Sounds like an oxymoron right?
The Marl family are going on a car camping trip soon. What's a guy to do with a two year old and a nine-month (notice my lack of blog posts lately?) old, the wife and a two-man tarptent?
Clearly a bigger shelter is in order
There are a bunch of option out there for mega-tents. REI has somewhat cheap (couple of nights in a hotel), beastly large tents line the Hobitat 4 or Hobitat 6.
The Hobitat is a monster-tent alright, with plenty of head-room for standing, which at first blush given out situation this seems useful. The little guy is still an infant – and too young to roll about on a matt on the floor, so he'll need to sleep in a pack-and-play or something, having a little space to walk around to rock him to sleep sounds tempting.
Then I look at the specs – a jaw-dropping 17 pounds for this tent. At this point I just can't bring myself to do it. Something in my core is so against buying a tent dedicated to car camping I'm not sure I do it enough to justify the extra clutter in our house – even packed up – it's huge: 10 x 10 x 27!
Some point in my future, I'm having fantasies that the boys will be old enough we can start backpacking again as a family and sure as chips I'm not going to lug a 17 pounder up any trail.
After some discussion Theresa and I decide a family backpacking tent is the right option – sure we'll be a little cramped when car-camping, and little baby Jack will be sleeping in a cardboard box, but hey – that just makes it more fun right?
After poking around a little, I stumbled on the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL4. On sale at backcountrygear.com for $400.
It arrived yesterday and I set it up in the garden. I'm really impressed I haven't been that tuned in to Big Agnes as a brand, but they have a very solid product.
- It's unbelievably light at just over 4 lbs.
- It's a double-wall traditional tent!!! With little kids, I'm willing to take the (marginal) weight hit for this benefit not having to worry about them whacking the sides and getting wet or causing condensation to fall on everyone. I love my tarp tent, but it takes a gentle touch
- The tent-pole system is awesome, they all snap-together.
- Comes with very light high-quality titanium pegs.
- Build-quality and fabric seems very high.
- Size-wise it's pretty darn tight for four. You have to sleep tops-and-tails and there's no room for gear other than in the vestibule, but at this weight it's at solid trade-off. Bring a black trash bag and store your stuff outside.
I'll report back after a little trail (or car camp) testing