Woodalls Open Roads Forum: Tent Camping: Buying a tent as a gift
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Jeff10236

Annapolis, MD

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Posted: 04/27/14 08:11am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

On Memorial Day Weekend a buddy and I have a tradition (sort of, this will be the 3rd year) to go camping for the weekend. He is getting married this week so this time it will be with him and his wife. I know he enjoys camping and since they will be newlyweds (only 1 month) I'm thinking I would like to buy them a tent (be assured, it won't be the only gift- I will be buying a more traditional wedding gift).

I know he enjoys camping when he comes with me, and he sometimes goes camping with other people. However, he is not very experienced (I have to supply the sleeping bags) and I know his new wife has no camping experience (she has expressed an interest in going). Thus, I want to go cheap in case he doesn't use the tent that much and in case his wife ends up not liking camping. On the other hand, I want to buy a nice tent (for a cheap tent) so that a cheap tent that isn't very weather-resistant won't be the reason she doesn't like camping.

I'm primarily thinking Coleman (they just come to mind for me as decent beginner tents- not bad, good price, but you will move up from here), Alps Mountaineering, Kelty, and Eureka. I'm not sure what features they would want, but being inexperienced I'm thinking easy up and down is a must. So, I'm thinking dome. I'm also thinking reasonable space and comfort is a good idea. For the combo of easy up and down and reasonable space, I'm thinking 4-person, but 3-person and 6-person are not off the table.

I don't want to spend too much because, well I'm on a teacher budget and this isn't their only gift, and because I don't know how much they'll really use it. Assuming my friend's new wife enjoys camping I'll assume he'll use it on our Memorial Day camping trips, other weekends he comes with me, and the trips he takes with other friends where in the past (when it was just him) he would have slept in our tents (as a new couple, I'm assuming they'd want the privacy of their own tent). Though, again, I know he does like camping (he has talked with me about going in with me when I buy a pop-up in a few years). I figure that if he loves it, he can invest in more expensive equipment on his own later. I definitely want to be under $200 and would prefer to be well under $200.

I'll get to some of the tents I'm considering in later posts (keep this shorter). What are some of your suggestions for a good starter tent for a couple who, at least initially, will likely only use it for a handful of weekend trips a year.


Vehicles: 2011 Ford Fusion (for car camping), 2009 Suzuki Boulevard C50 (motorcycle camping)
Tents: Boulder Creek Hunter Ridge 4 (cheap 4-season tent from Bass Pro Shops), Alps Mountaineering Vertex 4, Kelty Grand Mesa 6, Big Agnes Fairview 4

Jeff10236

Annapolis, MD

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Posted: 04/27/14 08:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am thinking some of the obvious choices from my brand list of course:

-Kelty Acadia 4 looks nice, with a lot of mesh for ventilation (a must in Maryland's and the surrounding states' hot and humid summers).

-Kelty Discovery 4.

-Eureka Tetragon 4 or 5. Decent starter+ quality tent at a good price.

-The Eureka Sunrise is substantially more expensive than the Tetragon. Is it worth it? I don't see in the specs where it really is (it still has fiberglass poles, it loses the full coverage fly which means while it has more ventilation while the fly is on, it loses water resistance).

-The Eureka Copper Canyon 4 is a possibility. While it isn't a dome, I read that it is pretty easy to take down or put up. However, for a newbie it might be a bit much. Of course, a cabin tent's big advantage is it gives a lot of room for the floor size.

-The Eureka Timberline 4 is a regular on "what tent should I buy" lists in the size and price-range I'm considering. Though, not being a dome, how easy would it be for a newbie like my buddy to put up? It is also at the top of my price list.

-It is a shame Alps Mountaineering doesn't make the Vertex anymore or it would be high on this list (I'm pretty happy with mine, though more ventilation would be nice). The Taurus is almost the same tent, just with fiberglass poles. The Meramac gives substantially more ventilation and seems to be a good tent (though with fiberglass poles). The Outfitter editions have aluminum poles but for quite a bit more money.

-The Alps Mountaineering Lynx 4 would be nice (good mesh/ventilation, aluminum poles, good quality, decent price) but it is a little small for a 4-person tent.

-For Coleman, I've seen an interesting "Camping package" with an unidentified 8x8 dome tent (looks like the Sundome) and 2 sleeping bags (my friend does not own sleeping bags so that would be useful) for well under $150 (at Cabela's it is currently $135).

The Coleman instant up Cabin 4 will be on the list (easy up, lots of room). For $75 on Amazon right now plus $27 for the rainfly it could be a decent, very easy to use, starter tent. Of course, the Sundome and Evanston are on my list.

