They’ve done it again! As you well know by reading my review of The Bunker by Snugpak, I absolutely love that tent. The Bunker is made just as its name implies, rock solid quality. There was only one drawback…the size.
For most people The Bunker would be perfectly sized, same would be true for me if I didn’t like to use an air mattress. However, a bad back from being broken a couple times makes an air mattress almost a requirement for me to get a good night’s sleep. All that plushness made The Bunker a bit tight, space wise. Now, add my wife into the mix and The Bunker just didn’t work. The answer…The Cave!
So, remember how kids behave on Christmas morning? Sometimes Christmas Eve? You know, all wanting to get into their presents and being super excited? How do you think I felt when Snugpak shipped The Cave to me?
But first, information straight from their website –
The Cave 4-Man Tent from Snugpak is the ultimate 4-person tent! This all-new 4-person tent features durable Flysheet Polyester RipStop construction with a 5000mm waterproof polyurethane coating that can handle large amounts of rainfall. Other innovative features include five vents, taped seams, a fixed ground sheet and No-See-Um Mesh to keep the insects out. The Cave is comfortable and spacious enough for four people, with two doors for easy entering and exiting. Includes a Basic Repair Kit.
- Flysheet is lightweight 210ft Polyester RipStop pu with a 5000mm waterproof polyurethane coating
- Inner tent constructed of 190ft nylon with 50D Polyester No-See-Um-Mesh
- DAC Featherlite NSL anodized TH72M aluminum poles with pressfit connectors
- Includes 25 Alloy Stakes and a Basic Repair Kit
- All seams are taped sealed
- Features 2 Doors
- 18″L x 8″D packsize
OK, now back to the review…
I am sitting there Wednesday evening, still recovering from a little bout with a stomach bug when the UPS driver shows up. The dogs went a bit wild barking and defending the house from the potential threat of the UPS driver. I am hollering at them to be quiet and they are trying to eat through the door. Yeah, a great scene to be proud of.
Fast forward just a bit…I get The Cave out of the box and first thing I notice is its weight. This is not a backpacking tent; maybe a mule or horse packing tent, but not a backpacking tent. At least not for me. But that is NOT the mission of this tent to begin with. So let me back up a little and state the mission of this tent…
“Provide shelter for two people, one dog, and limited amount of gear in four-season conditions, including winds of up to 60mph.”
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Now that the mission is defined let me continue the review in relation to the tent’s mission. Also, it might be beneficial for you to read the original review of The Bunker before continuing reading this review. < click here to read the review on The Bunker tent by Snugpak >
I got the tent out of the box and noticed its weight. Since this is not meant to be a backpacking tent I was impressed with its relatively light weight. And I also noticed immediately the “tactical color” scheme. Nice!
Yup, I am not a florescent orange or lime green kind of tent guy. If I need a bright color to find my tent I have much bigger problems and issues to deal with. I am a “blend-in-to-the-environment” kind of guy. I will show you some great pictures on that a little later.
I also noticed that the seams were well sewn and taped against water leakage. Actually, the sewing throughout the tent was very high quality, all seams taped and the tent is obviously built to a high standard.
All the strapping is just as solid and just as high quality, right down to the brass grommets. In line with the high quality construction tradition of Snugpak, The Cave rates right up there at the top.
So, it is dark outside, I am still a little sick, the temperature outside is dropping, so what is a man to do now? Yup, exactly! I set up the tent in the spare bedroom. But, the rest of the review is a combination of spare-bedroom and back-yard experience and comments.
Unlike The Bunker, The Cave is not a “fly-first” tent. That is OK with me, I’m not tied to the whole “fly-first” concept.
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Traditional tents are just fine with me. I am laying out the tent and I am impressed with the foot print, this is a sizeable tent…just what I wanted!
I got is all squared up and ready for the poles…all 5 of them. Yeah, 5 poles…I got confused. Maybe I should have read the instructions.
Speaking of the instructions…Sungpak is ahead of the curve once again. Snugpak provides pretty simple instructions on paper (not really the right term for the material) that resists destruction as well as rain. I am thinking something along the lines of a direct nuclear hit would be required to destroy the instruction sheet. Nice job Snugpak…you guys think of everything.
I read the instructions and realize there are three sets of poles. One set of two poles for the main support of the tent. Another set of poles to push the tent out to its full size and tautness. And these poles are easy to identify based on the color coordination between the pole color and the color of the pole sleeve that they go into. Once again…Snugpak thinking it through like a user, not a designer or engineer.
In go the first two poles, then the last two poles. The tips of each pole fit correctly and properly into the grommets on the straps at the corners and in the middle of the tent edges. I love the way they’ve designed the poles, the ends of the poles actually stick in the strap grommets without having to hold them in-place. That really helps when you are putting the tent up by yourself.
As a side note, the poles are extremely high quality and slide right into each other with ease. The metal feels like it is strong as it would ever need to be.
All four poles in-place and up went the tent. Nice! Sweet! The tent is considerably bigger than The Bunker…and that is exactly what I wanted to see.
I couldn’t contain myself, I had to get inside of that tent. As I unzipped the door I noticed that it has the same system as The Bunker. It is actually a two-part door systems with a high-quality piece of material and a separate insect screen door. The insect screen door is really nice when you want some breeze flowing through the tent but no mosquitoes…not even “no-see-ums” can get through that mesh!
Door open…climb inside. Wow! This tent is spacious! I love the size!
