I have used and owned a number of tents throughout my life time. My earliest were constructed out of blankets and chairs in my family’s dining room. This progressed to a small, cotton cabin tent (no screening, floor or weather proofing) and has continued for over 50+ years since. My most recent addition arrived just prior to our annual trip to a small island about 10 miles off the tip of Door County, Wisconsin – “Rock Island”.
When buying a tent specifically – I first look at it’s use. Is it for base camp, a pack trip or a paddle. One person, two or a family? For summer use or all four seasons? Will I have to schlep this puppy for miles or tenths of miles? All go into the mix and, frankly I have different tents for different trips.
For this occasion, our tent now houses simply my wife and I. To me that automatically means a 4-person tent, I like my room. It’s a summer trip but can be cold and wet as well – three season camping. Pardon the expression, but it will be cold day in hell before I get my wife on a winter camping trip. Honestly, even I am getting old enough that they have lost their luster.
My go to tent for the past 15 years or so for just such an occasion has been a dome tent with our most recent version being one of the REI 6-person tents. Last year we decided it was that particular tents last year. It deserves it’s rest. So, a new tent was on the shopping list for this year. I got a little excited! I love buying new gear!
At the very beginning of my “Scouting Career” (read helping with the troop, their campouts and high adventure trips), I purchased my first Eureka Timberline 4-man tent. It was their “standard” model. And it was “bomb proof”. Over the years it has held up to driving wind and rain, cold, snow, up to a full capacity of 4 people – and performed well beyond my expectations.
Along the way, I noticed Eureka had introduced an upgraded version of the tent – the “Timberline SQ Outfitter:. A full bathtub floor, heavier frame poles and pole knuckles, and a fully coated rain fly that went nearly all the way down to the ground. Adjustment tabs on the corners insured a taught fit. It became the obvious choice for our new tent.
The 4-man SQ Outfitter offers a foot print that is roughly 9ft by 7ft with a height of a bit over 4 ft. More than enough room for the largest person, though, again, I enjoy my space and see this as a 2-man tent much more than a 4-man tent.
The frame poles are held together by shock cord and connected by integrated knuckles. I found this integration much superior to their traditional knuckles.
The bathtub rises high on each side and the rear. The front lip is easily 4-inches off the ground.
There is an interesting little cross member that helps open the space that is available inside the tent. It helped quite a bit.
I am a big promoter of ground cloths – both inside and out. My typical choice are the 5x7 quilted survival blankets. Since ours are beginning to show their age, I thought I’d pick up a couple of new ones. Much harder to do than I expected. However, as I was picking up a “blue tarp” as a new dining fly, I noticed they had 6x8 “blue tarps” on sale for $5. SOLD! One for inside and one for under the floor.
I cannot recommend this particular tent strongly enough. I have survived some outrageous weather in its predecessor and have seen this particular model float quite nicely while its occupants remained perfectly dry. With 5 nights under its belt, we rolled and pack it for the trip home – and are waiting for our next chance to enjoy a little quiet time around the camp fire.
Price should be in the $350 to $390 range for a tent that will easily hold up of a decade or more of pretty heavy work.
The Eureka Timberline SQ Outfitter – my go to tent for family camping or paddle trips!
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