The Khufu is a floorless pyramid shelter that provides spacious room for the solo hiker or just enough room to sleep two. The illustration below should give you a pretty good idea of what the Khufu footprint looks like (as measured by us, dimensions in inches).
This shelter can be pitched with either a single pole at the center or two poles in an A-frame configuration. For single pole setup you’ll need a trekking pole around 130cm long (or optional tent pole from Locus Gear) which will be located at the center of the footprint. For more room the two pole pitch is great, for which you’ll need an extra trekking pole (or tent pole) and either a couple of pole jacks, or an accessory called the Double Pole Tip Extender (‘DPTE’ for short) which Locus Gear offers. For a minimal pitch 6 stakes will do, 8 will cover all of the main guy lines, and 12 will cover the additional stabilizing tie outs. Seam sealing will be up to the end user. For bug protection or greater protection from the elements, an inner mesh tent with silnylon bathtub floor is sold separately.
Locus Gear standardizes on .74oz Cuben, and that is what ours’ is made from. It’s a very light shelter at only 10.75 ounces which includes the stuff sack, guy lines, and seam sealing (done by us). The packed size is roughly 4.5 x 11 inches.
The construction is very high quality; Jotaro Yoshida does a great job on these. The catenary seams are double stitched, while the other seams are single stitched and all seams are reinforced with Cuben tape. The peak vent is protected by bug netting which is a nice touch. A stuff sack (also Cuben) is included along with some small samples of material, presumably to make repairs/patches if the need ever arises. All of the guy lines are cut and attached and they include line tensioners as well… so far so good!
No instructions were included with our shelter, however setting up a pyramid is about as simple as it gets. For the benefit of those who haven’t done it here is a quick walk through… Let the guy lines most of the way through the line locks, stake out the 4 corners making sure they form a good rectangle, the baseline of the tent should not be tight but also without a lot of slack, put the pole under and up (handle first) to pitch the shelter, pull out the front guy line and stake it, then the rear, move around the tent adjusting tension as needed, and lastly stake out any stabilizing lines that you might want to use. The first time I pitched the Khufu I got it perfect, it’s hard to mess up unless the bottom is not looking rectangular after staking it out. As with most things, there is more than one way to get it done, so by all means don’t take my way as the gospel.
When using a single pole the Khufu works best as a solo shelter. By using the DPTE and pitching an A-frame with two poles there entire space is usable and thus two can sleep comfortably. When properly pitched, there is a ventilation space of several inches all around the base of the shelter, the peak vent allows for some air movement inside the shelter. All in all the Khufu seems like a very sturdy, well made pyramid.
In the Field
I’ve been out in the Khufu on a handful of short trips ranging from the Pacific Coast to the Sierra Nevada. Although I have not had it out in the rain I have been in some stiff wind without issue. A recent trip to Desolation Wilderness in the snow was a great way to realize the potential of floorless shelters for snow camping. A friend of mine came along and carried a competitive pyramid himself. As per usual we selected a site that was not in an avalanche run out, nor in danger itself of turning into a sliding mass of white death. After flattening down the area with our snowshoes we setup our shelters. I elected to pitch the Khufu using the DPTE and both of my trekking poles.
After getting it pitched I dug down inside (using a light snow shovel) to create a dugout with a flat bottom. The excavated snow was piled up inside the shelter around the base enough to keep the breeze off my face while sleeping but not enough to seal the ventilation gap. Making a small snow wall on the inside of the shelter is a better idea than on the outside in the event that more snow is coming down. In that case any snow outside the shelter will just cause the falling snow to accumulate along the sides of the shelter faster. With the sleeping area dug out I proceeded to add a deeper entry, which also allows cold air to escape, then added my groundsheet. This type of setup takes a little more effort than just pitching a tarp, but it provides additional protection from the elements and makes even more room inside the shelter… win/win!
The same type of setup can be done with a single pole, but the pole will need to be ‘kicked’ over to one side (slightly angled). A pole that goes beyond 130cm will work best here, but the shelter can also be pitched a little closer to the ground if need be. With everything pitched and my gear laid out inside I still had plenty of space to move/crawl/sit along side my sleeping pad, including a proper spot to take my shoes on and off, or just hang out under the protection of the Khufu and enjoy the scenery.
My only complaint with the DPTE is that, as designed, I tend to fumble around with it a bit. The pole extenders are joined by a fabric sleeve which they simply slip into; they tend to slip back out during setup. The other issue is that the supplied tubes are a good fit for some pole tips (Black Diamond, Leki), but too large a diameter to fit snugly with others (Gossamer Gear, Ruta Locura). I have modified mine with a couple of acetal bushings (16mm x 12mm) to accommodate pole tips of either diameter. I made two dimples with a metal punch to hold each bushing in place once inserted. The tubes can simply be flipped around one way or the other depending on which trekking poles are being used with them. Photos are below.
The DPTE also comes with a couple of small harnesses connected by a length of guy line cord; this is meant to grab the ends of the trekking pole handles and prevent them from spreading apart. The harnesses can be awkward to put on the handles of some poles, but work ok with others. I have experimented with a few things here…
- Length of cord with loop on one end, and adjustable loop with taut line hitch on the other. Wrap around handles and snug up. (pictured above)
- Light tent stake through trekking pole straps into ground.
- Nothing, just the tension of the tent and existing Velcro loops to hold them in place.
All of the above have worked fine for me in one situation or another. With a lot of wind it’s probably a good idea to do something to keep the poles from spreading and thus introducing slack into the pitch. I think the DPTE is a good idea, however I think some refinement is in order to make it great. After all my rambling about it, it’s a minor complaint; once pitched, the interior space is fabulous and any frustrations quickly disappear.
Speaking of space, I’m 6 foot 3 and change and use a long (6′-6) sleeping bag. I have ample room in the Khufu. I have not slept double in it yet, but I think I would manage ok without touching the sides/end of the shelter. With the inner mesh tent in place I touch (even when solo) but it’s not a concern, touching the mesh, that is.
The Bottom Line
I think the Khufu is a fine example of an ultralight pyramid. The fit and finish are excellent, nothing to complain about there. The bug netting on the vent is nice, the vent closure can probably be improved, but I have said the same thing of other pyramids that I’ve encountered. It pitches easily, utilizes catenary ridge lines, and is sufficiently reinforced. As a solo shelter, the Khufu has more than enough room for one plus all their gear. For two, use the double pole tip extender and you’ll be good to go. There are plenty of tie-outs for stability in windy conditions, and the views are great with the entire front of the pyramid opened up. Japanese backpackers are lucky to have Locus Gear in their neighborhood, for the rest of us Jotaro will happily ship overseas! Hike It. Like It.