User Review: REI Taj 3
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $169
This tent has been the best piece of camping gear that we've ever owned. Period.
- Huge room inside
- Excellent weather protection
- Tough over the long haul
- Stable and strong in heavy winds
- A little fiddly to set up the first couple of times
I bought this tent in October, 2006 as a birthday present to myself. Up until that time our family had owned only Coleman and other lower-priced tents. We were always on a budget, and those did the job very respectably, but the time had come for a lighter, more sophisticated way to spend our nights outdoors.
Our primary purpose for this tent has been motorcycle camping. We average 20-30 nights a year out on the bikes, and the Taj III gets about 80% of those. It's been through 4 or 5 nasty rain storms, sustained 50-MPH winds in Death Valley, mid-20s in Yellowstone, and it's taken all of those with ease.
I'm a big guy (6'2" and 270 lbs.) and take up a lot of room. The Taj gives my wife and I the space to sleep comfortably with all of our riding gear inside the tent if need be. There are two smallish vestibules that allow for excess stuff to go outside, but they're really not the greatest in foul weather.
Setup is a snap, once you do it a few times. The tent pitches very taut, and has remained that way all the time we've owned it. We start by staking down the footprint, then using the color-coded straps on the body of the tent to pitch it. We've got it down to about 3 minutes for the whole deal, which isn't too shabby for a shelter this size.
Ventilation with the fly removed is outstanding, and condensation with the fly on is minimal. Rain does not get in. One of my favorite things in all the world is waking up to the pelting sound of the water and knowing that we'll sleep dry and safe inside this thing. I can sit up easily, and have tons of room all around to get dressed or pack up gear in bad weather. There's a large mesh gear loft for stashing headlamps and doodads.
We experienced a wind and sand storm in Death Valley that had sustained speeds of 50 mph with gusts as high as 60, and tent never even hinted at collapsing. There was sand and silt inside when all was said and done, but that was the case for every single shelter (hard or soft in the campground that night.
The included stuff sack has plenty of space for everything, but we've taken to using a 25-liter waterproof dry bag in it's place. The tent stuffs easily in both, wet or dry.
I've only managed to put a single small rip in one outer door due to a ham-fisted incident with the zipper. The best I can figure, we've spent between 200-300 nights in this tent since we bought it. Other than the owner-induced tear, the REI Taj III has been absolutely and completely bomb-proof!
There's a bit of visible fading from sunlight, but that's it. The structural integrity has been perfect, and I expect that we'll get many more years of use from this tent, then pass it down to our kids when they have families of their own.
My only concern is that my next tent will not be able to live up to the incredibly high standards set by the Taj.