Our family is growing. With three children now who are obviously getting bigger by the day, we need room when we are camping. Most compact and lightweight family tents (made for backpacking), top out at 4. And it’s a tight 4 at that. They leave little room for anything but sleeping (and take no account of busy little ones who love to explore.)
When I was given an opportunity to test out the one and only pre-production RugRat4 tent out there, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to see if it was everything that it claimed to be and truly was the perfect tent for us. This tent is coming directly from the designer, Mike Cecot-Scherer, and taking out the middle man. Now just in the (incredibly important) Kickstarter stage, whether the tent actually makes it out there is completely up to consumers. No pressure or anything….
I am fairly strict in the fact that I will not promote anything here that I haven’t tried. If I can’t give my personal thoughts on gear, there is no reason why you should take my word for it. I am receiving no compensation for this – just straight-up sharing my excitement over a product we got to try that is incredibly top-notch. Read to the end to see our thoughts on the tent. Teaser – we are hoping beyond hope this gets funded!
These are all our our thoughts – but I highly recommend you click over and read the very thorough write-up from Mike himself – he explains things better than I ever could. I quote him here too – but go ahead and read it.
The designer is no newbie:
Mike Cecot-Scherer is a freelance tent designer who’s been making tents for the outdoor industry since 1985. His lifetime total stands at 245 tents so far, but these two are truly exceptional. His resumé is here, but includes a incredible list of products he has designed for Kelty, Sierra Designs, Black Diamond, Marmot, The North Face, GoLite and many many more. This guy is a professional and he knows his stuff.
These tents are the RugRats (available in both a 3 persona and 4 person model). They are the most advanced and versatile tents in the backpacking or camping world. He designed them as he personally would want them and how he would recommend them to friends – a mix of completely new ideas, minimalist design and longtime-user must-haves. He’s taken those 30 years of experience in the industry and put it into one tent.
What makes the RugRat tents special:
This graphic is a great visual of what drove the features of the tent:
And our thoughts on how it all works out when it comes to the tent:
- Strength: Definitely no issues here. While we didn’t have a wind tunnel to put it in (like the video here), we do have 3 wild children who were bouncing off the walls (literally) and helped with the set-up. This tent is unique because it is made with 100% polyester (definitely more expensive than nylon, but there is no sagging of fabric – which seriously compromises the waterproofness of a tent when that happens.)
- Roominess: This is the most generous 4 person tent I have ever been in by a long shot. Not only are the walls more vertical (so the kids could literally jump in it easily), but the floor plan leaves enough room for all 5 of us, on our sleeping pads (so taking up a ton of room) + the dog + a corner for extra gear. The vestibules are awesome, but they wouldn’t be necessary if you wanted to keep most of your gear IN the tent.
- Set-It and Forget It (AND easy set-up): Super easy to set it up thanks to the pre-rigged guys, the stake strings and the anchors. It poured on us all night (and the next day) and we had absolutely no issues with water, condensation or sagging fabric.
- Convenience: Super easy to get in and out of, no need to crawl over everyone thanks to two doors, hang loops for our wet gear and the “nightlight” lantern we hung, tons of pockets making it easy to find our headlamps, water bottles, etc. in the middle of the night.
What we think:
We were given this sample to test out for a short period of time (so that it could head off to be tested by others throughout the Kickstarter campaign.) It was definitely one tent I was very sorry to see go. I don’t often “fall in love” with tents – but this one got me good.
- The way the tent is built makes it inviting for the whole family. Though we rarely are able to go a night without a rain fly (for warmth, moisture, etc.), the net on the top plus the fun “portal windows” makes viewing incredible. Even with the rain fly, you don’t feel claustrophobic or trapped in the tent – there is just plenty of room to MOVE.
- Weighing in at 8 lb. 4 oz.., it’s an excellent car camping tent, and a great backpacking tent. We would split up the pieces to share the weight (and it’s hardly any weight at all.) It’s not meant to be a super light, super small, minimalist backpacking tent, but it’s a completely different caliber than your normal car camping tent. It can be used for both (which says a lot for a tent.) “As a reference, the one tent in the car-camp market most generally similar to the RugRat is almost 13 pounds. The most comparable tent in the ultralight backpacking world is about 6 pounds, but it uses nylon fabrics, is smaller, and has bare-bone features.”
- It’s easy to get in and out of with roomy doors that open up on 2 sides, a roomy vestibule and just the fact that you don’t have to crouch down like crazy to get in and out. Plus we love this feature that is great for rafters and boaters and people that camp in the sands of Moab: “an extra set of zipper sliders pre-installed on the doors for use when sand wrecks the first pair. When you get to the point where the zipper doesn’t zip, take off the cord pulls and tie them on the extra set at the bottom end of the zipper. You’ll have lots of time to get the damaged sliders replaced, saving a ton of money over a full zipper replacement.”
- Once you get it figured out (by setting up once), it is super fast and easy to get up and down. The boys were truly able to help AND be helpful.
- Small hooks both on the inside AND the outside of the tent make hanging “stuff” easy – lanterns, toys, gear to dry, etc.
- It takes all weather conditions (except the most extreme winter ones) into account: high non-net walls for keeping warmth in; large net ceiling for sky-viewing in the warm months; vertical walls for shedding of rain and snow AND the ability to use the full floor space.
- Tons of windows (10 in the tent; 8 in the rain fly)
- We appreciate the fact that you can open vents at the top of the rain fly through an access point in the tent. They allowed moisture out when we were sleeping and none of the rain in.
- Adjustable guy lines (that are super long) mean that you can be sure to get your tent staked out safely using whatever you have to around your area.
Why the Kickstarter Campaign:
These are truly beyond state-of-the-art tents. If a regular manufacturer sold them, the RR3 would retail for between $920 and $1230 (Not $600); the RR4 for $1045-$1395 (Not $665) – NO KIDDING. These are ULTIMATE tents and by backing one, you get it for barely over cost.
The project goal is driven entirely by the minimum number that the factory needs to make: 300. If they can have 300 tents pledged, the design goes to factory. If anything less than $190,000 is pledged, it’s completely over.
Here’s where the money you pledge goes:
The Kickstarter works so that if it is fully funded, your account would be charged when it ends and you would receive your tent in May of 2015.
Watch this video
We highly recommend you watch this to better understand the tent and the method behind the whole design:
And this is a great image of the layout of the tents:
The bottom line:
This tent knocked our socks off. It is like nothing else out there on the market and this Kickstarter campaign (which ends in 28 days) is an excellent way to get it at a rock-bottom price. Research the competition – it’s right up there with the rest of the comparable tents and is much lighter, stronger and more “fun”.
If you are in the market for purchasing a family tent that will last both the growth of your family, serious conditions AND years, this is it.
You can find all the details and the Kickstarter Campaign here. Fund, and share, share, share!
I am happy to answer any specific questions about our particular experience with it – leave them in the comments so all can see!
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