Home / Trip Reports / Beginner Car Camping Trip – Lessons Learned

Beginner Car Camping Trip – Lessons Learned

LL Bean Woodlands Screen House at Dolly Copp Campground
LL Bean Woodlands Screen House at Dolly Copp Campground

My wife and I have discovered a passion for car camping in the past year and took a five night trip a few weeks back to the Dolly Copp Campground in Pinkham Notch, which is located directly below Mt Madison near Mt Washington. You really can’t get a better location than that: a short stroll to swimming in the Peabody River, surrounded by plethora of hiking trails in very heart of the White Mountains, and within a five minute drive of our favorite pub, Saalts in Gorham, NH.

While I did manage to get some good hiking in early one morning while my wife slept, the purpose of our trip was to kick back and get off the grid, while trying out some new car camping gear and figuring out what we like. While I’ve car camped by myself plenty, I’ve always used my regular backpacking gear to do it and never more than a night at a time.

This was way different, with a completely different mindset. Rather than sleeping in a tight two person tent, we have a big 4 person Mountainsmith tent that we bought on sale. We sleep on cushy air mattresses and hang out in a screen house during the day, while munching on snacks from a big cooler. We have a campfire at night and roast marshmallows and just read or loaf around without a fixed schedule in mind. It was real relaxing and we had a good time together, popping out for an early dinner and drinks every night rather than cooking up a storm in camp.

When it comes to car camping gear, my wife runs the show and is the main driver in what we buy and try out. I don’t think we’re at the stage where we know what kind of car camping we prefer, but we’re definitely not into getting a pop-up camper or an RV. We’ve got a pretty lean lifestyle and that kind of stuff is out of our price range, and not actually something we’d be interested in any way.

Mountainsmith Equinox  4P Tent
Mountainsmith Equinox 4P Tent

The Screen House

While we’ve owned our 4 person tent for a while, we tried out a new Woodlands Screen House from LL Bean on this trip which “made the trip” as far as we’re concerned. I never would have purchased something like it, but my wife insisted and it was a HUGE win.

Being able to sit around all day without being bothered by bugs, made it possible for us to hang out, rather than leave the campground and spend time elsewhere. I guess it’s obvious on hindsight, but I’ve never really understood why people used them until now. We’ll probably upgrade and get the rain fly that LL Beans sell for  this shelter so we can hang out in rainstorms too.

Kelty TrailLogic TN3 Stargazer Tent
Kelty TrailLogic TN3 Stargazer Tent

Car Camping Tents

We tried out a few different tents on this trip in addition to our 4 person Mountainsmith, including Kelty’s TrailLogic TN3Stargazer”  Tent. My wife is seriously into stargazing and I wanted her to see how wonderful that stars in the White Mountains are on a clear night.

While we enjoy sleeping in sleeping bags and sleeping pads, we’ve concluded that we want a car-camping tent that you can stand up in. Climbing out of a tent at night and contorting yourself to get out of a vestibule to pee is a drag, especially for my wife, who insists on using the campground ladies room at night.

Weight and size aren’t an issue, so if you have any suggestions about good car camping tents that you can stand up in, please leave a comment. We haven’t really found anything we like yet online although the Kelty Granby 6 looks like a possible candidate.

LL Bean Stowaway Collapsible Lantern
LL Bean Stowaway Collapsible Lantern

Interior Tent Lighting

Another win on this trip, was a pop-up battery-powered lantern that my wife brought along to light the interior of our tent at night. Made by LL Bean, we hung the Stowaway Collapsible Lantern from the gear loft in our tent using a Nite-ize S-biner (which is a great car camping utility item). The Stowaway Lantern is covered with a fine mesh which diffuses the light to produce a glow rather than a harsh light and collapses down to a disc which can be used as a flashlight. There’s a high and a low setting, which we mainly used to read by at night, and requires 3 AAA batteries, which  LL Bean claims will run for 36 hours at the high (72 lumens) lighting level.

We read a lot of books on this trip and reading by this lantern’s light was a lot more comfortable than reading by headlamp.

