When it comes to bikepacking, not being one who feels the need to suffer the hardship of horizontal rain, midges and a tarp which decides that it would rather have been born a kite, I like a tent. Sleeping under the stars can be really rather special but the vagaries of British weather mean that I prefer to be equipped for all eventualities. Choosing the right tent is no easy task though. With so many different designs and price points to choose from, it is easy to become confused and convince yourself that you need spend several hundred pounds on a wafer thin, tissue like construction that has the molecular profile of Helium and the waterproofness of a soggy tea bag. However, as with bikes, there is a definite law of diminishing returns when it comes to tents and in the Ordos 2, Alpkit have potentially created a tent which proves that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to enjoy real world performance and functionality. For a wallet friendly £239, what do you get?
Alpkit pitch (Get it? Pitch? Oh never mind!) the Ordos 2 as a 2 person ultra-lightweight tent for those who like to travel fast and light, whether on foot, bikepacking or motorcycle touring. Weighing in on my real world scales at 1.36kg, heavy it aint. The weight may be low but Alpkit haven’t skimped on features nor have they used budget materials in the tents construction. High quality anodised DAC poles and pegs are employed to keep things up and stuck to the ground. YKK zips are employed for both the inner and outer tent and ran snag free throughout the duration of the test.
The inner tent is a mix of ultralight nylon and No-See-Um mesh. The latter is used mainly on the roof area which means that on balmy summer evenings (not available for readers in Scotland!), you can sleep without the outer fly pitched allowing you to look up at the stars as you drift off into the land of nod.
The inner tent features a bathtub nylon floor which did an excellent job of resisting water ingress on wet nights and when pitched on damp ground. It is, however, quite thin to my eyes meaning that I would seriously consider investing in the footprint which costs only £15 extra if I was to subject the tent to heavy use.
Pitching the tent is reasonably straightforward although it can be a bit fiddly when the wind gets up. The pole stops are easy to locate into while the all in one cross pole design means that I didn’t have to search for the right pole when pitching in the dark. I found that pegging out the inner made erecting it easier. The outer is then draped over the top and once pegged down, makes for a secure structure that can cope with both wind and rain with aplomb.
There is a single zipped entrance at the head of the tent which meant that I had to crawl into and out of the tent. The inclusion of a vent on the flysheet which can be left open and the mesh content of the inner meant that the Ordos 2 did an effective job of minimising condensation. At no point did I wake up to a soggy sleeping bag.
The bell end at the front (Vestibule! Nobody says bell end these days! – Ed) gives ample space for storing gear for two and for cooking duties. Space wise, I found that it easily accommodated two 60cm wide tapered sleeping mats or two 50cm non-tapered mats. At 208 cm long, it is a good 10cm shorter than I would have hoped although the near vertical back wall meant that I only occasionally caught my feet against it. Height wise, at 102cm at the highest point, I was able to sit up comfortably while using an inflatable sleeping mat although things got cosy with two people trying to sit up.
Living with it
As befits a tent test, I spent several nights in it in all manner of conditions from warm and dead calm to wet and blustery. From a comfort perspective, the internal volume is hard to beat given the astonishingly low weight. You know when you read on a Marks and Spencer ping dinner that it feeds a family of four and what they really mean is a family of four field mice? The Ordos 2 doesn’t follow that marketing model. It will sleep two adults in genuine comfort without the inner pressing against your face, coffin style that certain superlight tents offer.
While I would have preferred a couple of extra pegging points on the side of the inner when things got windy, it wasn’t a show stopper. Even with the large amount of mesh, the tent stayed reasonably warm on nights when the temperature dropped to single digits. Stability is good although I did notice the sides moving a little when the wind changed direction and hit the tent side on.
However, I would hesitate to use it in full winter conditions or if you anticipate day after day of rain. The inner first pitching design coupled with the mesh means that in heavy rain or snow, there is the opportunity for water to seep through when putting the tent up. As it does not erect inner and outer together, heavy rain can get through leaving you having to mop up drips from the floor of the tent. Once proficient at pitching the Ordos 2, this becomes less of an issue but I wouldn’t chose a sopping wet February night as my first practice pitch!
For those who like the bivvy feel, the outer can be pitched as a stand-alone set up. Given the simplicity and lack of heft in this guise, I would always chose this option over a tarp as frankly it is just as quick to set up and offers a darn sight more protection from the elements. It’s barely any heavier either and packs down small.
For £239, the Ordos 2 is a blinking bargain. You can of course pay less for a perfectly decent tent but I think you would really struggle to find anything that matches it in terms of quality of construction and performance. It is a lightweight tent and as such needs to be treated with a bit more care than your £50 festival tent but that is not to say it won’t serve you well for several years. The living space is excellent and to my eye at least, it just looks right. The outer only pitching option means that you have an ultralight bivvy shelter included in the package. If it pitched inner and outer together, it would be close to perfect. As it is, it’s still very good indeed. If you are in the market for a well designed tent made from quality materials but don’t want to break the bank, the Ordos 2 is worthy of your consideration. Chapeau Alpkit!
|Tested:||by David "Sanny" Gould for 18 months|