I just googled “family tent” under the whimsical and naive assumption that I would scroll through a few review lists, hop on over to Amazon Prime, and have a proper tent for my camping trip next weekend on its way to me within the short duration of my daughter’s nap. Illusions dashed. Tent buying is a full time job. Given (a) my lack of need for another full-time job; and (b) the rushed nature in which I am in need of a tent – what’s a lady to do?
Find something good enough – quickly!
- Enough room to stand up in and space for a family of 5 (really three, but I like extra space and our dog is known to take up a lot of room…)
- Light enough to take backpacking – not to actually take backpacking but to allay my unrealistic fantasy of backpacking through the frozen tundra of Yellowstone at Christmas with my loving daughter and husband, all of us so happy and somehow warm against the grizzly-bear and ice ladened backdrop. Let’s say under 10 lbs. We can stick with a three-season tent, though.
- Nice to look at – urine and poop-inspired yellows, greens, and browns are out. This actually filters out quite a number of tents.
- Good quality, able to withstand a storm or two, and last for many, many years.
Ta-da! There are no tents left.
The closest is the MSR StormKing at 13 lbs – not bad. But wait, but wait. It’s $936.73 on sale?!
- Under $250
Well, let’s see – unless we go with a questionable brand, something’s not happening. Either weight or size or price. Our current tent weighs about 5 lbs, so in a pinch, we could use that to go backpacking and could squeeze in our daughter for an overnighter. Thus, I’ll settle for an actually camping tent. At that price and size, there are a number of tents from some of the bigger-named retailers like Coleman and Kelty available on Amazon.
The “other half” likes the Coleman “instant tent,” which is just under $200 with the rain fly included. The giant Coleman logo and less than inspiring color palate cross this off of my list though. I appreciate functionality as a key component, but we’ll be staring at this tent a lot over the next decade. Meanwhile, I found an amazing 30% off Labor Day special on an REI Basecamp 6, which puts it at $300. More than I want to spend, but my gut (inspired by the warm and fuzzy feeling I always get thinking about REI through their ingenious marketing, no doubt) tells me its worth it. Functionality, aesthetics, and (I hope) quality that will last me at least a decade.
We discussed the purchase for about eight hours. I spent more time than I really had available googling the difference between Coleman and REI tents, defeating the purpose of the “quick” decision. I finally just went ahead and ordered the REI tent.