Making the tent right choice can mean the difference between the success and failure of your camping trip. If even one element is wrong, you may not end up with enough space, warmth or comfort; this is not only a downer on your trip, but in some cases could be dangerous.
There are some key areas of consideration to look into such as weather suitability, tent set-up, extra features and practicality. Depending on your requirements, you should take the time to see if the tent you want can match up to what you need; if you just require a tent for pitching in the back garden or if you want something that will treat you well on the trail, a little knowledge will really be a benefit.
The ALPS Mountaineering Chaos Tent is a great option for campers who are seeking a basic, inexpensive tent that’s easy to use.
- The Best Selling Chaos Three Person Tent Provides Maximum Protection
- Free Standing, Easy to Assemble, Full Coverage Fly, Two Aluminum Pole Design
- Great Ventilation with Mesh Roof, Two Vestibules Provide Extra Storage
- Includes: 7075 Aluminum Stakes, Guy Ropes, Mesh Storage Pocket, Gear Loft
- Dimensions: 66x90x41″, Total Weight: 6.63 lbs.
The ALPS Chaos is a multi-purpose tent that has been specifically designed for both experienced and beginner campers. It comfortably sleeps two people and has additional vestibule space for extra room and keeping the main interior dry and comfortable. Depending upon the type of weather you usually go camping in, the ALPS Chaos has some great extra waterproofing features that help with protecting your sleeping environment.
Whilst growing up, many of us may have had the experience of trying to unravel knots and getting tangled in ropes whilst trying to pitch a tent that would eventually allow us to slowly freeze unhappily in a cold, draughty evening. But that’s not the case with the ALPS Chaos. Experienced campers will enjoy the flexibility of this freestanding tent in terms of terrain set-up, while novices will appreciate how easy the tent is to actually pitch.
The ALPS Chaos is made of polyester coated with urethane; this makes it fantastic for keeping out the cold and wind and for camping in colder climates as it will retain internally produced heat. However, being so specifically made for temperate climates, it does start to wear out slightly quicker than you’d like in tropical environments. UV rays and moisture react with the coating and this can lead (over time) to degradation.
Ideal for temperate climates, but not so perfect for tropical camping.
Best Use: Where to Set Up Camp
You should also be considering what type of terrain you are most likely to be camping on and whether you’re better off with a regular staked tent that is the more traditional style or a freestanding tent. The ALPS Chaos is a freestanding tent, which is means that as long as you have a reasonably flat surface you can pitch your tent on any type of ground.
If you’re going into mountains or places where the ground might be rocky, gravely or just plain uncooperative, a freestanding tent might serve you better. If you do want a little more security, the Chaos tent can also be staked if needed.
Being a Double Wall tent, the Chaos gives you options when it comes to dealing with fluctuating conditions; you can either attach or remove the waterproof fly depending on your needs. Being a Double Wall construction means that it is a little heavier than a standard tarp tent or an ultra-light tarp, so weigh-up the pros and cons in comparison with features you think you’ll need on your trips.
A sack is provided which contains everything you need to use this tent. Inside the sack, you will find a continuous pole system, the body fabric and the fly fabric, Also included are some guys and several aluminum stakes.
The sack is not a specifically design stuff-sack for compression, so people looking to fit the tent into a tiny pack space may want to purchase a separate, specialty stuff sack. Otherwise, the provided sack works well for car camping or larger pack sizes. The specific pack size is labeled at 6.5 inches x 22 inches.
Design and Durability
The ALPS Chaos has been designed with a common structure found in double wall tents. It features an inner tent with mesh and polyester wall, and a simple pole system. A full coverage fly can be draped over and attached to the body for rain or weather protection.
ALPS is a budget brand, so this isn’t a top-of-the line tent. It does however present a good compromise between a cheaper price and a thoughtful design. It provides a large amount of floor space, but without the steep walls of some high-end tents. The structure has been engineered for simple set-up and effective weather resistance. Although it lacks some luxury add-ons, there isn’t much to complain about in terms of design for such an affordable tent.
Able to stand up to 3-season use, this is a relatively durable tent. The poles are relatively bend-resistant, so the basic structure of your tent should retain its integrity. The fabric is a mix of mesh and polyester. In terms of fabrics, it’s true that polyester is one of the cheaper and less durable options, being susceptible to chemical breakdown. Heat, moisture and UV radiation in particular degrade the fabric over time. Despite this, it will stand up over a few years of use, especially in temperate climates.
If you’re new to camping, or if you only plan for occasional overnight trips, it’s definitely worth opting for a cheaper polyester test and hanging on to it for a few years before upgrading. Silicone treated nylon and Cuben Fiber are the next steps up in durable tent materials, but the higher price tags can be unattainable or impractical for all but the most avid campers.
The polyester textile is 75 denier and stands up well against rips or punctures. It can handle animal claws well enough that you can feel free to bring your pets along without having to worry about your tent getting torn to shreds. Sticks and small rocks should be no problem either, though there’s no need to tempt fate with excessive contact with sharp objects.
