Review of OzTrail Fast Frame Blockout 4 Person Tent

Written by Gary on February 20th, 2022

This “4 person” tent is a touring style tent designed with a fast set up frame and the fly has an extra layer to blockout sunlight or other lights which makes it cooler to be in during the day time and a good option for festival goers as well as those traveling to summer camp sites by car.

Being a touring tent it allows one to stand inside the tent and has a porch with awning. The tent is large enough for a deluxe single person stretcher bed, and as a result, this tent is MUCH heavier and has a MUCH larger packed size than a hiking dome tent. It packs to 110 x 22 x 22cm and weighs 15kg.

Disclaimer: I purchased my tent online and have not been sponsored by any party in relation to this tent and I have used it now for about 20 nights of camping but only as a one person tent with a stretcher bed.

Tent set up

Canopy ready to set up

 

Inner canopy with fast frame being set up – just open the legs outwards as above, then bend the leg hinges to the opposite direction as they are in the photo, then extend the legs to reach full set up – very easy!

 

Inner canopy set up

Inner canopy set up showing the front door (the rear door has red corner pole holders). If a strong wind were to push two walls inwards making the frame hinge angle the opposite way, the frame will collapse. Hence the importance of the fly being attached to the frame and guy ropes preventing the walls being pushed inwards.

Main features I liked

Inner canopy with the fast frame design:

  • does indeed set up very fast within 2 minutes and folds down just as fast
  • has a large front AND rear door for versatility
  • has two very large mesh windows – one on each side
  • has two vent windows – one on each side which could be very useful on hot nights or during the day
  • the doors, windows and the low vents all have zip up inner fabric for total privacy or reduced wind chill
  • the mesh is No-See-Um to stop even the midges getting in and being black affords a degree of privacy if the inside is dark
  • the ceiling has 4 large mesh windows so you can see the stars if you don’t use the fly
  • there is a hook for a suspended ceiling light and the height of the ceiling is a generous 195cm
  • there are two power cord points – one at each end
  • the 240x220cm PolyOxford floor seems to be sufficiently durable with careful use and is appears to be adequately waterproof – tested in a 25mm overnight rain event which resulted in some water pooling under the tent but no water made it inside the tent from the floor – very impressed!

Fly with the blockout material:

  • blockout seems to work great and does indeed provide for a better experience during the day time in summer although I have not tested it on sunny days over 25degC but at least there are lots of ventilation options to support it
  • material seems adequate
  • when properly set up with full guy ropes and pegging, it stabilises the tent extremely well even in strong wind gusts
  • has a large front vestibule, large enough for a small chair and small table, and the door can be unzipped and turned into an awning with the supplied poles.
  • rear door can also be turned into an awning.
  • window covers can rolled up or can be guyed out to provide rain protection whilst allowing ventilation and also have a mesh layer for further privacy and reduction in wind chill
  • fly is rated at 3000mm waterhead which should be sufficient – and in testing it worked extremely well in a 25mm rain event overnight with only the occasional drop of water coming from the awning seam

Aspects I did not like or could be improved:

Inner canopy with the fast frame design:

  • is very unstable if the fly is not used and is liable to collapse in moderate winds , but at least it can be used alone if no winds or rain is forecast and you want a rapid set up to view the stars or to easily move sites.
  • is much more difficult to set up with one person in strong winds as it really needs the fly with guy ropes in place to stabilise it in these conditions
  • there are only 2 corner pockets which are often too far away to reach from your stretcher bed
  • the door and window inner fabric does not zip down low which makes it impossible to watch the local wildlife on the ground outside your tent from your stretcher bed
  • unlike a dome tent, it is impossible to roll it over on its side to dry out the under-floor before packing up as it will just collapse – you will probably need to pack it wet and dry it when you get home before storage – an option may be to hang it upside down fully assembled or just have it suspended to help it dry the floor out

Fly with the blockout material:

  • as with all such tents, the fly takes a long time to set up – pegging, multiple velcro attachments to the canopy frame which are important, and guy ropes if it is windy – unlike a dome tent, you really don’t want to be moving it to a different site in strong winds by yourself – choose a sheltered site in the first place if strong winds are forecast!
  • hard to throw the fly over the tent if you are a short solo camper without a helper – you may need to lower the frame to do so
  • hard to set up in a strong wind with only one person and does possibly risk the frame getting damaged which would make the tent useless
  • supplied guy ropes are not adequate to stabilise the tent in strong winds resulting in possible frame damage as above (this is especially the case with the larger dual hub 6P version) – buy some heavy duty ones!
  • supplied pegs are inadequate – get some decent ones – if you are carrying that weight, the extra weight of better pegs is not an issue!
  • perhaps like most touring tents, there are inadequate side supports for the vestibule wall making it intolerable in strong winds if you are trying to have a meal inside the vestibule.
  • the toggles that are used to hold the windows rolled up are poorly designed and easily rip out
  • the eyelets on the awnings are too small to allow OzTrails adjustable tent poles to fit (but at least there are elastic rings you can use instead) – I prefer adjustable poles to the supplied poles as in rain events the awning can be lowered to reduce water pooling on it.