Treating Tents with Permethrin

Early into our trip, my wife decided that we should treat both the screen house mesh and the tents with permethrin to help keep the mosquitos and gnats at bay, especially on the inside of the screen house which is open on the ground. I know my friend Grandpa (a regular SectionHiker reader) treats his tents like this and I think it’s a worthwhile thing to do.

I’m actually surprised that more tent manufacturers don’t treat their tent bodies and mesh with permethrin (the active ingredient in Insect Shield and BugsAway clothing). It seems like it would be a key differentiator in a highly competitive market.

Dolly Copp Campground - Riverside Drive
Dolly Copp Campground – Riverside Drive

Block Ice

We were pretty lazy when it came to cooking on this trip, eating most of our meals in Gorham at Saalt’s, Libby’s, and the White Mountain Cafe, in Gorham, which are all well worth a visit. We did pack a cooler, 2 stoves, pots, pans, plates, etc, and a bunch of food though and ate a few meals in camp.

The most notable cooking related find on this trip was ice sold by the block, available for $2.50 at the Dolly Copp Gatehouse. When packed in our Coleman ice chest, we found that block ice lasts twice as long by weight than ice cubes. That’s probably obvious, but this was the first time I’d ever seen block ice, so it was a novel experience for me.

Car Camping as a Couple

I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy car camping with my wife when we started down this road last year. But, we both really enjoyed this  trip together and it’s nice to be able to share the White Mountains with her in this way since she’s definitely NOT into the hiking and backpacking scene. While there are many different dimensions to car camping and base camp camping that we still have to try, we’re both invested in sticking with it, traveling to other campgrounds, and figuring out what we like together.

We actually don’t do that many recreational things together as a couple, so working on this kind of “project” together is a nice change of pace for us. I think I also surprised my wife, by being open to the more leisurely pace she enjoys on vacations, rather than filling every second of my time with hiking, which I’ve been known to do it the past. I get to do lots of hiking, so sitting around reading books and swimming in ice-cold White Mountain rivers on hot sunny days was a nice change of pace. I could even get used to this!

We have another car camping trip coming up in a few weeks where we’ll be car camping with other people, which should be a very different experience, with lots of group cooking, sitting around a campfire at night, and group activities.  Yeah, this car camping thing is good for both of us. I’m glad we’re really doing it.

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48 comments

  1. We LOVE our LL Bean King Pine 4 Person dome tent for car camping. We always use the fly, so I can’t speak about star gazing.

  2. Coleman tunnel tents are huge, easy to erect, well made and you can put your trousers on in them without ricking your neck

  3. About 35-30 years ago we did a lot of car camping at Pixly Falls State Park in NY. We also had a huge screen tent. But, this was a long time ago when the kids were young. Actually, they were still in daipers. We always managed to find enough wood around. They closed the park about ten years ago, though. A real good fishing spot .along the Lansing Kill (upper Mohawk River tributary.)

    I used the old SVEA for a stove, the same one I use today. I was heavily into fishing and spent a lot of time tying flies, and using several different fly rods. We ended up dropping the screen tent, it was only usefull in bug season, otherwise a spray can of off held the bugs at bay. We made and use a Whelan Tarp…more below. We still use that tarp, to
    One of the big problems with the huge gear was wetness. I could never dry out the tent very well. After 7 years it finaly started to leak and we got rid of it. Too big to maintain easily. We went with two smaller pup-tents from my backpack kit. Then we got a four-season tent, Sirius, for sleeping in the past 12 years. A good dry, heavy duty, floor (5000mm water head,) double walled (to avoid condensation inside,) and pitches with 5 stakes in about 2-3 minutes. I used to take the fly backpacking along with the poles at about 2.5 pounds. You can still order this from Optimus Tents as the Aeries Mesh. But it is not available from retailers in the US. It was about 35sqft, more than enough for two. Car camping sites tend to be wet, often dished, and not real convenient for setting up.

    Anyway, we quickly discovered we didn’t need much more than backpacking gear. The major exceptions were the tent and a large Whelan Tarp. http://tentsmiths.com/period-tents-whelen-tents.html and http://masterwoodsman.com/2013/whelen-lean-to/ I skipped the smaller side pannels on the roof and made it 10 wide by 14′ long with a 2′ overhang over the fire, or close to the fire. Yes, it gets a few holes in it. But, after 10 years of use, I just make another. All silnylon, it weighs about 2.5-3 pounds. I put it up with a couple poles purchased for that job or a couple larger sticks at 7′ tall. It spans about 16×16 on the ground, giving a tremendous amount of dry real estate. And it handles up to a 35-40mph wind if you drop it to 6′ at the peak. I use elastic at the loops so it can lift in heavy weather…relieving the air pressure under the tarp.

