With a desire to stay comfortable & somewhat connected, we purchased a bit of new gear for our long 2018 road trip. Our goal was to invest in quality products that we can use for years to come, although it’s worth noting that we didn’t blow the budget on high-end gear. We didn’t receive any of this stuff for free, nor are we getting paid to promote the product reviewed below. These are our objective opinions on our purchases, not true technical reviews. Of course, we would be open to objectively reviewing any gear that is sent our way in the future *wink wink*.
For our first gear review, it just makes sense to start with shelter, yes?
Our plan to spend several months living in a tent necessitated upsizing from our usual two-person backpacking tent. We chose a veritable nylon mansion in comparison. Designed as a four-person tent, REI Co-op’s Grand Hut 4 tent is super spacious and its near-vertical walls allow one plenty of headroom to stand up inside to change clothes.
Because there are only two of us, we had plenty of room in the tent for bags of clothing or to bring in camp chairs when we wanted to get out of the rain but not be reclining or sitting on the ground. Two large doors make for easy entry from either side, and two large vestibules provide extra gear storage.
Assembly is easy with two people, but is a little tricky solo. If you’d like to see some good tent-pitching photos, I recommend checking out the The Roarbots review of the Grand Hut 6 (the larger version of this tent).
The Grand Hut 4 footprint (sold separately) kept us bone-dry. This tent features several loops for hanging lanterns or gear line, and corner pockets for stashing small stuff such as books and keys.
On dry, warm, clear nights it was nice to leave the rain fly off and stare up at the stars through the mesh top.
It’s important to note that the Grand Hut’s high profile does not make it ideal for very windy conditions, and it’s imperative that this tent is guyed out properly. You will need to purchase some extra line and a few more tent stakes for guy-ing the rainfly because the tent doesn’t come with quite enough of either, a silly oversight by REI considering the price point and quality of this tent. And yeah, I realize our tent isn’t guyed out in a couple of my pictures, but that’s because we had good wind blocks in those particular sites.
Even fully guyed out, 20+ mph wind may still may be an issue. A mighty wind kicked up overnight while we were camping at Alabama Hills, and our rain fly tore, resulting in lost integrity and bent tent poles. Sad face.
True to the REI reputation for great customer service, the San Diego store replaced our tent. We really love the Grand Hut, but now choose to pitch our lower-profile backpacking tent in windy or unprotected areas.
The zippers on our first tent got a little hung up sometimes where the mesh meets the nylon, however the second tent’s zippers open smoothly and easily, so I think that’s something that REI addressed on this model. At $299, the price is right for this tent when you put it up against comparable tents from other reputable outdoor brands.
After almost two months of sleeping inside, with holidays and several weeks of illness now (hopefully) behind us, we are psyched to be headed to Florida next week and back into the warm embrace of our big orange poly hut.