User Review: Ozark Trail 2-Person Junior Dome Tent
Design: two pole free-standing dome
Ease of Setup: EASIEST TENT EVER
Weight: too light to measure
Price Paid: $19
-heavy duty floor
-overhead suspended pocket (great for a light)
-rear suspended pocket for tools, etc
-inexpensive! (VERY few options fall below $30 any more)
-small rain fly
-ugly color schemes!
-pole sleeves are okay - pole snap hooks would have been nicer...
This tent was a sought-after item for me.For years I'd lugged around my old Coleman 3 pole 8x9 and I would watch my friends packing their fancy, lightweight tents with jealousy. I had a hell of a time finding one for myself. In fact, I had to visit three different Wal-Marts continually for nearly a month to finally find one in stock! These things are really difficult to keep on the shelves. I suppose the sub $20 price tag keeps them selling quickly.
So far, I've used this tent several times out doors, and I feel it perfectly meets my needs as a weekend camper. The rain fly is small, but I usually carry a blue 8x8 tarp with me, so if the weather gets bad, I just chuck it over top of my tent, which seems to work fine so far.
Compared to my last tent, it's a dream come true. Only two poles and a quick setup means my shelter is ready in a flash. Then I just chuck my gear in the back corner, lay my bag diagonally, and have a free corner near the door to keep my boots and flashlight handy.
Let's face it - no matter what tent you have, you will have issues with water and rainfall. Do the tent a favor, and keep it dry as well. Most tents are designed for ideal conditions, and a downpour is certainly not ideal, for ANY tent. Consider packing a tarp, a few feet larger than the footprint of the tent you use. String it up over the tent as a canopy, and your water issues should dramatically lessen. The less water that HITS your tent, the less water you'll find INSIDE it. For a little extra pack space, you may have ensured a dry nights rest!!
**For instructions on setting up a tarp as a canopy, you may search google for "how to use a tarp" **
This tent seems to appear in two versions: a two-pole rectangular floor shape, and a three pole diamond floor shape. The three pole version is considerably smaller when erect, (it reminds me of a bright orange coffin), is slightly more difficult to set up, and seems to have problems with rain gathering in the central triangle in the middle of the ceiling. I would suggest avoiding this version, as for the same price the two-pole version is more roomy and more capable. Both seem to pack down to the same size. ( My friend has the diamond shaped one, and he practically has to sleep curled around his gear.)
In all, there are four of us who own this tent, three of us have the two pole rectangle, and one owns the three pole diamond. Each of these tents (except mine) have seen several seasons, and done quite well, although none of us has had to endure any major rainfall.
Update: February 2, 2009
THIS REVIEW IS FOR YOU IF YOU ARE:
1. carrying your own gear
2. sleeping alone in your tent
3. limited on cash
I liked this tent so much, I bought a second one! I used the new one just this weekend, and even compared it side-by-side with my Coleman 3-pole 6" igloo tent, sleeping the first night in the bigger Coleman tent, and the second in the Ozark Trail junior tent.
When I camp, I sleep alone, and have to carry my own equipment by myself. I'm an average guy, and not athletic. I stay out for two to three nights at a time, and I camp regularly. I've tried several different camp arrangements, and this little tent has really outshined many other options, in many ways.
For $20 you can have this tent, or nothing. There are simply no other options for this price. Every other tent is more expensive or just plain useless. One can find the plastic survival tube-tent for around $5, but it does not close at the ends, so it offers no protection from cold nor critters, and tears easily. One could consider sleeping under a $10 tarp, with the same disadvantages. For $30 or more, you could buy a bigger tent, and you may find the disadvantages listed below. Further note - go ahead and look at some "professional" tents. The ultra-light tents, with have about the same size, go for around 2 to 3 HUNDRED dollars.
It reached 30 degrees (freezing) both nights, which is VERY cold for Florida. The large tent had a double wall design, but did not hold out the cold AT ALL. I always carry a small blue tarp ($8), and lay this over the small tent, which stayed warm inside all night, with NO condensation or water getting in at all. The larger tent has so much air space inside that a single person will not give off enough heat to warm it up, no matter how long one stays inside. I could try the tarp trick with the larger tent, but a tarp large enough would cost $20 or more, and would have been HUGE even when packed down. The junior tent starts warming up inside as soon as the door is zipped up. My breath alone was enough to keep the small tent warm through the night.
Thirdly, the larger tent is an absolute BEAR to set up and break down. The poles are long and difficult to bend, and once it's up I have to spend even more time putting the rain fly up, which covers the entire tent, to the ground. Breaking it down isn't bad, but fitting it back in the original bag is a real wrestling match!! The junior tent is so easy to set up that using a stopwatch to time it would have slowed me down! Break down is just as quick and easily fits back in it's case.
Fourth, the weight. This trip had a one mile trek from the parking area to the camp site. Trust me, if you carry a 2 person adult sized tent for even a quarter of a mile, you'll realize how heavy it actually is. The junior tent is so light that i don't even notice any difference in my pack weight.
ON THE OTHER HAND:
The only complaint I really have is the size of the gear pocket in the back and the gear loft in the top. They're almost too small for anything. However, I find it handy to hang my mini LED lantern from the gear loft. Even setting a flashlight up it, turned on, lights up the tent pretty well!
This was the fifth or sixth time using the Ozark Trail Junior Dome Tent for a -SERIOUS- camping trip, and it's held up exceptionally well. However, I TAKE CARE of my tent. I even keep the original cardboard case inside the zipper bag to further protect my tent. The advantages: Low price, small pack weight, quick setup/break down, and small thermal space; add up pretty quickly. Highly recommended for those people described at the beginning.
Finally, USE A TARP. All tents allow condensation to seep in. A cheap tarp costs very little, and it completely defeats the condensation, which can get your gear wet, and ROB you of precious heat!!! Just throw it over top of the tent and you're done.
Good luck everyone and thanks for reading!!!