Dec 29, 2010 at 8:28 am #1267055
This spring my daughter turns one and soon after, my wife and I would like to take an overnight camping trip. Are there any tents in particular that people recommend for families? I’m most likely interested in a four-person tent with a floor and bug net that is relatively lightweight and straightforward to set up. A reasonable price is an important factor, too, and I’d like to take advantage of some post-holiday sales.
The Shangri-La 5 looks nice (as does the price with the 40% off sale), but I’m worried about the tent’s large footprint and finding appropriate campsites to fit it. I’ve also read positive reviews about the Tarptent Hogback. Though we’ll likely travel further afield, most of our time will be spent on the East Coast, specifically in the Catskills and Adirondacks. I want something versatile that my family can grow into over the years, and that will function for two people just as nicely as it would for four. And though we’ll probably start with car camping, I want something light enough to eventually carry on multi-day trips.
Any and all recommendations and advice are welcome (I’d also consider something used, if you have an appropriate tent that you’re looking to sell). Right now all I have is a double-walled North Face tent that I camped in with my family as a kid, so anything will likely be an improvement!Dec 29, 2010 at 8:47 am #1678647
I think any of the larger pyramids (and matching inners) might work out nicely for you- the MLD Supermid (available inner tent); Black Diamond Mega Light (and Mega Bug); and your above mentioned Shangri-la
price wise, it's going to be tough to be the Golite 40% saleDec 29, 2010 at 9:09 am #1678656
Agreed, that's why the Shangri-La looks so appealing. Just a little worried about the 90 square foot area of the 5-person version. Anyone with experience with the Shrangi-La 3 vs. 5? I'm interested in how many people it comfortably fits with gear, etc.
Thanks for the input!Dec 29, 2010 at 9:19 am #1678659
@busguyLocale: Coast Mountains
Not sure if this is more than you where looking for in terms of shelter but this is the one we'll likely be picking up for our family of four this Spring . . .Dec 29, 2010 at 9:36 am #1678667
@umnakLocale: Southeast Alaska
On the issue of 5 people for 90 sq feet…
My wife and I use our 9×9 Oware Pyramid for winter and fall backpacking and kayaking. It is spacious for 2 and will hold three friends and their backpacks. The Oware pyramids are a little taller than the Go-Lites, which really adds to the functional use of the tarp.Dec 29, 2010 at 10:42 am #1678689
Thanks Todd and Joseph. The freestanding Sierra Designs looks easier to set up than a pyramid, but at 9lbs. it may be limited to car camping. It does look pretty bombproof, though, and I’m sure my wife would love that aspect. I like the Oware, but want a floor. Speaking of which, does anyone know if you need to purchase the floor separately with the Shangri-La if you buy the nest (I would assume that the nest includes a floor)? The single-wall style tents with extra component pieces are new to me.Dec 29, 2010 at 10:51 am #1678691
the inner tents typically come w/ a bathtub floor- no need for anything additionalDec 29, 2010 at 11:11 am #1678699
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I have used the 3 & 5. The three can fit three people + gear provide the center pole is angled (2 people on side, 1 person on the other side). It's best if one of the people is shorter than say 5'5", because the sloping walls limit headroom for the person closest to the edge.
The 5 person is huge. I have never not be able to set it up, but there have been times we had to hunt for a space that would work. I like using it with four full size adults + gear. A 5th person could have gone in, but we would need to climb around them to exit and enter. so less than ideal.
–MarkDec 29, 2010 at 11:19 am #1678705
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
For a family pyramid, we used to use a Mountain Hardwear Kiva with up to 4 adults, or 2 adults + 3 children, but switched to a 10' x 10' Oware 'Mid. to save weight.
For more than 3 people, I would recommend going with a 10' x 10' Oware 'Mid. It is an amazing amount of space for the $ and oz. Mine is 26.5 oz. – only 2.5 oz. more for an extra almost 20 square feet.Dec 29, 2010 at 11:59 am #1678715
Here is my video of the Hogback.
