This is my review of the reassuringly expensive Kampa Pro windbreak. And how I went from hating it to loving it on the trip that saw us swap locations across the country from foggy Whitby to a sunny Lake District.
This is not a cheap wind break, and when I first got it I hated it. You don’t quite understand, I REALLY HATED IT. I was going to throw it on the ground, stamp all over it and do other bad things to it. I shall explain why shortly, but I shall tell you the reasons why we purchased this particular windbreak in the firstplace.
We have 2 young dogs, a Beagle and a Sprocker. They are very inquisitive and friendly, they have decided that everyone should be their friend and insist on going to greet everyone whether they want it or not. It’s not their fault, they are young but as responsible dog owners and respectful campers it is our job to keep them out of mischief and not harassing fellow campers.
We had been looking into using windbreaks to solve this problem for some time. Keeping potential distractions out of sight of the dogs helps make for a better camping holiday for everyone (including the dogs).
We wanted something of a decent size to create a nice area for both the dogs and our family to commune in. We also wanted something that could be put up once and would just stay up, not constantly have to be put back up or readjusted every time the wind blew. ‘Pitch it and forget it’, that’s what we were looking for. Also, if possible we didn’t want to be surrounded with guy ropes everywhere, as the dogs and myself are rather clumsy where these tripping hazards are concerned.
The Kampa Pro windbreak has no guy ropes!! Well how does it stay up then? Each upright pole has adjustable support bars that secure everything firmly in place. There are other windbreaks of a similar design available. Vango do one with the same ‘no guy rope’ configuration, but it’s only a 3 panel version. For our requirements of keeping the dogs under some form of control we needed ‘the beast’, this thing is 7.7 metres long.
So why didn’t I like it at first, and how can I sit here now telling you that this £180 windbreak is brilliant and well worth the investment? Well I can explain it all in one word ‘instructions’. This windbreak didn’t come with any instructions for putting it together. “it’s just a windbreak” I hear you shout, “are you stupid?”. Well, there is one part of the design of the Kampa Pro windbreak that is now so blindingly obvious that you had to get it wrong to appreciate it’s simplicity.
We were at foggy Whitby, had just set up the tent after a long drive and turned our attentions to the new windbreak. Like we so often do, we took everything out of the box and started putting it all together simple. No instructions in here, so it mustn’t need any as it’s that easy (turns out there are instructions online). Slid in all the poles to make the panels and then tried to get the thing to stay upright – FAIL. Every time you pushed on the panel, the thing would just topple over. Tried putting more force on the supporting bars, still fell over. It’s crap, doesn’t work and a complete waste of money. Stuck it all back in the bag and threw it in the back of the van.
Next day, because of the poor weather, we decided to ditch Whitby and head over to the Lake District instead. 3 hours later after setting up again, we came face-to-face with the Kampa Pro windbreak. We tried again, and the same thing happened again. Every time, the supporting pole would just slide off the top of the upright panel pole. I’m standing there swearing at it saying “it needs some kind of clamp on top of this spike to stop it coming off, bloody shit design”. Blah, blah blah.
It was only by complete luck that we worked out what we were doing wrong. Whilst fiddling around, we changed the order in which the panel poles and the supporting pole sit on top of each other – HEY PRESTO (what a dick head). It was so obvious that it completely passed us by, we will include some photos that will make this error more clear so you can avoid our mistake.
So, now the ‘Fort Knox’ of windbreaks is sitting alongside our Vango Serenity tent and looking stunning. It’s up all week, not needing to be adjusted once and doing an excellent job. What else can we say about the Kampa Pro windbreak? The build quality is excellent, every part of it from the poles to the actual material are of very high quality and give the impression it will last a very long time. The crystal clear section in the windbreak is a nice touch, allowing you a view through the windbreak. The material is reassuringly thick and heavy, wipes down so is easy to clean and doesn’t flap around in the wind. The bag that you fit it all into is well made and it includes a separate bag so you can keep the poles and the windbreak material separate (dirt/damage). Also, the stitching of everything seems very strong, even we were pulling at it and putting it together incorrectly.
The only criticism of this windbreak is that I wished there wasn’t that small gap at the bottom. The dogs (in particular ‘the brown thing’) did on occasion get their snouts under there to have a nose at what was on the other side. Not a great problem though, we left the ground plates off and pushed the upright poles as far down as possible to reduce the gap but this cannot be done where the ground is hard.
You do get the feeling that a lot of thought has gone into the design of this product, and it does show. The ground plates twist and lock into place, adding strength. There are toggles for pegging the windbreak material to the ground, also adding strength and rigidity. The adjustment clamps on the supporting poles are strong, easy to use and yet easy on the hands, nothing fiddly.
How can you justify the price of the Kampa Pro windbreak? Quality and functionality, that’s how you justify it and that’s this windbreak has.