REI Kingdom 4 Family Tent

REI Kingdom 4 Tent w/o Rain Fly

Browsing through the REI online racks for the recent Spring sale, I came across this tent. I was all set to get a Tarptent Double Rainbow, but when I came across the Kingdom 4 tent which was marked down $100, well it stirred my soul. The family was in need of a good car camping tent, rather than a few backpacking tents. (Car camping is supposed to be about being together.) So, with some debate, I ended up going with this tent, and even a new Coleman double burner propane stove.

So, once I decided to buy this tent, I had to decide between the 4 person or the 6 person. There are 4 in my family, so my wife thought it was a simple decision, but I was thinking about things such as more head room (so I could stand up fully) as well as a little more floor space. Even though the 4 person seemed plenty big, a little extra space never hurts, especially when it’s for car camping with two rambunctious kids! However, in the end, she talked me into the 4 person, and with the money I saved I got the Coleman stove!

Now I just had to wait on it all to come in. Luckily, I only have about a 3 – 4 day wait time for my orders from REI (which is not too extremely fast, but I have definitely waited longer on deliveries from other places). So today the UPS man knocked on my door. He had 2 large boxes for me, and I knew exactly what was in them!

I opened the box with the tent in it, and took it outside. Even though it was right out the back door, I still strapped the tent on my back to carry it out. This is one of the neat features of the tent. The sack that holds the tent and all its accessories is actually a backpack. And the great thing is that the pack is large enough so that I don’t have to make sure I roll the tent up exactly to size to make it fit, I just loosely roll it and it slides in. There are 2 compartments in the main pack, one side holds the tent body while the other side holds the tent fly. There is even plenty of room to store the ground sheet (or footprint if purchased) inside this compartment, and even still has extra room. As well, there is a zippered section on the top which holds the stakes and guy lines, or whatever else you need to carry.

Backpack / Tent Stuff Sack

The tent was simple enough to erect all by myself. Of course I had to look at the instructions the first time, but after that time, it was quite simple. I set it up outside in my back yard, but the only problem is that my back yard is a hill. So I did not stake it down or anything, but I did throw the rain fly over it just to get a feel for it. It really is simple enough. It uses 2 hubbed poles which connect in the middle of the tent, and a single pole that stretches side to side at the center. The tent uses a combination of sleeves and clips which connect the tent to the pole system. The fly connects to the tent by clipping some loops at the corners to the end of the tent poles and then cinching them tight. One end of the fly features a vestibule which is the same as on most front entrance backpacking tents and requires staking out to be functional.

As for the tent itself, it is basically a tunnel tent and features lots of mesh throughout the tent which should offer plenty of ventilation. The floor is a thick coated polyester oxford material so it should hold up to the kids trafficking back and forth. There is a single wall that divides the tent in the middle to create 2 separate rooms. There are numerous pockets that line each side of this middle wall, as well as pockets in all 4 corners of the inside of the tent, and even on the outside. There are probably 20 pockets throughout the tent so plenty of space to organize gear, or toys. Also, there are 2 large doors, one on each end of the tent. Each door features a mesh window as well as a zippered cover which will close off the mesh doors if needed. One neat thing about the doors is that they unzip nearly all the way around . The zipper stops at the top of the door, and there is a pocket at the top of each door in which the doors can be stuffed to be out-of-the-way. Of course there are loops all throughout the tent to hang lights or fans or whatever.

So after playing with the tent outside I took it down and rolled it up and put it away in the stuff sack / backpack easily enough by myself. I carried it inside and moved some furniture around to set it up again (where it was flat). The tent took up most of the room in my living room. But even in the small space I was still able to erect this tent again by myself with few problems. I then grabbed some sleeping pads and some sleeping bags and threw them inside.

The Kingdom 4 occupying my living room.

Two pads filled up one room of the tent, so with 4 pads inside the entire floor area will be pretty covered. However, it will not be cramped. The tents height is 5’7″ and I do have to duck slightly (I am 5’10″) I do not find that it is really a problem.

As far as the initial impression, I am impressed with this tent, and very excited to have it (especially for the price I got it at – which it seems that at the moment REI is completely out of the tents, or the tents are just not available online). I am happy with the height as well as the floor space (these were of some concern to me) and the tent is more roomy feeling than I had expected (which is why I wanted the Kingdom 6). The tent does seem to be of a good quality, and I have not found any places I am worried about. But I do wonder how it will do in the rain, and in the wind. The tent is taped, and the coated polyester taffeta rain fly should do a fine job at keeping the rain at bay, but I always wonder about a tent until it has been there and done that. Also, being as tall as it is, I wonder how it will do in strong winds. I do not plan on taking the tent out in the middle of a thunderstorm, but sometimes they can sneak up on me.