Pretty fast to set up, fully bug proof not much bigger footprint than most double tents .
2 small covered vestibules, just enogh for a pack (or two…) each.
No poles in the middle….
For windy areas you can add a center pole and can also get two crossing poles for a bugnet only set up, however you can also do what I did in the video with the "partial" bugnet mode.
firstname.lastname@example.orgDec 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm #1678720
I have the Hogback and the SL3 (and a Scarp 2). I have the SL3 floor without the nest. I sewed a 17" netting skirt to the SL3, and it connects to the floor with velcro. It works, but it's a bit awkward at the door opening, and almost as much weight as a nest. The SL3 will work for three people if you offset the pole or tie to an overhead branch. I'd probably go with a SL5 or Hogback if there's any chance of more kids in the future. With the nest, I think the SL5 is more of a 4 person tent because some of the space becomes a vestibule.
The Hogback has more space near the tent end walls due to the design. It's about 4.5 lbs seam sealed, ground side of floor coated with additional silicone, and additional guylines. I think the SL5 is around 5.75-6 pounds with nest. I find that weight isn't as significant on family trips though because they tend to be shorter.
BTW, I have a Hogback I'm considering selling. :) We have a family of 6, and would prefer to all sleep in one tent. The Hogback sleeps 4 comfortably.Dec 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm #1678723
I have one, its very spacious for 3 person, would be a tight fit for four full size adults, but I've done me, the g/f and one of the female housemates and a 60lb dog comfortably. I'm 5'9", the two girls are ~5'5" and 5'1".
One nice feature is the "pawprint" which is basically a carpet for the floor, it lets the dogs(or kids) drag in dirt and stuff with easy cleanup, just grab the corners and pull the paw print out of the tent with all the debris.
I saw it on sale, perhaps it was campsaver.com?Dec 29, 2010 at 8:52 pm #1678867
@davidadairLocale: West Dakota
Here is a big 9' x 14' Coleman Stockton Family Tent that a friend of mine uses one when car camping. Quality and, more importantly, the design is surprisingly good. Set up is easy and it has plenty of guy-outs and is plenty stable. Set your chairs up inside if buggy or wet. For car camping with kids this is a great choice. Consider one of their cushy queen size air-beds too. A real bargain at $99 at Wal-mart.Dec 30, 2010 at 6:46 am #1678925
@vesteroidLocale: Eastern Sierras
My thoughts run along a different line on this.
I would think that what you need now vs what you need in 4-5 years may be completely different.
As your daughter takes up very little space now and will for the next few years, I think you should look for a lighter packable 3 person tent and then decided in 6 years or so if you really want a large family tent with room to move around or if you want to go with two tents like my family does.
I think you also might want to look at tarptents 3 person, (I think its called the rainshadow…but look it up, not sure on the name)
the other ones mentioned here are good also. We seriously considered the super mid and the sl3.Dec 30, 2010 at 9:19 am #1678959
@areichowLocale: Northern Minnesota
I just got an SL5 in the 40% off sale. I have a Hex 3 to compare it with, which I am planning on selling soon. I've never used the SL3, but IIRC the Hex 3 and SL3 are nearly identical, save lighter fabric- the SL3 floor fits fine with the Hex 3's tarp.
I've only set the SL5 up in the back yard in the snow and inside the house (tape on the floor in lieu of stakes!). I'm floored by how much usable space it has- four adults plus a lot of gear space. We don't have the Nest, though I'm thinking about getting it for car camping- at 40% off, it seems like a no brainer.
The new MLD Circus Tent looks pretty awesome, too- though a bit big for us.Dec 30, 2010 at 9:57 am #1678966
The SL5 nest is out of stock. I wanted to order one also, so I e-mailed GoLite about 3 weeks ago and they do not expect to be restocked until mid-late January.
