CAMPING PRODUCT REVIEWS

TENTS, AWNINGS AND SHELTERS

 

Camping Product Reviews - Tents and Shelters

 

 

 

 

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TENTS AND SHELTERS

 

 

Price: $169-229 look out for specials
From: Aldi
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Generally happy with it so far.

 

This is possibly the easiest tent to put up we have ever found. It literally takes longer to get it out of the bag than to set it up.

We think it is great for short trips or trips that are a series of one night stops.

It probably won't last as long as something more solidly constructed so if you are camping regularly then a swag may be a better option.

It is surprisingly easy to pack away and it is light and stores easily. It would be best to keep it away from sharp objects.

We believe the 2 person version is really only suitable for 1 person and the 4 person tent is best for just 2.

See the video review above for more information.

 

Aldi 4x4 annexe
Aldi 4x4 annexe

 

Price: $199 but look out for specials
From: Aldi
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Generally happy with it.

 

We bought this to go with the Aldi Awning (see below) and although we haven't used it much yet, so far we are very happy with the build quality and design.

I would like to have seen a couple of internal pockets, a place to hang a light and a proper entry point for a power cable but apart from that, it seems like a good short term annexe.

We intend to use it just for overnight stops when we are moving from place to plavce and don't want to set up the camper trailer.

Setup is fairly simple and quick and the large windows and door give good ventilation.

In practice there is only room for 2 people to sleep and if you want to use it during the day, then you would need to pack up any bedding in order to have enough room.

 

Cabin Tent
Boab Cabin Lite 108 tent

 

Price: $300-600
From: Camping stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: **
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: *
Product quality: ***
Our recommendation: Not good in wet weather.

 

Although we now travel in our Toyota Coaster Motorhome, there may be times when we are camped and we want some extra room or we may even go away for a couple of days just using the 4x4 and a small trailer.

To give us extra options we bought a cabin tent (our favourite style of tent) from Ray's Outdoors when the chain in W.A. was closing down. This halved the price of the tent and to be honest, $600 for this tent would not have been worth while.

We have used this style of tent a great deal in the past and we like them because they are simple to put up and there is heaps of room inside.

The older models were made with heavier material and much heavier support frames so this one, while still not light, is about half the weight of the older models.

All screens on the tent are micro-mesh and there are built in pockets to allow you to store light items.

As we have only used this tent once so far (just to test it) there isn't much was can say about product quality or durability. that will come as we use it more over time.

The new model has a much more supportive frame for the front awning and this should add to general stability in strong winds.

There are windows in each wall of the tent allowing for great air-flow and the door has both a solid and micro-mesh option that can allow even more air to flow through.

We have now used this tent a bit more and in some pretty bad weather. The conclusion is that this is a DRY WEATHER ONLY tent.

The rear windows are badly designed and the small piece of velcro holding the top (see pictures below) detaches in even a moderate breeze and the material covering the window flaps all night. Not a problem in dry weather as you can roll it down but in wet weather it is a nightmare.

The side windows do not roll down far enough and as a result they flick open and let rain in. This is a very bad design feature and makes this tent useless in wet weather.

 

Useless piece of velcro holding up the rear windows
Useless piece of velcro holding up the rear windows.
Side window covers are too short
Side window covers are too short and let rain in.

 

4x4 awning
Aldi 4x4 Awning

 

Price: $169
From: Aldi
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: We like this product.

 

We have been looking for an awning for the 4x4 for a long time but for some reason we just never got round to buying one.

This particular model has metal parts that are mostly made of aluminium (or alloy) and the awning material is rip-stop canvas.

The support poles are all a twist lock style and all fold away into the awning body. There are two upright supports and two horizontal supports so that the roof does not flap. There are also velcro straps that further reduce flapping in stronger wind.

It was necessary to drill 4 holes into the side supports of our roof rack but some different racks will allow installation without any drilling.

The awning comes with all the bolts, nuts and washers you need and a couple of 'L' brackets that are needed for some types of rack.

It was easy to install and only takes a couple of minutes to set-up and pack away. So far we are happy with the awning but it only comes with a 1 year warranty so it will be interesting to see how long it lasts in the hot Australian sun.

There is a zip up cover to protect the inner canvas and everything is easy to roll up and fold away.

 

Kamp Rite Tent Cot - Double
Kamp Rite Tent Cot - Double

 

Price: $436
From: Camping stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: **
Value for money: **
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Much too uncomfortable for me.

 

We didn't set out to buy this product but it came with a trailer we purchased.

Looking at prices on the net it sells for about $440.

It was very easy to set up - even without instructions and for some people it is a great alternative to a ground based swag.

It has micro-mesh, a few internal pockets, a top tie inside to hang a small light and one person can set the whole thing up in under 10 minutes. The whole thing folds up into a 'luggable' package but you will still need a bit of storage space in order to carry it with you. It is rated at 230 kilos support and the product itself weighs 23kg.

There is also a rain cover for use when the weather turns nasty. Watch this space for more info as we start to use this product.