Quality control:

Admittedly you do get a lot of tent for the money, however, there are a number of issues I have already encountered with this tent:

  • an important buckle which attaches the fly to the inner canopy corner was already broken when the tent arrived – I had to add a clip on device to the tent fly as a workaround as replacing the buckle would require an industrial sewing machine.
  • the window toggle broke very easily on my 1st trip – I have replaced this with a workaround
  • peg quality is just OK – on testing it in well watered lawn in the urban backyard, one of the pegs bent with minimal effort and they also would not suffice in sand – just buy better pegs!
  • guy rope system keeps coming lose in winds – buy better guy ropes!
  • the ceiling mesh developed a tear on packing/unpacking – still can’t work out how that happened – perhaps I was too fast! – fixed with mesh repair tape.
  • carry bag could have been bigger – it is a tight fit – I decided to store the fly separately for transport home

For extra warmth it even fits a 2P dome tent!

A freestanding 2P dome tent without its fly such as the MacPac Apollo will fit snuggly inside this tent and this can give you the best of both worlds in cold weather.

The 4P tent gives you height for getting changed in clothing more comfortably as well as extra weather protection and amenity.

A 2P full fabric dome tent allows a smaller air space to allow your body and any additional heaters such as 12V electric heating mats to heat up the air that you breathe. This can be a very useful technique if you suffer from asthma or cold-induced coughing. It can also provide an extra measure to combat mosquitoes. Your stretcher bed will also just fit inside the 2P dome tent as well which brings your face closer to the warmer air at the top of the 2P tent. You could also get more cold protection by covering the dome tent with insulating materials without worrying about the weather compromising them as the 4P tent will protect it.

Conclusion:

I do really like this tent.

It is a great tent for ONE person with a deluxe stretcher – only one of these will fit and even so it is a little cramped – a couple would be better going for the 5P or 6P version for glamping comfort.

I love it for warm summer nights with no rain and minimal breezes – works well without the fly in these conditions and really does become a rapid set up and take down option with excellent flexibility in terms of privacy vs ventilation vs wind chill protection while still being able to see the stars through the ceiling mesh – and the rear door is a real benefit!

If mild rain is forecast and you want to just use the inner canopy as above for super fast set up and take down, a 1.8×2.4m, or better still, a 2.4x3m tarp thrown over the top and clamped to the poles (get 4 strong clamps from Bunnings) provides adequate rain protection with the inner fabric of doors and mesh zipped up. If it gets a bit windy you can tie down the tarp with guy ropes to further protect the tent.

It is also great with the fly on for summer camping and the blockout and ventilation makes it a viable option for sleeping in during the daylight hours and you won’t be woken by the early sunrise – but I would be very careful in site selection and use of good guy ropes and pegs if the forecast is for wind gusts over 50kph.

The RRP is $AU549 but can be found on special for around $AU339 making it a great value option – if you have space for it in your car!

The Australian distributor is Oztrail.

For those paranoid about mosquito-borne viruses then although this tent has excellent insect protection, mozzies getting in undetected when you open the door zips can still be problematic as with any large tent – a great solution I have tried is to hook up the Sea 2 Summit Mosquito Net (double) which will drape very nicely over your large single stretcher bed (I have the Wanderer Premium Ultra Comfort Folding Stretcher King Single which is very comfy and just fits this tent nicely) and allow even greater mozzie protection.

A comparable tent with similar features is the Coleman Instant Up 4P Gold Series Evo Tent – 4 Person but it has a smaller vestibule (and no vestibule arch poles) and no ceiling mesh nor blockout and is more expensive.

The Coleman Northstar Instant Up 4 Lighted DarkRoom Tent is closer to the specs of the OzTrail 4P tent as it does have the blockout and the larger vestibule but still no ceiling mesh although you do get LED lights and it is considerably more expensive.

See also my photography and camping wikipedia – more Touring Tents.

 

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