User Review: Ozark Trail 2-Person Junior Dome Tent
Design: three-season freestanding dome
Weight: 2.5 lbs including bag and original stakes
Price Paid: $18
I have owned this tent for at least three years now. I'm not sure that Wal-Mart makes it any longer.
It all started when I was waiting in Wal-Mart to get them to fix a flat tire. Due to store design, the camping section was next to the auto section. I'm a gear head, so I love looking to make sure I've got all the gear I could possibly need (despite knowing this from having been on the trail many times).
One thing I did not have, at that point, was a tent. I routinely borrowed a dome tent from a friend and so was familiar with the basic setup.
This tent was on the end cap and was offered at $17-and-change. This seemed too good to be true, so I read on: 5' x 6', bathtub bottom, contained rain fly, marketed for 2 children. The two children were supposed to lie side-by-side on the 6' portion of the rectangular tent floor, and their bodies were supposed to take up less than the 5' length available.
I'm 5'2", so I figured that I could easily lie along the 6' length, and not share with anyone, and could fit. Though I later did some Pythagorean theorem calculations and found that the tent has a 7.8' diagonal, so unless you are 8' tall, you can use this tent as a one person tent.
I was impressed that the bathtub bottom (which was discontinued on models that were later produced; and also had 5' by 4.5' dimensions) was made out of tarp material. Not the sil-nylon tarps that are prone to ripping; the heavy duty tarps like one would find in the auto section.
I hefted the tent and, being a backpacker, really liked the weight.
Figuring that it was worth the $20 to experiment, I bought it.
I have camped in nothing else since. It takes me under 5 minutes to set it up. The poles are loosely shock-corded, which means that in the process of sending them through their dead-end sleeves, they do separate. But again, you get what you paid less than $20 for, and with a setup time of under 5 minutes, it is hardly an inconvenience.
Because this was my first and only tent, I did seam-seal all of the seams, as was recommended in my instructions. I used purchased-at-Wal-Mart seam sealer.
Most recently, the tent has survived 4 days of constant downpour as a tropical storm passed overhead. There was some dampness, but the folks with expensive tents (Big Agnes, REI, Sierra Designs) were flooded out long before I emerged from my tent to ask if anyone else's tent might be leaking. One woman asked, astonished, "You've only just now experienced leaks? You don't even have a footprint!" She had a Sierra Designs tent, with footprint and rainfly, and the floor of her tent was swampy.
Negatives? It doesn't have much ventilation. There are two vents at the top, covered by the rain fly, and one on the door. This does not vent the moisture that you exhale, and I have never had a morning where the walls weren't somewhat damp from my sleeping breath. Nothing dripped on me, nor was it even drops, but the humidity in the tent had risen.