I recently had the opportunity to test out the by Big Agnes and I must say, that it is now going to be my “go to tent” for just about all situations. Light enough to take anywhere, but big enough to be really comfortable, there’s a whole lot to like about the Big House. It’s a free standing, three-season tent, ideal for car camping or base camp. My first outing was at Bear Run Campground in Portersville, PA. It was a great campground, but more about them to come in a separate article.
One person setup in minutes
First, I love that the tent can be set up in minutes by just one person without any special skills. Three aluminum bungeed flexible poles snap together and provide for the main support of the tent. The basic tent shell has screened ventilation on all four sides and can be set up without the rain fly for a quick dining tent.
Second, the tent can be set up without the need to stake it down, as the poles snap into grommeted tabs at the tent base and into the optional footprint ground cloth. Once its erected, it’s still light enough that one person can pick it up and readjust its orientation. Obviously, everything lays better with the tent staked down, but if it’s just a quick lunch and then back on the road, know that it’s possible. If the winds are blowing – stake it down – it is a tall tent afterall.
Big front door = easy entry
Older customers will love the large front door to the tent. Nice and big, you don’t need to bend way down to get inside. The door also comes with two ways to use it. At the top there is a mesh window that can be left open for visibility and ventilation or can be zipped closed with a vinyl flap for privacy.
Outside the door, a welcome mat is sewn to the front of tent. It’s a great place to step and remove your boots before entering the tent if things are wet outside.
For overnight privacy and for rain protection, the rain fly slips over the base layer on the outside of the three flexible poles. Color coded clips make the setup foolproof and an additional small bungeed pole is added to provide drip protection over the front door. Both the fly and the floor have 1500 mm waterproofing.
With the rain fly in place, the ventilation screening for the base layer is all covered. To regain sight lines to the outside, the rain fly can be unsnapped and rolled partially up.
Add a vestibule for more space
An optional vestibule can be setup quickly, easily and you add half again the size of the tent. (From 65 square feet to 102 square feet with the vestibule.) The vestibule does not have a ground layer, but comes with two zippered doors for access on either side.
Once inside the tent, feel free to stand up. You’ve got 68” to the peak of the tent. The floor size is 100” x 82”. I love that I can set up a table and two standard size chairs for dining or working inside, and still have room for lots of other gear.
It gets even better
Two sewn-in shelves are part of the tent across from the entry door. Surprisingly sturdy, I put my large battery-operated lantern on one shelf with no problem. Additional mesh pockets on the sides provide a place to stick glasses and car keys so they won’t get misplaced.
Finally, I’d recommend getting the optional “footprint” ground cloth. With matching grommets and clips, it’s a perfect addition to protect your tent floor from wet soppy ground as well as potential snag hazards.
Once you are done and it’s time to pack the tent away, it actually fits back into the carrying case supplied with the tent. Many tents have bags that are almost impossible to reuse after the first time the tent comes out, but not this one. There’s a slot for the poles, a zippered compartment for the stakes and two large pouches – one for the base tent layer and one for the rain fly. The carry bag is a fold-together briefcase style and the vestibule which comes in its own bag can fit right in the center.
I tested the Big House 4, but it’s also available in the 6 model as well. For my style camping, the 4 would be ideal for two people and the 6 would be better suited for four people. Granted, you could sleep four in the 4 model, but the sleeping bags would have to be aligned just so and there would not be room for much additional gear inside. That’s a little unrealistic the way our family camps.
Well done Big Agnes – you’ve definitely succeeded with the Big House 4 and Big House 6. Check them out yourself at Big Agnes.com.
|Trail Weight||9lb 7oz|
|Packed Weight||10lb 6oz|
|Packed Size||4 x 14″ x 26″|
|Floor Area||65sq ft|
|Vestibule Area||sq ft|
|Packed Weight||2lb 13oz|
|Area||37 sq ft|
DougBardwell.com awards their Senior Citizen’s Thumbs-Up rating for the Big Agnes Big House 4. Very simple to set up and very light weight, this can be something that is kept in the car for any impromptu moments when you need a quick shelter. This tent can be easily set up by one person, making it ideal for all ages. The entry door is large enough and high enough that you don’t have to crawl in, and once inside, you can relax in a standard size chair without hitting the top of the tent.