I am taking the tent out for 3 days / 2 nights next week, and then again for an overnight camping trip with the church group at the end of next week. We are also planning on taking it out for the 4th of July weekend. So hopefully I will get some experience with it, and I will be sure to report back on it as I can.

Update: So, I finally got to use my new family tent, the REI Kingdom 4. This past week the family and I headed out to Piney Grove for 2 nights out. I carried my video camera to do a short presentation of the tent, and here it is…

Something I did not mention in the video; the tent does come with 6 guy lines to guy out the tent for use during bad weather (wind), but it only comes with the 8 stakes, 6 of which are used for actually staking the tent out, and the other 2 which are used to stake the vestibule out. If I plan on staking the guy lines I will need to bring some extra stakes. I did not realize this at first when I got the tent, so it’s a good thing I did not have to guy the tent out on our trip since I did not have any extra stakes. So for now I will add some extra stakes from another tent I am not using, however I will probably pick up some bigger heavier duty ones like the ones that came with the tent next time I am at an REI.

Other than this I have really enjoyed the tent. I am planning on taking it out for the July 4th weekend again. I really liked laying down at night and the ceiling being so far up. This made it feel like I was sleeping in a palace compared to my backpacking tent. Also, the second night I pulled both of the center walls up and tacked them to the side and it really made the tent seem so much bigger.

I am happy that I made the decision to go with this tent, even though I have only had it a few weeks and used it a few times. At this point, I obviously cannot attest to the durability and the long term use of the tent, but I will be happy to have it and test it for as long as I can. (Not to mention I am happy to have the REI warranty that comes with the tent!)

Update: My wife and I was able to take the tent with us over the 4th of July weekend and get another 2 nights in it. For this trip we bought one of the queen size Coleman air mattresses rather than using our backpacking air mattresses (after all, this ain’t about weight!) The air mattress fit fine inside the tent, considering it was just my wife and I. The air mattress actually extended about a foot past the middle wall, so it took up a little more than half of the tent, meaning two of these will not fit inside. This is kind of a bummer because when both of my kids are with us we will have to go back to the smaller backpacking sleeping pads for all of us to fit. For this reason I wish that I would’ve shelled out the extra $30 and got the 6 person.

However, this is no downfall of the actual tent itself. Before purchasing I had read in other owner reviews that this tent would not accommodate 2 of these mattresses. And even though I have come to this conclusion, I still love the tent. This tent is by far the nicest and roomiest tent I have ever owned. It has lots of features as far as pockets and I like the design of the tent fly. It can be attached and rolled up for quick deployment if needed and features a large fly that can also be rolled up when not needed, but also quickly deployed.

I still have not tested the tent in rain (this is actually a good thing, in my opinion) so I am waiting on that day to come. I had plans to use my tarp to make a porch across the front but have yet to do this and now that I have the tent not sure that I will. It may be the best option to get the extra vestibule, which would be a nice addition, but at a price so it will have to wait (maybe next year).

So, I will leave with a shot of the tent from our trip:

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15 Responses to REI Kingdom 4 Family Tent

  1. Pingback: Piney Grove Family Camping Trip | Stick's Blog

  2. Pingback: Come visit the REI Kingdom 4 tent | Stick's Blog

  3. Great! I just bought mine, and took it out in the rain. It came down hard, albeit briefly, and we had no problems. I did purchase the extra vestibule, as I heard that the end without the vestibule on the stock model could leak slightly in heavy rain. Otherwise, my feelings were similar to yours. We had 2 adults, and 2 toddlers.

    • Stick says:

      Constance,

      Sounds good. Did you get the 4 person or the 6? I will admit that there is a lot of room in the 4, but I do still wish that I would’ve got the 6 person…just for a little extra…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

  4. RWard says:

    Stick – thanks so much for taking the time to do a thorough review video! Awesome stuff. I’m also torn between 4 and 6, but mostly because I can get the 4 used on the cheap and the 6 is at retail. Thanks again!

    • Stick says:

      RWard,

      Thanks for checking out the site. glad it has been of some use to you!

      As for the tent, if I could do it all over (and I guess I can still) I would have went for the 6 person. Reason being, it is a car camping tent. Translation: It is a “luxury” tent. The 4 person will sleep 4, using my 20″ backpacking sleeping pads. Of course there is still a little room between them, but not tons. After I bought the tent, I also bought one of those full size Coleman thick air mattresses to use in the tent. It will fit, but it will fill about 3/5 of the tent, so getting 2 of these in there is not going to happen. It would be nice if I could fit 2 inside so that my kids could use one, and so that my wife and I can also use one. As it is,if we all go, we simply use the smaller pads. If just my wife and I go we can take the bigger pad.