-Of course, I'll be looking at the REI Outlet and similar and if I see a good clearance price on a higher end brand, I'll consider those as well. Though, while there are some good deals there now on REI and Big Agnes tents in the size range I'm looking at, they are all over my max budget.

shellbackcva59

Wagontown,PA

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Posted: 04/27/14 09:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Google Eureka tents in Binghamton,NY. They are a factory store and sell seconds. You can get a very nice tent at a reasonable price. They have a couple grades of seconds. New unused with repaired defects, and ones that have been used, returned and then repaired. Either way, they are top notch for use and any defect might not even be noticed. I've bought a couple from them.

jfkmk

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Posted: 04/27/14 10:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What a great gift idea! A friend of mine bought me and my now ex-wife a tent when we got married. For our honeymoon we traveled from New Jersey out to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Jackson hole, badlands, etc. While the marriage didn't last, I still have the tent. It is a eureka dome tent. My kids used it a bunch and my new wife prefers her camping in a trailer. My vote would be for a eureka as a solid bargain.

Jeff10236

Annapolis, MD

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Posted: 04/27/14 11:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the Eureka Camping Center suggestion, I took a look there. Unfortunately, they don't have the tents I'm looking at right now, but I'll keep checking back.

Quote:

What a great gift idea!

Thank you. Originally, I was just going to let my friend and his wife use one of my tents on this particular trip since I have several, but I decided that it would be nice to buy him one since he likes camping (and goes from time to time), and since they just bought a house he'll actually have a lot more storage space for it than he had in his condo.



I took another look at the specs of the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 4 and it really looks to be the Vertex 4 but with more mesh and a simpler and more traditional 2-pole system (aluminum). It is available for $110 on Amazon, so I think it is near the top of the list. I also think I'm dumping the tents that are close to the $200 mark and dropping my limit to $150-160. I would love to go a little less on the tent so I can also get them some other gear as well.

Campmor has the Coleman Sundome 4 for $60 which would leave a lot of money to get them sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc. They have the Eureka Tetragon 4 for $119 which will also leave money for other gear and it will be better quality than the Coleman but at that price I think the $110 Alps is a better deal (the Alps is cheaper and I have first hand experience to testify that the aluminum pole Alps M. tents are great tents). They have the Kelty Acadia 4 for $169 (I can get it for $159 on Amazon), also leaving some money for other gear but not as much. I also have first hand experience with Kelty, but not their models (like the Acadia) with fiberglass poles.

While Kelty has a great reputation, so does Eureka, and that particular Kelty does not have aluminum poles. Both being models with fiberglass poles, I'm not sure it is worth the premium over the Eureka. Having been on this and other forums for a few years, it seems hard to beat the reputation of Eureka when looking at lower priced tents.

So, short of other suggestions that I haven't thought about, I am leaning towards the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 4 or the Eureka Tetragon 4 and then buying them a pair of inexpensive sleeping pads and sleeping bags. I will also consider going with an air mattress instead of the pads since they would be doing warm weather camping, and being a newly married couple they'd likely appreciate a full sized or queen sized air mattress over two individual sized pads.

Edit:
I see ecanopy.com has the Eureka Tetragon 4 on sale for $109.95 with shipping. It is just for the weekend, but if they have that sale now, I'm sure they or someone else will have it again in time for me to order it for Memorial Day Weekend. At more or less the same price, which would be the better deal, the Eureka or the Alps Mountaineering? Anyone have experience with both Eureka and Alps Mountaineering tents?

* This post was last edited 04/27/14 01:58pm by Jeff10236 *   View edit history

Jeff10236

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Posted: 04/27/14 02:23pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For the rest of the camping gift:

I already have a Big Agnes ground cover for an 8 1/2" x 7 1/2" dome tent that I use for my Vertex 4 and my Big Agnes Fairview 4. I bought a 2nd as a spare a year ago (it is still in the shipping box), but I don't think I'll need it for a long time, so I will probably include that in the gift.

I'm leaning towards an Intex full sized air bed (Campmor has it at $34.99, Amazon has it for about $28). It seems to rate a little higher than Coleman for less money. The "Lightspeed Outdoors Deluxe TPU Air Bed with Battery-Operated Pump" air bed on Amazon seems pretty well rated (4.4 out of 5 with 62 ratings, and only 3 2-star and 4 1-star ratings). It's $65 with shipping though and I'd have to go over my $200 budget to add sleeping bags unless I went with the Coleman Sundome 4. The Alps Mountaineering air bed seems to have similar overall ratings as the Lightspeed, but runs $10 (Amazon) to $20 (REI) higher. I am not considering the Coleman mattresses since so many of their ratings talk about deflating overnight, and the price is similar or higher than the Intex.

I haven't yet started narrowing down sleeping bags, but I'm also thinking it might be better to go with one of the higher priced and better quality mattresses (Lightspeed or Alps Mountaineering) and my friend and his wife can use regular bedding until they find the sleeping bags that they want.

Lowsuv

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Posted: 05/10/14 09:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

an alps mountaineering meramac 5 zf fg
$ 188 and 6 foot center height in an outfitter grade tent .
stay dry - baby . and the missus can stand up .
the meramac 5 zf fg lists at $ 290 and can be bought from overstock dot com for $ 188 delivered .
Very high quality at a cheap price on overstock .
comes with a # 10 zipper and a 4 ounce nylon oxford floor which is the same as the eureka timberline outfitter 6 tent that i also owned .
the alps ZF FG has 11 mm poles and the tetragon 7 has 8.5 mm poles .
the meramac 5 is 8' X 10 ' and has a 6 foot center height .
I own a Eureka Timberline 4 and I gave my Timberline 6 to my son .
We boat camp with them and the Eureka Timberline tents are a considerably superior tent to the Eureka Tetragon 7 family tents .
We often boat camp and leave our TT at home .
We have had a downpour situation once each of the last 2 boating campouts .
I have stayed dry in all of my outfitter type tents Timberline and ZF FG .