    Kitchen sets include an extra stove (Coleman Peak WG) and a small lantern (Coleman Peak single mantle.) A largish, 12″ frying pan for frying fish and veggies, and a larger 1-3/4L pot. We use two 2L water bottles for water. A small grill (cake cooler rack) for cooking over the fire (potatoes & onions, corn, peppers and rice, fish, etc) it All fits into a plasic cube lined with a paper bag. A couple forks and knives, paper plates, etc. go in there too.

    I use this when I head up north. This is a 5 hour trip for me. So We get to set up camp and gather some firewood, cook and eat before dark. Then I pack up and send the wife home when I leave on my trips.

    • I forgot about Tentsmiths! I pass by their offices all the time in North Conway. Perhaps this is the time to walk in to say hi. Although, I think my wife will prefer a re-enactment tent over a Whelan, probably from the middle ages.

      • Well, you could add a screen to the front with some tie ups. It really doesn’t need a floor. We set the picnic table under it with a hiking pole to hold the center/back up. We also have a couple old Aluminum chairs. You cannot find these anywhere, nowdays. They fit under the tarp, also. It is BIG.

  4. Why can’t you use the screen house as your tent instead of having to bring a tent too?

  5. Looking forward to having you on my carcamp . There is still space if anyone of your friends want to come or your wife’s friends

  6. I’ve car camped for years. Love it. Your wife is right. Doing nothing and no plans is refreshing. I’m excited to hear the results from the next trip with others. If you really get along, it can be a fantastic time. Even if you don’t quite get along, there’s plenty of space to take a break.

  7. For my husband and me, the biggest luxury when car camping is a spacious (not mummy style) 2-person sleeping bag. We saved a little money going synthetic, which we prefer anyways if we aren’t backpacking. We had no idea how much of a difference using a double sleeping bag would make – we could move around easily, side sleep more easily, and of course snuggle if we wanted! It has zippers on both sides so we can individually moderate the temperatures enough and overall it really just felt like sleeping with a quilt in our bed at home. It is by far my number one recommended gear for car camping with your spouse/SO.
    I think we got the North Face Dolomite, we have only used it in pretty warm (>30F) nights, but we usually had it partially unzipped & wearing light clothing, so I’m sure it would work even quite a bit colder.

  8. I’d like to know more about how you treat your tent(s) with permethrin. I’ve used permethrin spray (Sawyer) to treat clothes with great results, but it’s awfully expensive to spray a whole tent and/or screenhouse. I’ve seen liquid/concentrated permethrin online, but haven’t been able to find usage instructions, so I have no idea if it would be “safe” to mix up a batch and “dunk” my tent or other gear (hammocks, etc). I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

    Also, don’t sell a “tent-trailer” short. There are some pretty awesome options available…but you’re right, they can be a little spendy. Check out the Sylvansport GO trailer (www.go.sylvansport.com): it’s small, and light enough to be towed by small passenger cars, sleeps up to 4 (and you can stand up inside). The tent folds in and out of a pod the size of a small car-top carrier, and the trailer can be reconfigured to haul lots of gear (bikes, kayaks, totes, bags, etc.) For the record, I have exactly zero affiliation with Sylvansport…I just think the GO is pretty cool.

    • I bought some 10% permethrin at a local feed store. I probably paid $13.00 for 8 oz. It’s a little cheaper online but I could get it quickly locally, the money stayed in town, and the owner of the store is a hoot. Just the entertainment value of buying from him was worth it.

