Forum Index > Gear Talk > Update My Car Camping Gear - Instant Tent and Cots?
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rolsen
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PostWed Sep 23, 2020 7:53 am 
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Wife and I usually reserve our summer vacation leave for backpacking, and after many years, the gear and techniques are dialed in.

After a back injury, we took a weeklong car camping trip instead and reassessed our old gear. We’d done alright in prior years with a Coleman Sundome and a queen sized air mattress. We really didn’t sleep well, the trusty Coleman showed its frailties. We broke camp nearly every day so deployment speed, fuss factor and comfort were considered.

We’re considering switching to cots, which we used and loved on a Grand Canyon raft trip. Cots require a bigger tent, or at least straighter walls. This led us to the 6 person Coleman Instant Cabin tent and the Gazelle T4 popup.

The Coleman has iffy reviews on water resistance (we’ve always had good luck with prior Coleman tents). The Gazelle seems well regarded but is over 5’ long when packed. We like the idea of ‘headroom’ to change easier in less than private situations. This is car camping, not ultralight backpacking, and we don’t conflate the two!

Coleman military style cots have mixed reviews, mostly fabric ripping after few uses. Kelty seems good, as does Byers of Maine.

Any experience with cots and tents to accommodate?
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Geography Nerd
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PostWed Sep 23, 2020 8:06 am 
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I got serious about my car camping setup a few years ago and have started to dial things in.

Tents: After ~7 years of regular use my REI Hobitat 4 is ready for retirement. Sadly they don't make that model anymore and the new REI Kingdom has pretty poor reviews (validated in real life when I helped a friend set his up for the first time). I'm currently leaning towards the MSR Habitude or Big Agnes Big House.

Sleeping: We've upgraded a few times and now use an aerobed from costco. It may seem a little ridiculous but I have an inverter on my truck so inflating it is a breeze and it deflates/folds up in a few minutes.

Additional unsolicited recommendation - this is my favorite car camping gear. I like that our whole kitchen plus stove is organized and in one spot!
https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/reviews/camping-and-hiking/camping-table/camp-chef-sherpa-table
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Gil
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PostWed Sep 23, 2020 8:50 am 
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I've used cots for years to car camp -- gets you off the ground, provides a place to sit. We currently have a cheap 3-person tent that fits the cots with an aisle in between, just right, though it may not be so nice in a prolonged rainstorm! The trick with a cot is to make sure you have adequate insulation beneath you -- we have double-thick closed cell foam pads. Super comfortable, highly recommend them.

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Our hero attempts to ignore his traveling companion.

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Malachai Constant
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PostWed Sep 23, 2020 11:52 am 
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A few years ago we switched to cots for car camping. We have 3 car camping tents accumulated over the years.
We have a Coleman  6 person tent which we mostly lend out left from when kids were young. It works fine in summer but is not real resistant to wind and rain. Huge
We use an old Sierra Designs 4 person Expedition Tent we used to use for Canoeing poles are about 1/2” very strong, wind resistant, water resistant, but heavy. Too low to stand in. Winter go to.
On a trip we picked up a Kelty 4 person at a High Sierra store in Cody, WY for under $100 lighter weight than SD and higher allowing standing. Not as strong. Use this in Summer and mild shoulder season.
For cots we use some all metal one piece “military cots” we got at Fred’s for $40 apiece. We looked at fancy expensive cots at REI that turn into recliners but passes.
Last year we got a 4wheel Camper on a 4x4 so only use tents for super hard core roads or for a one night car camp before an extended backpack or wilderness canoeing. Where we do not want to leave a camper.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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rolsen
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PostFri Sep 25, 2020 9:03 am 
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Thanks folks, sounds like I'm on the right track switching to cots.

I'm making the assumption the standard cot (not the barely off the ground ones, but the 12-18" high ones) require a 'cabin' type tent, at least 8' x 8' to have two cots and room for a dog bed. Sloping dome walls seem unfriendly to cots. This consideration, along with my other goal - rapid deployment and breakdown - lead me to Coleman Instant Cabin Tent and Gazelle popup.

A simply dome tent with only two poles, be it clip in or sleeved, is fairly quick too.. should I consider a larger dome style to accommodate standard heights of two cots? I need to consider the sloping walls and get a footprint size probably at least 1' larger length and width.

I'm still hoping to find an 'instant up' solution.. I think that closes the gap nicely between the downsides of daily camp setup/breakdown and the huge up-charge from it to small trailer, truck camper or van. My dream is still Four Wheel Camper on a 4x4 (or Van), but can't justify the likely use with the costs.

