I don't know what tent to get now?!

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 21:58
ThreadID: 68374 Views:11428 Replies:20 FollowUps:6
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I have only ever owned dome tents and am tired of the weak structure/quality of a dome. I'm looking to buy a good quality tent and money isn't really a concern.

I'm looking for a 2-4 person tent that will stand up to heavy rain and strong wind and I generally only camp in national parks/bush.

I have been looking at Tourer tents by Freedom and Southern Cross however I'm not sure if I need a tent this good.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Reply By: dionbremner - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:13

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:13
We just bought a Southern Cross Ultimate Trekker and couldn't be happier. We've just done our first trip (Tasmania). They are a quality unit, well made, great materials, practical features. We got ours secondhand on ebay, used twice. We'll be doing a review soon on mycampgear.com

At the other end of the scale we have friends who have just bought a Oztrail Tourer 10 and while there is a huge quality difference the Oztrail does seem a good unit and they got it for $450.

Canvas centre pole tents are great - wouldn't have anything else.


AnswerID: 362355

Reply By: ian - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:13

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:13
Tambo make a couple of tents that are impressively put together.
I have a camper, but friends have Tambo tents and are happy.
AnswerID: 362356

Reply By: Member - Warren R-Silver Sands - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:22

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:22
G'day ReeBee. We've had a Black Wolf Turbo 300 for about 3 years. Not the cheapest tent by a long shot, but damn good. We generally use it on the beach and wind doesn't cause any grief. Haven't had it in heavy rain, but I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem. The in-built frame makes it super quick to put up and take down, here's the link http://www.blackwolf.com.au/turbo/turbo-300/

AnswerID: 362358

Follow Up By: dionbremner - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:38

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:38
We had a Turbo Lite and didn't have a good run with it, as described here. The heavier duty canvas ones should be better as Waz described.
FollowupID: 630094

Reply By: mth - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:29

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:29
Hi Ree Bee,
I use 3 different types.Southern Cross are excellent, except very very pricey. I did some home work, Primus make a very similar tent, ie canvas quality etc. We have the extended version with or without centre pole they are fantastic. They are about one third the price. I took advice from a guy well up in the scouts organisation who tried lots and decided on the Primus ones for their camp outs. We use them all the time for our gold prospecting clients in WA and NSW, I live in one for four months of the year, in out back conditions and couldn't fault them. I have never had one come down in some of the strongest wind conditions!! Occasionally the awning will blow down, but I have now fixed this by using 2 ropes on each pole.
I love the no centre pole idea. It gives you enough room to swing a cat. So to speak.
Happy Camping,
Mark, Gold Prospecting Australia
AnswerID: 362361

Follow Up By: dionbremner - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:40

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 22:40
We had a friend try the Primus but not a good one - could have been a bad batch as Mark is happy with his. For what it's worth we have a video review of the Primus here.
FollowupID: 630095

Follow Up By: Muddy doe (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:25

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:25
We have the Primus Extended Tourer centre pole canvas tent and are very happy with it. It also comes with a side poles kit which is marginally more fiddly to put up but gives a good clear area inside. The extended model allows you to put a full queen size 50mm self inflating mattress behind the centre pole which allows you to use the area in front of the pole for getting changed and gear without having to stand on the bed. Great roomy tent for two people.

Quick and easy to put up. Just a few drips here and there in heavy rain but not enough to worry about. Just about impervious to moderate winds. Hardly moves if pegged and tensioned properly.

$449 from memory.

It replaced a six person Dome and I would never have a dome again unless space/weight was an absolute consideration.

FollowupID: 630101

Follow Up By: Kentw - Monday, May 04, 2009 at 21:25

Monday, May 04, 2009 at 21:25
I recently purchased a Primus Extended Explorer. Like the review below I found the stitching to be a little ordinary all though not to the extent shown on youtube I'm glad to say. I bought it because it was the only cheaper canvas tent that has the centre pole poke through the roof like the Freedom tents do and used a PVC floor rather then a PE floor. In terms of design it is really quite good. In terms of workmanship it is average. I put it up to season it and got quite a bit of water in it, I will be giving it another go in the rain to season it after which I'll be getting the candle wax onto the seams. They have a bit of sewing in the PVC floor (freedom have no sowing on the floor) but I just got some stormsure (www.stormsure.com) and did the seams with that inside and out. That should take care of the floor hopefully.

