Like the rest of the Alpkit range, this tent is very competitively priced (comparison with similarly specced mountain tents below), but does it really mean business in tough mountain conditions?
Alpkit Zhota: 4.84kg / £450
Mountain Hardwear Trango: 3.1 - 5.28kg/ £699
Terra Nova Hyperspace: 5.2kg / £700
Macpac Hemisphere: 5.3kg / £799
Hilleberg Saivo: 5kg / £925
The new tent range marks Alpkit's first full foray into tent making. However it's worth mentioning that the team behind the tents were able to bring in over twenty five years of tent building experience into these products. Alpkit's new tents mean business and are designed to perform so; the design team have used high quality materials and extensive development to produce products which will perform well in extreme conditions, but are still very competitive when compared to other mountain tents on the market. Alpkit have commented that they have plans to release a further range of non-mountain tents later on this year so keep an eye out on their website.
I tested this product throughout November and December on the top of Kinder. The weather did not disappoint as I went through rain, snow, fog and high winds. When packed, the Zhota is roughly comparable to other market competitors that I looked at in terms of stored size (see table below for specifications of Alpkit tents). It is not small by anyone's imagination, but split between 3-4 people on a trip, this is more than manageable.
"Could the Zhota be put up in dark and misty conditions by an idiot with no instructions?"
Ahead of the first outing, Alpkit provided me with a set of instructions (which are now available online) and it all seemed pretty straightforward. However, a late flurry of work on Friday night and an eagerness to escape the office meant that the instructions were left on my desk and now the Zhota had another test: could it be put up in dark and misty conditions by an idiot with no instructions?
Thankfully it passed this test rather easily. Everything was straightforward, logical and pretty easy. Eventually I got the assembly down to well under five minutes and this was useful as the weather became increasingly adverse throughout the course of this review. In the cold, I was able to assemble the tent with gloves as there were few fiddly parts, which was very welcome.
The clips for linking the outer and inner liner proved a really good idea for locking the two together while the outer tent was pegged down. This was really useful in windy conditions. The pole sleeves are created from 'Powermesh': a tough, elastic fabric that allows the tent to absorb gusts and allows air to flow around the tent's outer and inner canopy, helping to reduce condensation and stop the build up of carbon dioxide. I had some concerns that the material would wear over the long term through snagging of the tent poles on the meshing but over the course of the review, it showed itself to be pretty hardy stuff.
Like most other mountain tents, the Zhota is built using a geodesic design. This offers several advantages including the distribution of stress across the tent in adverse conditions (say through heavy winds) and less reliance upon pegging to ensure the structural integrity, which is a big bonus upon rocky or uneven terrain. Some compromises are made compared to other designs (like tunnel shaped tents) such as heavier weight and longer construction times but, throughout the review, I would definitely confirm that the construction of the tent met the demands of the tough conditions they were designed for.
"I am over 6 foot and the space for all three of us in the tent to sit up and chat was welcome."
On all of the occasions I went out in the Zhota, it was not ideal weather for disassembly and packing but, with two people, it was quick and easy enough even in windy and wet conditions. It was a lot harder when on my own (it nearly became a rather expensive kite at one point) but this was much more likely to be incompetence on my part. Back home, the tent dried out quickly and was ready to go for another round.
For a three man tent, the Zhota is incredibly spacious and could easily fit a fourth person. This makes it flexible for a three man tent for people with a load of kit or four who are looking for a speed ascent. The height of the tent is also and advantage. I am over 6 foot and the space for all three of us in the tent to sit up and chat was welcome.
Storage is another excellent internal feature. I counted 16 storage pockets inside the tent and several clips to hang more equipment, lights etc, enabling you to be organised and efficient and not have kit everywhere. The porch areas are not massive, but we were able to cook out of them and have a little protection from the strong winds.
The Zhota was able to cope with poor weather well. When I messed up the assembly of the tent, gusty winds blew the tent around and caused the outer liner to flap wildly about but a quick duck outside to readjust the tent pegs and tension of the guide ropes and this immeadiately stopped.
To conclude, the Zhota proved an excellent tent with many good design features, which means that it should be definitely considered if you are planning to spend time in the mountains and need a high performance tent. Alpkit are also offering a rental on their tents to test it out further so if you are considering purchasing this product, it may be worth giving it a spin before hand over your cash. Needless to say, that if the majority of your time camping is going to be spent outside of mountain conditions, while the Zhota is still an excellent choice (through the features outlined above), it may be worth considering other less-hardy tents on the market which may be cheaper and more appropriate.
Alpkit Tent Comparison Table
|INNER WEIGHT (G)
|POLE WEIGHT (G)
|OUTER WEIGHT (G)||1252||1428||2995|
|TOTAL WEIGHT (G) (NO PEGS)||3527||4836||9719|
|MINIMUM WEIGHT (G) (NO PEGS)||3311||4612||9386|
|OUTER LENGTH (CM)
|OUTER WIDTH (CM)|| 150
|OUTER HEIGHT (CM)
|INNER LENGTH (CM)
|INNER WIDTH (CM)
|INNER HEIGHT (CM)
|INNER FLOOR AREA|| 3.15m2
|TOTAL VESTIBULE AREA||1.68m2||1.76m2||4.65m2|
|INNER||20D R/S Nylon||20D R/S Nylon||20D R/S Nylon|
||40D R/S Nylon||40D R/S Nylon||40D R/S Nylon|
||70D/210T Nylon||70D/210T Nylon||70D/210T Nylon|
|PACKED SIZE (CM)||19∅ x 60||23∅ x 60||28∅ x 60|
About Matt Bird
"Having been raised in the middle of the Churnet Valley where there is really little else to do, I took up climbing at an early age. Climbing highs include a disastrous, harrowing but utterly amazing big wall trip to Yosemite, first learning to climb off widths at Almscliff and any time I step foot in the Churnet Valley.
Lows include climbing in Markfield quarry, mangling my ankles too many times from ill-thought out climbing adventures and failing at a slab climb which my dog promptly ran up with ease.
I am currently focussing on bouldering in the run up to a trip to Hueco Tanks at Christmas and live in Sheffield."