Last night we tested out our new family tent. Previously we used a 4-man dome tent which worked well enough for two of us. It also was fine at EMF in 2016 when the weather was really hot, so we (two adults and a toddler) didn't mind hanging around outside the tent all day.
This time round though, we have an extra child. The extra luggage that a family of four requires would be greater than we could comfortably fit inside our 4-man tent. For this reason, we decided to upgrade to a large family tent in preparation for going to EMF 2018 at the end of this month.
After some quick searches, we bought the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus from Amazon. The tent, when folded up and in its bag, is significantly bigger than the previous tent. It is certainly well beyond what you can put inside a hiking bag (although the dome tent was already pushing that limit). But that is the price to be paid for ‘glamping’ or trying to camp easily with young children.
Generally speaking, it does what it says on the box. It was nice having a large tent that you could stand up inside and move around without crushing a small person. It also has a large porch area which can be used for storing kit and potentially cooking.
We were willing to spend significantly more to get a tent with a true blackout bedroom. It was nice closing the door and getting a pretty good level of darkness. It certainly wasn't compete darkness but was about what we normally get in the house during summer with the curtains.
In theory, this should also help keep the tent cool on a hot day which will be useful if we get the same weather as two years ago.
The hole designed for threading a power cord through was a nice touch and will definitely be useful at EMF. Another nice touch was the storage pockets between the two doors into the bedroom. When taking the tent down, the storage bag was very forgiving and left plenty of room for ‘non-optimal folding’.
There were a couple of items that we would consider design flaws.
The first is that the main door is actually two doors. Normally, tents have a door which is two layers, a layer of mesh and a layer of waterproof tent fabric. The layer of tent fabric can be unzipped and rolled away leaving a closed door of mesh. With this tent, there are two separate doors. The mesh is the inner door and the waterproof sheet is the outer door. This means that, if both doors are closed, then you need to undo two zips to get out. This is a pain, particularly when you are tired.
The second flaw is with the blackout bedroom. The manufacturers have gone to a lot of effort to create a blacked out bedroom, using double sheeting for the main section and heavy duty doors (for a tent). Unfortunately the gap between the inner bedroom and the outer bedroom is fully open to the light from the porch area. This lets in a significant amount of light for a supposedly 'total blacked out' bedroom. As I wrote earlier, it is still pretty dark but could easily have been darker if they had put some shielding between the two sections (as I have seen in some other tents of a similar style).
The windows of the porch which are transparent plastic. It would have been preferable to be able to roll this out the way and leave a mesh window. I can see that porch getting very hot on a sunny day.
There were a couple of more general things that we thought of that could have improved the tent.
More places to hang things like lights would have been nice.
We also noticed a number of manufacturing flaws while we were setting the tent up. Things like catches on the mesh netting and guy lines, a pin hole in one of the internal doors. These are the sort of things that would occur anyway with general wear and tear but it would have been nice to not have them when first setting up the tent. We also noticed a section of one of the floors that had been bonded to itself. Again nothing that would make the tent unusable, but it did not give the impression of a ‘quality product’.
Considering the manufacturing flaws we did ask ourselves whether it was worth sending it back. In the end we decided to keep the tent. There is no guarantee that any other tent would be any better in these areas and they may have other flaws.
A combination of ‘better the devil you know’ and ‘good enough’.Go Top