Having camped a bit over the years I have some real reservations about setting up big tents. Historically this involved a heavy and thick canvas tent, big, thick poles and guy ropes that were strong enough to hold the QEII in dock. In more recent times this has evolved into lightweight tents with fibreglass poles and simple set ups – well simple is not usually the word I’d use.
So it was that I found myself heading up to Lake Monduran to test some new camping gear from Coleman Australia. We had a nine person tent, the Coleman Chalet 9CV Dome Tent, a bunch of chairs, a great little cooker, a handy and light table and a couple of different lights to test. The camping gear almost made the fishing second fiddle, but let’s be honest, there is no chance of that!
The Chalet 9CV is a cracker of a tent. It’s big, measuring 630 x 290 x 215cm(h), has three rooms, lots of ventilation and is supremely simple to erect. Our first attempt, straight form the handy carry case with wheels, saw the tent erected in less than 10 minutes without instructions. That was without the fly because Monduran was in the middle of a 30ºC heatwave in mid-September when we arrived and there was no need for the fly.
It’s well worth talking about the set up because it was so simple. We started by unrolling the tent and placing a peg in each corner. From there we moved onto the fibreglass poles – a situation that can go very badly if you choose not to read instructions.
The poles and tags were all colour coded. You couldn’t get it wrong! There are four yellow poles and two grey poles, each with corresponding yellow or grey tags for the clips. Even the pole sleeves were colour coded. So it’s in with the poles, place them in their appropriate clips and lugs and the tent is erected. It really is that simple.
The overall feeling about the tent when we erected it was that someone who has actually been camping and knows the ins and outs of setting one of these behemoths up designed this tent. I was hooked straight away.
Internally the Chalet 9CV has a wealth of ventilation. There are skylights in the middle room (used for storage and eating on our trip), both front and back doors have meshed and privacy D-flaps, both bedrooms have a big meshed D-flap window and smaller ventilation window down low and the bedroom doors are big D-flaps with the ability to have the top third zipped down for even more ventilation. Without the fly on it was like sleeping outdoors. Each bedroom also has a small air port where a small fan can be positioned to pump in cool air or expel warm air.
While the ventilation is absolutely first rate, there are a number of other features on this tent that have been very well thought out.
If you want comfort or just need power, the Chalet 9CV has a small power access zipper into the middle room. This allows you to use a powered light in the middle room and, to accommodate this, Coleman has designed into the tent a series of power cord clips and a light clip so the power cord can snake its way from the unobtrusive access zipper, up the side of the tent to the hanging light. It’s brilliant as it keeps the power cord out of foot traffic areas and means you do not have that annoying hanging cord whacking you in the head every time you go in or out of the tent.
But the power access story gets better. There is also a power access zipper in each bedroom wall. This means a small electric fan, lights, fridge or even an electric blanket can be used in the bedrooms. These simple access zippers are worth their weight in gold if comfort camping is your end goal.
The bedrooms also feature a great gear organiser on the door wall. This gear organiser can store all those things that usually get chucked all over the floor. Keys, sunnies, sunscreen, watches and wallets can all be stored here, off the floor and in a place you know where they are, which is great come pack up time. There is also a handy LED light fitted into each gear organiser.
The entire floor is a heavy duty PE bucket floor that helps resist the intrusion of ground water. Because the floor bucket comes up so high, it would need to be a serious bit of water flow to get inside the tent. But this design does come at a cost when it is time to sweep out the tent. Each room must be done separately and a hand brush and shovel are handy tools to clean everything up before you pack the tent away.
The tent is tough too, using the now popular Geo design, which is simply the use of tensioned and curved poles to provide rigidity. I know there is more to it, but I’m not an engineer, all I know is a 30 knot northerly couldn’t blow the tent over with only four pegs placed around the outside. Good enough for me.
Pack up time is another area where thought has actually gone into the packaging the product comes in. For once a manufacturer has seen the light and understood that no human can possibly get a tent back into its original packaging. The carry case for the Chalet 9CV is a ripper. It is wheeled so you don’t have to carry around the 24kg dry weight of the tent and it has sturdy carry handles, a full zipper that can open from two ends and two clips that take all the tension off the zipper when everything is packed away. But that does not mention the best thing about the bag: the bag is big.
We managed to get everything back into the bag in a form not even closely resembling that in which it came and yet there was still room in the bag. This means you’re not popping a hernia trying to squeeze everything in only to burst the zipper or rip the stitching on the side. At pack up time this small piece of sensibility was a Godsend. Well done, Coleman.
The Chalet 9CV is an absolute cracker of a tent for a family with kids, a large group or a couple who want to sleep at one end and use the other end for storage and a change room. It comes with a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty so you know it is built to last.
If you want a big tent, take the time to have a look at this ripper from Coleman. I really did love it and for around $550, it’s a great investment in an outdoor, healthy lifestyle.
Check out the Coleman Australia website at www.colemanaustralia.com.au for more information and to find your nearest stockist.Reads: 11221