At - Tent - Tion
April 25, 2012 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Any good tent recommendations?

We are going to a desert concert next month and are looking to purchase a tent.

Durable, all weather, can easily be put up by one, spacious enough for 3 people to sleep comfortably.

Willing to spend between $150-$250
posted by goalyeehah to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Don't even!

Head to your nearest WalMart, and pick up exactly what you need for like maybe $60.

I have a ton of camping stuff, and the $29 3 man tent I got is still going strong 10 years later.

Bear in mind though, when they say 3 man, they mean, it will fit you and your shit. If you want to sleep 3 people, look for something that says 5-7 people.

These things are calculated on fitting a 6'x3' body in a sleeping bag. It makes no allowance for your gear, or in case of bad weather, having to spend time in it other than sleeping.

If you are going to be in the desert, the BEST thing you can do it take your extra gidas, and put in into an easy-up canopy, so you can have some shade.
posted by timsteil at 8:27 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

A all weather tent usually cost a bit more than that. A three season tent might be adequate for your needs, unless you camp in the winter and in the snow. My current tent is a six person REI, purchased from their outlet. It is a car camping tent, but they sell backpacking tents too. Another brand I really like is Eureka: we have a one man backpacking and a four man backpacking, often used. Keep in mind that when tent makers say 4-man, they mean 4 adults sleeping right next to each other without room for anything more unless it is suspended in nets.
posted by francesca too at 8:30 AM on April 25, 2012

I have a 3-person Eureka tent that I got on Amazon for about $70 last year. It's been great, it's pretty light and folds up compact, so I've even taken it backpacking. The Eureka brand is great for durability!

And franscesca too is right to look for something like a 5 person tent to give yourselves space for you and your gear. I think Timsteil is right not to pay more than $100!

Have fun!
posted by shortyJBot at 8:35 AM on April 25, 2012

I'd recommend a Eureka! tent.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:40 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I actually agree with all the advice here. I was a Boy Scout for years and the Eureka tents we had were old when I joined and started using them and lasted another ten years of abuse at the hands of adolescent males while I was around the troop.
That said, when I left and started buying my own camping gear, I've had pretty good success with cheaper brands. I don't recommend WalMart's house brand, but there are some good deals to be had at CampMor and REI. I've got a lightweight one man tent for backpacking that I picked up for about 30 bucks almost ten years ago, and aside from replacing a pole that was broken by being landed on in the middle of the night by a hippie at a music festival, it's still doing great. I'd imagine the 3 man analog would do just as well.
posted by piedmont at 8:55 AM on April 25, 2012

I bought this Eureka tent recently and it held up very well for a few camping trips (including a couple of pretty heavy thunderstorms). You can probably get it cheaper than the price Amazon has listed for it (I did) but it is definitely big enough to sleep 3 comfortably. Mostly because of how big it is, two people work better setting it up than one, but it's doable with one if you know what you're doing.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:10 AM on April 25, 2012

The reason for backpacking tents being small is that you have to carry them, and for being expensive is that they're using expensive materials to be light. The bigger car camping tents they offer are very well built, and do weigh less, but when the car is carrying it, that's not critical.

If it's a 1-time-a-year tent, really, anything reasonably sized will do. However, if you are going to be dealing with a lot of water or a lot of wind, a better tent is more likely to stay dry and stay up.

Personally, I have an REI Camp Dome 4 for car camping. It's overkill, but I like it.
posted by eriko at 9:12 AM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Do you have a Costco nearby? They have 2 tents now at a good prices.
posted by beccaj at 9:25 AM on April 25, 2012

We have a Kelty Trail Dome and LOVE IT. It was procured from REI. Unfortunately it needs to go since it does not fit a pack n play which is required :(
posted by NotSoSimple at 10:07 AM on April 25, 2012

What sort of desert? If it is the blowing dust kind, you will want a tent that can be completely zipped closed with no vents.

If conditions will be mild, by a cheapo Target or Costco tent, they're fine until shit hits the fan. I have been at camping parties with hundreds of tents, and after severe windstorms or three days of unrelenting rain you realize why more costly tents are more costly; I remember getting up one morning in Oregon where it had been pouring for 60 hours and seeing Sierra Designs, North Face, and Marmot tents proudly standing tall in a field of flattened, waterlogged Costco tents. I've also been in the desert when tents have been pulled out of the ground and gone cartwheeling across the playa, or had their tent poles broken or bent. Again, the really good brands, properly oriented and staked, do just fine. So it really depends on the conditions you expect in your desert. You can always buy two cheap tents, put up one, and return the other if you never have to use it as a replacement.

That said, my 3 season Sierra Designs tent has been to the desert many times, and has stood up to high winds and heavy rain that flattened or waterlogged other tents. It's about 18 years old now, the Meteor Light 2 is probably the closest analogue (and yes, it fills up with dust in a dust storm. I brought an extra sheet to cover things when I wasn't in the tent). I can easily set up my tent by myself in the dark- all poles are the same length, takes about five minutes. It's out of your price range, but you can find them used on Craigslist. That's if you really want a durable tent.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:09 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, timsteil is totally right about shade. If you want to sleep in at all in the morning, a shade structure is a requirement in the desert. If you don't have one, at least set your tent up on the west side of your car for relief from early sunrises.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:24 PM on April 25, 2012

Tents generally have gotten about a thousand times better since the lates 80s when I first got one for sleeping out in the back yard. There doesn't seem to be much on the market these days that will just absolutely fail no matter what you do.

That said, I'm still definitely in the camp (heh) of if you can afford it, just stop suffering already and buy a decent tent. I've spent a lot of time in $40 Wal-Mart tents, and they usually work just fine, but thinking back I've also spent a lot of time wringing water out of my sleeping bag, slapping frantically at insects, fighting with jammed zippers, improvising repairs to structural elements, etc. I finally got an REI house brand tent (Half Dome 2, I think) about three seasons ago, and it's been great. Stood up to all sorts of ridiculous weather and drunken idiots falling on it and whatnot. I suppose this is hardly a high-end tent in the scheme of things, but in comparison to the classic Wal-Mart Special, it's like a little tiny indestructible luxury hotel.

To second oneirodynia, I also really like the Sierra Designs tents I've used. They're easy to set up and just really well put together.
posted by brennen at 12:37 AM on April 26, 2012

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