“ Brand: Hi Gear „
With a camping trip planned for July the hubby and I decided it was time for a new tent, the last one had taken a bit of a battering in a storm and was looking the worse for wear. We were looking for something with a sewn in groundsheet, three spacious bedrooms, a large living area and plenty of head room. When we saw my brother in laws Hi Gear Sahara 6 we decided it was the one for us. We managed to get hold of an ex display one for £150. The Sahara 6 has an rrp of £600 but can usually be found for around half that price, and is currently on sale in Go Outdoors for £249.97.
On paper the Sahara 6 seemed to meet all our requirements, the tent has three large double bedrooms, a sewn in groundsheet, 215cm of headroom and a large living area.
I would class my husband and me as semi experienced campers so we set off on our holidays without a proper practice at putting the tent up, we had seen one pitched and my husband had had a little play around at inserting the poles on the back garden.
We arrived at the campsite quite tired after a 4 hour drive. We decided to get on with pitching the tent as we did not want to risk the weather turning on us. We scouted around and found a reasonably flat patch; the tent has a 710cm footprint, to pitch what would be our home for the next seven days. The ground was quite damp as there had been some heavy rainfall the day before and we really wished that we had brought the footprint or some tarpaulin to erect the tent on as we did not relish the thought of the tent getting a mucky bottom.
Now I could tell a lie and say the tent was a dream to pitch, but it was not, it never is when the husband and I are tired and the kids are tired and grumpy too. We spread the tent out and spent a good few minutes working out where the front door was situated, then for seem reason we completely bi-passed pegging it out and started to insert the poles, the poles are easy to click together and they insert into the runs really easily with very little snagging, there are three thick black poles that support the main tent area and then each bedroom area has colour coded poles, making it fairly easy to put up. The main entrance to the tent has much larger thicker poles that click together, very similar to awning poles, again this was fairly straight forward to put together, as usual we did not find the instructions till we had finished putting the tent up. We then pegged the bottom of the tent out; there are lots and lots of very sturdy pegs provided with the tent, the guy ropes come ready attached so it is just a case of unfurling them and setting them up to give the tent extra support. It took 4 of us about 30 minutes to pitch. The tent looks impressive from the outside, and when we unzipped the door and stepped inside, we were impressed, this is the cathedral of tents.
What I liked about the tent was that the outer pitched first, meaning that if we had been caught out by the rain we would have had shelter up pretty quickly and could then fit the bedrooms with out the worry of them getting wet. Each of the bedrooms is again colour co-ordinated, easily matching up to the red, yellow of blue fabric tags. We chose not to put the bedrooms in there designated places as this meant there would be a back door to the tent, which we did not want.
The bedrooms have a ground space of 230cm x 200cm and headroom of 215cm. There was more than enough room in each bedroom for a double airbed and our bags to go down the side of the mattress, the height in the bedrooms meant it was easy to stand up in there and get dressed. Each bedroom had plenty of storage pockets that easily hold a mobile phone, mp3 player and torch and a few other bits and bobs. Each bedroom has a small zip in the corner to allow you to run a power supply through. The bedrooms have large doors with good strong zips, at the top of the door is a mesh ventilation panel that can be unzipped separately to the door, we found these great for airing the tent out in the mornings.
Earlier in the review I mentioned a back door to the tent, this is achieved when the bedrooms are put in the designated spots, the middle bedroom has doors on both sides, and this means it matches up with a door in the back section of the tent, and this also means the groundsheet is not fully sewn-in in this area. We wanted to make the tent a bit more secure so did not match the bedrooms up. Unfortunately this means there is a bit of a draft and another problem that I will go into in a bit.
Provided with the tent are multiple storage pockets, these are easy to hang onto the available toggles under the windows in the main living area. We did not put too much in these pockets as we felt it could tear the tent, we used them for baby wipes, bin liners, hairbrushes etc.
Once the bedrooms were up and airbeds inflated we set about making the living are cosy, the space is large enough for three blow up settees and a small camping table on which we stored our tea making facilities. There are two small zips near the ground allowing for a power supply to be fed through them, one zip is between two of the bedrooms and the other is near the main entrance. We also had a large rug down and a heater and we were very cosy in the evenings watching TV.
The main entrance to the tent is large and porch like, in this area we were able to set up another small table and store a lot of bits like towels, food and any souvenirs we had brought. The porch area also had plenty of room for us to kick off and leave our shoes.
