This four-person tent offers room in all directions, sky view ventilation, and a bone dry fly.
The newly redesigned dome style REI Hobitat 4 is a three-season car camping castle that deploys quickly and is spacious enough (62 square feet) to keep families from fueding over floor space. It fits 2 parents and 3 small kids (and a mutt) or 4 adults.
Everyone will love the quick, color-coded three-pole setup. Just remember to pitch the shorter mesh roof pole first. No criss-crossing here, just two parallel, pre-bent poles (an easy-threading combo of clips and sleeves) and a short cross pole in an H.
Dimensions (99" long x 87" wide x 72" tall) work for big guys who like their space, too. Imprisoned by a rainstorm in NC, three campers had plenty of room to play cards while a fourth camper napped happily. The near-vertical walls provide an airy feel.
In muggy mosquito territory, the 5 mesh side panels offered a gentle cross breeze, while the mesh roof affords a sky view. Ventilation with the rain fly on is no problem, with 2 inches between the rain fly and the mesh roof to keep condensation in check.
The tent proved unflappable in 15-mph wind with minor guying, and remained dry inside. The taffeta rain fly covers half of the tent, protecting the ventilation panels while an awning and zippered doors protect the exposed door and back window.
Each corner has a pocket. There's no overhead storage, but six loops dot the ceiling so you can improvise or hang a lantern. The door stuffs into its own pocket at the top of the doorway, but this also proved to be a handy stash for tp.
Cool option: The 56-sq. ft. "garage." I stored bikes overnight, even set up a small table for cooking breakfast in foul weather. It was perfect for a staging area, and worked as a stash for most of the camp when a thunderstorm blew in.
The Hobitat 4 shows that four people are not a crowd, and the easy setup makes it ideal for families, road trippers, and those who car camp "socially" or need room to spread out. One complaint: The heavy tent stakes are overkill.
The Specs: Price: $270 Weight: 16 lbs. 9 oz. 62 square feet Packed size: 27 by 10 inches Optional garage: $100; 4 lb. 10 oz. rei.com