Gear & Equipment
Another Family Tent: Mountainsmith Conifer 5 Takes Best Value Award
Last week OutdoorX4 Magazine dropped the new issue and included a glancing review and comparison of six different basecamp/family tents. Months ago, the editor hit me up to join the team of reviewers and he charged me the responsibility of putting the Montainsmith Conifer 5 to the test. So, my little pony-tailed army of two daughters and a pretty wife lugged this sucker out to the forest for an autumn weekend of bike riding, chilling out under the trees, star gazing, and, of course, snuggling um, camping.
It's a three-pole design dome tent—and the market has an endless supply of three-pole tents, so it's not unique. But that's not the point. It's that there's very little chance you can find a less complicated family-size tent to pitch. That's one of the best aspects of the Conifer 5. It's straightforward and fast. But due to the size of the Conifer 5, yep, it takes more time than a smaller tent. Big surprise? No, not really.
Fortunately for the review, the wind kicked up to 30 mph and lasted all night and well into the following afternoon. With the guy lines staked, the tent hardly let it be known that the winds were as gusty as they were outside. Frankly, it was pretty miserable outside, cold and blowing. But inside? No flapping, no shaking; just a cozy-yet-cavernous sanctuary. I even left this tent set up for four nights in the park behind our house so it'd get some rain (sprinklers each night!). It did just fine.
So, the simple pitch and fantastic wind resistance struck me as the most important aspects to talk about.
Look, I don't want to trivialize the amount of spending cash you have, but this is a $359 3-season tent. I'm a family man, I know that we just don't go throwing around $350 all that quickly. But when it comes to tents, that's a mid-range price. Maybe low, depending on the company you keep. And mid-range quality is what you get with the Conifer 5. So I made the impression to the editor that, hey man, yeah you can spend more and get a better tent but you can also spend less and get a worse tent. I thought it did the job you'd expect from a $350 tent. It has a spacious front vestibule, a rear door with a tiny vestible, pretty good ventilation, a bathtub floor, good zippers and a storage bag that's big enough (unbelieveable, right?). Ultimately, we gave this one the value award. It's a no-nonsense tent that's worth the money you pay for it. When you're ready to move up from some cheap tent you get at Target but not willing to throw down the cash for a higher-end tent that commands $800 or $1000, this might be the one you want. Unless you can't get over that insane green color.
If you want to read the whole review, OutdoorX4 Magazine has dibs on the content for a little while longer, so you'll have to grab an issue for yourself. But it ain't bad. In it you'll also get a story by Kraig Becker (of The Adventure Blog, linkydoo) as he takes the trip of a lifetime through Jordan. There's more, of course, and it's largely 4WD-adventure driven. Don't mind the pun.
I'm putting the photos here that either didn't make the issue or did but lacked the caption. Enjoy.
84 square feet of palatial luxury packs down to a 27”x11” nylon burrito
A peek through the front vestible and into tent.
Stash your hat and gloves in the overhead gear loft; the bathtub floor is pretty standard and puts the seams up off the ground by 6” to reduce the chances of water leaks
Peel back the doors and test for echo
Coffee on the front porch? There's plenty of space in the front vestibule for two adults in chairs.
Just how big is the Mountainsmith Conifer 5? Bobby offers his 6-foot-tall bones to demonstrate
Pitched, staked, and zipped the Conifer 5 protects its occupants for a reasonable price
They might present a tripping hazard, so these guy lines are reflective cord. They also stay attached to the fly when storing the tent and use a quick-release self-locking fastener for easy cinching.
Maximizing ventilation, the rain fly has several ports with props
Zippers sport reflective cordage loops
A minimalist vestibule protects the rear door, but pulls back far enough for comfortable entry