ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 6 ZF FG
Best bang for the buck. Great car camping design.
- Simple to set up
- Excellent ventilation
- High ceiling
- Good value
- High quality materials
- Windows can remain open in rain
- Almost too large
My tent model is the Meramac 6 ZF FG. This specific submodel is intended for more frequent use, such as an outfitter. The floor and zippers are a little beefier. Otherwise the materials and design are the same as the standard Meramac 6. The floor waterproofing has the same performance specification. Z indicates slightly larger zippers. F indicates a heavier floor fabric. FG simply indicates fiberglass poles.
I've owned my ALPS Meramac 6 about 13 years. I'd guess I've used it on at least 15 camping trips, several days each trip. I have used the tent May through September in the Midwest US. I even took it to Bonnaroo in sweltering Tennessee heat. This tent has never let me down. I think the design and materials are excellent.
Quality: This is not a low quality family tent you might find at Target. This is more of a high quality tent you'd find at REI. The fabric is polyester. No polyethylene floor. Taped seams. Full fly. Quality zippers. Aluminum pole ferrules.
Floor Space: The floor dimensions are 10' x 10'. The tent specification is six person. However I think only four could fit comfortably. I often use a queen size mattress in the tent. Even then there is still plenty of room for gear, shoes, and movement of two people. I think the tent is almost too large. If I were buying again I might consider the Meramac 5. The Meramac 5 is still large enough to hold a queen size mattress.
Shape: One flaw of all two-pole dome tent designs is slanted walls. The pole structure creates a bit of an A-frame. Due to the slanted walls the entire floor area is not fully useful. I have never been bothered by the slight slant of the walls in this tent. I can store items right up to the floor edge. However it is not feasible to sleep right next to the floor edge. The wall slant might be an issue if using raised cots.
Height: I am 5'10". I can stand and move comfortably in the tent.
Weight: The tent is slightly heavy, probably due to the thick fiberglass poles and steel stakes. But weight is not really a concern with car camping tents. I have no trouble carrying the bagged tent.
Ventilation: The tent breathes well. Two walls, under the fly, are primarily mesh. The mesh extends low to bring in cool air. The ground level fly opening is somewhat adjustable. The fly can be staked open at the bottom for extra air in hot weather.
Rain: The roof overhangs the doors significantly. This allows the windows to remain open in rain. A great feature in the summer.
Leaks: I haven't had any occurrence of significant water penetrating the walls or floor. I do use a coated nylon tarp under the tent. I did experience a very small leak in the roof but some Seam Grip repaired it. The problem was a sewn-in tie strap for the roof pole. The tie strap pulled the factory seam tape loose allowing a small dripping seam leak. An acceptable manufacturing or design flaw in my opinion. The fix was easy.
Wind: I camped on a very windy lake point. Had to guy out the tent well. But the tent held up in strong whipping wind.
Storage: A mesh gear loft is included. A couple of gear pockets hang from the walls near the floor. Lots of floor space.
Setup: Setup is easy. The tent design is simple to understand. One person can do it alone. Two long structural poles and one short roof ridge pole.
Packability: The tent needs to be rolled with care to keep it compact. But I can always fit it back into its bag, with even a little extra room for the ground cloth. The bag zipper opens all the way across the top and down one side for convenience.
Ground Cloth: A footprint or "floor saver" is not included. They are available specifically for this tent. I use a nylon tarp. I definitely recommend some sort of ground cloth. The bottom of the tent is too large to easily wash after use. It is much simpler to clean a muddy ground cloth.
Flaws: The one thing I dislike about the tent is the pole to floor connectors. A pin fits inside the end of the pole. The hollow pole ends can get clogged with dirt. The shock cord is sometimes in the way of the pins. The plastic hollow end caps do not fit well. It is a small issue, but could be improved.
Brand: ALPS Mountaineering is a reputable brand in my opinion. Their stuff is not cutting edge or fashionable. But it is usually a good value and of decent quality. Do not let the lack of marketing dissuade you. ALPS products are available online, at Campmor, and at outlets like Sierra Trading Post. I purchased my tent from REI's online outlet.
Recommend to a friend?: I have actually recommended this tent model to a friend.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: I don't remember. I think $150
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