ALPS have made some effort to minimize the weight of this tent, but it’s still not going to make the cut for anybody planning an ultralight backpacking trip. The weight for the tent body and poles is 5 lbs. 7 oz., while the total weight including stakes and guy lines adds about a pound, coming to 6 lbs. 5 oz. The tent poles are made from lightweight 7000 series aluminum, for a reasonably light frame. Though not the lightest tent, neither is it exceptionally heavy. This is a good, moderately light structure.
As a budget option, the ALPS Chaos it isn’t manufactured to compete with the ultralight specialist tents on the market. It’s light enough so that you can carry it on a backpacking trip if you don’t mind a slightly heavier pack, or sacrificing some other equipment to keep your pack weight down.
The weight may become too onerous or impractical on long haul backpacking trips, but weekend hikes should be just fine. Since this is a two person tent, split the pieces between two backpacks to keep the weight burden minimal. This is also a great tent for car camping when a slightly heavier tent is no issue.
Water and Weather Resistance
What use would a shelter be if it didn’t protect you from the elements? This tent has a few good weatherproofing features to keep you comfortable and dry all night. The floor comprises poly taffeta material with a urethane coating to prevent water soaking through. The ALPS factory applies the coating spray six times, building up 3000mm of waterproofing to keep rain and ground moisture out.
The fly is made from polyester fabric, and also features a urethane coating for waterproofing and UV resistance. A 1500mm application process has been applied to the fly. For extra protection, the fly and floor are factory seam sealed so rain has very little getting inside. Just don’t leave the fly off overnight unless you’re sure that the weather’s going to clear, or all those waterproofing will be for naught!
The ALPS Chaos does a good job of protecting against wind in particular. Some campers have reported withstanding winds of up to 40mph without discomfort or fear of the tent collapsing. Possibly, the low profile of the tent structure helps with wind resistance and air can easily flow over the top.
Extra guy outs on the fly stabilize the tent during inclement weather and aluminum stakes can be used whenever you think it’s necessary. While this freestanding tent can technically be pitched on any flat surface, choose a campsite with relatively soft ground if you expect high winds. No matter how many stakes you have with you, they will all be useless if you’ve pitched up on a slab of rock.
Air circulation is essential to keep your tent from feeling like a sealed plastic bag. Tents can quickly get stuffy and claustrophobic if there’s no opportunity for air flow. As a double-wall tent, the ALPS Chaos comes with a fly and an interior structure. Much of the inner tent is made from mesh textile, offering a wide surface area of ventilation.
The most of the roof and wall space is mesh, providing ample air circulation both with and without the fly on. The open fabric is perfect for star-gazing on clear nights as well as allowing a nice breeze to blow through your tent as you sleep. When weather necessitates the fly roof, the mesh textile of the inner tent allows for enough interior air circulation to avoid that stuffy feeling.
Lack of ventilation can contribute to condensation build-up inside your tent. Any source of moisture such as steam from food, ground dampness or your own breath can contribute to damp air, which collects as condensation on the inner walls and roof of your tent. You shouldn’t have this problem when using just the inner structure of the ALPS Chaos.
When the fly is in place, use the additional ventilation flap to let air and water vapor escape. The tent fly features an extra vent which can be opened and closed at will. To keep it open, just prop it up with the attached stick.
Ease of Setup
The ALPS Chaos is designed specifically to make for easy setup, a point on which they’ve succeeded spectacularly. This tent couldn’t possibly be easier to pitch. Experienced campers can manage it in under 3 minutes, and newbies should be able to accomplish it in around 10. Check the video below.
It uses a single pole system, by which all the support poles are attached together around an elasticized shock cord. The poles themselves can be slotted together for pitching and then pulled apart when you dismantle your camp, but they remain connected by the shock cord. This system takes the guess work out of set up and keeps things manageable for even a novice.
There is a short separate crossbar which should be placed over the main frame to keep the sides propped up. Attaching the frame to the tent fabric is made very simple, as it is simply done by clipping the parts together. The body attaches to the poles with plastic hook shaped pole clips. The clips snap over the poles and keep it in place with no fiddly knot-tying. The clips are flat so they shouldn’t break if stepped on accidentally during set up or dismantling the tent.
The fly is attached via buckles on each corner and you can adjust the tension by pulling or loosening the cords. Aluminum stakes and guys ropes are included which can be used as optional support for increased stability.
Space and Livability
One of the main benefits of the ALPS Chaos is the spacious interior. This two person tent can comfortably fit adults of over 6 foot in height, so leg room is never an issue. The floor dimensions are 4’8’’ in width by 7’2’’ in height. Two additional vestibules add 29’’ of room on each side, providing some handy indoor-outdoor space for storing dirty gear without the need to either leave it in the rain or get your tent interior muddy. On rainy days use one vestibule for storage while cooking in the other.
A reasonably high ceiling allows for comfortable sitting space, though there isn’t a lot of headroom and you will have to bend down to enter the tent. Getting in and out is still convenient however, due to the dual entrances. Two doors mean that you don’t have to climb over sleeping tent mates in the middle of the night when you need to answer the call of nature. Even better, nobody will have to wake you up when they want to use the bathroom.
