2012 Tents & Shelters
April 3, 2012
Filed under Tents
Whether you drive right up to a campsite, or hike to a remote backcountry spot, the new tents, shelters and shades you’ll find as you stock up for your adventures this year will give you plenty of options to choose from to suit your exact needs. The invention of new materials and construction methods drove the design of tents in years past. But, the most influential impact we’ve seen on those same top brands this year is you! And more than ever before family campers are getting their fare share of the top-brand designers’ attention.
Jeff Basford, president of Paha Que’ Wilderness, Inc. knows the importance of outfitting the needs of the car camping, versus backpacking family. “While backpacking will always be a major component of the tent market, over the past few years we have seen an explosion in family tent designs and brands as this market segment has fully emerged. There seem to be two ‘camps’ regarding family tent designs — those that have kept to some variation of the traditional, lighter-weight, dome designs enlarged to fit a family, and those that are producing more of the heavier cabin style designs that offer maximum floor and head space for the family campers.” To accommodate all tent campers, Basford continues, “Some family campers are concerned about weight because they don’t drive into their campsite, and so we are seeing a proliferation of new tent designs suited to all types of family camping, whether your family arrives in camp on a bike, in a canoe or your vehicle.”
Convenience is king, as designers at Eureka! find in serving up what their customers look for when buying a tent. “The effects of the economy are still impacting how we all look at the limited vacation time we earn. Be it rationalized by the thought of recuperating from the hectic-ness of work, desiring quality time with family or escaping from the daily cacophony of our city streets … all on a budget, we see people turning to camping for a cure. The key is making camping easier, and less of an event to prepare for. Therefore, camping gear must be easier to set up and use, be comfortable, be affordable, and provide value for the money,” said Mark Hrubant, senior brand director for Eureka!
With the trends of convenience, range of options and keeping affordability in mind, here’s the top gear we came across for this year’s guide.
When the designers at Mountainsmith went into their research and development lab last year to cook up the newest designs for 2012, they did so with the family camper in mind – right down to man’s best friend. The result is the new Conifer 5+, three-season tent ($359.99), featuring a roomy design that comfortably fits two adults, three children and the family pet. The majority of the tent’s interior offers a generous 6-foot 2-inch peak, giving it comfortable standing room height. The polyester tent is designed with a two-door/two-vestibule layout and tent-fly ventilation windows for maximum airflow. Set up is quick and intuitive on this freestanding tent, which also features a bathtub-type constructed floor. And with 83.5 square feet of that floor area, the family dog and everybody else has plenty of space to stretch out and get cozy. A car camping tent, the packed weight of the Conifer 5+ is just 14 lbs, 10 oz. 800-551-5889, www.mountainsmith.com.
REI is offering the camping family in 2012 the independence to accessorize and add-on any features they please with the newly redesigned Kingdom tent series. Coming in 4-, 6- and 8-person sizes (ranging in price from $379 to $529), the Kingdom’s new modular design connects to optional add-on accessories to provide even more room, as desired, by campers. On all sizes, the tent’s roomy interior includes a zippered divider wall to customize living space. REI’s Connect Tech zipper technology attaches to an optional garage or vestibule, with a small vestibule at the opposite end. And, a large door at each end includes mesh panels and four zips to adjust its opening; the door stows in an adjacent stash pocket. 800-426-4820, www.rei.com.
In 2012, Eureka! expands its Copper Canyon recreational tent line, a six-pole cabin-style tent with a center height of 7 feet. Eureka! gives campers a dependable shelter with near-vertical walls, bathtub floors, sweep-outs on the doors, hanging gear loft organizers, one large D-style door, a full mesh roof and windows on each side for increased ventilation, and lots of interior pockets. The Copper Canyon tent comes in sizes ranging from four to 12 people (prices from $210 to $470). The line also offers a 5+ Screenhouse ($419). The brand also modified an affordable staple in its line, the Tetragon 2-pole rectangular tent, with a redesigned fly that includes two fly rods that extend over the doors for added stability and greater rain protection. Sizes range from 2- to 10-person capacity ($95 to $370). 800-572-8822, www.eurekatent.com.
Hilleberg, best known for its all-season tents, breaks the mold for 2012 by introducing its first ever three-season tents geared for users who don’t need all-season function but still demand both great strength and light weight. The Anjan 3 ($598), a tunnel tent based on the brand’s proven Nallo design, is built with 9 mm poles and Kerlon 1000 outer tent fabric, which boasts a robust 22 pound tear strength, so it can handle the unpredictable weather of any terrain you may find yourself in. For the more adventurous family getting out on the trail, this tent’s roomy vestibule could sleep a fourth person, not that you would need a fourth person to split up carrying the tent. It weights in at just 3 pounds 8 ounces, making it more than a third lighter than the corresponding four-season tent in Hilleberg’s line. 866-848-8368, www.hilleberg.com.