The first thin I do is lay down. And there is room to spare. Now, if you look at the picture that shows how The Cave is a four person tent, I have to laugh. It shows for sardines laying shoulder-to-ankles. Well, actually it looks more like four mummies in a tomb. I can’t imagine anyone sleeping like that in a tent. But stranger things have happened.
OK, back to the floor space…The Cave is spacious! And of course what was the next thing I did? Yup! I called to my wife to come into the spare bedroom.
As she came around the corner and through the door I could hear that telltale exhale…I had taken over her spare bedroom once again. The last project was re-outfitting the radio cache. And the spare bedroom bed still has a medical kit contents strewn around. Being my wife has a whole set of special challenges as you can well imagine.
She humored me and climbed into the tent and laid down next to me. And here is a huge compliment to Snugpak…she said, “Nice, I like it.”
Now look, that is a really big deal. My wife is not a tent fan by any stretch of the imagination but she liked The Cave. She left, to go back to doing something…probably watching HGTV looking for my next project. She left me laying there in the tent.
I started looking around the tent and realized that I could see through the tent material. Not just see through the vent opening, but actually see through the tent material. Now that is different!
But, back to the vents first. The tent vents are four strategically placed to allow for nice cross-ventilation. Later I found that those vents line-up perfectly with the rainfly vent openings. The vents in the tent use a sturdy no-see-em sized screen. This ensures that you aren’t getting any little insects coming in through the screening. Same is true for the screen “door” material. Both vents and door are made with 50D Polyester No-See-Um-Mesh Mosquito Net.
Back to the tent material. Although thin enough to be semi-transparent the material is still tough as heck. It is very durable material and I have no doubt can handle rough treatment. Well, short of trying to cut it with a knife.
The floor material is thicker and tougher than the wall material…as it should be. I still wouldn’t use the tent without a stout ground cloth underneath it. But that is true with any tent, at any time, in any location. Then tent floor wraps up the sides to help resist water encroachment. Nice!
While I am looking around the tent I realize that I have plenty of head room in the tent. No, I can’t stand up, but I wasn’t expecting to and I don’t need to, The Cave is not intended to be used for that purpose. But, the inside height of the top of the tent allows for more than adequate room to move around without rubbing my head on the top.
I also noticed that even with my wife in the tent with me, there would have been plenty of room for our two beloved dogs. I’m glad The Cave didn’t force me into making that decision…it would have been a tough one. My wife would not have enjoyed sleeping outside the tent.
That is my way of saying that there is plenty of room inside the cavernous The Cave tent (pun intended). But, there is a bonus room! But let’s talk about the rainfly for a minute first.
I decided to put the rainfly on the tent to see how it fit. Once again…wow!
It fit exactly as you would expect on a high-quality 4-season tent. It came down low, almost to the ground but allowed for plenty of ventilation to move between the fly and the tent. And yes, you want that air movement, even when it is cold. Just remember, no tent is going to keep you warm. Well, if it has a stove it can keep you “warmer” but that is another story altogether.
If the weather is hot there will air movement throughout the tent just using the vents. If it is pouring rain outside, you will still get good air movement without getting rain inside the tent. If it is howling wind in a blinding snowstorm you will be able to close down the vents and there will minimal air movement in your tent.
But what if you want a whole lot of air movement?
Ah yes, that is a great question. And the answer is just a great. The Cave has two doors to it, both the same size. And they are located on opposite sides of the tent. That means you can open both doors, leaving the insect screening door closed, open both doors of the rainfly and you are set with maximum air flow through the tent. I love it! I love it Especially since I live in the desert southwest.
So here is the door layout…
Why is this important? Notice the “double-door” has a flatter face to it? The single-door is more pointed. If I were setting-up camp and expecting high winds, rain, or snow I would would put the “single-door” more pointed end in the direction that the wind was going to come from. That would break the wind around the tent better than the flat/blunt end of the tent.
OK, now back to the “bonus room”…
Remember I mentioned that there were 5 poles?
Four poles go into the tent sleeves for support, the fifth is for the rainfly. And the part of the rainfly that gets that pole is the vestibule. It extends part of the rainfly out to add 16 additional square feet under roof!
Yup, for those of you that do a lot of tent camping you know that is a great place to put boots and other gear that normally take up tent floor space. But now, you can put that gear, especially your boots, outside of the tent but they’re still under roof so dew, rain, or snow won’t bother them. Since my ground cloth extends out that much, I wouldn’t hesitate to put my pack out there as well. The vestibule is another great feature to this feature-rich tent.
And not to be left out…the other end of the tent has about 6 square feet under roof as well. Not near as much functionality as the vestibule, but every little bit counts!
Note: I could enter the tent through either set of doors without getting on my hands and knees. Nice!
In Part #2 I will compare The Cave right next to The Bunker to get a side-by-side comparison of the two tents.
In Part #3 I am going to head out to one of my favorite desert locations and put up the tent. Then I will experiment with different types of camo tarps and shading material. I want to see if I can get the tent to turn invisible. And I want to see if I can realistically use shade material to make the tent usable during the day out in the desert. Yeah, I know, tall order. Possibly an unrealistic expectation. But a guy has got to try, right?
If you just can’t resist and want to buy the tent now :
Series Articles –
- Snugpak – The Cave: Part #1
- Snugpak – The Cave: Part #2
- Snugpak – The Cave: Part #3
Related Articles –
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