Q:

Which tent is perfect for beach camping?

I’m an avid hiker, and now I’m expanding my horizons to the water via a kayak. I’m thinking about getting a new tent for these trips. Which tent works well on the beach? Andy Baltimore, Maryland

Apr 16, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Mountain Hardwear Casa 4

Casa 4 Tent

A:

It depends. Are we talking about a tent for use on a warm sandy beach in Baja, or something for more serious conditions when kayaking in, say, Alaska’s Prince William Sound?

If the former, then definitely something big and airy. Kelty’s Screenhouse 10 ($200; kelty.com) offers protection from bugs and sun but lets in plenty of warm breezes. It’s roomy—six feet, four inches tall at its peak—and has drop-down interior panels that you can position if you want some privacy for changing into swim gear. It doesn’t have a floor, so you’d probably want to get some cots if you plan to sleep in it.

For a little more shelter, I like REI’s Hobitat 6 tent ($339; rei.com), new last year. As the name suggests, it can sleep six pretty comfortably. It’s a tall tent—again, six feet, four inches—but fairly sturdy thanks to its aluminum frame. It offers good ventilation and protection from the rain. It could use a bit more of a front porch/vestibule, and the four poles are enormously long when unfurled for set-up. But it’s a well-made and good-looking tent. It’s great for the beach or other family-camping situations.

For somewhat more severe conditions, choices range from lower-profile family style tents to more traditional backpacking models. A good choice for sea kayaking, for instance, would be Mountain Hardwear’s Casa 4 ($320; mountainhardwear.com). It’s a big four-person tent, but one that can be staked out and could ride through a pretty severe storm. And at around ten pounds, it’s manageable for stowing into a boat. Or, if you really expect some stormy weather, Kelty’s Pagosa 4 ($260) sleeps four but has a turtle-like profile to shed rain, plus a full-coverage fly. But it also has good ventilation for warmer nights.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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