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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.
Posts: 168
Default Tents for family (car) camping

As I get my family involved more in (car) camping, I'm realizing that decent large tents are still very pricey, and very hard to find.

Last night I tested out a Woods tent in the backyard. In theory it looked decent, the roof was nice and sloped, and it had a great awning at the front including a rain gutter in the design. The side walls weren't quite covered by the fly but overall it looked like it should have been waterproof.

Unfortunately what looked like a decent design (if made of rigid material) utterly failed due to the stretch in the fabric. A little bit of water on roof and awning made enough of a bulge in 3 places that more gathered, and the fabric stretched instead of letting it run off, so that soon I had about 50+L of water sitting on my tent. There were also a few puddles inside in the morning, but that was a few too many. As an owner of tarptents I know the importance of tension when setting up a tent, and it wasn't sloppy pitching that allowed this to happen.

I knew big box store tents sucked, but until now didn't fully realize how badly. Mine is now labelled a TSO - Tent Shaped Object, because as a tent with west coast rain it fails horribly. Luckily I didn't spend money on it, getting it from relatives who trailer camp now, and it'll still be quite usable with a decent tarp and some trees.

Are there any large tent designs that actually work well in the rain, without having to spend a ton of money?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 06:02 PM
Off the Beaten Path
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: ALBANY, OR, USA.
Posts: 801

How much is "a ton of money"? That would help in providing useful responses/suggestions. Cheers.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 06:34 PM
Off the Beaten Path
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada.
Interest: Rock and Ice Climbing, mountaineering, AT skiing, xc skiing, backpacking, hiking...
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A 3, 4, 5 person tent? How many people? What is your budget? There a many websites that offer great info on tents and prices just google......
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 07:02 PM
High on the Mountain Top
Join Date: May 2009
Location: , , Canada.
Posts: 1,193

For a family who don't have to pack it far in, there is a lot of advantage to a big tarp well slung. Far beyond just sleeping dry. The tent you have will work great, just add one big or two medium tarps, rope and ingenuity and you will get home slightly damp and cheerful from a monsoon trip.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.
Posts: 168

With car camping weight doesn't matter, and a spacious tent is worth it. Being able to set up a table inside for games is nice, and queen sized air mattresses are a must. My tent right now is somewhere around 9x18 ft, and yes, a large tarp will definitely make it usable in heavy rains.

I was looking at the big tents in big box stores throughout the summer and didn't see a single tent that I'd trust to keep me dry in some serious rain. So while I may not be spending any money right away, I'm more curious if there even is a tent for someone who wants to start car camping and needs spacious reliable shelter.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 10-31-2015, 09:02 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Interest: Hiking, Backpacking, Skiing, Space History
Posts: 723

Unfortunately consistency comes with a price. There are several decent, family sized low cost tents out there, however there are also lots of crap and it can be hard to tell the difference until you're out camping in a thunderstorm. For family car camping we use a modular Woods tent that's 8 years old and cost us $199 at Canadian Tire. It's served us well, kept us dry and will likely last us another 10 years. One place I'd suggest is Army and Navy, the one here in Calgary has a fairly decent selection of low cost family tents on display. Some models I wouldn't want to be caught dead in during a rainstorm, but others seem pretty decent. They aren't Big Agnes by any stretch, but they don't come with the same price tag either. Just check the return policy
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 01:03 AM
Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Posts: 181

are you ok shopping in the US? Cabela's has a huge selection


maybe wait until the one in abbotsford opens next year, or try nanaimo
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 01:13 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Posts: 1,789

Marmot Limestone 6P. Going on 5 years now. Its not huge but it has done the trick, even when we had a crib and a mini pop up tent nside it along with our two sleeping pads. This past summer saw a deluge of epic proportions. Literally a rivee running under the tent and aside from some minor ingresses (put a tent on a lake and eventually waterwill seep through) it was pretty darn good. I finally just resealed and sprayed it this summer.

My hiking career: a selfish pursuit or a pursuit of self?
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