Quickhiker Ultralight 4 Tent - Decathlon
It came as something of a surprise to discover that very few tent manufacturers make a lightweight 4 person tent. I discovered this ahead of a recent cycle touring trip to Denmark. We have two young boys and are happy to share the same sleeping compartment as them in order to save weight - they are too young to carry much themselves so it's down to us to carry virtually everything so every gram counts! We have a relatively lightweight Vango Equinox tent that we considered taking, but it weighs around 7kg and is actually much bigger than we need, with a 4 person and a 2 person compartment. Ditching the groundsheet and the 2 person compartment still brought it in at around 6kg so I went looking to see if I could find something more fit for purpose. There are plenty of 4 person geodesic tents, but they tend to be reasonably heavy and lack any real porch space due to the fact that they are designed for mountain camping / storms. It turned out that the best option was a Decathlon own-brand tent called the Quickhiker Ultralight 4 (they also do a 1, 2 and 3 version which sleep the respective number of people).
Putting It Up
It's not far off the perfect family cycle touring tent. First off, it weighs 3.8kg. It has large, but relatively low, outer with three hoop poles threaded through sleeves on the outside of the tent. Inside there is a single 4 berth compartment that hangs via a network of plastic toggles and rings. The sleeping compartment has an integral groundsheet, but the large porch area, which is as big as the sleeping area, if not a little larger, does not. There's only one doorway into the porch, and that's on one of the sides rather than the end, so you need to have a think about the wind and your view before pitching. Out of the bag the two separate sections come connected via their rings and toggles, with the three poles pre-threaded through their own plastic rings on the tent. They stay in place thanks to a white plastic ball on one end of the pole which has a bigger diameter than the ring. It is possible to remove the poles, but that means assembling them (they obviously come disassembled and held in place with an elasticated loop meaning that they are packed away with the tent as opposed to separately in their own bag) and then pushing them all the way through the ring. If you are wanting to split the weight of the tent between multiple people then you'll need to do this. It's a simple matter to re-thread them when erecting the tent, but be aware that they are different lengths. Once the poles are assembled you just push the end with the white plastic ball on through the corresponding sleeve which is closed at the far end meaning that you don't then have to go over there to pop the pole end into a reinforced metal ring as is the case with every other tent I've ever seen. This is a very cool innovation, let down only by the fact that the poles often catch a few inches short of the end on the lip of reinforced webbing which forms the end pocket of the sleeve. Once you've got the ball past that catching point it's a simple case of popping the other end of the pole, with a more traditional metal end, into a metal ring. There are three of these poles. Once they are all in place the outer two need pulling upright and holding in place with pegs and guy ropes. There are tensioning straps at the four corners meaning that you can synch things up nice and taught once you're happy with the position and pegging. If the inner is joined to the outer then this should be automatically erected inside.
What we found in practice was that if we were moving on in the morning it was difficult to get the thing dry before we left so we would carefully remove the inner from the outer and pack them separately. This way it's possible to put up a wet outer and hang a dry inner from it in th evening. It also encouraged the outer to dry inside (condensation from the dew) more quickly. Inside the porch there are a collection of small mesh pockets useful for keys, phones, torches etc. There' also a small mesh window in the end of the tent with a zipped cover meaning that you can increase the airflow and get a bit of a view. It's protected on the outside by a piece of material that's pulled out over the window by the guy rope so you can leave the window open in all but the worst weather without rain coming in through the mesh.
Inside the sleeping compartment there are a series of large mesh pockets down each side of the tent, but not at the foot end. There's also a couple of plastic hanging hooks for torches / lights.
Perhaps the best feature of the tent is not so obvious. Outside the tent at the foot end of the sleeping compartment there are, as already mentioned, two tensioning buckles. However these buckles also have a plastic clip integrated into them. The lower half attaches near the peg, the upper half to the bottom edge of the flysheet. Immediately behind this clip is a tape / strap that runs up the pitch of the end of the tent to the first of the poles. If you un-clip the clip you can then roll / push the flysheet up the two tapes and effectively reveal the entire end of the sleeping compartment to the outside world. This wall of the sleeping compartment is made from narrow guage (i.e. midge repellent) mesh which means that you can see out of it and also get a through-draft. It's a genious piece of design that puts this tent at the top of my list of all-time favourites. If there's one downside to this design it's that it's not advisable to open up the end first thing in the morning (when you may want to appreciate the view / breeze) as it's difficult to do so without the condensed dew on the inside of the outer dripping through the mesh onto your sleeping bags. That said, if the view is good enough then it's easy enough to put a towel over your sleeping bags to catch the drips as once it's up, it's up and there are no more.
