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Advice for a big, comfy tent

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Offline Slimkitty

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Advice for a big, comfy tent
« on: August 23, 2019, 06:51:22 AM »
So Iím planning our next trip to Big Bend, and this time we will be car camping the entire trip.  Iíve decided my trusty Marmot Limelight 3p is just too small for the three of us (my wife, 3yo, and myself).  I feel like comfort is going to be key for any successful family camping trip, so Iíd like the tent to be able to accommodate a queen air mattress along with a single air matress (for the boy).

Currently Iím eyeing the North Face Wawona 6 tent.  I can get it at a good price ($300), and it looks plenty big with a useful vestibule. It is a single wall design, so no rain fly, which I both like and am skeptical about. Iím worried about condensation issues, and also about dust getting through the large mesh front door. 

Another model I like is the Big Agnes Big House 6.  I can get that for the same price as the Wawona.  It includes a rainfly, but the vestibule comes separately for another $90 or so.

So, how about yíall?  What large tents do you use for your family trips, and what advice do you have?
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 07:05:44 AM by Slimkitty »

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2019, 07:07:05 AM »
For car camping, I think it's a whole different perspective.  I think there's a bigger selection and certainly a lot more affordable.  Instead of REI and specialty web sites, you can now shop Academy and other box stores. 

I have a couple Coleman's that I've been super happy with.  Albeit, I only use them once or twice a year.  I had a medium sized one that would hold a queen air mattress and a bit of gear but it got a bit crowded.  I was waiting on it to rip or tear so replace it and it just never did.  So I purchased a newer one anyway.  I picked one with basically the same needs as you; I wanted one I could put 2 beds in and be able to move a bit.  Mine does have a rainfly and I like that.  Able to put it on for rain but in warm summer months it opens things up to try and get more breeze.  I did pick one that seemed a bit taller.  I'm average height and enjoy being able to stand up, if only in the center.

I do set it up prior to trips in the backyard to insure it's aired out and clean.  I also set it up after a trip to make sure it's nice and dry prior to storing for months. 

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Offline The Scorpion

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2019, 07:08:38 AM »
I still use a single wall tent from Coleman, I have had it for many years and no condensation issues and no issues with dust when I have the windows open. I think it has 1 more camping trip left in it before it falls apart

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Offline Jalco

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2019, 07:30:02 AM »
I have an OLD Coleman canvas tent that  bought 20 years ago at a garage sale for $15.  Every time I use it I think this is the last time, but it's still standing.  It's the one my kids take to the beach.  No vestibule, but very roomy.  I can stand upright in it (6'1") with no problems.   Didn't come with a storage bag, so it lives in an army duffel bag.  Heavy, but durable.

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Offline Summit

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 07:36:10 AM »
REI basecamp 4.  We love having doors on both sides.  Works great for a 3 person family.  It's also light enough to use for backpacking.  REI's labor day sale starts today, BTW. 

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2019, 09:02:42 AM »
Our current car tent is the  Marmot Limestone 4P.  We tried 3 others till settling on this one.  It is as Big as the REI basecamp 4, but has more screen.  It has solid fabric on one side so you can set it up so the fabric gives you privacy towards one direction, and screen the other.  We absolutely wore out our older style BaseCamp 4 from REI.  It is/was a great tent, but they redesigned them with way less screen now.  A deal breaker for us.

You need to remember that a BIG tent is hard to set up on many tent sites in national parks.  Some just don't give you enough room for a really large footprint.  Get a tent that is just big enough to accommodate your needs.   Also give consideration how the door unzips.  Many tents have the door unzip where the door material wil get stepped on and the zipper part gets messed up.  It needs to have the unzippered door fall out of the way so you don't grind it into the ground when exiting or entering.  Vents are a must to keep the insulation factor of your sleeping bags from holding onto moisture, and becoming less effective.

I would also recommend that you plan for getting rid of those air mattresses.  We went through the same evolution as most all people do when starting out, and we thought the air mattress was the way to go.  They suck.  They loose air pressure as the night cools down.  They get holes rather easy.  Your totally screwed when it does get a hole because your on the ground with nothing under you the rest of the night.  Your partner feels it every time you move.  They have zero insulation factor and suck heat out of you.  You have to use that awful fan pump to pump them up, disturbing everyone within  ear shot, and at what ever time you roll into camp.  But mainly. they just aren't that comfortable.  Start looking for Self inflating sleeping pads from Rei or Thermarest.  They are always on sell somewhere at the discount websites.  All ours are the 2.5 or larger thickness, and extra long and wide sizes.  We picked our tent out so that they all fit with room to spare on the sides for our clothes and extra blanket.

Start planning ahead If you really think camping will be your choice of recreation for the family.   :great:

And remember, the tent costs about 3-4 nights in a hotel, and after that, it's all "free" sleeping!

https://www.rei.com/product/110892/marmot-limestone-4p-tent
https://www.rei.com/product/862432/rei-co-op-base-camp-4-tent



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Offline LinuxGeek28

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2019, 09:40:29 AM »
My Colorado friends have the BA Bighouse 6 and really like it.  It sets up like a giant backpacking tent.  Another friend has a Cabellas 6 man expedition tent - his is really nice too.

