|Outdoor Innovations' Quickdraw Tent||Short Cuts|
I love camping, but I hate setting up and breaking down camp. It seems to take me forever, especially after a long day on the trail. I seem to always be the last one ready to hit the trail again early in the morning while the rest of the group I am traveling with is waiting around for me to get packed up. I am always on the lookout for anything that helps me set up, or break down camp faster, easier, or smarter.
So with a phrase like "Self Erects in Just 3 SECONDS!" in a
big yellow triangle on the label, the "Quickdraw" tent from
Outdoor Innovations attracted my immediate attention when I was shopping
down at my local Big-5 sporting goods store. It was on sale (marked down
to $79), so I bought it.
Of course, the first big question is: "does this tent really set
up in 3 seconds?"
The tent pops open on a coiled spring steel frame, then 3 short (easy
to handle), equal length (can't get mixed up) shock corded fiberglass
poles are plugged into sockets to provide additional support for the tent.
Once these poles are in place and the tent base is staked out, the tent
is a reasonably rigid structure. On a calm summer night this would be
as far as I would go and I would easily be finished in less than 5 minutes.
If the weather was less certain I would attach the rain fly.
The rain fly covers a good portion of the tent and has two vestibules,
one on each end, that can be used to keep a gear out of the elements,
or even just muddy shoes out of the tent. The rain fly simply attaches
to the corners of the tent body using nylon clips, then the ends of the
fly are staked out. The rain fly can be further guyed to provide more
separation from the tent, more protection, and more stability. With the
rain fly attached, staked out, and guyed, the tent is quite rigid. Although
I have not had a chance to use it in harsh weather I would expect that
it would do reasonably well in moderate rain and winds.
Outdoor Innovations rates this as a 2 person tent, but unlike some other tent manufacturers claims, when they say a 2 person tent they actually mean that 2 people can comfortably stay in this tent - even if they are not dwarf anorexic siamese twins. The tent floor measures a comfortable 8.5 feet x 5 feet and the tent is just a couple of inches shy of 4 feet tall. There is a large semicircular door on each end that are quite easy to get in and out of.
The tent is constructed out of a flame retardent treated nylon taffeta material, but the material seems lighter than some other tents we have used. The tent has a very large No-See-Um roof panel (as does each of the doors). One construction detail that I am a bit concerned about was that the floor had a the number of seams right at the bottom edge, I will need to keep these carefully sealed to prevent water leakage during wet weather. The tent comes with a full complement of the standard wire tent stakes and 2 lengths of cord. The stakes, the poles, and of course the tent all stow away in individual pockets in the storage bag.
The tent setup was quick, actually even quicker that I had anticipated, but I was surprised that the tent came down and stowed away quickly too. After pulling up the stakes, unclipping and folding the rain fly (made easier because it can be folded flat and does not have to be wound up in a tight little roll), the tent is folded back up with just a few strange and unnatural contortions needed. Outdoor Innovations has even sewn a diagram of the storage procedure right into the tent bag. A great feature, that I find missing in all too many tents these days, is that everything actually fits easily back into the storage bag (even thrown together in the field).
The shape of the stowed tent is quite different than conventional tents (a flat circle instead of a rolled log), but if you are camping from a vehicles it should not be any problem to carry, and if you are on foot it could be easily attached across the back of a pack (but this 2 person model might be a bit wide). The tent weighs 7 lbs.
This should be a great 3 season tent, and I look forward to seeing how it fares in the long run. For $79 I really did not expect very much, I have become used to paying a couple of hundred dollars for a reasonable tent, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I got for my money. Sure, I like aluminum poles much better than fiberglass, the material could be heavier and I am going to keep and eye on the seams around the edges of the floor - but there is an awful lot to like about this tent. For reasonable weather it should work out great (if you're expecting really bad weather you may want to stick with an "expedition" type tent) and if it helps to keep me from being the last person ready to go - then I am sure that this tent may be the one that I end up using the most often.