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car camping tent
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Kevin J
(KevinJ) - F
car camping tent on 07/14/2013 23:07:29 MDT Print View

I took my girls out camping this past 4 days and they loved it. Thing is, my tent was more akin to a sardine can than a comfortable respite for the night. I need to find a replacement. I started looking around, but thought I would solicit some opinions here in tandem. I'm currently using a 9'x 8' hexagon tent from Walmart. Looking for something to fit myself, 2 growing girls and maybe even a mattress mate for me in the future (though it's most probable she'll have a vet instead of a Primary Care Physician). I don't care if it's used or new, buy am looking for a good deal so used or clearance is preferable. If you have a make/model I should keep my eyes open for I would appreciate it.


And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Big 5, Amazon etc on 07/14/2013 23:12:34 MDT Print View

For car camping, Coleman is a pretty decent, affordable option. You could also try and/or keep an eye on Steep And Cheap.

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: car camping tent on 07/15/2013 00:20:04 MDT Print View

I have the Coleman Instant Tent (11' x 13'). Great for car camping at the beach with big air mattress.
I will fit 2 queen size and lots of gear. I think it was $160 at Walmart.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: car camping tent on 07/15/2013 00:22:48 MDT Print View

REI hobitat 6 in their clearance for 260. We own the REI Base Camp 6 which we like with vestibules on both ends, but the Hobitat might be what you are looking for in terms of value. 10' x 8'4". They make good quality big tents. We have had ours for years. Bomb proof.

Edited by bj.clark on 07/15/2013 00:26:05 MDT.

Shawn Peyton
(alifeoutdoors) - F - MLife

Locale: Iron River, WI
Re: car camping tent on 07/15/2013 07:39:35 MDT Print View

I'll concur on the excellent value of a coleman tent for car camping. I have the evanston 6 with a screened porch. The porch is wonderful here in the north woods for high summer and legions of mosquitoes we get here. It's monster huge but can still get it up solo in under 15 minutes and will fit two queen sized mattresses. Did I mention the screen porch? ;)

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Car camping tents on 07/15/2013 08:34:44 MDT Print View

REI's car camping tents are good. There usually are a few such tents at Sierra Trading Post.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Re: Car camping tents on 07/15/2013 11:08:39 MDT Print View

I have a Headquarter's tent by Eureka and love it. Sleeps 3 easily.

Eureka-Headquarters-Tent-sleeps-6 /One person set-up

Shop around on craigslist and ebay for a used one.

Ben H.
(bzhayes) - F

Locale: So. California
Re: Re: car camping tent on 07/15/2013 11:08:57 MDT Print View

I agree with the Hobitat 6 at REI. If you can get it on sale it is a great tent. Much better than a Coleman and absolutely palatial. It is what my family uses on car camping trips. It is nice to be able to stand fully erect in a tent.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Wenzel on 07/15/2013 11:12:40 MDT Print View

Check out Wenzel tents also. You get a lot of tent for the money, and their quality has been good for me so far.


Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

without sleeves on 07/15/2013 11:16:35 MDT Print View

Get a tent that has no sleeves for the poles to go through....they are a PITA!

The Eureka headquarter's has no sleeves.

Kevin J
(KevinJ) - F
re on 07/15/2013 15:13:23 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for the input. Those all look like great options so I'll put my good luck shirt on and troll craigslist while shopping Amazon and REI.

Just as an aside, though out of my budget right now, the REI Kingdom looks like about a perfect design - large, screened room/porch, 2 doors, available vestibule. I like the Coleman Instant tents, but a vestibule would sure be nice to have. The Evanston looks to be the ticket, but not being able to zip close the back netting limits it a bit weather wise. I see there is a WeatherMaster 10 on CL...hmmm, wasn't thinking that big but for $90... This is going to be fun

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: car camping tent on 07/15/2013 15:27:44 MDT Print View

A different approach to consider: You have one tent. It's just too small. Get another tent and use both (this is for car camping, right?). I have and liked:

$400 list, $300 on STP. Less with some coupons. It is not standing height, and would be tight for 4, BUT, you could use it for backpacking (11 pounds) which you can't do with full-on car-camping tents. 96" x 96", very well ventilated. We put two adults in the "3-person" version and 3 kids in the 4-person version so everyone has plenty of room when we car camp or do a canoe trip.

You obvious could find cheaper options, but they would be single-purpose: car camping only.

If you go for the large car-camping tent, I've like the Eureka tents without pole sleeves (as someone above said). First you erect the poles (from four corners to the top-central cross), then you clip the tent to the poles. Standing height for the tallest adult is really nice if it's raining for very long.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: re on 07/15/2013 15:33:31 MDT Print View

Keep in mind that if it's "too big", then it is forever going to be useful for one type of camping. Moreover, It sounds like - for the time being - you will be the only one setting up the tent. Keep "simplicity" in mind when selecting one.

If it were me, I'd stick to a four person tent that I could set up by myself when it's dark and rainy, while my girls are watching me from the car. Avoid fiberglass poles (with external ferrules) as well, if you can. They will fail eventually and are totally cumbersome, especially if you have to sleeve the tent.

Furthermore, a four person tent and your existing dome tent will likely still fit on a single car campsite, just in case your girls ever wanted their "privacy". If your new tent is too big, you may be too limited by this possibility.

