User Review: Big Agnes Big House 4
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $180
With exceptional service and highest quality materials Big Agnes has done a magnificant job for this family car camping tent, but it is time to redesign it for 2013. With close-outs you just can't beat the price you will pay for a Big House.
- Uses materials found only in more expensive offerings.
- 3-pole design allows for lots of space, and strength.
- An innovative design allows the rain fly to be furled without removing the fly.
- Tie-downs for the rain fly to the poles give strength to dome tent.
- Ripstop fabrics are used through-out.
- You can make a deal on these close-outs.
- Lack of a vestibule.
- Lots of tent pegs, but not strong enough.
- Entrance mat.
The Big Agnes Big House 4 was made for the starting family and those looking for a great shelter for under $350, including footprint. The BH-4 is for those who enjoy car camping, but lightweight enough to be split between two or three people for backpacking. Because it is presently on close-out sales it is an excellent bargain and can be gotten for a lot less. It is too early to speak of the Big House series for 2013, but they will have no back door on the new design, only a front entry. Obviously this will change the design of the tents quite a bit, but there will be more red color.
This four-person Big House legitimately has adequate space for 3 people, and that goes for most 4-person rated tents. It has features you expect to find in more expensive models, including color-coded coded webbing and buckles, locking pole ends and grommets, pole clips, sleeves, sealed seams and a bathtub floor to prevent leaks.
The BH-4’s excellent pole structure provides sufficient head room up to 5 feet 8 inches, and creates lots of livable shelter for comfortable family car camping. The poles are lightweight DAC PressFit, TH72M 7001 aluminum (the latest technology in lightweight tent poles featuring improved durability) and of varying diameters to save weight.
The sturdy three pole design does a great job in preventing collapse in strong wind gusts, as long as it's staked properly with provided reflective guy-lines. This freestanding dome tent has two large D-doorways and the mesh access panels can be sealed. One drawback is the lack of a fly vestibule, but the 65 sq. ft. permits room for gear inside the tent.
From a pitching perspective this tent is a breeze. For first-timers setup might take 30 minutes to piece everything together. But later it could be done in as little as ten minutes for only one person. However, the BH-4’s rain-fly has back-side ties that need to be attached to poles, which might add a couple of minutes.
Significantly you will find the tie-downs on inside of the fly — something you won’t discover on cheaper tents. These side release buckles attach the fly to poles for fast easy set up and keep them from separating during storms. They provide overall strength and wind resistance that plagues cheaper high profile dome tents without them.
The best thing about the Big House tent is when the guy lines are out it allows the rain fly to be rolled part way, opening it up for air flow. You can furl the sides of the rain fly without removing the fly. When it rains it literally takes about a minute to unroll the surfaces and clip them down. While you might not want to sleep all the time, it’s a nice bonus configuration.
The floor is made of durable polyester, and not nylon. It comes with 1500mm waterproof polyurethane coating. Polyester is similar to nylon, but resists abrasion, UV damage, and acid rain better; and, it does not shrink, stretch or sag.
The fabrics of the body, doors and fly are all 75 denier ripstop - usually found in more expensive offerings. All seams are waterproofed with solvent-free polyurethane. The polyester mesh ceiling, wall panels and ground level side vents promote air circulation. Inside this tent are several mesh storage pockets that comfortably store most lightweight gear and electronics, keeping them off the floor or just organized.
While it is freestanding it is a good practice to deploy the guy lines which gives added strength and stability when high winds or gusts occur. This Big House includes 14 superlight aluminum stakes. However, Big Agnes could put sturdier tent stakes in with this base camp tent, since the little hook ones bend easily. After all, it is not designed for back packing where weight is a factor.
As a suggestion, it is good practice to invest in more rugged tent stakes. Ones that can be driven. And I personally would get rid of the little plastic tensioners that come with the guy-lines, using others such as: MSR Cam Rings, Nite Ize Figure 9s, or Taut-ties.
The tent also features a welcome mat that provides a space for muddy shoes; but to be honest, Big Agnes could remove this feature as it is one of the hardest things to clean before packing up.
Other purchases might cover optional equipment including a footprint, gear loft and an extra large zip-on front vestibule — 52 sq ft — which hooped for more room. These are sold separately. And if there is need for a larger sized tent you can always move to the Big Agnes Big House 6.
Also note, the outstanding customer service of Big Agnes is unexcelled. You won’t have lots of aggravation if you have a problem; it is something that will be taken care of. With Big Agnes you know they stand behind their products with a real lifetime warranty, and not excuses.
Now, all we have to do is to await the Big Agnes’ 2013 models of the Big House 4 to find out where they have made them better, if not for at a greater price than the current 2012 close-outs.