I suspect most fit younger people are going to get a good night's sleep in this BUT I am neither fit, nor young. For me it was a pure nightmare. I have shoulder, back and hip problems and the two nights I spent in this during a camping trip were just a series tosses and turns as I tried to get into a position where I could sleep. I even had a self-inflating good quality mattress as extra padding but it was to no avail.

I love the concept of these tent-cots but personally I just could not sleep in it. I sold it the day after I got home.

 

Roll out awning A&E by Dometic
Roll out awning A and E by Dometic

 

Price: $1700 approx
From: Caravan dealers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: *
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: *
Product quality: *
Our recommendation: Avoid this brand like the PLAGUE!

 

Our van originally had an A and E awning on it and we were very impressed by the solid construction and long lasting nature of the various components. When it came time to put a new awning on the van we naturally selected another A and E. This was a horrible mistake!

The new model looks pretty as it is coated in white paint, unlike the old version that was plain aluminium. Sadly the new version is utter rubbish. Cheap plastic parts have replaced long wearing metal. The whole thing rattles and clanks in even a medium wind and after just over two years it was already falling to bits.

Following is a list of problems we have had with this awning:

1. Support arm clips (now plastic) regularly fall apart.
2. The material ripping at the edges.
3. One of the plastic friction adjusters on the arms has fallen off.
4. Support arms can come out of the rail they slide along.
5. One of the slide out arms jams.
6. It is impossible to stop the metal arms rattling in medium to strong winds.
7. The flip lever that reverses direction when pulling out or putting away, is sticking.

We sold the van before we had to replace this awful excuse for an awning but if we ever need another one it won't be an A and E brand.

 

OZ Trail Touring 2 Man Tent
OZ Trail Touring 2 Man Tent

 

Price: $110-299
From: Kmart / Woolworths / Caravan parts suppliers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Highly recommended

 

We wanted a tent that was big enough to be comfortable overnight but was also very easy and quick to erect. We found a real beauty by OzTent but at around $1000 (ARGH!!!!) we decided to look for something a little less shocking price wise. How can anyone justify charging $1000 for a tent!!

We opted in the end for an OzTrail touring tent. It can be errected in 5 minutes from start to finish to get the basic setup done. It will take longer if you want to add guy lines and more tent pegs, but in most overnight situations you will only need a basic setup.

There is only one pole that needs to be used (you can put the front awning out if you want to and that uses two more poles). Without the awning out there are no guy lines around to trip you up at night but lines are provided if you are in a windy spot and want to make the tent more secure.

There is room in the tent for two folding beds and there are some nice little design improvements like a place to put an electrical cable through and somewhere to hang up a light. The screens in tents finally have moved away from the old fly wire and now use micro-mesh that keeps out midges and sand flies HOORAY!

There is both a front and a back door which makes a nice breezeway and the side windows are low to the ground so you can maximise any wind available if the temperature starts to go up. Windows and doors are all zip down and that helps stop flapping in strong winds. Both awnings also zip down but I suspect that is a little difficult to do from the inside.

It is a good sturdy tent that has been well thought out and can be put up or taken down quickly.

The only odd thing we have noticed about this tent so far is the fact that there are two awnings but only poles for one'?

It is quite small and I would not like to use it for more then just overnight but it does what we wanted it to do.

Eventually after many years of use the floor gave way but we still managed to find a use for it. We started to use it as a large shower tent.

 

4 Man Dome Tent
4 Man Dome Tent

 

Price: $150-190
From: Kmart
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy

 

We don't go tenting much any more because we are getting older and want more comfort. This tent was bought to use mostly as a storage tent when we were camped in one place for a long time.

It was used for quite along time in this role when we were staying up north but since then we have only used it once for a camping trip to Augusta. During this trip it rained and to be honest we found the tent (for 3 of us) far too cramped. It has a double skin like most of these dome style tents so it did stay dry inside but to be comfortable during wet weather I would want a much bigger version than this.

For dry weather camping it would be fine and it does have some good design features like pockets to put things in, places to hang lights and a proper place to put an electrical cord through.

The one really good thing is the micro mesh which will keep out ALL unwanted insects, even midges and sand flies.

The windows and doors are quite versatile and they can be opened to catch any breeze. It is light and reasonably easy to set up and pack up. It has never been subjected to very strong winds so we can't comment on how well it will stand up but considering the number of guy lines that can be run out from the sides, it should handle strong winds pretty well.

Over time the elastic components have deteriorated but it is still in good enough condition to make use of and it is around 7 years old as I write this.

Because it is a double skin tent the inner section can easily be set up as a screen room so you can sit out and enjoy the outdoors without the flies and mozzies.

 

Stockman 8 Man Tent
Stockman 8 Man Tent

 

Price: $400-ish (way back when we bought it)
From: Kmart
RATINGS:
How useful is it: **
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Highly recommended

 

We occasionally have the need for a tent to camp in and we have had several over the years. This is by far the biggest, heaviest and strongest that we have bought. We have had two 4 man versions of this style and both lasted for many years. The advantage of this style of tent is that they WILL NOT blow down in a strong wind. Modern tents with flexible poles and guy lines everywhere are a huge pain in the bum.