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Offline Keepa

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2019, 09:55:56 AM »
For car camping, where weight is not an issue, I have used the ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 6 Tent. Super easy to set up, roomy, and cheap! REI Outlet is selling it now for $165.

Here is a picture of it at Big Bend. That night we had fierce winds that pushed the tent down to my face, but it took it like a champ. Buy one of those cheap 8x8' tarps at Home Depot to lay under it.


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Offline Lissa

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2019, 01:08:17 PM »
Agree with the advice given.  We do 2 car camping tents (2 older kids) and our preferred tent is a cheap Walmart pickup because setup is so easy.  Also agree that the big air mattresses are an enormous PITA and donít work well to keep you warm and are just not worth it.

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Offline Slimkitty

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2019, 06:31:50 PM »
I really appreciate these responses.  I have definitely been curious about the reliability of Coleman tents these days.  I would love to end up with a quality tent for those prices.  Also I think we could manage in a 4 person tent instead of a 6 person. 

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Offline Slimkitty

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2019, 06:36:32 PM »
Our current car tent is the  Marmot Limestone 4P.  We tried 3 others till settling on this one.  It is as Big as the REI basecamp 4, but has more screen.  It has solid fabric on one side so you can set it up so the fabric gives you privacy towards one direction, and screen the other.  We absolutely wore out our older style BaseCamp 4 from REI.  It is/was a great tent, but they redesigned them with way less screen now.  A deal breaker for us.

You need to remember that a BIG tent is hard to set up on many tent sites in national parks.  Some just don't give you enough room for a really large footprint.  Get a tent that is just big enough to accommodate your needs.   Also give consideration how the door unzips.  Many tents have the door unzip where the door material wil get stepped on and the zipper part gets messed up.  It needs to have the unzippered door fall out of the way so you don't grind it into the ground when exiting or entering.  Vents are a must to keep the insulation factor of your sleeping bags from holding onto moisture, and becoming less effective.

I would also recommend that you plan for getting rid of those air mattresses.  We went through the same evolution as most all people do when starting out, and we thought the air mattress was the way to go.  They suck.  They loose air pressure as the night cools down.  They get holes rather easy.  Your totally screwed when it does get a hole because your on the ground with nothing under you the rest of the night.  Your partner feels it every time you move.  They have zero insulation factor and suck heat out of you.  You have to use that awful fan pump to pump them up, disturbing everyone within  ear shot, and at what ever time you roll into camp.  But mainly. they just aren't that comfortable.  Start looking for Self inflating sleeping pads from Rei or Thermarest.  They are always on sell somewhere at the discount websites.  All ours are the 2.5 or larger thickness, and extra long and wide sizes.  We picked our tent out so that they all fit with room to spare on the sides for our clothes and extra blanket.

Start planning ahead If you really think camping will be your choice of recreation for the family.   :great:

And remember, the tent costs about 3-4 nights in a hotel, and after that, it's all "free" sleeping!

https://www.rei.com/product/110892/marmot-limestone-4p-tent
https://www.rei.com/product/862432/rei-co-op-base-camp-4-tent

I will probably heed your advice about the air mattresses.  Iíve spent my whole life camping on thermarest pads.  But recently I tried a cheap air mattress while solo in my tent for three days at a music festival, and it really worked out well.  I hadnít considered how it would be with two people though and agree it will likely be a pain.

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Online GaryF

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2019, 08:01:41 PM »
I have an Exped Megamat 10 XLW sleeping pad thatís worth its weight in gold,  itís more comfortable than my bed at home.  Highly recommended for car camping.

Unfortunately the manufacturer also thinks itís worth Its weight in gold, they are up to ~$240 now.     But now you can get the REI branded version a lot cheaper, on sale thru the next week or so for about half that amount. My best advice - get one, maybe two.  https://www.rei.com/product/147924/rei-co-op-camp-dreamer-xl-self-inflating-deluxe-bed

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Offline Keepa

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2019, 08:03:09 PM »
Agree about air mattresses, but it depends on the size and the number of people sleeping on one. Your body heat warms the air in the mattress, but if the mattress is too big, there is not enough body heat to warm the volume of air in it. I have experienced this. I don't use a big mattress anymore, even when car camping.

So the mattress has to be not much larger than your body, and not over four inches thick (2-3 inches is the sweet spot).

But if there is more than one person sleeping on a mattress then there is more heat to warm the air in it.

All of this, of course, also depends on the ambient temperature.

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Offline Slimkitty

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2019, 01:58:02 PM »
Well, thanks again for all of the advice.  Iím going to have to put the tent idea on hold for now, though, because my father and I just purchased a little camper trailer!  Totally unexpected turn of events

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Offline iCe

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Re: Advice for a big, comfy tent
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2019, 01:18:10 PM »
Too late to chime in I guess but I like my Big Agnes Big House, no, that's not my GF's name  :eusa_eh: :icon_lol:

 


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