Need help!

12:58 p.m. on March 4, 2004 (EST)

I need a cabin (family) tent that's rugged enough to last many camping trips. I've compared Cabela's, Eureka, Paha Que, Coleman, and Wenzel. My final two choices are Cabela's Backwoods Three-Room Cabin and Coleman's Weathermaster.
What is the best family tent?
Any ideas/suggestions/pointers will be greatly appreciated.

5:38 p.m. on March 4, 2004 (EST)
28 reviewer rep
1,254 forum posts
IMHO, family tents are all pretty much the same

They are all probably made in the same sewing room in China.

Pick the one that best meets your budget and has all the features you want. You might even try shopping around to see who lets you see how easy the tent is to set up before buying...that rules out Kmart, Target or Walmart.

Make sure to seam seal the thing before you take it out for a weekend. You and your family will be glad you did!

8:06 p.m. on March 4, 2004 (EST)
4,220 reviewer rep
5,895 forum posts
My choice

If I were into cabin-style family tents (and I am not, but observe other folks when I stay in a USFS or NPS campground would be first choice Eureka, second (by a fair distance) Cabela, and third (by a much greter distance) Coleman. People seem to have a lot of difficulty setting up Wenzel and Paha Que, not quite as much problem with Coleman. It looks like the poles are what give the problems. But cabin tents in general seem to be way harder to set up than my more usual mountaineering and backpacking tents. Yes, I understand, you need a family-sized tent, and something not too outrageous in price, while being durable. The closest I come to that in my collection of tents are my Eureka Wind River (had it for 15 years or so, in excellent shape, pretty easy to set up for a 4-person, but it isn't a cabin style multiroom) and my Volkswagen Kampwagen tent (came with out 1970 Kampwagen, attaches to the side of VW vans and campers up to the Eurovans, still in usable shape, but it is only one room - the camper formed the other room, with kitchen, sink, queen-sized bed and small cot-like stretcher in the pop-up roof). Hey, if anyone wants a genuine VW tent, I will sell it cheap (plus shipping). Gotta cut down on all the gear I have in the closets and garage.

Pointers - Take a good look at how you set the tent up. If at all possible, try to get to set it up by yourself, without the salesperson's help and hints. A lot of the cabin-style tents have poles that fit together loosely, so that they fall apart on one side while you are working on the other side, unless you have two or three other people helping you. Also look closely at how the tent can be guyed down (even free-standing tents need to be guyed if the wind comes up at all). And cast a critical eye on what might happen in a blowing rainstorm - are there places the rain can readily blow in? Some of the cabin tents have good zip closures that will keep rain out in a blowing wind (Eurekas are good that way, and most Cabelas look like you can seal them up), but some just have a tie-down flap over the mesh windows. The rain flies on a lot of cabin tents are next to useless. If you live in desert country and never camp during monsoon season, disregard this comment.

As Ed said, avoid the store brands of the major chains. They tend to be more cheaply made and have poorer designs than the major brands. Also, give thought to the stakes. The plastic stakes usually included break easily and aren't good for more than a kiddie tent in the back yard on a sunny day in any case. Cabin tents have a large wind profile, so even gentle breezes (say, 20 mph) can knock them over if not properly staked and tied down.

12:04 p.m. on March 5, 2004 (EST)

I always have had good luck with my Eureka! But even better, a pole broke, Johnson company replaced free of charge. They did a fabric change on my model to fix a sag problem, I found about about it two years later and they replaced it for free. My Eureka is still holding up while other family members who purchased large tents from Costco have rips and tears. Sometimes it is better to purchase from a company that will stand behind its products than to get the cheapest (or largest) product from a discount place.

7:54 p.m. on March 6, 2004 (EST)

Re: VW tent

We might be interested in your campwagen tent...we have a newer Eurovan (2002), so not sure if it is compatible or not? Also, once it is set up, can you detach and drive off, without breaking down the tent?

6:21 p.m. on March 7, 2004 (EST)
4,220 reviewer rep
5,895 forum posts
Re: VW tent


We might be interested in your campwagen tent...we have a newer Eurovan (2002), so not sure if it is compatible or not? Also, once it is set up, can you detach and drive off, without breaking down the tent?

Unfortunately, it attaches to the side of the campers and vans by the rain gutter. When VW sent to the Euro, they went "gutterless" ("aerodynamic" in advertise-ese).

Yes, once it is set up, you can detach from the rain gutter (and a couple of short bungees that hook into the wheel wells), zip the camper-side door closed (allows access through the right-side sliding door or older twin swinging doors), and drive off. Careful approach allows easy re-attachment (just drive up slowly and stop within an inch or so of where you were when you set it up - an easy skill if you passed the parallel parking part of your driver's test). Re-attach to the rain gutter, hook the bungees, unzip the door, and your home is re-assembled. If it is raining, you can even do it from inside the camper (with a little practice).

8:10 p.m. on March 28, 2004 (EST)

a.k.a. Eric
VW tent - Bill S

Hello Bill,

I have a 1978 VW Westfalia and am looking for a Tent like the one you have for sale... Is it still available? What is the condition?


10:26 p.m. on April 12, 2004 (EDT)

VW tent

I have a '79 VW and am interested in your tent. Give me a call on my cell (510-917-3919) or email me your number (airhedz,at,earthlink,dot,net) and I'll call you. I'm in the San Francisco area.

11:04 p.m. on May 14, 2004 (EDT)
***All Family Tents are not the same!

Based on 25 years of camping experience, I would recommend a Kelly, Cabala's, Eureka!, L.L. Bean or Coleman tent. These are the best family tents based on warranty, quality fabrics, and sturdy design.

January 16, 2017
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