Alpkit expands backpacking range with lightweight innovations

British camping and outdoor brand Alpkit has revealed two new almost pole-less tents, designed to make backpacking even easier. A series of design innovations on the Aeronaut and Polestar tents help to make them both super lightweight and incredibly packable.

The Aeronaut (available in two sizes) features an inflatable central ‘pole’ that means it can be packed down to a very small size, making it easy to take with you on any kind of adventure – think cycling, hiking, kayaking or running. That central tube can be inflated with a bike pump or foot pump and reduces the risk of tent poles breaking in strong winds, as can often be the case with this kind of camping. It has been specifically designed to accompany people on camping trips where space is at a premium. Despite this emphasis on small pack size, the Aeronaut’s unique design means it still retains plenty of internal space ­– the shape provides a stable structure and creates more room inside the tent and porch than a traditional alloy pole design would. The side-entry doors have also been designed to maximise the amount of space to get in and out. They also tuck away neatly into a mesh pocket near the footbox to keep out of the way. Three internal pockets provide handy places to put head torches, power banks and other small items. 

Alpkit co-founder Nick Smith explained: “We were finding that there’s a lot of frustration in perfecting your bikepacking set-up, only to realise that you’ve still got to fit 40cm long poles somewhere on your bike – not an easy thing to do!

“By using innovative new construction techniques, we were able to design a tent that fits neatly between the narrowest of drop bars and stuffs into the most awkward of seatpack spaces without using large alloy poles. Removing these rigid main poles removes one of the biggest obstacles to easy tent packing. But it’s not just bikepacking where this is a huge advantage. The packability of the Aeronaut makes it ideal for outdoor holidays abroad, lightweight backpacking, canoe and kayak camping – any activity with limited or awkward packing space.”

The soon-to-be-launched Alpkit Polestar.

Besides the Aeronaut, which is available to pre-order from Alpkit now, the company is also soon launching the Polestar – a one-person tent that is pitched using trekking poles to further save on weight and space. It is compatible with any trekking poles that can achieve 120cm in length and represents a real step forward in minimalist, lightweight backpacking tents. It still maintains a good-sized living and sleeping space and a very stable design even in strong winds.

Nick Smith added: “The big advantage of using trekking poles as tent poles is that you’re only carrying shared weight, not wasted weight. This allowed us to design a tent that saves on weight and pack-size without compromising on space or reliability.

“The Polestar’s cross-pole design provides a really stable structure to the tent, and the tent has been engineered to ensure that the poles won’t flex, even in strong winds. We’ve designed it to be compatible with any brand of adjustable trekking poles or fixed length 120cm poles. You simply slot your pole handles into the sleeves at the base of the tent and push the pole end through the eyelets attached to the roof. Pitching inner and outer together, the Polestar can be up in minutes."