After much anticipation, we finally got to try out the new tent this weekend. First of all, the boys loved it. What three year old doesn’t love ladders and forts? It is essentially a treehouse that we take with us. Indeed, my son would climb ceaselessly up and down the ladder if we did not put it away. Being a source of excitement to the children aside, (but not to be underestimated in terms of importance) the tent has many things we enjoy:
- Easy set up and take down. This is one of the chief conveniences and reason for our purchase of this tent. J has it down to 7 minutes to break down, and far less than that for set up. Our bedding is in it, park the car and we are haflway there. This tent is supposed to facilitate easy road tripping and quick weekend trips. I am confident that it will serve these purposes nicely.
- It is comfortable. We are using full size pillows, plus camp pillows, a sheet set, and a comforter. It is every bit as comfortable as the shikibutons we sleep on at home. Perhaps more so. There are many windows and the tent feels quite spacious for one adult plus one child (with one more of each inside the van).
- The novelty and aesthetics for us adults is not to be underestimated either. It is fun to lounge around up high. We parked by the stream and amongst the trees and it was all really lovely. The interior is airy with many windows, and the silver color is pleasing compared to the often garish oranges or cave- like greens and browns that often grace similar tents.
- Amazingly, it hasn’t touched our gas mileage. This tent is somewhere around 100lbs, and it’s light weight is one of the chief reasons we chose it. The Yakima roof rack itself bumped us down a couple miles per gallon, but not the tent itself.
- More room in the car! So much so that we are now fantasizing about trading in the minivan for a less thirsty, more off-road capable Subaru Outback or 4 door Toyota Tacoma once the boys are out of their gargantuan car seats. (Though I have to say, the awd minivan gets us down some fairly ugly forest service roads to some beautiful and private spots)
- The fold over design creates a small ‘porch’ outside the door to our van. Next time, I’m going to rig up a sheet or shower curtain to enclose it, giving us a small changing room.
Now for the short list of cons:
- We don’t have a dedicated camping/ travel vehicle, which means it sits on top of my daily driver. We like to do quick weekend trips on a whim, so it must stay there to minimize the work needed to satisfy these whims. However since our gas mileage isn’t really touched, this is more of a cosmetic issue as well as perhaps likely to shorten the life of the cover.
- We sleep two in the van and two in the roof top tent. This led to some serious jostling throughout the night. This wasn’t really an issue for anyone but me, the super light sleeper that I am.
After some thought both of these issues will be solved with a trailer, like these from Dinoot. When it comes time to trade in the minivan, we will buy a lightweight, off-road capable trailer to install the tent on. Then we will leave that packed full of our gear and toys in the carport. Our sleeping platform will be unencumbered by gear and jostling in the back of the Outback/Tacoma, and the effort needed to get outside and get set up will be decreased even more. This is all in the 5 year plan. Le sigh.
All in all, the whole family is thrilled with the tent, and our next weekend getaway is already in the works as is a long trip to the coast for some fall beach camping. Both Craig Davidson at James Baroud USA, and our local distributor, owner Walt WagnerTAV Expedition Outfitters were awesome and communicative. And we got free shipping.