      The Sawyer spray is .5%, which means I need to dilute the concentrated stuff 20:1. I put about 3 oz. of the concentrate in a half gallon of water in a pail and dunked my tents, tarp, ground cloth, backpacking clothes, shoes, etc. in it. I wore rubber gloves and a respirator I use for painting (the respirator might not be necessary but I didn’t want to take chances). I’d put the items in one at a time, make sure they were completely soaked through and through, then pull them out and wring the excess out back in the bucket. I’d then hang them up to dry over some plastic sheeting since quite a bit will still drip off which can be recovered. The clothes get pretty dry overnight and I finish them in the dryer. I set up the tent to complete drying. Keep in mind that liquid permethrin is very toxic to cats, birds, and fish, so don’t do this where they may frequent.

      I’d soak my clothing first, then the tent and my shoes, so that the grime from the tent and shoes wouldn’t get into the clothing. I filtered the excess through some paper towel and stored it in labeled bottles for use later. When we car camped in Oklahoma at the height of tick season, I put some in a spray bottle and sprayed the perimeter of the tent for a foot or so out. That’s probably not LNT, but in this case it might stand for Leave No Tick.

      • One more comment on treating my stuff with permethrin:

        I haven’t noticed any untoward health effects from doing so… and that extra head growing from my left shoulder blade completely agrees with what I just wrote!

      • Thanks, Grandpa! That’s awesome information. I had the feeling it would be ok…but I hadn’t found anyone with personal experience using the non-Sawyer brand. I’ll look around and see what I can find. I usually try to shop locally when I can…I prefer to support the local scene. And diluting is certainly within my abilities!

      • Yeah, don’t forget to rinse stuff after soaking in permethrin. I didn’t when I went out this spring. I got a bit of an upset stomach. a short dilution, .25% or.5% is close to the same in effectivness for the first two to four weeks. The .5% will last most of two or three seasons where the .25% will only last one. Rinsing works well because nylon picks up the permethrin as a dye. Just like dying fishing line. Same for wool and other cotton based clothing. Note that it will NOT stick very well to PET or fleece clothing. Polyethylene is generally not a good choice for treating. It washes out in 3-6 washes where as nylon/wool/cotton retains it for upward of 50 washings. Note that this is used by the US military in buggy areas.

      • Useful info. Since I have not yet Permethrined the tents, but still want to, do you think that using a spray bottle with a 0.5% dilution would work? Or would this take too long? I am hesitant to stick my hands into the solution repeatedly. gloves or no.

      • If it’s a trigger type sprayer, rather than a top button spritzer sprayer, it wouldn’t take too long to spray. I’d think the spray would be effective since it will wet the fabric down fairly well.

  9. My wife and I use an older version of the Big Agnes Big House 6 tent for car camping. She also MUST HAVE standing room when car camping. It definitely makes it easier with 2 dogs sleeping next to you as well. The BA 6 person tent we have has an absolutely HUGE front vestibule, we use it to hang wet clothing and setup chairs in it if it’s raining out. It’s a great area to put a floor mat down to prevent tracking dirt into the tent itself. They also make a 4 person version.

    I would suggest looking at getting the REI collapsible soft-sided coolers. They probably don’t insulate quite as well as the large, heavy plastic-sided Coleman coolers, but they work fine for us over a 3 day extended weekend. I’ll have to try block ice next time I’ve only ever used the larger cubes from our ice maker in the past (which is to say melt much slower than the tiny cubes from bags of ice). If you want to save a bunch of weight and space this is the way to go.

    Sadly we had to take this summer off from car camping as we just had our first child who is now 7 months old. I don’t exactly look forward to camping with a kid that young, so we will have to hopefully pick this up again next summer when he’ll be about a year and a half by that time, and hopefully will be old enough to enjoy the outdoors and sleep through the night. But we are like you guys, we don’t have the money to get a giant camper, nor would we want one. No where to park the dang thing at home! I like to pack fast and light, and car camping should be the same way :)

  10. How was the campground vibe? That’s the thing that worries me the most about car camping! I had some experiences when I was young with campgrounds that were as much a fraternity house as they were a wilderness area.

    Were folks respectful and reasonably quiet? Was the campground well taken care of, trash under control and such? How close were the sites?

    I’d love to do some non-solo camping, but similar to you my wife prefers some creature comforts :-) I’m intrigued by the car camping compromise!