      Not to mention, the 6 person is a little taller. I can stand up and only have to tilt my head slightly in the 4 person, but the 6 person would allow me to stand up completely straight.

      However, I do like the tent. With the vertical walls on all 4 sides, it is very spacious. And I like the zippered center wall, which will allow some privacy if needed.

      Anyway, I hope that this helps some.

      ~Stick~

  5. Camping says:

    Thanks for Sharing your experience…!!!

  6. Big Bird says:

    I just ordered the 2012 version of this tent for car-camping and really enjoyed the tour of your tent and your thorough feedback. I’m buying this for myself (my wife only “camps” in our travel trailer) for the fishing and hang gliding trips with the guys. I too have spent many nights in my backpacking tent while car-camping and I’m looking forward to all the extra room this tent offers.

    Thanks Again!

    • Stick says:

      Big Bird,

      Sounds great! I think that you will definitely enjoy the tent. Even for one I do not find it hard to set-up and it will be quite palatial for one, that is for sure!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting…and enjoy your tent!

      ~Stick~

  7. Michael says:

    I recently bought the kingdom 8. I love the size because I am 6 3 and I can stand up tall in this tent. Love the pockets and backpack it comes with. I car camp wi my wife and son so weight is not an issue. I also bought the garage which gives us even more room. It’s a pricey tent but everyone is dry and comfortable and that is what it’s all about. We only have one child but with this tent we can have more and not need to get a bigger tent. I recommend this tent to and person looking for a family car camping tent.

    • Stick says:

      Michael,

      Great idea going with the 8. I do wish that I had gotten the 6 person rather than the 4 person. The 4 person is great if everyone is using small backpacking air pads, but it will only hold one of the huge car camping Coleman mattresses which is adequate for 2, not 4. Oh well, despite that though, I am really happy with the tent! It is definitely the best car camping tent that I have ever owned!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      ~Stick~

  8. I have the Kingdom 6 and love it. We have a similar setup as your last photo with the bedroom in one room and we keep the dog’s bed and storage in the other. We actually got a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet for the floor and cut a small hole for where the “door” attaches. The roll up rainfly is truly a great design especially when you’re camping somewhere with a great view. We had ours in the Adirondacks of Upstate NY and it was otherworldly listening to and watching the loons on the lake in the moonlight through the open bedroom window as we fell asleep. On another note we got stuck on our last trip in a 3 day downpour and did experience some minor leaking (drips). I’d suggest seam sealing the tent (spend a little more time at the guyline ties) even though it comes factory sealed. Anyways, thanks for the exhaustive review on an excellent tent!

    • Stick says:

      Thanks for stopping by and posting! We have yet to be in ours in a good rain, but have been in it with some occasional afternoon showers. No leaks, but like I said, it wasn’t much. I can imagine that seam sealing that beast was a chore though… :)

      I still kind of wish that we had went for the 6 person rather than the 4 though…but I like it well enough.

      ~Stick~

  9. sandykayak says:

    Best review ever. Just got mine and was able to set it up solo. 5′ female. Was wondering whether I should seam seal. Thought it wouldn’t be necessary at this price point but… I bought an 8×10 camo tarp in lieu of $50 footprint (Walmart has for $14). Will get another one to put inside if having company for happy hour and need screen room. Might get another for when I buy the garage option! So I would get 3 floors for the price of one footprint.

    Stick, you said you didn’t buy the front vestibule, yet your photo appears to have something staked down in front. I have seen this in other photos and am wondering if the 2012 model stopped that. My concern is working out which zipper actually opens the front door if I need to get out in a hurry. Will change cord color of zipper pull…and keep a sharp knife handy.

    • Stick says:

      Sandy,

      Congrats on your new tent!

      As for the ground sheet, I just use some house wrap that I had laying around. It works just fine, however, the floor on the Kingdom 4 is quite burly IMO (keep in mind though that I am used to using much, much thinner materials). However, those cheapo tarps would work just fine too. Just be sure that the tarp doesn’t stick out too far around the tent, otherwise water can get trapped between the floor of the tent and the ground sheet…

      As for the vestibule, that comes with the tent (regardless of year model). It is attached to the fly. The vestibule is only on one side though, which sets up on the side with the less water resistant door. The garage is the additional piece that I do not have. I still wouldn’t mind having it, but at the time don’t feel that it is necessary for my needs…

      Hope this helps, and good luck using your new tent!

      ~Stick~

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