The centre pole that pokes through the roof has a little cap to stop rain getting in the eyelet, I'm also going to put some rubber on the top of the pole for the eyelet to seal on. The reason I like the pole poking through the top is, it is good for attaching a tarp to. The awning that comes with it is fine for the weekend camp but for anything longer then a weekend I would probably put up the tarp, especially if it was wet.

I've seen the Freedom and my brother has a Southern Cross. If I could afford it I would get a Freedom tent (or southern cross) without question, but at a quarter of the price I couldn't go past the Primus. I'm confident that I will have a water proof tent and if not, being Primus I'm confident the backup will be there (As the youtube bellow indicates).
FollowupID: 630868

Reply By: OzTroopy - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:19

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:19
Depending on your camping style ..... and the time periods in one location ......

Get yourself a decent tarp/fly .... canvas or your choice of material ... off the shelf or have it made to suit your needs.
Spend some money on buying or fabricating decent pegs / poles etc.

Mine has 30mm dia 8ft A-frame end poles / 25mm webbing sewn in as a ridge pole/support and the end guys are 1 x ratchet strap onto a 18"min angle iron tent peg ... couple of lighter poles/guys/ pegs for the sides and all is done in about 20min by myself. Have extra items for better side tension in windy conditions. The ridge can be pulled bowstring tight with the ratchets because of the webbing - without damaging the tarp.

Once you have that ... you have a sheltered camping area / garage ... and you can have the cheapiest, dodgiest tent with the best zippers you can find, erected under it ... not an ideal beach system though ... tentpegs and sand are a mongrel.

If I was buying a tent for all round use / over night stops ... it would probably be one of the centre pole tourbus type .... but I only need space for a max of 2 ppl.
AnswerID: 362374

Reply By: mth - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:22

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:22
Dion, just looked at your video review. Very well done. My tents certainly don't have the flawed stitching you showed. In really bad weather I have had very small(about an egg cup) amount of water enter the tents in the corners usually at the front. I don't know why!
Value for money I've just bought our third for this years tours. I can't justify the Southern Cross, and to be honest i'm not sure if they are 2 to 3 times better(I've got 2 of the std size Southern Cross tents that are excellent and cost alot more than the extended Primus). I use good quality stretchers in all my tents so your not sleeping on the floor.
I will never forget camping in the Nullangine area many years ago, we had left the tents (Large Dome) open for airing, went off gold prospecting, and got caught in one of the biggest storms I've ever known, when we finally got back to camp (the creek between us and camp was running a banker, took several hours to finally get across) The tents with sewn in floors were full to over flowing and our sleeping gear clothes etc etc, was happy floating around in the full 6 inches of water!!! It showed us one thing; our tents were water proof FROM THE INSIDE!!
ReeBee, It comes down to how much you want to spend I suspose.
Cheers, Mark GPA
AnswerID: 362377

Follow Up By: dionbremner - Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:41

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009 at 23:41
Mark, perhaps it was just a bad batch as it seems there is a bit of support for the Primus. Their design is excellent.

We got our Southern Cross for $1300 including the large awning and side pole kit (ebay). Retail is $2450 - which I would find hard justifying even though we do camp a lot.

Great story with the open tents - lesson learned :) We've done the same but not that bad.

FollowupID: 630104

Reply By: Gunna Do - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 06:30

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 06:30
Owned and used a Freedom Tourer tent for many years through some terrible weather (both heavy rain and strong wind), and it never let us down. As far as quality goes they are second to none.