  11. I took my wife car camping for the first time last March down on the coast and she loved it. Planning to go again in November when it cools off at St. George Island located here in the Fl Panhandle. My wife is like yours in looking to have some amenities so we are staying in the State Park. Right now I am looking at an REI base camp 6 which has a screen room attached to the main tent. It is tall enough for me at 6-4 to stand. It is nice to finally be able to share my passion for the out doors with the person I most enjoy spending time with.

  12. My wife and I stayed at Dolly Copp last year on the final night of our trip up there… well, it was supposed to be the final night but we got caught in terrible traffic a half mile from the Boston airport. That last bit took an hour and a half and we arrived before the flight left but too late to check our bags and spent the night in the Logan terminal. Dolly Copp was much better!

    Someone gave me a car camping tent that has an equal size screen enclosure that zips up to it. The problem (other than weight and size) is that it lays down flat in high winds. I’ve used it car camping with the wife and grandkids but don’t trust it when the wind is really blowing.

    I bought a Walmart 6 person tent, which handles the wind slightly better but leaks at the bottom of the windows when water runs off the sides down onto them. It seems to be more of a design issue than a seam sealine one, although I plan to seam seal that area. A year and a half ago, the grandkids and I rode out an 8 hour storm with 60 MPH winds in that tent. The wind pulled all the stakes out and we congregated at the upwind side to try to keep that end of the tent down. After a few hours, the grandkids needed to go potty. I sent them out one by one to find a lonely tree on the lee side of the tent. A couple hours later, I had to go so badly I couldn’t stand it. As soon as I exited the tent, the wind picked it up and rolled it through the campground with two kiddos inside. They thought that ride was better than Six Flags!

    I’m considering the Ozark Trails 6 person “Instant Pitch” tent at Walmart. They have a dome and a cabin version with 66″ and 68″ interior height. Both are under a hundred dollars. The tent seems to be a knock off of the Coleman quick pitch tent. The poles are integral and just need to be folded in place. I think that will help us on car camping trips when the group is tired and just wants to set up for the night. One of those tents is 17 lb. which isn’t too bad for a large car camping tent. I don’t have the weight on the other yet.

    We also have a small RV but it hasn’t gotten much use lately. I’m doing some work on the interior.

    When my wife and I do a fly and drive trip, she sleeps in a hammock and I sleep on the ground next to it. We string a silnylon tarp over the whole setup. My wife has had very bad back problems for years and needs to sleep in the hammock or on a cot since going to the ground and back up is extremely painful. That is why I ended up with 6 person tents–so she can have a cot inside. She had major back surgery earlier this month and now has a nice internal collection of titanium screws, rods, and spacers. Hopefully, upon full recovery, her camping options will open up and she can have more flexibility on sleep arrangements.

  13. Phillip, why not use the LL Bean Woodlands Screen House with the rain fly as your tent as well as day hang out? You could roll up a small rug to put on the grass and add warmth to what are usually very cold air mattresses.

    It might not but but I think it’s the multipurpose driven backpacker in me.

  14. My story is kind of similar to yours… I like to hike/ hammock camp, but my fiancé is a little hesitant to take the plunge. So I’ve been slowly easing her into it with some car camping. So far we have used a 3 person Big Agnes tent, kelty Noah’s tarp 16 and my hammock and tarp at campgrounds.

    My parents just started getting back into it also and they got a Coleman weather master tent that was really impressive. They found it on sale for 120$ (mrsp $300).
    http://www.coleman.com/product/weathermastertrade-screened-6-tent-with-hinged-door/2000001597?contextCategory=CabinTents#.U9KK5tm9LCQ

    I was extremely impressed with this tent especially at that price. Your wife would probably really like it because the roof is completely mesh, so without the fly you can stargaze all night. Check it out.

