In selecting a tent, we need to think about the conditions we will be traveling in. We will be constantly on the move, almost never spending more than one night at the same campsite (HINT: ease of set-up/breakdown is probably important to us). And we will be in the extremes of the desert, so it will be HOT and COLD, and it can be very windy with sand blowing everywhere. We also need to be sure we have enough space to be able to sleep comfortably during two full weeks. Finally, the tent needs to be sturdy enough to last the entire rally, without being too heavy or taking up too much room in the Jeep.
The key considerations are ease of set-up/break-down, roominess, sturdiness, appropriateness for the terrain, weight and portability.
Initially we thought about taking two small light tents. This option would give us some additional personal space, but requires double set-up and break-down time and takes up a larger space in the Jeep. As we are long-time friends used to camping together, the “personal space” issue is not that critical, so we quickly discarded this option.
A bigger single tent seemed like a better choice. We have a great tent that we used during our 45-day road trip that makes a perfect “home away from home.” The Eureka Copper Canyon is really solid, well-made, nice and roomy with enough space that we can even stand up in it. Typically we set up cots inside and can organize our gear and even have “living space” too. We are very familiar with the set-up and break-down, and while it is a bit complicated, we’re able to get the whole thing up or down in less than 20 minutes.
Though it was ideal for the long “road trip,” there are a couple of concerns about using it during the rally. At almost 27 pounds it is relatively heavy and will be a bit bulky in the back of the Jeep. Additionally, it has a rather “high” profile and can be a bit difficult to hold down in strong winds.
If we are willing to give up the space and comfort of the larger tent, we have another practical option — one of those “2 second” Quechua tents, which you basically can just toss out on the ground and it pitches itself. We had bought ours a while ago at the Decathlon store in Paris, where they also had this amazing Base 4.2 tent. Still, despite its small size, the “2 Second” tent seems the most practical for the pace of the rally. Our three-man” version is pretty light, and the folded disk can lie flat against the back seat of the Jeep. The major drawback of these is getting them to properly fold back into the disc shape. The website says it is easy enough with practice, but while set up is truly done in “no time,” we have often had to struggle to twist it correctly back into shape.
Looks like we may still be in search of the ideal tent for the Rally…