The only down side is their price, but if you intend doing a lot of camping over a long period of time it's money well spent to know that it will still be standing and will alway be dry inside no matter what the weather.
AnswerID: 362385

Reply By: On Patrol & TONI - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 07:17

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 07:17
I bought my "Touring Tent" from a shop in Western Sydney named Budjet Camping, they make these tents through their repair facility. They are a heavy guage canvas with optional centre pole or a bridge with two side poles, when I say optional i mean you get both but use what you want accoring to needs on the day.
This tent saw action on Vic HC in near freezing blizzards, Cape York in heat and rain, including gale force winds at Captain billy landing, Abercrombie caves in torrential rain and winds, countless trips around Sydney in ALL conditions, and will be coming with us on our Simpson trip in Sept. In all of this I have never needed to put in more than 4 pegs to make it secure, this allows me to erect the tent in about 5min inc. beds (self inflating)etc. It all fits flat & snugly in the roof basket. ready for action. I Love it.

It cost around $790 inc. canvas carry bag
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AnswerID: 362389

Reply By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 08:05

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 08:05
Hi ReeBee

We went down that path , but now have gone back.

After some domes we got the Aussie Disposals Tourer tent @ $179, same features but lower quality as freedom.

Great tent , after a few uses we moved from single centre pole to side poles.

Over time though we found that size, weight , difficultly of handling and lack of protection of the narrow front veranda's wasn't worth the effort when you have to pack up everyday.

While potentially very quick , we went back to the small domes which are physically easier to deal with, warmer and are intrinsically more weather proof. However they will not stand the storms of our Tourer.

While we have a selection of tents we mostly use the small domes now , preferrably in conjunction with a Tarp as a living area.
The domes , being so cheap are throw away.

Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 362397

Follow Up By: Member - Lionel A (WA) - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 19:02

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 19:02
Yep, same, never had a problem with domes.

Prefer them to the other types for speed and ease of erection.

Having said that, hot in summer, cold in winter and can flap around a bit in a strong wind. Handled heavy showers ok but havent been out in torrential rain yet.

OzTrail Sea Breeze 4......$129 at BFC. Two seasons old and good as the day we bought it.


PS: from the moment we find a decent possie and stop the car, Paula can have the tent up and furnished, campfire started, snags in the pan, table and chairs set in 12 minutes flat. Just in time for my second beer....lol.
FollowupID: 630192

Reply By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 08:37

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 08:37
Why I don't like centre poles. There seems to be a lot of wasted floor space. Those angled sides down to the ground, especially when wet and windy, mean you have to keep things away from the edges. I just don't like that pole sticking up in the middle of my, reatricted, living space. Don't like the angled door access and the narrow front awning they all seem to have.
There is a big difference between quality and cheap dome tents, just like there is between quality and cheap canvas tents, and I wouuldn't dismiss the advantages of the dome design that quickly. Look for a dome with alloy rather than fibreglass poles as an indication of a quality dome. The alloy poles hold the tent shape much better in high winds.
AnswerID: 362399

Reply By: Member - Ingo57 (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 10:02

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 10:02
Gday Ree Bee

We have a Southern Cross touring tent and couldn't be happier with the quality, In saying that our 10 year old great outdoors (now Rays outdoors)touring tent did pretty much the same job at half the price and half the weight, It was just getting a little small for our growing family also the canvas was no where near as thick and durable as the Southern Cross but it never leaked.
At Easter the missus purchased the Sothern Cross side pole kit which eliminates the centre pole (makes a heap more room inside).

IMHO If you are putting a tent up & down every day for 5 weeks on a trip Its hard to beat the ease of a centre pole touring tent 4 pegs , 1 pole.

My 2 cents worth

AnswerID: 362406

Reply By: ajd - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:00

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:00
OZ Tent, its the only way to go, straight sidewalls, erects in 30 seconds and putting away(I also have an ozpod for the roofrack) is also a 1 minute job.

Totally waterproof and plenty of accessories available, only downsize is the packed up size of 2.0 metres long.

Can't beat them.
No good deed goes unpunished!