Jeff10236

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Posted: 05/11/14 08:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OK, I've narrowed things down to these options:

  • Coleman Instant Tent and rainfly. The $75 deal on the 4 person version is gone, but right now Costco has the 6-person for $100. If I do that, I'll probably skip the rainfly for more accessories (2 Coleman Green Valley sleeping bags for $60 total or Palmetto bags for $50 total, plus an air mattress). If the 4-person deal returns before I buy I'll get the 4-person and rainfly for about $100 plus the accessories. Though, the other option is get the rainfly and skip the bags (if they have an air mattress they can use regular bedding until they are ready to buy sleeping bags).

  • Alps Mountaineering Lynx 4 for $110. Then the accessories would be either the 2 Coleman Palmetto bags and one of the less expensive air mattreses (probably Intex), or no bags and let them use bedding or buy their own and get a nicer air mattress (Alps or Lightspeed).

  • Eureka Tetragon 4 for $110, then the same accessory options as with the Alps.


If you were buying for a friend, which way would you go?

If it helps, I suspect they'll be more casual campers than many here. Pretty much the typical family campers who go when the weather is decent, no major storms in the forecast and mostly just for the weekend, so they will mainly face the occasional summer pop-up thunderstorm. So, I'm thinking the ease of setup for the Coleman may outweigh its negatives (and from reading reviews, these with the rainfly may be some of the most weather-worthy of the Coleman tents- heck, for some kinds of camping, I want one for myself).

I know my friend likes camping, but his wife is interested but inexperienced. I don't want to spend a ton for a more "professional" set up since they will probably be pretty casual (and if that changes, they'll probably want to replace the gear later anyway), but I don't want to get something that will leak every rain and turn his wife off from camping (and be embarrassing to me since it was a gift).

Since we'll be using this during our Memorial Day camping trip, I would like to make a decision this week so I can order online and have time to get it before the trip.

Jeff10236

Annapolis, MD

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Posted: 05/11/14 09:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lowsuv wrote:

an alps mountaineering meramac 5 zf fg
$ 188 and 6 foot center height in an outfitter grade tent .
stay dry - baby . and the missus can stand up .
the meramac 5 zf fg lists at $ 290 and can be bought from overstock dot com for $ 188 delivered .
Very high quality at a cheap price on overstock .
comes with a # 10 zipper and a 4 ounce nylon oxford floor which is the same as the eureka timberline outfitter 6 tent that i also owned .
the alps ZF FG has 11 mm poles and the tetragon 7 has 8.5 mm poles .
the meramac 5 is 8' X 10 ' and has a 6 foot center height .
I own a Eureka Timberline 4 and I gave my Timberline 6 to my son .
We boat camp with them and the Eureka Timberline tents are a considerably superior tent to the Eureka Tetragon 7 family tents .
We often boat camp and leave our TT at home .
We have had a downpour situation once each of the last 2 boating campouts .
I have stayed dry in all of my outfitter type tents Timberline and ZF FG .


The Alps Mountaineering Outfitter series are a terrific deal in the tent world. Priced on the expensive side of average, these tents are far from average. I'm a big fan of the Alps Mountaineerin "standard" tents, great quality at a great price, and when you add the heavier duty features and still keep the price reasonable...well... When I replace my Alps M. Vertex 4 and/or Big Agnes Fairview 4 (both will be a while, even though I use the Vertex a lot), the Meramac 4 Outfitter (with aluminum poles) and Meramac 5 ZF FG will be high on the list (as will the Alps M. Lynx 4). When I replace my Kelty Grand Mesa 6 (probably next year) the non-Outfitter Meramac 5 and 6 will be high on my list. When I replace my cheap 4-season(very soon) the Taurus 3 and 5 Outfitter will be high on the list (even though they aren't really 4-season tents, they are sturdy, and most of the ventilation can be closed up, for my "light" winter camping it would work well).

All that said, the Outfitter tents are a bit out of the price range I am really looking at for the gift for my friend and his wife, and since he is a pretty casual camper (and she is brand new) they are probably quite a bit more than they really need.

Lowsuv

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Posted: 05/11/14 12:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If it was Mother's Day and I was buying my wife a new camping gear :
She would rather I got her one Outfitter quality gear rather than a fleet of entry level gear .
I make the argument if you want your friend's new wife to continue camping ( with you ) then it would be best if she had a tent that kept her dry and she could stand up in .
Alps Mountaineering Meramac 5 from overstock dot com .
If you cannot do outfitter then regular Meramac .
Let them choose their bags and pads .
Which Costco has great deals in the spring .

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