DSC_1442Pop the champagne, we bought our first home! It has great wonderful floor to ceiling windows to taking in the amazing views, a sunroom/ annex for those lazy Sundays and it can be packed into a bag in 15-20 minutes!

This is our kind of first home. The one that is fully mobile and will keep us dry in the rain and cool in the hot Australian summer sun. If you’re about to head off on a big camping trip, buying the perfect tent will no doubt take up hours/days/months of your time. You will research the latest technology, fibers and then realise that you cannot afford any of that, so start to trawl the sale racks. You will debate one room and ease of set up vs two room and space to spread out. Should you opt for a dome tent or square? Tall enough to stand up in or squat and low to stay out of the wind. How heavy is too heavy and how big is big enough?

You are going to spend everyday in this tent. You want it to be just perfect!

We did all the research, we visited countless shops, websites and called in questions to friends and in the end we decided on the OZtrail Sundowner 6 person tent.

DSC_0576

This little beauty of a tent weighs only 11kgs and when in it’s bag takes up 63 x 27 x 27 cm of space in the boot of the car. Inside the tent can be one big space or divided by a solid wall into two rooms. All the walls open up. This was the major selling point for us. That’s right, this baby opens up like a present on Christmas morning so that we can capture the cross-breeze from which ever direction it is coming from, plus we can air the tent out completely (as shown below).

Image credit: Oztrail.com.au
Image credit: OZtrail.com.au

The entire tent has a bucket-floor meaning that you will not flood easily. This was put to the test when it rained for two days straight in Noosa. This was Queensland rain, serious rain and the tent held out perfectly.

Four walls of this tent have opening zips, so you can choose where you want to enter and exit from, with the other two walls, the sides of what we like to call ‘the bedroom’ has screened windows for ventilation and views.

We love that….

  • We can open the entire tent up for ventilation
  • We can choose to sleep in a small room on colder nights or open the tent up inside to become one bigger room in the warmer seasons and parts of Australia.
  • The whole internal structure of the tent is made from flyscreen, not a combination of flyscreen and fabric. What different does this make? Like being able to open up all the walls, this means that the tent is fully ventilated. It also means that every time we open up the fly on top, there is a flyscreen to protect us inside from biting insects. We have seen a lot of tents without flyscreens on the doors, or with flyscrens just on the main door. The mesh walls also keep the air circulating when the tent is fully close, preventing condensation, a solid inside wall traps too much heat inside the tent and if outside is colder your tent will start sweating on the inside (what we call condensation) and make your tent wet. If you will be facing wet conditions we recommend to have insightful conversations with tent sales people, as wet and hot and cold and wet create different needs.
  • The tent is 2m tall and the near vertical walls mean that you can stand up in any area of the tent. The dome tents do not allow this and you can only stand in the middle on the tent. Ever tried to put your pants on lying down. Imagine doing that for a year that you’re on the road. No thanks!

The downside is that…

  • The tent is a little larger and heavier than a dome tent when in its bag due to the poles required for the near vertical walls. This is not a tent that you can take on a hike with you.

DSC_1121Sounds great, where can I get one?

You can purchase the tent form OZtrail directly however we bought ours online from Tent World at about 30% less than was advertised in-store and online via OZtrail.

 

What to look for when buying a tent

If you’re planning a trip around Australia, we’re guessing that you (like us) will be chasing the dry season, meaning winter in the north and summer in the south.  This is advisable as winter in the south and summer in the north could see you floating out of your campsites in the middle of the night! when purchasing a tent for such a trip, you need to make sure that:

  • Every opening, door and window in the tent is covered by a flyscreen mesh. Mosquitoes and Sand Flies can be intense here, and you do not want to get eaten alive. In some areas in the north, these biting buggers also carry diseases such as Ross River or Dengue Fever. It’s better to be safe than sorry and keep your flyscreens closed at all times.
  • A good amount of ventilation and cross-breeze will keep your tent cooler, and stop if from becoming smelly. The cross-breeze also helps in drying out the tent if is becomes wet.
  • Make sure that the fly is secured away from the inner. It is not uncommon to get rain showers and dew in the mornings, if you want to stay dry inside your tent, make sure that there is enough space between the fly and the inner structure of your tent so that they do not touch. Once they touch, the water seeps through.
  • This may sound silly, but make sure that your bed fits in the tent in at least two directions. This is incase you need to camp on a hill, or make room for something (or someone) else in your tent. You don’t want to be sliding out of bed all night because your mattress wont fit any other way.
  • Take note of the size and weight of the tent both set up and packed away. Will it fit easily into your vehicle? Is it too heavy to lift by yourself? Is it easy to get back into its bag or will yo be fighting with your tent every-time you set it up? Our large OZtrail tent is easy to pack away, however we have a small pop-up tent for one night stays and guests that is a bastard to get back into its bag. Every time we have fought with it for about half an hour before getting it back into it’s bag. The tent is made for easy of set up and pack up and just twists in on itself to to pack down. That is the theory anyway, I still have no idea how it works. It’s a miracle every-time we get it back in it’s bag. I’m pretty sure that there is a magic cus-word that makes it fold down, because it defies all other logic.
  • Now the opposite, how easy is the tent to assemble? Can you do it alone (if you’re travelling solo) or as a couple? We looked in to an easy-up tent, which was SO SIMPLE to put up, however very small on the inside and quite expensive for what it was. The OZtrail tent we opted for is fairly simple to set up, but offers many more features that the easy-up tent did not. It’s all about weighing up your priorities.
  • Last, but not at all least. Can you see yourself living in the tent for a year (or however long your journey maybe)? If there is anything that annoys you about the tent in the first 10 seconds of viewing it instore, just imagine how much that thing is going to annoy you after 6 weeks on the road, when it’s raining and you’re cold. The tent needs to be perfectly molded to your needs, no one elses. Like a pair of running shoes, if they don’t feel right straight away, don’t buy them!

 


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