I was pretty nervous about camping at the Red Bull Foxhunt 2015, and this is because I've only ever camped at Festivals and with William, and I never realised how much I relied on him for the alpha tent responsibility. At first, I looked at staying in a hotel for the duration of the event, but I didn't want to miss out on the atmosphere and spirit of the Foxhunt, so I thought: "sod it, I'll camp it out."
I felt immediately reassured by the lovely people at Alpkit who sent over a camping care package to ensure I would be comfy cosy on my Foxhunt adventure. I was excited to test their camping gear out as I was very impressed by their awesome merino wool base layers Every single piece came in handy over the course of the weekend in various circumstances. So let me give you a breakdown of my Alpkit essentials:
Jaran 2 Man Tent
It's rather self-explanatory really, the tent was my shelter and my bubble of solitude for the weekend. I was keen to see how it would fair with all my biking gear, clothing, sleeping stuff and withstand the notoriously brutal Scottish weather.
On first impression I was pleased to see how compact the tent could be folded away to. A carrier for the tent, and the pegs with another small pouch for the ground sheet. All in all, it was very lightweight to carry and easy to stow away in luggage. Thumbs up.
Getting the tent up, secure and stable was the next challenge and if I'm being honest, it was a struggle. Now, I usually rely on William for the guidance of tent pitching, but getting this Jaran tent up was difficult because I wasn't provided with any pictures or instructions. So, it was like doing a jigsaw puzzle without having the picture to know what the final image should look like. Luckily, I was pitching up next to Amber and Lucy who were a dab hand at tenting and helped me figure out which way goes what... what goes how... and how goes why. We got there in the end!
Despite the lack of instructions, I did like how all the poles were already connected and there wasn't any need to faff around poking them through the little tent pole tunnels. I think it's a pretty ingenious design to have the inner tent hooked up onto the poles, it's quicker and more simple because you can easily see the shape and structure and line it up with the outer shell. The inner and outer shell material felt strong and once it was all set up, I gave the tent a good shake, and thankfully, it barely budged. It felt a lot stronger in structure and material than the usual festival style tent I had been used to!
So how is it inside? It was great for me. Spacious porches on either side of the sleeping chamber which were great for storing the biking bits and muddy shoes. The tent is described as a 2 man tent, but the sleeping compartment would be very snug for two adults, and near impossible if you have a lot of clothing or equipment. It would be better if the porches were bigger I think, or if the sleeping area was a little wider.
At night, the tent was great at keeping the wind and rain out. It was very breathable as well, and the wee bugs were held at bay by the mesh fabric on the inner lining. There are reflective tabs on the outer shell which lit up when your torched glanced over it... great for those night-time pee breaks. All the outside zips were protected by Velcro and snap enclosures to add more protection from the wind and rain.
It was a great tent for my biking weekend away, definitely fit for that purpose. It kept me, and my gear, dry and protected from the harsh Scottish elements. The function of this tent is to be lightweight, durable and ideal for backpacking, which it is. However, I think it would be too cosy for 2 people, plus kit. The porches would be better if they were a little larger, so the sleeping compartment could be kept relatively clear. Overall, it was a great tent and I felt more confident sleeping in a tent that looked and felt secure.
Dozer Sleeping Mat
This sleeping mat was a godsend for the trip because I didn't want the inconvenience of a full-on blow up mattress, but I also didn't want to sleep on the hard ground. This sleeping mat was a brilliant solution. The mat is long enough and wide enough for one adult, it's coated in a soft covering which is nice on the skin, and it rolls away into a neat little bag which again... easy to pack and stow. The mechanics of the sleeping mat was simple, unlike the tent debacle, where all you need to do is roll the mat out on the floor, open the valve at the end and leave it. That's pretty much all because the valve acts as a vacuum and sucks in the air, so after about 15mins, the mat is nearly at capacity. You may need to blow it up for that last little bit, but it's a very simple, comfortable product.
Sleeping on it was great too and much better than I thought. I expected to still feel the lumps and bumps of the uneven ground underneath, but I didn't. Then at the end of the trip, undo the valve and roll the mat up from the top so all the air is squished out. Simple and effective.
Skyehigh 700 Sleeping Bag
I've said it once, I've said it before... I am a creature of comfort. I love fleecey blankets, comfy pillows, warm cats and cocooning myself in little Jessica-Den's. So sleeping was a huge concern of mine, being warm and relaxed because I wanted to feel good for riding the Foxhunt.
The Skyehigh sleeping bag, again, comes well rolled up and packed as minimal as possible making it light and convenient to travel with. It's red (my super favourite colour) and it's got goose feather down which sounds mega fancy. It has a single zip on the left hand side, and a hood for the head whilst being long and tapered towards the feet. The material is weird because when I unrolled it, it felt thin and I thought, "How on earth will this keep me warm". So when it came to bedtime, I wore socks, leggings, t-shirt, jumper and hat because I didn't have much faith in the sleeping bag keeping me toasty. Then, at around 04:00 on Saturday morning I found myself sheepishly tugging on my socks and jumper because I was too warm! Sorry for doubting you, Alpkit. The sleeping bag rocks, and I was as snug as a bug in a rug... in a tent, in Scotland.
Bob Lantern and Indigo Head Lamp
No happy camper should venture off without some form of light source and in desperate times I usually resort to my phone's torch, but that's not very efficient with battery life. Alpkit provided me with two lights, a lantern which was excellent to hang in the tent. This requires 4x AA batteries and has a variety of light settings which came in handy whilst writing up article notes at night in the tent. Then there's the Indigo head lamp which I wasn't sure about at first, because I didn't think I would need it, and once again I was wrong. This little lightweight gem was brilliant! Great for going to the loo, for walking around at night and even as a wee hand-held torch. It's comfortable to wear, soft strap and you can tilt the light itself to shine at whatever angle is best for you to see with. I carried mine around in my pocket a lock as well, just in case and it wasn't a bulky burden at all.
Whilst at the Foxhunt, a number of ladies commented and compliment my jacket which I wore pretty much the whole weekend. And rightly too because it's great. I have saved the best for last in this case because the Filoment jacket is superb. It isn't what I expected and once again I was surprised at how thin it was, but it totally exceed expectations and kept me extremely warm.
It's very lightweight, easy to stuff away into your bag and it makes for a great light outer jacket, or even as a mid-layer. The zipped pockets are ample in size and the tapered female cut is really flattering to the body. They have a number of lovely colours to choose from and the sizing is spot on as well. I had a size small and I usually suffer from long limb syndrome with clothing but I didn't find this at all. The sleeves and body were long enough to cover all areas without leaving it exposed.
The Filoment jacket is so soft and squishy that I actually wore it under my Foxhunt jersey in the final race! I took my jacket up the mountain thinking it would be cold, and didn't have a quicker way to bring it down, so I just wore it. However, I was absolutely baking by the end of the run!
So there we have it. My first solo camping experience whilst attending the Red Bull Foxhunt with some of the industry's best camping equipment. I'm no camping aficionado, but I was extremely happy with Alpkit's range of camping gear, with only niggles on the tent side of things. My favourite piece is the Filoment jacket which surprised me on how warm and comfy it is, and stylish! As it's now entering the colder months, this jacket will be my go-to for the rest of the season.
Massive thanks to Alpkit for the camping support, I wouldn't know how I would have fared otherwise. I mentioned it before in my Merino Wool review, but Alpkit are awesome for providing outdoor active and camping wear because it's designed for active people, by active people. The quality is of a high standard, it's functional and stylish and I would feel confident using their products for my future endeavours.