The BIG disadvantage of this style of tent is that the are big and cumbersome to carry. Because there is a separate front area you can have a living space and a sleeping space and quite a large outdoor sitting area under the front shade. We have had this tent up in the worst winds that Bush Bay could throw at it. Every one was waiting for it to blow away BUT IT DIDN'T! If you want space and comfort with plenty of headroom and you also have room to pack one of these tents, then get one in preference to the new fangled floppy tents that fall over at the slightest hint of wind. If you don't have quite as much room then think about the 4 man version (which gives half the inside space) instead of dome tents that will fall to pieces in bad weather.

The Stockman is surprisingly easy to put up and only has 3 guy lines to trip you up at night.

A optional fly over the top of this tent is very useful in keeping the inside temperature down once the sun comes out.

 

 


OzTrail Screen Dome with Floor

 

Price: $140
From: Camping Stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy

 

The OzTrail dome shelter isn't the easiest shelter to set up and I would certainly reccommend having to people available to do the job.

It is nice and roomy and has micro mesh to keep all the small biting insects out.

The video above explains the features in more detail.

 

Pop Up Enclosure
Pop Up Enclosure

 

Price: $49
From:
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: **
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy

 

This is based on the pop-up style of toilet and shower tents but is much larger and has flycreen walls.

It was VERY useful as a quick way to have a fly and mozzy proof outdoor area BUT it could be a bit of a beast to pack up sometimes.

The metal bands seem to get mixed up about which way to pop out and as a result it can be a struggle to get it to stand up properly. It remained very useful but in the end it was stolen and we have been unable to find another one to replace it.

We do WANT another one of these. If anyone knows where we can get one please let us know.

 

 


Weisshorn Shower Tent

 

Price: $45
From: Online Camping stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending

 

We are about to start trying out this pole based shower tent. Most of the information about what we know to date is in the video above but as we have only done a test setup at home so far, there isn't a great deal to say about it just yet.

 

 

Price: $55-$110
From: Camping stores, Caravan parts suppliers etc.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ***
Our recommendation: Highly recommended

 

OzTrail - suffers from weak support bars
OzTrail - suffers from weak support bars
OzTrail shower tents have support bars that are too weak.

 

Pop-up camping gear is becoming more commonplace and these pop-up shower tents are very handy when you are travelling between various places and are only stopping overnight. They save the hassle of setting up a shower tent with poles and guy lines but they are quite susceptible to wind and need to be placed in a sheltered area. We definitely don't recommend using one of these without at least pegging the bottom down first - it could be quite embarrassing.

If they are used a lot they tend to last 1-2 years as the material they are made of gradually splits and even duct tape isn't enough to hold them to together in the end.

There are many types of these available but we usually get the ones with removable tops as it helps the tent to dry quickly and avoid getting moldy.

We now routinely buy a new version every 18 months or so to make sure we have one on hand when the old one falls to bits.

These have proven to be one of the most useful bits of camping equipment we have ever owned.

In very strong winds, this type of shower tent just seems to fold up on itself and have a little lie down until the wind stops and you just pop it back to the original shape again. We have found some people who have bought similar pop-up shower tents who cannot get them to fold up again once they have unfolded. We tried to help one couple at Cleaverville re-pack their tent but there was no way it wanted to do what it was supposed to. There seem to be some makes with very strong springy bars inside the fabric so be aware that this could happen. We can only suggest that you get the sales people to show you how it is done with the one you buy before you leave the shop.

We have started using the lock-together foam flooring in these tents and it has been excellent to use when showering.

There are versions that include metal poles for support but we have had nothing but trouble with those.

The OZ Trail version pictured above would be the best designed shower tent on the market if it wasn't for the weak side supports.

It is roomy enough to be comfortable and the only design fault is the ventilation openings on each side at the top. These CANNOT be closed off so in windy weather it makes showering cold and in wet weather the rain comes in.

Otherwise it is well designed with a zip window on the rear wall and plenty of places to hang things inside. The addition of a rope through the interior tie points makes an ideal place to hang clothes.

Sadly the material is too flimsy and the metal supports are much too weak. This tent lasted only a few weeks in windy weather before it collapsed and would not pop back up again. It was difficult to fold away because of the weak supports not keeping their shape 'memory' but with a bit better quality components this tent could be really good.

Look for tents that look like to top picture because from our experience they are by far the best.

Years later we stupidly bought another OzTrail pop-up shower tent thinking that the design might have improved. It hadn't and they are still crappy useless pieces of junk that fall over\ in even the slightest breeze.

We also tried and Aldi brand shower tents and that, if anything, was EVEN WORSE! This is a bit unusual for Aldi gear as we have many other products from them that are very good.

Our most recent shower tent is an Outdoor Equipped Bermuda pop-up and it is excellent. We liked it so much that we bought 2. They are around $80.

 

Another style we didn't like at all.
Another style we didn't like at all.

 

Another style we didn't like at all.
Noisy and inclined to rip.

 

 

 

 

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