The pegs it came with are mini angle pegs, very, very light weight, but they need putting in as far as possible as they are super-sharp on bare feet / toes. It's fully guy-roped with fluorescent markers to help you see them by torchlight in the dark. There's a double bag system where the whole tent packes into one bag, which then goes inside another with a couple of straps and buckles on to make a nce neat package. The bonus to this is that if you do take down the two compartments separately you can pack them separately. If I had one complaint it would be the lack of a pole-bag, but then the design is that the poles are packed with the tent itself.
The sleeping compartment is plenty big enough for 2 adults, 2 kids (aged 5 and 8) and our bags. It would comfortably sleep 4 adults, but the bags would need to be kept in the porch. The porch is big enough to store 4 bikes (on their sides) if necessary a well as panniers etc. It's obviously plenty big enough to spend the day in if the weather dictates. One of the reasons for the light weight of the thing is the fact that it is relatively low to the ground. It's kneeling or sitting only in both compartments, but the added benefit of this is tat it catches less wind.
As it's relatively low it doesn't get shaken about too badly in the wind if guy'd properly. In 2.5 weeks in Denmark we encountered plenty of rain and didn't get wet. The outer material beaded the water away nicely. That said, we camped on grass with plenty of dew and there was significant condensation on the inside of the flysheet each morning which meant no wrestling without a shower!
One thing I haven't mentioned yet is the price. It retails at £249.99 which I think is an absolute bargain. It's not a tent that we will use every time we go camping as we want it to last and the very fact that it is light weight means that it won't be as durable as some, but it will definitely be used whenever we are cycle touring or backpacking.
Where to buy / Get more info
Weight and cover dimensions
3.9 kg. 40 cm x 21 cm x 21 cm carry case with compression straps. A second basic case is supplied to save weight if necessary! Very lightweight and robust aluminium DAC Featherlite NSL poles. Very lightweight and durable partially-recycled polyester ripstop fabric.
Bedroom width: max. 230 cm, 210 cm at the feet. A 122 cm (max) high, 205 cm (max) deep by 240 cm (max) wide porch seats 4 people on low chairs or provides covered storage for sporting gear and other items.
1 large door. Max. bedroom height: 122 cm. Very large porch for storing gear and belongings.
Approx. 1 minute to pitch or take down. Pre-assembled fly sheet and bedroom. Poles are attached to the tent in sleeves, helping you save precious time when pitching the tent. Taking the tent down is just as quick. To store the tent in the case, simply attach the poles together in elastics (once folded) and compactly roll up the whole tent.
Ventilation and condensation prevention
Bedroom contains mosquito netting for ventilation and water repellent fabric to prevent condensation and draughts. There is a large closable vent at the front of the tent's fly sheet, and you can even roll up and attach the whole of the fly sheet at the rear in fine weather.
We test all of our tents in a wind tunnel and on a rotating plate to expose each side of the tent to the wind. A properly assembled tent with all the stays in position around the tent should remain habitable;e under wind speeds measuring 70 km/h at ground level.
All Quechua tents are laboratory tested (the ENTIRE TENT under 200 litres/hour/sqm and for 4 hours!) and field tested before approval. Flysheet exterior is silicone-coated ripstop polyester with a polyurethane interior; 5000 mm PU-coated bedroom groundsheet. All seams are sealed with thermobonded tape. The breathable, water repellent polyester bedroom and mosquito net prevent contact with droplets of condensation.
10.25 mm "DAC Featherlite NSL" aluminium poles are lightweight and offer maximum resistance to breakage and frost.
Highly durable, lightweight aluminium corner pegs.
Guarantee and after sales service
All our tents are guaranteed for 2 years of normal use (your invoice or receipt gives proof of purchase date and price). In the event of a problem, have your tent checked at your local Decathlon store.