User Review: REI Kingdom 6 Tent
Design: Three season freestanding two room with near vertical walls
Ease of Setup: Very easy with two, almost as easy with one
Weight: 17 lbs for tent/fly, 19 in it's backpack with stakes
Price Paid: $289
Summary: Unique options for using the fly (folded half back over one "room", or folded half way up for shade/rain protection with a view), very easy set-up for such a huge tent, lots of floor space and head space, lots of pockets, room divider very useful, but also folds back easily. Do buy extra stakes for best set-up in wind, since it only comes with 6 but you need 8 more to fully stake out rain fly. More details below.
I decided on the Kingdom 6 the first season it was offered because of the unique features, size, and reviews that indicated it had withstood significant rain and wind already.
Have used it two nights on one trip, plus two practice set-ups at home.
Usual use: Two adults and one 80 pound dog, for car camping trips up to 3-4 weeks long. We are now creatures of comfort, not minimalist backpackers any more. I have owned several backpacking and car camping tents and this is my favorite by far.
Set-up: Practiced set up at home twice, first with two of us, then by myself. I was able to set it up by myself quite easily on our deck as a "freestanding", using no stakes. (I am 5'6") Directions come on the bag, so can't lose them. The three poles seem quite strong - metal rather than fiberglass. Two hubbed poles work nicely.
Color coding on "footprint" (optional and useful), tent and rain fly make set-up easier. Do follow color-coding - I forgot to on our camping trip and the rainfly was on "backwards." To explain, vestibule that is built into rainfly is meant to cover the door that is not waterproofed. Door on opposite, more exposed end is well waterproofed. Since it didn't rain, it didn't matter, but we would have switched ends if rain had threatened.
On our camping trip, I set up the Kingdom 6 by myself in moderate wind with some gusting. Was pretty easy even under those circumstances and even though I had to tie on the guy lines (which will now stay on tent.) Easy to stake out and adjust tension for optimum set-up.
Tip for set-up: Stake out tent corners first. Put middle pole (the straight, non-hubbed one) through its sleeve before trying to raise tent (directions say after you raise tent). Attach hooks onto poles before you raise the tent - goes up like magic! (If you can, watch the video on REI website) When putting on rainfly, do not forget to attach the velcro tabs to the poles on the corners.
Doors: One at each end. Door under vestibule is not waterproof (but well protected by vestibule), other more exposed door appears very well sealed and quite waterproof, and made of heavier nylon. We were not rained on, but I have faith in the appearance of the construction. Doors can slip into over-door pocket to get completely out of way. Both have full netting so can vent as much as you want, or close up tight for privacy. Only one zipper is needed to open door. After having had tents for years where you needed to zip-unzip two zippers to get in or out, one zipper is a great feature!
Pockets: A pocket outside of each door (have never seen that), two in each "room", four on each side of "wall" between rooms! Lots of overhead loops for hanging laundry line, lantern, fan or whatever. It is hard NOT to be organized in this tent!
Headroom: The 6'2" max as stated is true, and not just in the one little spot. The tent is not a dome but rather is set on three parallel U-shaped hoops, so that the max height goes for the length of the tent and the side walls are almost vertical. As a result, this 10' by 8.5' tent feels way bigger than comparable tents with same dimensions. (My partner insists this tent is much larger than our last one, which is a modified dome. I measured - only a few inches diff on one side. The configuration and vertical walls makes a big difference in usable space.)
Floor space: Like a palace! We use large self-inflating mattresses and rectangular sleeping bags, and two of those fit easily into the "sleeping room", with lots of space for other gear. In the "living room" was the large dog bed for the 80 pound mutt, a storage box (about 15x24 inches), a folding table (about 15x15), misc other "stuff" and space in the center of the room for us to stretch out to play cards! With a little clearing out, we anticipate being able to put up our two reclining canvas chairs in the "living room".
Four could easily sleep in the tent with a fair amount of gear, six could be cozy but comfortable (using it primarily for sleeping) with minimal gear, but then there is lots of storage space in the vestibule.
Vestibule included: Vestibule attached to rainfly can be configured in a number of ways (one to three sides open), or completely out of way. Quite roomy, and I can stand up inside. Vestibule creates privacy if want to fully vent the door at that end. There is also an optional vestibule that is larger for other end, but I don't think we will need that one. It would offer even more storage space, and shade options. Like all vestibules, no floor, but could rig one if wanted.
(For ease in the following verbage, I will call the room at the vestibule end the "sleeping room" and the room at other end the "living room")
Rain fly: What makes this tent really, really unique to me. When fully in place, the rainfly comes almost to the ground on both long sides, and the vestibule comes to the ground. The "living room" door has only a small awning over it, but, as stated above, appears fully water proof when it is closed up. If it was raining hard, I would probably opt to go out through vestibule to avoid letting water into the living room.
When properly staked out (which is easy to do once the guy lines are attached), we experienced very minimal flapping in the 20-30 mile winds we had.
The rainfly covering the living room can be folded back, exposing that half of the tent. Both rooms are configured so that one side is mesh and one side is nylon. With the rainfly folded back, one can have views out the door and one side of the living room - poof - you have a sunroom! If the room-divider is in place, then there is still plenty of privacy available in the bedroom.
The rainfly can also be folded UP half way on one or both sides, so that there is more venting and a view out.
We decided on this tent because of the roominess and the options with the rain fly. I anticipate waiting out the rain in this palace without getting claustrophobic.
The only real con is that it comes with insufficient stakes to stake out the fly, but stakes are really not expensive, so it is worth investing in 10-12 stakes so that the tent can be fully staked out and you have have a couple of spares on hand. (you need the 6 REI provides, plus 8 more.)
With the fly in place and staked out, the doors may be seem a bit difficult to zip up at a certain point of tension. I found that I could simply loosen the tension on the fly a bit, and no more problem. The more I used the door and the more I experimented, the easier it got, so that the door was easy to zip, and the fly had the tension it needed. (Previously we returned a different tent to a different store for a similar problem, but I was not able to resolve the problem on that other tent - could not zip without feeling I would rip something, and after a few openings something did rip. On the Kingdom6, I feel the problem is easily resolved with a little practice and nothing will rip out.)
Packing up: The tent comes with its own "backpack" into which everything easily fits. Separate compartments for tent, fly, stakes, with enough room for optional footprint. No need to fold and re-fold tent to try to fit it into under-size bag!
For some folks, this tent may seem pricey, but our less expensive tents have failed (fiberglass poles bent, guy lines ripped out,and the returned tent mentioned above) REI has a great 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, which I have used on other products. They really do back up what they sell.
This tent appears exceptionally well made and thought out, and I look forward to many trips with it, in rain and wind, and, hopefully, sun! (BTW, I live in western Washington - lots of rain!)