REI Base Camp 4 Full Review

by retreadfitness

I have been camping for over 45 years and I know what types of tents that I don't want to camp in. My favorite all time camping tent is the REI Base Camp 4.

Are you looking for a family camping tent that is easy to set up and one that will keep you warm and dry in almost any condition that is thrown at you? Look no further than the Base Camp 4 sold by REI for the ultimate in camping comfort.

Disasters To Avoid With A Camping Tent

If you have been camping for some time, it's highly likely that you experienced a few miserable nights while trying to sleep.  Nobody enjoys being cold, wet, and plagued by bugs.  If you don't have the correct shelter to sleep in, your entire camping trip will be a disaster.

The Base Camp 4 is one of the sturdiest tents on the market.  If you are looking to stay warm and dry, this is the tent for you.  I have a lot practice with both good tents and bad tents.  Owning a bad tent sure gives me an appreciation for this sturdy shelter that has yet to fail me.

If Any Of The 3 Tenting Disasters Have Happened To You, Then You Need An REI Base Camp 4

  1. Your tent has leaked water through the seams and the floor during a rain storm.
  2. You  asked your neighbor for help while setting up the tent.
  3. Your tent collapsed in the middle of the night.

When I took my family of 4 on a camping trip 10 years ago, it was a disaster.  Mind you, I am not new to camping.  I spent 6 months on the road touring the United States on a bicycle and I camped anywhere that would keep me dry for the night.  However, when it came to family camping, I was at a complete loss.  We bought an inexpensive 8 man tent at Target that ripped while putting it up.  It took me nearly an hour to put up the tent because it was irregular in shape.  The tent was not free standing.  Several of the tent stake straps ripped making this tent a "free falling" tent. That was the last time that I bought a cheap tent.

I replaced the tent with high quality Eureka free standing tent that lasted 2 camping seasons and was put on the "injured" list when it flew out of our cargo carrier that I forgot to close.  That tent was replaced with an REI Base Camp 4 tent that has been used on 6 camping trips that were each 3 weeks in length.

The Base Camp 4 Has Plenty Of Wiggle Room

This tent is designed to fit for 4 adults comfortably.  There is a full 60 square feet of living area and is 5 feet tall at the highest point.  We like to call our tent the camping condo. While I may be more inclined to use a larger tent for adults, we have more than enough room for my wife and 2 children.  We usually bring in a few duffel bags filled with the next days' clothing.  I am 6 feet tall and I can stretch out all the way.  It's not tall enough to stand in which is not a concern for me because I use a tent for sleeping.

Having a large tent can also have it's drawbacks.  My 2 children would treat the inside of the tent like  one of those bouncers that people  bring to birthday parties.

The Base Camp 4 Can Easily Be Set Up By One Person

Are you ambitiously lazy when you go on camping trips?  I will not buy a camping tent unless I can set the tent up by myself in 15 minutes or less.  All the poles of this tent are color coded and connected with elastic cords.  The instructions for putting up the tent are sewn into the storage case (just in case you are the type of person who looses or tosses instructions in the trash can).

The Base Camp 4 is a free standing tent.  This means that you do not have to use tent stakes.  I would never leave the tent un-staked unless you have all your sleeping gear placed inside incase you get hit by a gusty wind storm while out on a hike.  I left many tents un-staked only to return and find them blown a few hundred feet away.  Free standing gives you the benefit of setting up the tent without stakes if you are in a rock area where tent stakes will not work.

The Base Camp 4 Has A Built In Sky Light

Are you the type of camper that likes camp under the stars and still stay protected by a shelter?  We camped numerous nights without the rain fly to watch shooting stars.  The roof of the tent is made with see through nylon mesh that gives you the feeling of having a skylight!  If you plan on camping  in an area that does not get rain during the camping season, then you will love to sleep in this tent without the rain fly because you can star gaze all night through the mesh roof.

We got hit with a nocturnal thunderstorm while camping in Moab, Utah.  We did not have the rain fly attached.  No problem.  It took less than 2 minutes to attach the rain fly in the storm.  Now we attach the rain fly and peel it back enough to see the stars.

Base Camp 4 Cons

Base Camp 4 Cons

This tent is heavy weighing over 16 pounds when fully packed.  Ditch the heavy military grade metal stakes for light weight stakes.  

The door zippers are super tight to zip and unzip.  If it was not for the 100% satisfaction guarantee on this tent, I would have been reluctant to keep it because I often fear that the zipper is going break.

The Base Camp 4 Is Bulky

This is not the smallest tent for packing away.  We have a Subaru Outback wagon and we store the tent in a Thule rooftop cargo carrier.  It's one of the largest items that we store in the cargo carrier.

Even with these drawbacks, the tent is so robust, easy to set up, big enough for our family, I cannot imagine camping in a tent that is delicate as a butterfly.  This tent is built for the woods.

This Family Camping Tent Has Storage Pockets To Keep You Organized

When I empty my pockets out before going to bed I like having a place to store my wallet, flash light, keys, cell phone, pocket knife, bug repellent, etc.  Thank goodness this tent has side pockets, storage attic and a vestibule to pack away all your loose items.  We could empty the back of Subaru and stow away most of it in our tent if we needed more room.

I like to keep everything organized on a camping trip. Nothing is  worse than digging through a mess trying to find a piece of equipment such as a flash light or hatchet that you need now.  This tent will help you keep your gear in it's proper place.

When we leave our campsite during the day, we often stowed away items such as lanterns, firewood, hatchets, and water jugs to keep them out of sight of opportunists who may claim our property (thieves!).

Where To Buy The Base Camp 4

The only place to buy the Base Camp 4 tent is at REI.  If you don't want to pay the full price for the tent, you have the option of looking for a used one on eBay or Craigslist.  But why bother with a used tent since it does not come with the100% satisfaction guarantee.

REI garage sale.  People boast about the great deals that they scored at the REI  garage sale in their local store.  My advice is buy only low  dollar items because if the item was returned, there probably is something wrong with it.  I purchased a cargo carrier that looked flawless until I  got home.  My wife pointed out that the hinges were bent.  REI does not allow returns from their garage sales.  You  buy it you own it.

Updated: 02/22/2012, retreadfitness
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