6/14/12

Camping in the new tent!!

Thanks to a clearance on tents at Sports Authority, we are now proud owners of a new tent (our third tent we own). The small one we own - Eureka Terragon - is really a backpacking tent where there is room for two in the tent as long as the gear is stored outside under the vestibules and works fine, but lacks the options and comfort of standing up in the tent, using a cot and having room to think. Our large RAGBRAI 8 person+ tent is designed without a floor in the main room which is perfect for rolling the bikes in, storing gear out of the elements, eating inside on a table, a 7 foot ceiling, and still providing 3 "cabins" with bathtub waterproof floors for large group camping. But it is a monster to haul around for 2 people camping. So I was looking to add a medium sized solution for Tara and I to camp. Something I could stand up in (which limits your options when you are 6'4"), something easy and quick to set up, something that didn't weigh a ton and take up too much storage place in the car.

I looked at the Marmot Halo 6 ($529), and the Kelty Hula House 6 ($399) as my top picks. Great reviews on both, yet some concerns on both which I could live with. I don't know who picks these arbitrary numbers of how many people a tent will hold, but when it says 4 people - I immediately think of 2 people with gear. When it says 6 people - I immediately think of 2 people with gear, cots and dogs (that's us). So I was really focusing on the 6 person domed tents that have a floor space of 10' x 10' with steep walls to utilize the full space, bed on cots, store gear under the cots and have room for any family pets comfortably.

Needless to say, when I say the Kelty Hula House 6 on clearance with a major price drop - I jumped on it. Two or three nights in a motel this summer and it is paid for in the cost savings. Not a bad trade off even if the tent doesn't last as long as we hope it will.

To inaugurate the Hula House 6 - we hooked up with our friend Lisa Seidenkranz to overnight at Lake Ahquabi Tuesday evening. We decided to leave the dogs at home for this test run, but we brought our mountain bikes and I brought my loppers to do some work on the race course's canopy that was growing in fast and furious.

Here I am presenting the new Hula House 6...

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True to the reviews and video, this thing set up in less than 10 minutes. Perfect!!!

Maybe not a flashy bright color, but the light color of the rain canopy really will be a benefit when the sun and heat are shining down. We lucked out with temperatures in the 70's during the day and down in the uppper 50's at night for comfortable camping temperatures requiring warm clothes. The tent "blends in" and we like it.

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The backside view of the Hula House...

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Tenting in the old campground...

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I did a lap at race speed to see what shape the course was in and what would need trimming. Things were very dry and super fast thanks to a lack of rain (I'll take it!!!) this year. I quickly saw which sections needed attention from my loppers and which needed the weed wacker/mower which I will do on another trip. After my lap, I cooled down next to the lake with the ladies watching a blue heron.

The ladies stoked a fire while I cleaned up and got changed into my "evening wear".

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The new bathrooms and shower facility out at Lake Ahquabi are excellent. We cooked salmon, shallots, zucchini, rice and had a nice dinner. We visited until about 10:30 and then hit the sacks.

The morning involved coffee, poached eggs, oatmeal and toast.

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Homemade bread getting toasted...

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We took Lisa's dog, Annie, for a walk after breakfast. Tara and I suited up and did a lap on the trail before packing up camp. Tara went home and I headed out for 3 hours of trimming the trail until my hands were numb and I was hungry (stayed until 2 pm). I didn't get it all trimmed, but enough that the trail is passable without get too tickled by leaves and branches sticking out in one's face. I think camping out there once a week the next few weeks might be the ticket to get me to do the trail work and not have to drive back and forth between town. And it is fun to camp out there as well.

Final thoughts on the purchase of the Kelty Hula House 6...

Pros: It's perfect for our needs. Not too big, not too small, price was right, set up is quick and easy. The tent is roomy and comfortable. The canopy snaps to the tent with ease and minimal stakes are required to keep everything in place.

Cons: The actual "hula" is, as the reviews stated, a bit difficult to assemble and I found it much more difficult to disassemble it requiring two of us and some choice words at our first attempt. As some reviews stated, you have to go through 3 zippers to exit the tent in the middle of the night - one for the screen door of the tent, and 2 on the vestibule/rain cover. That's a minor inconvenience, but Tara did point it out as she ventured "into the night" for a pit stop.


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