The ALPS Mountaineering Sundance 6 is a very solid…
Source: bought it new (Purchased new online from REI ($189))
The ALPS Mountaineering Sundance 6 is a very solid choice for a family sized car camping tent. I am very pleased with mine.
- Price point
- Nearly vertical walls help maximize interior space
- Room to stand up and walk around
- Windows on all four sides provide excellent ventilation
- Large D shaped doors allow easy ingress/egress
- Rainfly buckles come all the way down the legs and are adjustable
- Rainfly has awnings covering the door and rear window
- Quality materials for what you pay
- Weight (should be a non-factor as it will never be going on a backpacking trip)
- Provided stakes are nearly useless
- Roof is mesh with no provision to cover during fringe seasons or colder weather
- Vertical walls and large size won't handle heavy winds
I purchased the ALPS Mountaineering Sundance 6 after an extensive search for a family size tent to replace my much loved Cabelas Alaskan Guide 8-person dome tent. I did quite a bit of research on both cabin tents and dome tents. Having never owned a cabin style tent I was reluctant to go with this design. I am pleased that I did!
The Sundance 6 is a 3-season 6-person cabin style tent. It has 100 sq ft of floor space configured as a 10' x 10' square. There is a whopping 7' ceiling height and near vertical walls to utilize the space. It comes in a nice carry bag that is approximately 8" x 28". It weighs a not-so-light 20 lbs and 11 ozs.
It is a freestanding tent with 4 steel poles and 2 fiberglass poles. There are two additional smaller fiberglass poles for the rainfly. The floor is 150-denier polyester and the rainfly is 75-denier polyester. Seams are factory taped. Guylines and some cheap steel stakes are provided. There are four large windows and a huge D shaped door.
Materials are very good for a tent in this price range. There are no faulty stitches or visible defects. All zippers, though smallish, work very well.
The Sundance has proven to be a good choice for me. It is super roomy for a family of three and the near vertical walls are great. The four windows allow for very good cross ventilation. This tent is very easy to pitch. Out of the box, I had it up in 20 minutes the first time.
The factory sealed floor and fly have proved watertight so far. It survived a torrential downpour where we got close to two inches of rain within an hour and then steady rain thereafter for most of the evening. I expected some leaks during this downpour, but was very pleased not to find a single drop of water anywhere.
The setup of this tent is simple and straightforward. Two fiberglass poles crisscross each other through sleeves across the top and are inserted into plastic hubs at the tops of the walls after staking the corners. The steel uprights are then inserted into pins at the bottom corners and into the aforementioned hubs at the top. A few clips and that's it.
The rainfly is a different story. It is cumbersome for one person due to the tent being so tall. I've found that snapping one of the buckles at the base of the legs, then stretching the fly across the top works pretty well. After the fly is buckled in place, two smaller fiberglass poles go through sleeves and form the support for the door and back window awning.
I've got this setup down to a science at this point. The tent goes up in less than 15 minutes by myself and 10 minutes with two people. This includes laying out the groundsheet(an old tarp), pulling everything from the bag, to fully assembled and staked down.
The Sundance 6 seems to set up very taut, but would not be a good choice for high winds. With walls that are nearly vertical, wind is the enemy. I don't think that it would handle snow well either. Of course, with the mesh roof, I don't think snow camping will be considered anyway.
It does have tie down points on the legs of the rainfly with included runners to help if windy conditions do arise. I haven't experienced significant wind in this tent. I have spent a rainy camping trip that saw over two inches of precip. The tent performed admirably in this mini-monsoon. Zero leaks! I was very impressed with the ability of this tent to shed water and avoid groundwater seeping in.
The interior volume of this tent is huge. I have room for a queen and a twin size air mattress with room to walk between the two. I also put a camp chair inside for changing or laying out clothes on. I use an Action Packer storage box for a makeshift nightstand. The provided gear organizer is great for glasses, head lamp, toiletries, etc. It can be placed in two different locations.
There is a loop at the top center of the ceiling for hanging a light or what ever you need. I use a Coleman fan/light combo that requires 4 D batteries(heavy). It supports this with no sagging.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend the ALPS Mountaineering Sundance 6 if you are in the market for a 3-season family camping tent. I've used mine in sweltering heat and in driving rain including everything in between. I have been super pleased with the unexpected quality and weather handling of this tent. It is so easy to set up that you will find extra time to get on with enjoying yourself instead of fighting a tent.
For my family and myself the stand up room and vertical walls have been wonderful. No ducking in the door or wanting headroom at the sides anymore. The ventilation is wonderful for those hot summer nights and the smooth zippers make it easy to increase or decrease.
Midnight bathroom runs are more pleasant thanks to the two-way zipper and large door. No more searching for the zipper, it's always at the bottom left corner. We have had no zipper snags either. I would recommend getting new stakes and using a groundsheet. (I use an old tarp as a groundsheet for mine.) This tent has proven, in my experience, to be a great all around performer.
I think ALPS Mountaineering has hit a homerun with the quality they are providing at this price point.