Camping in the days of old may have entailed roughing it but who would turn down just a bit of luxury after an exhausting day on the trail? If you’re one of those people – and have four in your group, the Bedrock 4 BX ($359) from The North Face should answer the call. Suited for beginners and seasoned campers alike, it includes a fast and easy color-coded pitch system and everything one expects from the brand – including double doors and vestibules, side vents, a fully seam-taped floor and full-coverage rainfly attachment. Once assembled, the freestanding tent (interior height 5 feet) makes a shelter with plenty of headroom and excellent ventilation even when packed snug with four campers. 888-863-1968, www.thenorthface.com.
Much like the typical family working to renovate a long-term abode to continuously improve their quality of life in their home, Paha Que’ follows suit by replicating that experience for the family getting out of doors this spring. For example, take the new Cottonwood XLT Shade Shelter ($349) – a renovated take on the classic Cottonwood 10×10. Perfect as the sun porch, shelter from the rain or protected dining area in a family’s outdoor base set up, the new Cottonwood XLT features two awnings built-in on opposing sides. Functioning not only as awnings that can be pulled down as a sidewall for a break from the wind or sun, or rolled out of the way to enjoy the breeze, the outer edge of one awing has keder, or a rope edge, sewn into it so that it can attach to the keder rail found on the side of many travel trailers. The awnings’ other side has attachment points to attach to a vehicle roof rack, with the option to also purchase additional side panels. 888-700-8368, www.pahaque.com.
Big Agnes, translating to “mother of comfort” in trail talk, redesigned and enlarged several staples in its three-season, freestanding line to give camping families more options. The new Burn Ridge Outfitter 4 ($299.95) features more durable materials and slightly heavier fabrics, and given its easy set up and ability to sustain the wear and tear of events and repetitive group use, is ideal for scout trips, outdoor school programs and outfitter adventures. Big Agnes also offers the Red Dirt Cabin ($999.95), a super sturdy cabin-style tent for six people with heavy duty aluminum poles that makes a great addition to base camp for eating and gathering. 877-554-8975, www.bigagnes.com.
There’s a new line of products out from U.S. Army Camping (manufactured by Tippmann Sports) that allow campers to embrace both the rugged outdoor lifestyle of the U.S. Army and also support the troops. Offering products that focus on maximized living space and sleeping areas, and superior durability and comfort, the newest family-sized tents from U.S. Army Camping don’t disappoint. The brand also includes features typically found in higher-end gear but at a cost-effective price point for the everyday camper. New for 2012 are the Brigade ($119.99), which sleeps four, with 64-square feet of interior space, and Squadron ($179.95), which sleeps six, has over 11-by-9 feet of living space and was designed to be erected in under a minute. Both new models get your family of troops in the outdoor spirit with the official U.S. Army camo pattern on the tent bottom and bindings. 847-541-0551, www.usarmycamping.com.
While nearly every camping family has something from Coleman in the collection, whether it’s a tent or light — it’s time to add to that list if you’re looking for convenience and cool factors. In 2012, the hottest gear the brand delivers is the Lighted Instant Canopy ($239.99). Using the Lighted Instant Canopy frame that sets up with only three steps and takes three minutes or less, also delivers built-in LED lighting complete with a dimmer switch. The canopy is powered by Coleman’s versatile CPX power system that allows the user to choose if they want to use D-batteries or a Coleman rechargeable CPX power pack; or interchange on the fly if power is running low. 800-835-3278, www.coleman.com.
Slumberjack, a brand that calls itself the outdoor sleep experts, takes special care to back that slogan up with sound construction and an accommodating design for family campers with its Grand Lodge 8 ($499.95) and 12 ($499.95). Both tents feature color-coded clip and sleeve construction for easy set up, mesh walls for outstanding ventilation with interior room dividers for added privacy. 800-233-6283, www.slumberjack.com.
New from Kelty in 2012 is the Frontier 4-person tent ($799.95), which blends vintage materials with advanced designs to create a comfortable, easy to set up single wall shelter. A full cotton canvas body is treated with a water-repellant finish to keep rain at bay while abundant mesh windows keep air flowing or zip closed for extra weather protection. A 73-square foot vestibule has two side doors and an oversized front door for easily storing gear or just hanging out when the weather turns bad. Another family-sized tent offered new in 2012 is the Kelty Parthenon 4 ($399.95). 800-535-3589, www.kelty.com.
Building on the ingenuity of Sierra Designs’ previous Zia model tents, the company further innovates in 2012 with the Zia 4 ($359.95). The new tent’s X ridgepole design results in steeper walls for a larger interior volume than possible with standard pole configurations. Two doors and two vestibules provide easy access to the tent’s interior and storage space for your gear. Sierra Designs’ Clip Locks are an exclusive and patented pole connection technology that adds 60 percent to the tent’s strength, helping to keep the Zia standing tall in adverse weather. 800-736-8592, www.sierradesigns.com.