Part 2 - The Decision
And now the big reveal, which tent did I choose, and why?
After this research, I concluded that the best tent for my needs, was the James Baroud - Explorer.
Below is a list of how the Explorer Evolution met my needs in each category.
o This tent comfortably fits myself, my girlfriend, and a couple of duffle bags with our clothes in it.
o If also fit on my Gobi roof rack with minimal overhang.
o With my budget of $4,500, this tent was well within budget.
o It increased my miles per gallon when compared to my soft shell tent.
o It has a 5 year warranty.
o Due to this warranty, the resale value appears to be higher, and the material quality will help with this as well.
o The tent is designed for many more than 30 nights per year.
o It is large enough inside to relax, play cards, or just enjoy the morning views.
o The materials are designed to withstand 70+mph winds, and all types of extreme weather.
o Though heavy, the fiberglass tent was still substantially lighter than some of its counterparts.
o I am able to set up this tent by myself, in less than one minute. The tent can also be closed in less than a minute, though it helps to have some weight on top. (more on this later) For me, this meant no more wet clothes, burnt knees, or aching back. This is the best feature of this tent.
o The mattress feels like I am in a five star hotel.
o The ladder is sturdy, and of lightweight aluminum. Though there is a small learning curve in order to use it best, I do find it extremely comfortable.
·Bonus Pros and Cons
-James Baroud has been around for years, and this is their second generation of hard-shell tents.
o Customer Service/Warranty
-Rin of OK4wd went above and beyond to help with all aspects of the process, and James Baroud has an industry toppling 5 year warranty.
o Wind noise
-This has reduced with the James Baroud Explorer, thanks to its sleek aerodynamic design
o Loss of space in truck bed, or on roof rack.
-Though I did lose space on my roof rack, one of my favorite features of the Explorer is its luggage rack.
-This allows me to store either a full size spare, firewood, or even camping gear on my roof, thus substantially helping with the rack capacity lost.
-This weight on top (up to 65lbs), also helps with closing the tent, as I have found it takes some muscle to close this tent at elevation.
-This tent looks great, especially in black. I love the subtlety to the styling.
-When the tent is open I am not disturbed by harsh neon colored fabric either, the tent merely blends in and allows me to appreciate nature.
o Miscellaneous Technological Features (aka Creature Comforts.)
-This tent came with enough features to keep my girlfriend and I in “relaxation mode”.
-The Solar Powered Ventilation Fan helps keep the tent cool and dry, and even allows usage when the tent is closed. I no longer worry about mildew
-The LED lighting is multifaceted. The intent is to charge the light via cigarette lighter while in route, this way you have a bright LED flashlight but also a tent light for when the lights go down. My only hope for their next iteration, is to allow this light to charge from the built in solar panel, rather than the cigarette lighter. Otherwise, it works great.