The first weekend of May the Midwest Regional Burning Man event known as Interfuse 2013 was held here in Missouri giving me all the excuse I needed to go out and buy that new tent I've been wanting. While in my younger years I carried everything I needed for a campout, including my lightweight backpacking tent, on my back. Those days of me carrying everything into a campsite on my back are over unfortunately.
A two burner stove has replaced my backpacking stove. A full size chair has replaced my camping stool. And a queen size mattress has replaced my sleeping pad. It was only fitting that a new tent providing me more room be added to my gear.
What were my criteria by which I made my choice for this new tent? First, I wanted more room. I'm tired of laying on my back while trying to change pants like I had to do in the backpacking tent. I want to be able to stand up in the tent for a change. It would also be nice to have little room for my gear in the tent with me.
The second criteria was one-person set up. Even though I was going to be taking a bigger tent, most of the time it was still going to just be me going so even with my bad arm and leg I still needed to be able to set it up and take it down all by myself.
The third criteria was that I wanted a screened area in front where I could take off my wet rain gear and boots without having to take them into the tent.
The fourth criteria was that it needed to be a name brand. I wanted something that I could count on the company that made it to stand behind.
Finally, the fifth criteria was that it needed to cost less than two hundred dollars. I didn't want this new tent to break the bank.
I began my research both online and in person and finally choose the Coleman 8 Person Screened Bristol Tent. The tent is sixteen feet wide and seven foot deep with six foot two inch standing room. Part of the rainfly provides a screened porch that covers the doorway. The tent includes an electrical port, two accessory bags inside the tent, and a light tie on the roof from which to hang your lamp. The advertisements for the tent suggest that three queen size mattresses can be laid on the floor inside. It also claims to sleep eight adults.
First, forget their claims. The only way eight people are going to fit in that tent are if they are small adults and they are packed in like sardines. And three queen mattresses might fit in it but, as with eight adults, you won't have anywhere to walk. Also, everywhere those mattresses touch the sides of the tent, if it rains, it's going to leak so the inside of the tent is going to get wet. I would be willing to use this tent with two adults and two children, two queen mattresses, with no problem. As for my first criteria, it fills my needs.
Most of the time it's just me in the tent so I put my queen mattress with the head of the mattress toward one side or the other and the foot of the mattress near the door in the middle. This prevented any part of the mattress from touching the tent walls and therefore no leaks what-so-ever. On the other side of the tent is a chair or two along with my clothes bag. I hang my electric lamp from the top of the tent and am quite comfortable.
My second criteria was it being able to be set up by me by myself. Just to make sure I set it up in my yard before the campout where I could make sure all the parts were there and could follow the instructions carefully. Even taking my time and reading the instructions carefully (which are conveniently attached to the inside of carry case for the tent), it only took me between thirty and forty-five minutes by myself to get it set up. At the camp site, in the rain, I was able to do it in twenty to thirty minutes. Take down was just as easy and just as quick. One important thing, the tent and all that goes with it went back into the carry case with no problems.
The third criteria was the screened porch area. I set a chair out there and was able to take off my rain gear and muddy boots outside of the living quarters of the tent which remained dry. The screen area has no floor but I put down a tarp that helped keep things drier inside that they might have otherwise.
The fourth criteria was name brand. Coleman is a name brand that my dad used when he took me camping in the 1960's. I feel very comfortable that should I need to contact Coleman about the tent during the time of the limited support that they will stand behind their product.
Finally, the tent didn't cost me an arm and a leg. I picked it up at Target for right at $180.
So if you are looking for a tent and have similar criteria to mine, I whole heartedly recommend the Coleman 8 Person Screened Bristol Tent. I'll be posting about Interfuse 2013 soon so until then, may the miles float gently below your feet as you continue life's journey.