With four sides of no-see-um mesh and a low, 1-foot skirt wall, the Kelty Grand Mesa 4 was the favorite tent at our Arizona-desert test location. Not only could we watch the night sky for miles, but the Kelty’s low walls also allowed the desert winds to blow right through the tent. Instead of trying to fight those breezes, this tent seemed to absorb them, sheltering and keeping us cool without collapsing like a sail. When we tested during 100-degree Fahrenheit nights, free airflow was a definite benefit—but you’d probably want to put up the rain fly if temperatures began to drop.
The boxlike Copper Canyon LX 6 is easy to set up, and one person can erect it in 15 minutes or less. Working together, two people familiar with the tent can set it up in about five minutes. Our testers found this tent to be among the most intuitive to set up and take down of all the tents we slept in. The 7-foot center height, near-vertical walls, and 10-by-10-foot footprint put the Copper Canyon among the roomiest of the tents we tested. The all-mesh roof provides ample ventilation and is ideal for stargazing: One dad accustomed to solid tent roofs said the view from his bag during the first night in Joshua Tree brought tears to his eyes.
The geodesic structure used in the Base Camp tents is built to withstand wind and rain. It has two main cross supports that thread through sleeves, stretching between the four corners of the tent. Generally, we like the clip-on design better, since it’s easier to put together. But in the case of the Base Camp models, the sleeves add extra tension and stability throughout the tent fabric. There are also two poles that cross over each doorway and down the sides of the tent, to add extra shape and support. The rain fly has an additional tent pole, too, to support the vestibule. Overall, these poles contribute to a particularly sturdy structure, with or without the rain fly. During our testing, our Base Camp shrugged off both a rainstorm and a desert windstorm as if they were nothing.
A cheap tent for backyard “camping”
Car campers who plan to brave miserable weather or who live in an area where it’s not unusual will appreciate the extra strength and protection of the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent. Although our other picks rely on two poles for their support, the Base Camp has four aluminum struts weaved throughout it, somewhat like a basket. The Base Camp also offers the most privacy compared with the other tents we tested—with or without the rain fly. Our other favorite features are the tent’s two wide doors, which you can open halfway from either direction or fully open (you can tuck the doors into “roof pockets” to keep them out of the way), turning the tent into a useful beach tent or sun shade. Overall, this tent was the sturdiest, most reliable shelter we tested, regardless of the situation, making it well worth its higher price.
We tested the smaller tents and the larger, family-size tents in two separate groups. To evaluate the small tents in real-world situations, we took them first to Greggs Hideout, on the Arizona side of Lake Mead. During our tests in this area, temperatures reached upwards of 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and at night, as the sands cooled, whipping windstorms kicked up around us. It got so hot one afternoon that we spent the day taking shifts in the car, cooling our photography equipment while monitoring ourselves for signs of heatstroke and dehydration. If tents can withstand those conditions, they’ll withstand just about anything.
The Copper Canyon also comes in four-person, eight-person, and 12-person versions.
We found that company representatives are reluctant to estimate the lifespan of their tents. When pushed, most of those we talked to estimated five to 10 years, though the actual lifespan will vary widely depending on care and frequency of use (for more advice, read REI’s excellent tips). In researching this guide, we heard multiple tales of careful campers who’d been using the same tent for 15 years or more.
8.62 to 11.51 kmpl
1. Excellent 2. Punchy diesel engine with adequate power 3. Looks like a beast drives like a beat 4. Servicing yet to be done 5. Boot space could have been better and front. camera.
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