I bought my adventure tent last fall. I owned two other tents, wait, three other tents. One was a small, older one I used when my daughter was little. It was a two person and just fit the both of us and the dog. It was not fancy, and not water proof, but it got us out there. Man, I was so unprepared when I first started camping, but I was too young to know any better and too determined to care. Youth is wasted on the young. 😉
When I was married, my Ex and I would travel by motorcycle. We had a huge tent that we called the Kingdome. So named after the iconic sports arena that used to grace the city of Seattle. It is now gone and two mega-stadiums take it’s place. Anyway, we had a big tent so that we could have all of our riding gear inside and an sleep on an air mattress. Storage and care of gear is important when on the road. Riding gear is your daily protection against elements, possible crashes, bugs and dirt. The tent also stored our belongings when we were not at camp.
There was another tent I had that was so big it had a curtain to separate the rooms. When I was married, this was our family tent so that my daughter and any friends she brought could have one area and us parents had the other area. It was large enough to stand in and move around, an added bonus. Of course, I could stand in nearly all of them, just not fully upright.
These tents were great, and I continued to use the primary one (old reliable) until this last year. Until I decided to live on the road. Until I decided I needed to up my game. I really needed to invest in a good tent with certain features, more modern technology, and with no flaws whatsoever. I bought a tent on line. Sight unseen. I used it during the summer when I volunteered at a blues festival. Two things I noticed right away, then one epic fail. First, there was no way to have shade. The rain cover was snug and all, but there was no vestibule or awning for me to hide during a hot, treeless, summer day. Next, I realized that I needed something to put under the floor. These new tent fabrics are like silk; thin and slippery. I felt that any little thing would put a hole in the floor and that was not an option. Last, and this was the deal breaker, I could not get the tent door open and closed with one hand. The zipper would catch every time. This may not seem like a big deal, but when one is in and out of the tent all day long, changing clothes, resting, escaping the heat, your arms are full. You literally only have one hand from which to operate. INSERT NEGATIVE BUZZER SOUND HERE! Back to the drawing board.
REI, here I come! I did some research online and had it narrowed down to two choices. Both four-person, both dome style, with footprint, awning or vestibule of some sort, both luckily on sale. After much looking and watching videos, I realized that I really must see these tents in person. This was too important a decision to mess with more returns or field failures. The nearest REI is 70 miles away, but I will make a day of it.
I was happy to see one of the tents was set up as a display, so I could get a real good idea what it was about. As I was looking around to see if the other option was also on display, a staff person asked if she could help me. I explained what I was doing, and why this choice was so important. Then she said something to me that literally changed my life – “Do you want to set them up and see which you like better?” Wait, what? I can DO THAT? Take a brand new tent out of the box, set it up and see if I like it? HOLY SHIT!! That was the most amazing thing ever and I, clearly, was completely oblivious that it was even possible. The clouds parted and angels sang.
Off I went to the community room with the tents. I started with the one I thought was my best choice. I laid it out, got all the pieces organized, read the directions, and started in. WRONG-O-MICHELLE-O! This lovely tent with a nice vestibule literally took me an hour to set up, left me sweating and panting from the effort. Epic fail. There was no way I was going to live like this while on the road. This tent was NOT a one person operation. I folded it back up and into it’s storage bag, handed it back and asked for the next one. Take two, same approach – unpack, read directions, spread it all out. Glory Be this one took 15 minutes and I did not even break a sweat. * INSERT HEAVENLY MUSIC * Oh, and it’s on sale? SOLD! Not quite all the fanciness of the first one, but all the necessities and ease of set up and repack. I found my home!
I have had her out in the field once. It rained all night and I was snug as a bug. The side flaps pull out and create a vestibule of sorts, an area from which to escape the sun and to keep outside items like shoes dry. There are also two doors, one on each side, for ease of entry and extra outdoor storage in the vestibule area. I bought extra stakes so that all the edges would be secure, as this baby is tall and probably not very wind friendly. Stakes and guidelines also help keep rain flowing away from the living area.
I set it up in my basement recently for practice. It has been a while since I handled her and I will be camping next week. I wanted to make sure I remembered how she went together. Some parts are color coded so that you always get a door in the right place and to align it with the footprint. It is not a square, so placement matters. Easy as I recall and a pleasure to handle. Yeah!
Update to this post: Once again, the Big Hut did not disappoint! Windy, rainy and cold yet the tent stood proud. I had to use ALL the guidelines and reinforce them with rocks and water bottles on the stakes, just to make sure. Performed like a rock star and I am continually impressed. Having doors on both sides and the color coding set-up make living in it easy.