Gear Test: Coleman Northstar X6 Tent
When your busy itinerary is packed with hiking, fishing, canoeing or swimming at a favorite lake, what you’re going to sleep in may not be the most important thing on your mind. But, if a rainy day keeps your family cooped inside a tent, room to stand upright and move around in becomes a premium, not to mention the need for a shelter that won’t leak in a downpour.
Boasting 112 square feet of floor space in a 14×8-foot configuration, the Coleman Northstar X6 tent is an ideal family tent, come rain or shine. The tent consists of two rooms, one of which can be converted to an open-air screen room by rolling back the rainfly. Billed as a six-person shelter, the advertised capacity of the X6 actually matches the real world of camping. While I’ve encountered a number of tents advertised for six-persons which more reasonably accommodated four, there’s ample room in the X6 for a six-pack of people with enough space left over to handle a reasonable amount of gear. With a center height of 6 feet, 2 inches, the X6 provides head room for all but the tallest campers. The roof of the tent slopes from the center to shed water, but head height at the sidewalls is sufficient for most to move about without ducking.
Beyond its spacious interior, two features really shine on the X6. The first is a rainfly with taped seams that fully covers the tent, your best defense in a downpour. The second involves the exceptional ventilation capabilities of the X6. The primary walls of the screen-room portion of the tent are mesh, with a mesh roof with zip panels that provide further ventilation control. Four doors, two on the sides and two on the ends, offer easy access from any direction.
At 34 pounds, the X6 isn’t a tent you’ll want to ferry too far from transportation. However, instead of the typical stuff bags, the tent, rainfly and poles are stored in a bag, with separate compartments for each, that folds like a garment bag. Additional goodies include two power ports that accommodate extension cords without leaving a door unzipped, and two skylight panels that provide light to the interior during the day and a peek at the moon at night.
Initial set-up of the Coleman Northstar X6 tent wasn’t difficult, but involved a system different than standard poles that loop through sleeves or attach with clips. Poles on the X6 consist of a ridgepole that runs down the center of the ceiling with poles that extend from it to support the roof. These connect to support poles on the sides. The system worked well, and coupled with the tent’s multiple guylines, provided excellent stability in the wind. However, the pole configuration is unique enough that it might take a bit longer than usual to erect the tent on your first outing. This is why it’s always good to set up your tent in the yard once before you head out on a camping trip. MSRP: $550. Coleman: 800/835-3278; coleman.com.