  15. Two items I always bring with me when Car camping…A Ozark Trails 10 inch Battery operated Fan and the “Wash and Go” by the Reliance Company. This little unit is your Portable Sink, Mirror, Toiletry Holder, and has a little well with handpump for bringing along you own water. It has a drain hole in the bottom of the sink which you need not to open in the tent unless you have a bucket under it…The ladies who have camped with me love the thing and always remind me to bring the “Sink” with me….I also bring the Coleman Propane fueled Grill with one burner, I modified a flat pancake/fry grill to fit over the Coleman grill so I can either grill, fry, or boil all at the same time. I’ve been using the same LLBean 12×12 Tent I bought some 20 years ago, back when they made the best tents on the Market aside from Eureka. It is a solid tent and sadly no longer made by LLBean. Those Tents with the little Screenroom are nice but I have yet to find one that has rain protection. I also have been using the Coleman single inflatable mattress using their battery operated air pump to fill them with. 8 years and not problem with those mattresses nor does my back have any complaints. This equipment is what I use when car camping and not spending any more than two days in any one campground..Now for anything longer than 4 days, especailly Hunting Trips, I bring my big Eureka Tent the Copper Canyon Model and I have an entirely different set up inside. Cot, Mattress Lounge Chair, Two tables, two End tables, stereo system, Two Fans, Lamp etc. etc almost like an R.V. but a heck of lot cheaper…

  16. P.S. I left out one important item.. At a Coleman Outlet Store, off of I-85 near Commerce Ga. where I stopped while driving from New York I came across this neat little fold up table, about the size of a suitcase. You unfold it, then extend the legs, then detach from underneath the table top, two folding aluminum stools, (which I use as End tables when using the big tent) I believe the table is 36×24 and seats two very comfortable and fits nicely inside my Car Camping Tents. Nice for inclement weather and playing games or having a meal. The ladies also set up the Wash & Go on the table and primp themselves while sitting comfortably…

    • P.P.S. The language or description of the Coleman unit is a bit strange is it not? It is the one with a Grill on one side and a Burner on the other side. I fitted an Old Coleman flat pancake Griddle over the Grilling section since I could not make pancakes over the Grill or fry.. Why Coleman did not do this I have no idea..

  17. After a couple brutal nights with no hint of breeze, I bought that Ozark Trails fan. Don’t leave home without it!

  18. My issue with wanting a tent I can stand up in is my knees. Most of the time being able to sit cross legged or kneel up to get dressed is just fine. I only really want to be able to stand up when it is time to get in and out of the tent. the bathtub floor effectively creates a sill to step over and the door is, of course, shorter than the tent. So, trying to unbend the evil knees when getting through the doorway is not fun. Getting out four-limbed is least painful but not so much fun when the ground is wet.

  19. As on old rafter we would freeze one gallon jugs of water. theyd keep food cold long time. Not take up room. Wouldnt leak. And could be used

    • We use half-gallon jugs, since they don’t take up as large a footprint in the cooler. But yeah, same idea. Large chunks of ice stay frozen longer. Also, we try to plan a menu and stick to it, pre-freezing our food (at least meats and perishables) before we leave…pretty much anything we don’t plan to use in the first day or two goes in the deep-freeze at least 48 hours before we pack the cooler…which is almost always the last thing to be packed.

      • I’ve noticed a “Trend” of many of those Stores near Campgrounds regarding their Ice.Cubes…They order hollow Ice cubes which uses less water, and melts ten times as fast since so much surface area is exposed to the air….I like freezing the Water Juggs, but I use the 1 quart size vs. the gallon. They both last the entire weekend and or 4 day trip…

  20. I fill a bunch of soft drink bottles with water and freeze them. They keep the cooler cold and as they melt, I have ice water to drink. It’s usually two or three days into a trip before I have to buy ice. I also pre freeze the food as Todd does. Frozen bottles also become ice packs for my wife’s various aches and pains.

  21. I’ve been car camping for decades and have used a lot of different tents. We haven’t had much luck with any of the Coleman tents we’ve tried. The last one we bought, probably 8 years ago or so, was supposedly great for all weather conditions, and one strong thunderstorm flooded the thing. Hopefully they’ve improved in the past few years. After the “flood,” I decided enough was enough and wanted a tent that would withstand pretty much anything. After a lot of research, we ended up with a Cabela’s Alaskan Guide 8-person tent, and it is amazing. Philip, I know you and your wife don’t need an 8-person tent, obviously (although our 8-person is used mostly for me, my wife and our daughter, with an occasional 4th person), but to get the height you need to be able to stand up in it, you’ll probably need to go with a 6-person tent regardless of the brand if you want a tent that will stand up to wind. Anyway, the Cabela’s tent (a geodesic dome) seems almost bomb-proof. We’ve been through severe thunderstorms, wind, etc., and have never had water get inside. We’ve also never had any major condensation issues, and we’ve car camped in a lot of humid areas. They aren’t cheap tents, but I’m glad I spent the money on it. I don’t have to worry about getting flooded out of bed or blown away, and I don’t have to buy a new tent every couple of years. We’ve had ours for about seven years and have no need to look for anything else. I highly recommend checking them out!