If you find any specific models out there. Post them here for some instant feedback.

good luck!


p.s. as a former REI employee of many years, I can vouch for the quality of their tents. Incredible value for $$, not to mention their hard-to-beat warranty.

Kevin J
(KevinJ) - F
backpacking on 07/15/2013 15:46:35 MDT Print View

Luckily, at least for the time being I've got my backpacking needs covered with my Double Rainbow - kids have zero interest that particular endeavor.

I'll look through the Eureka lineup to see which models are sleeveless. That is a great feature.

Simon Wurster
(Einstein) - F

Locale: Big Apple
Re: car camping tent on 07/15/2013 17:15:05 MDT Print View

ALPS Merimac 4... I think I got mine for ~$75 at REI Outlet with an extra 20%-off coupon.

This is a rather sturdy tent, light for car-camping at 8 lbs., and although I can't stand up inside, most kids can. I can walk around on my knees just fine. Survived torrential rain (twice) with nary a leak, although splatter by the front door can be an issue (it's not bad).

Can fit four adults, I guess. Three adults for sure. It's a suite for one adult and 2 kids. A palace for one adult and one kid!

And it's possible to set up by yourself if your kids are too young or are nowhere to be found :-)

So ALPS ain't so bad after all (you see them all the time at, etc.). Have about 8 nights in mine, and will soon add another 4 with my 7-year old.

Edited by Einstein on 07/15/2013 17:16:58 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: car camping tent on 07/15/2013 18:31:59 MDT Print View

I don't think Coleman makes tents any more, they just license their name. Plus they may private brand for really big retailers to the retailer's specifications, which may not be very good.

We used to use two 2-person tents. Mom and daughter slept in one, me and the boy slept in the other. Actually from the time my son was 5, we would both sleep outside if the weather was good. When the kids got a little bigger they slept in the same tent, the adults in the other.

So with two tents you have all kinds of options.

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - F

Locale: Southwest
Eureka Copper Canyon on 07/15/2013 19:46:12 MDT Print View

I have a Eureka Copper Canyon 10x10 which I like. It has steel and fiberglass poles, which make the tent heavy to carry when packed, but the wall are nearly vertical so I can stand up and stretch in it in the morning, or change t-shirts standing up. I hate having to change clothes while lying down. And because of those steep walls, it needs to be staked out well if there will be high winds, but it is a strong rigid tent and doesn't do that flopping around in the wind thing that dome tents do. Discard the cheap stakes that come with it and get a couple packs of the Coghlan's 9-inch Y-stakes and 50 extra feet of 3mm cord. It could sleep 5, but really just 4 adults with duffel bags, and it is great for two with cots and a week's worth of gear. It is small enough that it usually isn't hard to find enough level/flat space to pitch it. Don't underestimate the difference in usable space between a dome tent and a tent with steeper walls, even if the footprints are the same size. Really the only problem is that it would be hard to get the rain fly on without a helper due to the height. I think they run $200-220 new. The lower seams come well taped from the factory, and you can seal the rest yourself if you think it is needed. There are smaller and larger sizes of the same tent.

I've read a lot of negative reviews about the Coleman instant tents, but I've never used one myself. They are very large when packed and very heavy.

I agree with David about two tents with kids, especially if there are two adults. The kids like having their own secret space, and you might like having yours. They can also learn to set up their own tent.


Edited by sdparks on 07/15/2013 20:00:11 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
car camping tent on 07/17/2013 05:45:44 MDT Print View

I agree with Matt, A tent that is too big is only good for certain uses. Two smaller tents are more useful.

It can be harder find flat ground for a bigger tent. Two smaller tents can fit more places and pack better.

The bigger the tent, the more it becomes a problem in wind. Two smaller tents are usually more reliable.

A four person car camping tent and one or more smaller backpacking tents have worked better for us.
If my wife and I go car camping, we can just take the four person car camping tent and maybe also carry a two person backpacking tent for backpacking and/or as a spare for guests.

Kids often prefer having their own tent away from their parents. Parents prefer the privacy.

I don't recommend the cheap family tents unless you are going to always be in protected camps.

I have seen too many vacations disrupted when their tent got destroyed in wind.

One case that I experienced was when a strong wind came in the middle off the night. All the big car camping tents were leveled with broken poles and ripped material.
Most of the smaller tents survived except the cheap models.

Weight can be an issue as well. Weight affects gas mileage and performance.
Fill your car with people and gear weight then becomes an issue.

The weight to strength ratio usually is pretty poor with cheap tents.

Most of the popular car camping tent manufacturers make some pretty crappy tents, but they may also make good ones. The good ones will cost a lot more, but there are sales and used options.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Re: Eureka Copper Canyon on 07/17/2013 07:47:17 MDT Print View

I agree with Stephen. The Copper Canyon is another good choice.

For the first few years the OP will want to have his girls in same tent until they become accustomed to camping. The tent has a divider that can separate the tent into 2 rooms. Same with the Eureka Headquarters tent, has a room divider.

Eureka suggests that all new tents have their seams sealed before first use. You'll see it on their instruction sheet.

Eureka is quality.

P.S. My wife found a used Headquarters on craigslist for $200.00 (chicago area)

Edited by zelph on 07/17/2013 07:49:58 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Chateau Marmot on 07/17/2013 07:51:58 MDT Print View

For car Camping we use a Marmot Halo 4p, my wife loves it and due to an ok shape it can handle itself in crappy weather.