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Best tent for Pacific Northwest car camping?

So many options! We have a REI Geodome 3 circa the 90s that is finally giving up the ghost. Here are some things I love about it that I have found lacking in other tents:

1. How do I refer to tautness in tent lingo? I like my tent tight like a tiger! No flapping around on windy, stormy nights. I will sacrifice ease of set up (the Geodome takes some real oomph) for a nice, tight tent.

2. Cozy and dry in a storm, but doesn't create a lot of condensation. I think it has to do with it being bigger and taller than a typical 2-person tent, but smaller than a standard cabin tent. Can keep some windows open but still stay dry.

3. Rugged. This tent has lasted almost 30 years. Yeah, give me a tent that will last the rest of my life (I'm almost 60). 

Don't want to break the bank, but willing to drop the appropriate amount of coin. 

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Re: Best tent for Pacific Northwest car camping?

@VillageGirl Thanks for reaching out!

It sounds like your tent has had quite the run, we'd love to see a picture of it in action if you're willing to share! We do have a couple of tents that should fit the bill for you! In the 90s and early 00s REI had two 'Geo' series of tents: The REI Co-op Geo Mountain 2 and 3, and the REI Co-op Geodome 4 and 6. The Geo Mountain tents were true mountaineering tents, light enough to carry in a backpack if you wanted (7-10 lbs) and providing robust, four season alpine protection (i.e. 'tight like a tiger'). The Geodome tents were built with a similar pole design as the Geo Mountain, except they were taller, wider, and longer, making for a very strong car camping tent (12+ pounds). 

In terms of current tents that are very similar to the REI Co-op Geo series tents, we have a couple options worth looking at:

  • The North Face VE25 Tent with Footprint. This is a full on mountaineering 3 person tent that is very similar in style to the REI Co-op Geo Mountain 3 tent. @hikermor has used this tent with great success in challenging conditions and could speak with first hand experience to its quality and longevity.
  • The  REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent. This is the same pole structure as the VE25, but designed with significantly more room (and weight) for car camping. It is the most similar to the REI Co-op Geodome 4 style of tent.

If you're not looking for a tent that is light enough to carry in a backpack, then we would recommend looking at the Base Camp tent (it also comes in a 6 person version). We think you'll be pleased with its ability to stand up to the elements.

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: Best tent for Pacific Northwest car camping?

Can't resist an invitation like that....My first experience to the VE25 was a mountaineering patrol on Denali in 1988, three weeks in duration with three of us in the tent nightly.  Spent two weeks at the Advanced Base Camp (14,400 elev) where we experienced a storm with 80 mph winds and -80 windchill (the most severe conditions I have ever experienced).  The tent, pitched in the lee of  substantial snow wall, was a welcome refuge.

Two years later, I ordered four VE-25s for a four year project locating and recording archaeological sites on Santa Rosa Island (Channel islands National Park).  Temps on the island rarely dip into the high 30s,but the winds can easily reach 60 mph,  especially toward evening.

These tents were used by one person and pitched wherever the person desired.  I typiclly pitched mine in a nice thicket near camp.  Those tents were pitched for seven days at a time, alternating weeks, for four months, in a project that lasted four years.  UV had affected the flys on the tents by that time, but otherwise they were in good shape.

Another person pitched a VE-24, a perfectly adequate tent in normal conditions, in a scenic, albeit windy location, where the high winds one evening absolutely destroyed that tent.  Meanwhile, snug in my VE-25 in the thicket, I was not even aware of the storm.

The point is - it isn't just the tent, it is also the location that is significant.  But the VE-25 is a really tough tent IMHO

 

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Re: Best tent for Pacific Northwest car camping?

Wow! Great tough tent testing situations and good consideration. Probably the windiest conditions I remember in a tent were at Playa Azule outside La Paz in Baja. Unfortunately I was in a Windsock (don’t remember brand) and it lived up to its name. In the morning I felt I’d actually slept INSIDE an actual windsock! 

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Re: Best tent for Pacific Northwest car camping?

Thank you for these recommendations. I am going to try the Base Camp 4.  My decision was based on a combination of your write up, roominess, conditions and price. Pretty excited! Heading up to the San Juans for a week at the beginning of October and will post a review after that. And I will dig up some pics of the ol' Geodome for you/posterity... 

 

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Re: Best tent for Pacific Northwest car camping?

Just spent a week in the San Juan Islands with my new REI Base Camp 4. After putting it up at home I wasn’t 100% sure (too floppy?) but have loved it on this trip! Stayed cozy and completely dry on some very damp nights, lots of room but not cavernous. Not as rigid as the old Geodome, but taut enough. Zippers are dreamy, never catching, love the dual vestibules with enough room for 5 gallon potty bucket. Very happy with this purchase! 

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Re: Best tent for Pacific Northwest car camping?

@VillageGirl thanks so much for circling back about your tent - we're so glad to hear you loved it (and would love to see pictures)! The San Juans are such a magical place - which island did you visit? I got to spend a few days on Orcas in early August and it was just lovely! 

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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