The first sign that you've gotten hold of a good cabin tent comes long before you spend your first night in the thing. It comes the moment you set the tent up. For a large shelter with a footprint measuring 16 feet by 10 feet, Eureka!'s Copper Canyon 1610 went up pretty easily. The first time we took the tent out of the box, two people were able to pitch it in about 30 minutes. If that seems like a long time, we can relate nightmare stories about much longer set-up times with tents that had inferior designs.
Eureka! outfitted this tent with steel poles of different colors so users know which ones go where, and pole sections are connected with elastic cords. These two factors removed the guesswork and fumbling that can make set-up a real headache. Also, the set-up process is straightforward and intuitive, and the tent is not over-engineered with unfamiliar attachment systems or other hardware that's difficult to understand.
At the base of the tent, the poles slid over metal pins, which secure the poles easily and effectively, and we didn't have to struggle to put the poles in place. The waterproof, Stormshield fly made of polyester also connected to these pins and went on easily.
You secure the perimeter of the tent base to the ground with large, yellow, plastic stakes. OK, here's where we had a bit of a complaint. The plastic was a bit too soft, so we mauled a couple of stakes while pounding them into hard earth. The metal poles included for other attachment points, including guy lines, fared better.
Another sign of a quality tent is that it stands taut and doesn't sag or slump once it's pitched. The Copper Canyon was very stable, and we didn't need to deploy guy lines on a couple of trips when we had fair weather. Oh, one cool detail -- the guy lines stash away in pockets that are sewn to the tent, which means you won't have loose lines flapping around when they're not in use.
We've spent many nights in the backcountry crammed into small shelters, so we like our car camping to be as pleasant as possible. The Copper Canyon 1610 definitely made us feel as if we'd checked into luxury accommodations. It includes an 80-square-foot sleeping area as well as an 80-square-foot screened room, with a zippered panel separating the two. We really appreciated having the screened room to hang out in when it rained or when the mosquitoes descended.
One of the best aspects of this tent is that there are large mesh panels not only on the screened room, but also on the walls of the sleeping area. The entire ceiling of the main body is mesh, and the wall separating the two rooms has a mesh panel. This design allows plenty of air to circulate through the tent and offers great relief if you're napping on a warm afternoon or sleeping during a summer night. With a peak height of 7 feet, 3 inches, this shelter never feels stuffy or claustrophobic, and clear panels in the center of the roof allow light to enter. If you want more privacy, or need to block wind and rain, each mesh window has a solid, fabric panel that can be zipped closed.
One thing we'd note is that the tent is marketed as appropriate for six people, but we wouldn't want to fit more than four people into the sleeping area. Maybe we just like our elbowroom, but we'd feel cramped with six. Of course, two people could sleep in the screened room, but it doesn't have a fabric floor, and you can't completely seal this off to prevent bugs from entering. If you do have several people sharing the tent, you won't feel like you're running into each other, or stepping over each other constantly. Not only is there a door on the screened room, but also two zippered, D-shaped doors on the sleeping room.
As for the basic goal of any tent -- to protect from rain, sun and wind -- the Copper Canyon did its job, with no leaking. After several months of use, the floor and body fabric, made of polyester, held up well without suffering tears or punctures.
Other features that drew nods of approval were the many nylon loops situated inside the tent along the upper proportions of the walls. These allowed us to hang lights and set up clotheslines. If you're in a campsite with an electric outlet, there is a small, zippered port near the base of the screened room where you can run a power cord.
Though this type of shelter is typically called a "cabin" tent, the Copper Canyon's size and creature comforts make it feel more like a palace.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $380
For more information:www.eurekatent.com