Straying from my topic a bit, we've also reconsidered the trusty Coleman burner/grill propane stove. We came to the conclusion that a multi-day trip could be done with just a griddle, use our jetboil for coffee water boiling duties. Those BlackStone single burner griddles look nice but seem way deeper than they need to be. I like the idea of leaving the pan at home, cooking veggies and meats on one surface.
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Gregory
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PostSun Sep 27, 2020 7:32 am 
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I love my Aero bed when taking the wife camping. Truth be told I built a van out for our camping trips but when we were tenting I loved this set up. Used both hard for years. My tent is fifteen years old and cost a thousand with a walk-in vestibule they no longer make. Seeing the cost down to what it is has me questioning the quality these days. We have rode out seventy mile an hour winds in ours.

https://www.cabelas.com/shop/en/cabelas-alaskan-guide-model-geodesic-6-person-tent

https://www.amazon.com/AeroBed-Mattress-Headboard-Comfort-Laminated/dp/B07SRXJFPJ/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrKnI08KJ7AIVxBx9Ch3uNQwWEAAYBCAAEgJ7FfD_BwE&hvadid=409996058810&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9033469&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=8224288331648254107&hvtargid=kwd-118255165&hydadcr=26613_10407661&keywords=aero-bed&qid=1601216216&sr=8-4&tag=googhydr-20

We tried cots and found them uncomfortable but to be fair I sleep in a hammock full time. We tried, have the Nebbo xxl . I only know this because it is sitting next to me in the office after a friend borrowed it. It usually is in deep storage in the camping room.   Good luck finding what works for you!
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Gregory
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PostSun Sep 27, 2020 8:00 am 
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I love my Aero bed when taking the wife camping. Truth be told I built a van out for our camping trips but when we were tenting I loved this set up. Used both hard for years. My tent is fifteen years old and cost a thousand with a walk-in vestibule they no longer make. Seeing the cost down to what it is has me questioning the quality these days. We have rode out seventy mile an hour winds in ours.

https://www.cabelas.com/shop/en/cabelas-alaskan-guide-model-geodesic-6-person-tent

https://www.amazon.com/AeroBed-Mattress-Headboard-Comfort-Laminated/dp/B07SRXJFPJ/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrKnI08KJ7AIVxBx9Ch3uNQwWEAAYBCAAEgJ7FfD_BwE&hvadid=409996058810&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9033469&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=8224288331648254107&hvtargid=kwd-118255165&hydadcr=26613_10407661&keywords=aero-bed&qid=1601216216&sr=8-4&tag=googhydr-20

We tried cots and found them uncomfortable but to be fair I sleep in a hammock full time. We tried, have the Nebbo xxl . I only know this because it is sitting next to me in the office after a friend borrowed it. It usually is in deep storage in the camping room.   Good luck finding what works for you!
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InFlight
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PostSun Sep 27, 2020 6:50 pm 
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With the cots, you could use a 10x10 pop-up Canopy with the four zippered sidewalls.  It would provide plenty of space for cots, folding chairs, coolers, etc.  You can even stand up inside.  Much easier than moving cots through a tent door.

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rolsen
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PostMon Sep 28, 2020 7:40 am 
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The popup canopy as tent idea is a good one, one I’d considered with one hesitation- wind, and leaving it confident it hadn’t dismembered folks downwind of it while I’m gone. My wife and I considered it given we packed it (Subaru Outback fits a lot, if methodical about it).

In the last few days, I found high end manufacturer OzTent makes their take on the Coleman Instant Cabin tent (which had too many reviews about near zero water proofness).
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Franco
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PostWed Sep 30, 2020 3:28 pm 
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For car camping we have the "6 person" Coleman Instant tent , a previous version to this one
https://www.snowys.com.au/instant-up-6p-lighted-northstar-darkroom-tent
We can set it up or take it down in 15-20 minutes.
Stand up space inside, we can eat out of the rain in the porch (just enogh room for a table and two chairs, and there is plenty of ventilation if we want to.
We have not had strong wind on it but there are plenty of guylines and the frame is pretty strong for the size of the tent.
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Gregory
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PostThu Oct 08, 2020 8:10 am 
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Here is a link o question similar to your over at the expedition portal forum. great forum for car camping sources and much more.

https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/other-fast-deploy-ground-tents-besides-oztent-and-gazelle.219338/
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