ultralight pegs but we don't always pitch tents on still, sunny days where these pegs might just about hold. The Deltas pegs are no worse than those supplied with lots of other tents but do yourself a favour and order some other pegs when you order a tent ... unless you like chasing blown down tents across the countryside!
|It's not big but it is clever.|
Attention to detail is obvious when you look at the tent itself but it's also obvious when you look at the whole package. The tent bag is lovely, it's made slightly oversize so the tent fits easily but it's also got compression straps so the bulk can easily be reduced. The pole bag has a pocket on the side for storing your pegs and included repair kit, so one less thing to lose.
The AlpKit Delta might not be the best 'tent' in the world but as a shelter or tarptent it's superb. There's not many fully enclosed shelters that offer this much room, there's even less that are this light (860g inc tent bag, pole bag, lines, poles and 10 replacement AlpKit Candy Cane pegs) and I can't think of a single one that can be bought for anything approaching the same price, which if you didn't know is £60!