Also remember that all the 2010 Shangri-la tents now have guylines mid-way up the side walls. Guying these out not only improves wind resistance and reduces flapping in the wind, but increases the interior space. I have the SL3 and and a 9×9 Oware pyramid also. I like them all, but I have grown to prefer having the floor. The SL tents are great because you can bring exactly what you want / need. GoLite has, IMHO, gotten it right in the Shangr-la series.Dec 30, 2010 at 10:39 am #1678973
Thanks for all the great feedback and advice. I'm going to go through and compare each of these according to our need, and I may follow up with some of you who have posted offers for used gear. Mark, you make a good point, and have made me think that a three-person tent might serve us better now. I'm now leaning toward the SL3 as I could also use that size for solo trips. Thanks again and happy new year to everyone!Dec 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm #1678997
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
@Dan – a 3 person could work well for you. We did this while the wee ones were toddlers and found that ~2 children = 1 adult for space, as long as they can sleep feet to feet. If you have a sleeping bag that can open on both ends, they can also share a single bag this way.Dec 30, 2010 at 12:18 pm #1679001
Aaron, I've been looking at quilts with the thought that it could be shared (though a center pole in a pyramid tent complicates matters). Wondering what other sleeping set-ups people have used with a young child… a sleeping bag that opens at both ends is a creative solution for two kids!Dec 30, 2010 at 6:20 pm #1679114
@mammomanLocale: NE AL
I'm living this- I have 4 kids aged 4-14. We found it best to get a 3 man tent first, and as we added kids (and as everyone grew) we added a 2nd 3-man tent. We currently hit the trails with a Big Agnes Emerald Mtn. SL3 and an REI Quarterdome T3. Both work great for one adult and two children.
If we had stopped at 2 kids, we'd now own a Hogback :)May 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm #1874061
Hope it's alright to resurrect an old thread.
I'm scoping the SL5 for my own growing family. Go Lite's new marketing scheme has again made it attractive for a family budget. One potential deal buster would be venting – spring/summer/fall camping in the Midwest/Midsouth can be most unpleasant in muggy, warm weather. Catching a breeze is a huge boost to troop morale.
Anybody have experience with how the Shangri La 5 breathes in steamy climes?May 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm #1874080
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Since this old thread, BPL issued a comprehensive State of the Market Report on family backpacking tents, dating from about 6 months ago:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/family_tents_sotm_2011.htmlMay 4, 2012 at 7:04 am #1874301
Based on experience with car camping over a number of years and with many people involved, I'd like to suggest you consider that you'll continue to car camp after you get to backpacking, and that you may be best served by having two rigs: the car and the carry.
The best suggestion I've seen above is actually the big, super-affordable Walmart tent. No, it's not ultralight. No, you don't want to carry it in a backpack. However, it's very affordable, very well suited for car camping with a family and absolutely perfect to use for car camping where you want and deserve space, to be able to sit up and to camp in the manner appropriate to such campgrounds. There are other options out there with "front screen rooms" — excellent! A place to sit in the shade away from bugs, a place to take your shoes on and off, a place for Fido to sleep… Spend $70 and you'll resolve your car camp needs for several years.
Then, you can buy a backpacking tent that's way lighter, purpose built for those trips and that you don't thrash on the car camping weekends. Yes, it will be smaller, harder to get in and out of and unecessary overkill in the car-camps.
Our car-camp tents have been a big Eureka "6 man" (ha ha ha ha, NO) with a screened front room, a Big Agnes Big House 4 and an old mountaineering tent. The big Eureka is the old, steel pole style that makes the Walmart giant domes look so much better and is only a loaner, but I can stand in it and the screened front room is outstanding. The Big Agnes is 11lb, but can be set up by one person, people under 6' tall can stand in it, it's bomber in storms and we added an extra vestibule I can stash bikes and a chair, stove and coffee pot in… With these tents, being able to get in and out without having to crawl as we do with our 2 and 4 person BACKPACKING tents, is huge. Having room for kids and gear is huge. Not worrying about a few extra pounds in exchange for simple comfort is huge. So are the tents. Hey, it's car camping.
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