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AnswerID: 362421

Reply By: briann532 - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:02

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:02

We use a Southern Cross tourer.
We got caught in a storm that had hail taking the paint off and denting caravans.
Not one drop inside and barely any movement.
Really quick and easy to put up.
Only down side is the size they are when folded.
Not convenient for carrying.
We usually throw ours on the roof racks for an extended trip or on top of the trailer for overnights.

A tent of this quality will last forever and will have good resale vaule.
Try buying one second hand and you'll see what I mean......

Best wishes.
AnswerID: 362422

Reply By: beelzebug - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:23

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:23
Hi ReeBee,
I guess you need to work out how much you will use the tourer tent. We have three tents of different sizes and configurations plus a swag for me, and needed a tourer for it's ease of use.
Because we might only use the tourer a few times a year, the cost of a Southern Cross couldn't be justified. So, we bought an Oztrail Tourer 9 Plus. It has an extended rear section, like the Primus one also mentioned here. We got the side pole kit thrown in for total cost of $329.00.
It seems whenever we go camping it rains, and nearly every time we pitched the Oztrail, yep, down it came, right on cue. It has handled intense continuous rain and wind pretty well.
For the money, they are a good unit.
AnswerID: 362425

Reply By: Member -Signman - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:19

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:19
Southern Cross !! I got ours direct from them . It was an 'ex-display' (which means it had been erected at a trade show for a few days) and saved about $300.00 !!
Very easy and quick to erect. Very stable (when guyed) in high winds. Good waterproofing.
Probably, because of the quality material used, a bit bulky to pack- but does pack reasonably flat.

AnswerID: 362431

Reply By: Rod, Sydney - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:25

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:25
We have a Serengeti Safari Bow for when we might stay in a place for a few nights. They are very strong and handle rain and wind easily. Like all tents of this size and quality it's heavy. We prefer not to to put it up every day so carry a pop-up 2 man for when we want an easy set-up. We've had it for nearly 10 years and it is still in great condition.

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AnswerID: 362432

Reply By: Madfisher - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 13:47

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 13:47
Check out Roman tents. I have a centre pole tent and about to buy the large Macquarie. Quality and back up is good and half the price of Southern Cross.
Cheers Pete
AnswerID: 362441

Reply By: troopy 2005 - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 19:00

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 19:00
We have a 15 year old freedom Family tourer,with there specially made awning .This tent sleeps 5 in comfort ,great ventillation in hot weather ,cosy in cold weather and very strong in rains and storms.
These are by far the best tent on the market.
If money is no object ,buy one.
AnswerID: 362479

Reply By: curious - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 08:10

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 08:10
I have 3 tents: dome, small hiking and a Southern Cross, and still use all three. If I'm staying in one place for several days, the dome provides ample space especially in inclement weather where I've got room to move around. I broke several fibreglass poles trying to put the dome up in a very strong wind and it takes 30 mins to set up.

The Southern Cross is a great tent, expensive but in the past, a good tent has lasted me 15-20 years and I get a lot of use out of them. Great for overnight camping, fast setup and you can put it up in a gale. Only problem is when it rains, it really needs an annex to protect the entrance area from getting wet. I use a centre pole for overnight, side poles if in one place for >1 day.

Evaluate your own needs, jotting them down on paper helps define them. Quality tents are good yet sometimes your needs change over time as well.

- Peter
AnswerID: 362541

Reply By: peterjg - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:51

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:51
After our not so good experience with the Primus Tourer we decided on the Oztrail 10 Tourer. While the Primus had some great features we were let down by the bad workmanship.

So far we are happy with the Oztrail but I have some small complaints. 1. The poles that they provide with the tent are not great quality, loose fitting, not quite the right length etc. 2. The inlet for a power cord can not be sealed and so it is possible for small little nasties to get in. 3. They don't provide enough pegs and guy ropes.
4.The side pole kit sold for Oztrail Tourers is not designed for the Tourer 10 plus so they do not fit as well as they could.

While in Tassy recently we didn't get any rain so not sure how good it will keep out the water. Hopefully better than the Primus did!
AnswerID: 364377

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