We did have a small problem with the porch set up though, on the first day after we had pitched up and cleaned ourselves up we pottered off for dinner, when we came back we were greeted with a large amount of seagull poop on the entrance and the pole above the door seemed to be poking up at a strange angle. A small amount of investigation led us the discovery that the red pole that supports the whole porch had snapped clean in two, we thought this was down to a hefty sea gull and soon had the pole duct tapped back together. A bit of internet investigation when we got back home led me to the discovery that the red pole snapping is a regular fault that is not covered by the guarantee; apparently the pole can take no weight whatsoever and a lot of users of Sahara 6 have suffered the same issue.
One of the things I love about this tent is the amount of windows. The porch area has two large triangular windows, with inside covers for privacy, there is a sunlight in the centre of the ceiling, also with a cover that can zipped and unzipped to let in the light. The widows seem to be all around the tent and let in lots of light, they are clear plastic to about two thirds of the way up and then they become mesh, the outside of the windows have a cover that can be zipped and rolled up or fastened down depending on the weather or the level of privacy you want.
During our camping trip we had a couple of bad rain storms; the tent held up to these well thanks to its 3000mm hydrostatic head, water repellent zips and sewn-in ground sheet. We had hardly any drips and no water ingress, or so we thought.
About halfway through our week we started to suffer with high levels of humidity in the tent, lots of little water droplets were forming on the ceiling of the tent, we thought this was down to our use of a heater in the evenings, so we made sure we aired the tent out properly each morning. Unfortunately the humidity problem continued, this was when our son decided to tell us that it felt like there was water under his bedroom compartment, a little bit of investigation revealed a huge puddle inside the tent under the middle bedroom. Luckily the bedrooms have sewn-in water proof groundsheets too so he was not getting wet. The water had come in through the back door of the tent because the groundsheet is not sewn-in in that area, and there is nothing properly sealing the door way up, no zips or velcro. Strangely the bottom of the backdoor is left to flap freely and allow wind and rain to get in the tent. We managed to dry most of the puddle up and luckily we had very little rain after that.
The seams of the tent are very strong and well sewn, we had no problems with splitting seams or rain coming through them.
Due to the bad weather the ground under the tent became very marshy; you could actually squish your toes into the mud under the groundsheet. We were concerned what effect this was having to the underside of the tent, luckily when we packed up it was the work of a few minutes to clean the underside off.
Packing the tent up is an easy job, it is best to make sure the inner and the outer of the tent is dry and free from rubbish. To pack away it is just a case of unfastening and packing away the bedrooms and storage pockets, then zipping the doors and windows up, tying up the guy ropes, un pegging the groundsheet and then folding it neatly in on itself. The tent, poles and bedrooms easily fitted back into the tent bag.
Our camping trip in the tent was very comfortable, there was more than enough room for the four of us to be comfortable, each having our own space, on the last weekend my elder son and his fiancé joined us, even with six of us living and sleeping in the there was still plenty of room. I think you could probably get a few more people sleeping quite comfortably before space becomes an issue.
We chose not to cook in the tent and made full use of the extra poles that come with the tent to hold the door up canopy style; this was great for cooking under and stretched the living space when the weather was good.
The main entrance to the tent has a fully zipped in fly sheet and then a outer door that zips down both sides but not along the bottom, unlike the backdoor though the main entrance door is long enough to fit securely over the gap at the bottom of the door therefore keeping the rain and wind outside where it belongs.
Over all I think the Sahara 6 is a great family tent, it pitches quickly and easily with the minimum of fuss, the bedrooms are large, the mostly sewn in ground sheet keeps out the wind, rain and bugs (apart from the backdoor bit). The 215cm of height is fantastic as it means everyone can stand up comfortably inside the tent, the massive living area is great for relaxing in, we had three blow up sofa's, two camping tables and our various possessions in here comfortably. The only downsides are the snapping pole on the porch and the dodgy backdoor, but these are easily solved with duct tape for the pole and sewing some velcro along the backdoor to seal it better. I can understand the inclusion of a backdoor, but for my family it is quite pointless and minor security issue.
All things considered I happily give the Sahara 6 4 out of 5 stars, I am looking forward to camping in it again next year, although it is large it goes up quickly and does not put me off using it for short trips as well as long ones. I personally would not of been happy paying the full rrp of £600 but would happily purchase it again at less than £250, there are extra accessories available such as a footprint (stops the bottom getting mucky) carpet and awning, all of which I am considering purchasing for next year.
Thank you for reading.