The doors open in a D shape but the zip goes almost 360° around, giving you the opportunity to have either a very open, airy shelter, or a wall that’s as close as you would like it to be. Extra-large no.8 size zips have been incorporated for easy grip and snag prevention.
The tent interior is reasonably comfortable, with a few bonus features that hint toward luxury without going overboard. A gear loft is included, which is a nice touch for organized people with a lot of gear. Use it in place of the vestibules if you want to keep your equipment protected and in tip top condition.
It may also be a better option if you’re worried about little furry thieves or insects getting into your food, as well as extreme rainy weather which may cause seepage into your vestibules. Sand may also blow into the vestibules gradually, so choose carefully what you want to store in the vestibules vs. the gear loft. Two walls feature mesh pockets suitable for storage of small items you may need overnight or for general pocket detritus.
Value for Money and Guarantee
ALPS founded their company with the goal of creating high-quality products without a high-end price tag. In the case of the Chaos tent, they’ve succeeded pretty well. It performs well when faced with harsh, wet weather and provides a comfortable living space.
The cost of approx. $159 is far less expensive than many double-walled tents on the market, making this a very appealing choice. The low price does come at the cost of high-end fabrics, ultralight materials and luxury comfort features, but for a basic tent it has everything you really need.
All ALPS products come with a lifetime guarantee. Should your product arrive with any defects or missing parts, ALPS will replace them at no cost to you. To take advantage of this, just send them an email with a description of the issue. They will only make the replacement if you alert the company before you use the product though, so make sure to contact them straight away.
While the guarantee technically lasts for a ‘lifetime,’ they do admit that their products will degrade over time due to weather exposure or even poor care. This is normal for any item, especially those used I the outdoors. ALPS use what they call a ‘common sense’ policy when it comes to their warranties, fulfilling claims against faulty construction but not normal wear and tear. If you have any issues with the tent, get in touch with the company directly and they’ll let you know whether you are covered by the warranty.
Close Competitors: Other Products You Might Like
You should never just look at one product when deciding on a piece of outdoor equipment. Shopping around allows you to reach an understanding of your true needs and the different options available to you. Have a look at these products before deciding which tent is right for you.
The ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Tent is very similar in design to the Alps Chaos. It comes with many of the same features and high quality waterproofing layers.
It weighs less than the Chaos and as such is an ideal ultralight tent. If you’re looking for a basic “grab and go” tent, then this is probably your best option. However, because it weighs less than the Chaos, it is not quite as sturdy or durable.
Another ultralight option is the TETON Sports Mountain Ultra Tent; it is easy to set up and can be used straight out of the bag. It has a range of features but its main selling point is that it can be set-up and dismantled very easily (it can also be stowed in minimal space).
The shell is water resistant as opposed to waterproof, so if you’re going to be camping in lower temperatures or rainy climates then this might not suit you. If you are going to more temperate climes, this is an ideal tent.
A high-end option for those who like a tent which is easy to set up, but that also has the luxury features a cheaper tent lacks. The Big Agnes Copper Spur is made from durable coated nylon, a lightweight textile which resists abrasions and stand up better to long term weather exposure that polyester.
While the price point is significantly higher, the Copper spur reaches a whole new level in engineering, structural design and comfort features. Extra pockets, a steep walled shape for maximum headroom and lightweight materials are great for long backpacking trips.
The ALPS Chaos tent is a good option for beginner or experienced campers who don’t want to spend a fortune on their shelters. It’s a good value product that doesn’t require a huge financial investment, while offering the same basic functionality has some much more expensive tents. It may lack some of the specialized technology of high-end tents, but for people who prefer a simpler option, the Chaos works very well.
Always be safe and take it out for three season use only, unless you are very experienced and sure of the expected weather conditions and tent capabilities. Use this tent for three quarters of the year, adapting the set up to meet the conditions of each individual night to keep you comfortable.
Living is pleasant with the roomy floor space, ensuring that you can fit two people inside without squashing each other. Some users report keeping their pets in the tent, or fitting extra children inside without feeling cramped. Extra storage space in the form of vestibules, pockets and a gear loft cater not only to you but also your gear, providing plenty of space for both people and equipment. Two doors mean that you can get in and out at your convenience, a thoughtful add-on that many campers can appreciate.
While good, no product is perfect, so let’s have a look at the factors for and against this tent:
- Good weather resistance
- Relatively durable
- Easy to pitch
- Not the lightest weight
- Doesn’t use high-end materials
- No footprint included
A reasonable price coupled with easy set up and thoughtful engineering make this a great tent for beginners and seasoned campers alike. Though the materials are lower end, ALPS have put some real effort into maximizing the lifespan and effectiveness of this tent. Few have had reason to complain about the level of water protection and comfort that the ALPS Chaos provides.
Are all the high-end bells and whistles in high-end tents really necessary or a cheap, reliable structure all you need? Let us know what you think in the comments.