What are your suggestions for the best five- to six-person family tent? My husband’s six-foot-three, so a tent with some height all the way around is preferable. Also, are budget tents at so-called “big-box stores” ever worth considering? Angie Auburn, Alabama
Eureka! Blue Mesa 1610
Blue Mesa 1610
The Eureka Headquarters ($349; www.eurekatent.com) is a two-room, six-person tent with the advantage of exceptional head roomits six feet, 11 inches at the peak, and nearly as tall at the perimeter.
REI has also leaped into the family tent fray with the Hobitat 6 ($329; www.rei.com). As the name implies, it can fit six (it also comes in a four-person version). Its also a very rugged tent, with aluminum pools and tough fabrics. One nice feature: The poles are curved sharply along the perimeter of the roof, so the walls stay vertical nearly all the way up to the tents six-foot, six-inch peak.
You can spend less, of course. Wenzel and Kelty are two brands that hit a lower price than Eureka! and REI while still offering decent quality (you will find these tents at the big-box stores). Wenzels Castle Rock Family Tent ($118; www.wenzelstore.com) sleeps six and has an area of 119 square feet. What do you miss with such a tent? The fiberglass poles are heavier and less rugged than aluminum, while its polyethylene floor will take less abuse than the heavy polyester in a tent such as the Hobitat. Youll get decent use out of it (and it does have a ten-year warranty), but if you really intend to camp a lot, youll be well off spending a little more.
The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest tent.