    • I forgot to mention, the Alaskan Guide comes in 4, 6 and 8-person models and a choice between fiberglass or aluminum poles. The 4-person isn’t tall enough to stand up in (unless the person standing up isn’t very tall), but the 6-person is.

  22. Block ice–yes! Over the July 4 weekend, by the time I got home Sunday night, there was still plenty left of the block I put in my cooler at noon on Thursday. That was with 90* daytime temps and cooler stored in my car, which was shaded only in late afternoon.

    I plan to use permethrin spray the next time, at least around the tent door!

  23. We had a Sierra Designs Kingdome for years until all the parts started failing at once. It was an amazing amount of space for the weight. Nine pounds, if I remember correctly. I still like bright white tents after using that one. They are the best with a tent lantern.

    Now we have an REI Base Camp 6. Bigger, taller, but with the same bomber pole pattern as the Kingdome, plus a decent vestibule. Ours is a tan/sage color, but the current ones have more white panels.

  24. LL Bean King Pine Dome Tent. With 2 people, I originally bought a 4-person tent back in 2001, but I wanted even more luxury so in 2010, bought the 6-person version. It’s over 6 feet tall, has an attached screen room, full coverage rainfly, and allows us to put 2 30-inch Thermarest Luxury Map pads side by side AND still fit an REI folding side table next to each person. All your clothes, if you pack using packing cubes, can be lined up against the walls of the tent and you can still stand up and move next to each sleeping pad. For couples, I recommend a Big Agnes Dreamtime double sleeping bag (if you can find on sale) or, if you want to really go luxury, a Feathered Friends double Spoonbill (which is so light you can take it backpacking too – only one person needs to carry the bag in that scenario). Rated down to 20 degrees.

  25. I love my Coleman Instant Up tent. I have the 4 person (10″x10″) but would like to get the 8 person as the extra 4″ means being able to set up chair/table/cooker & gives more flexibility for shelter if it’s raining.

  26. Oh – and being a straight-sided, non-dome tent you can stand up anywhere inside

  27. Coincidentally, my wife and I (and 3 kids) just got back from car camping in the Smokies. I got a deal a couple years ago on a REI Kingdom 6 with the optional “garage”. It is probably way too big for just two people (fits 2 queen size mattresses with space to spare) but I love being able to stand up and walk around, very different from backpacking.

    Block ice would be good, but 1/2 gallon cranberry juice bottles filled with water and frozen are better, even if they melt, your stuff doesn’t end up swimming.

  28. I use the REI Hobitat. Very nice for head room, affordable (key for me), durable so far (6 years in now), and with the fly off, the whole ceiling is screen (excellent for star gazing).

  29. We have a Big Agnes flying diamond 6. At 6′ I can almost stand straight in the taller section.

  30. My grand children and I cped on the top of a NC mountain this past fall. My husband isn’t into camping so off we went . I bought an Ozark 6 person tent and love it. Its a cabin tent so u can stand up in it. There is enought room for our clothes our queen bed and twin bed. ( air that is). I like a bigger tent cos we use a tall skinny stand up fan and as physics has it heat rises so we turn on the Dan zip the rent shut and voila ….by evening its air conditioned sleeping in a tent…how great is that. Also we just hang a flashlight on a clip for tent light….here’s some tips 1. Pack light and make a campbox. Make a list of its belongings and restock when u get home. Include 2 flashlights a stake hammer 2 extra tent stakes. Clothes line and pins matches newspaper ( fire starter). If u r at campgrounds include a 6 way outlet extension cord crock pot and electric fry pan we use paper plates cos its ky rest time too :). Also letvur wife know that breakfast in a paper bag is a bunch a fun. My son learned it in boy scouts in the 80’s …recipe is on internet just type in cping breakfast in a bag :) have fun!!!

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