Shopping for Isaac’s birthday I came across a sale on tents. Stacked among the available options at REI was a group of Hobitat 6 tents. Tent and added vestibule was about $300. We needed a new ten. The last one, only three years old was already worn out from adventures in the Alaska wilderness. We quickly decided to make the purchase and hurried home to try it out.
We had fun watching the living room be consumed as the kids set the tent up inside the house. It filled the space nicely, but the vestibule immediately appeared poorly designed. We decided to give it a try on our next raft trip, however, would pack a spare tent just in case the new one failed.
In the wilderness
Day one on the river was wonderful. An almost warm September sun and cool breeze kept us company until lunch time. The sky opened up and a steady drizzle turned into a gentle rain. A brief intermission allowed us to setup camp for the night and the drizzle returned. Early morning brought in a heavy rain. I awoke briefly to listen to the rhythm of the drops hitting the tent and fell quickly back to sleep.
I crawled out at day break to make a pot of coffee and hot cocoa and found a giant pool of water collected on the top of the tent. The fly was tight; however, where the poles crossed at the top created an unsupported center now full of water. As I pulled on my boots I discovered the added vestibule had failed as well. The vestibule loosened during the night from the weight of the water and the tent sagged and funneled water onto our gear.
As the kids emptied the tent Shelby rolled back the sleeping bags to discover a pool of water on the floor under the sleeping pads. The door opposite the vestibule had collected water within the flap protecting the zipper. Once filled, the water easily seeped into the tent and onto the floor. The sleeping pads kept us above the pool of water. Our sleeping bags each have a gore tex bivy sack, adding to the warmth and kept us dry when slipped off the pad and into the pools of water.
The REI Hobitat 6 Tent is a leaking nightmare. It didn’t make it through one rain fall without failing. A serious storm and much more of our gear would have been wet. This tent design could not have been tested by REI or they simply decided to sell it despite its failures. When back in town we immediately returned it, wet in the bag. The customer service rep was uninterested in hearing the issues and simply processed the return. A bit anticlimactic, we were hoping for a conversation to express concern with the sale of junk in Alaska. Instead we were met with indifference. REI has some good gear but also terribly inadequate gear. Be careful what you buy!
If you need a large family tent look at the REI Base Camp model. These tents are much tougher and the fly is able to keep you warm and dry.