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Reviews > Base Camp Gear > Campsite Gear > Family Size Tents > Eureka Grand Manan Tent > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Eureka Grand Manan 7 3-person Tent
Test Report Series
Initial Report: July 1, 2009
Field Report: September 14, 2009
Long Term Report: November 12, 2009
Eureka Grand Manan 7 without fly
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, and most other outdoor activities but backpacking is my favorite pastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.
Initial Report: June 30, 2009
Eureka lists this tent under the Recreation Tents section of their website. It is a 3-person, 3-season, dome style tent. And for the record, these seasons are spring, summer and fall. I consider this size tent good for up to three people who don't need or want a lot of room. However, this tent does feature more vertical outer walls, which make the space more usable. I will explain the walls in more detail later in the report. It is lighter than larger family tents (like ones you can stand in) but heavier than many similarly sized backpacking tents. The only downside in my opinion is the lack of stand-up head room. If I am going to carry a tent in a car, weight is not really a concern so I'll go with the bigger tent. On the plus side, this tent will set up in tighter quarters and the smaller size should be a little more resistant to high winds.
The main feature of the Grand Manan line of tents are the near vertical outer walls. This allows for more usable room inside the tent. In fact, the website says "Straight wall design provides 21% more headroom than a standard 2 pole dome tent and 16% more volume to accommodate an air bed". These near vertical walls on the Grand Manan 7 go up about 2 ft (61 cm) around the entire perimeter of the tent. And for the record, the walls of the tent are made of 68D 190T polyester taffeta, uncoated material. I measured the center hight at 4' 1" (1.24 m) while the specifications call or 4' 3" (1.3 m).
The floor of the tent is made of 75D 190T polyester taffeta, 1500 mm coated material and measures 6' 6" (1.98 m) from front door to back door and 7' 6" (2.29 m) from side window to side window. Both D-shaped doors are the same size and plenty big to make getting in and out of the tent easy. I measured them at approximately 38 in (97 cm) tall and 52 in (132 cm) wide, but since the floor is a bathtub design the top of the door is actually a little taller than the 38 in (97 cm) opening measurement. The door has two 2-way zippers and the screen part can be closed while the solid material part opened to allow more ventilation. The two side windows are identical and generously sized as well. I measured them to be 57 in (145 cm) wide and 17 in (43 cm) tall. There are privacy curtains over the two side windows which can be left open to let more air through. All mesh in the tent is 40D no-see-um. Here is a view out one window from inside the tent.
Large side windowsThe tent also features two fairly large screened windows overhead and and two slightly smaller openings that are not screened but can be zipped open. The photo below show this better then I can explain.
Mesh windows and other openings in top center of tent
Other features of the tent are the four pockets for gear storage. They measure 10 in (25 cm) wide and 7 in (18 cm) deep and are big enough for a pretty big paperback book or quite a few odds and ends. There is a small loop of fabric at the top center to hang stuff like a light. There are sewn-on loops and toggles all aver the inside of the tent and several on the outside. These are all placed to keep doors (solid part only or it and screen part) and window coverings pulled back when not in use. There was no ground cloth/footprint provided (an option that can be purchased separately) with the tent but the floor should handle most grassy campsites without one. If I see the need for one I will probably just use an old tarp I have. The tent is supported by 2 fiberglass shock-corded poles.
The fly is made of 75 StormShield® polyester, 1200 mm coated fabric. I'm not sure if the 75 should be 75D (75 denier) but I found it listed as 75 on the website. Regardless, it is big and should provide good coverage in inclement weather. However, the door flaps on the fly can be pulled open and tied out of the way and the sides can be raised to offer lots of ventilation. There are two small vents near the top of the fly as well. In fact I was wondering what the two openings from inside the tent were for and I found these were to allow access to these vents. The area under the fly just past the tent doors at either end of the tent serve as vestibules to store wet or muddy gear. Both ends are identical and about 3 ft (91 cm) deep at the widest point in the center and look big enough to store a couple of packs. However, since I wont be using it while backpacking I'm not sure what I'll end up keep here. The fly has several extra loops sewn on too attach the four provided guy lines, which each measure 12 ft (3.7 m) in length. The fiberglass shock-corded pole for the fly goes across the center of the tent and out over each door to allow good overhead coverage of the doorways. The next three photos show some of these features.
fly fully deployed, note plastic window in door
doorway of the fly tied open and out of the way
side of fly raised to reveal side window and allow more ventilation
Initial Setup and Impression
The Grand Manan 7 looks like the one pictured on the website except my pitch was not quite as neat looking. A lot of that may have to do with the fact that I had to put it up by myself and there was a pretty good breeze blowing. However, I managed to set it up in about 30 minutes, and now that I know how, I expect it will get faster and easier. Once set up, the tent does seem very roomy inside for the given size of the base so I will agree with the manufactures claim that the near vertical outer walls makes for a roomier tent. The instructions that came with the tent are easy to follow and the pictures helped make it easier to see what was needed for setup.
The other initial impression was how heavy the tent feels inside the stuff sack, but I will have to say that the tent does seem to be made of very sturdy materials. Once set up it felt very sturdy in the strong winds I was experiencing. I did note that the shock-corded main poles were a little hard to slide through the pole sleeves due to the bends near the ends which help shape the vertical sections of walls. I also found the shock-corded pole for the fly hard to get in the end pockets. In fact, I had to pull the fly back off the tent and put it in with the pole bent away from the fly and then swing it around to the proper position.
I added a couple of the 12 ft (3.7 m) guy lines to help hold the fly in the wind better and ended up using 10 of the 14 stakes. The guy lines are long enough that I was able to use one line for two corners of the tent so using 2 guy lines had the fly secured very nicely. One last note, the instructions say to seam seal the fly and recommend using either Kenyon Seam Sealer 3 or McNett Outdoor Seamgrip. And while this is sometimes required with various tent brands some come sealed already, I find it frustrating to have to do this myself. I would think that a tent with a fly called "StormShield" would come fully ready to take on rain.
This concludes my Initial Report. Please check back in about 2 months for updates on how it has performed. I would like to than Eureka and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test this tent.
September 14, 2009
Rainy campsite in Pumpkin Holler
Testing Locations and Conditions.
All testing was conducted in areas close to home here in North Alabama. The first use was an overnighter just a short distance from the house down at the bluff. The forecast was calling for rain but it never materialized. Elevation was 1200 ft (366 m) and the low was 68 F (20 C). The second trip was a 4 mile (6 km) round trip overnight paddle down on nearby Guntersville Lake. Again, the forecast was for rain and this time it did, Yea! Elevation was 600 ft (183 m) and the low was 71 F (22 C).
Field Test Results
While I am still not all that thrilled at the center hight (or lack thereof) of this tent, I am beginning to appreciate a few of the features, especially the ventilation. I mentioned the forecast for rain on the first night I used the tent, and thus I put the fly on before hand. However, I took the time to raise the sides of the fly over each window and also used the little sticks that hold up the center ventilation flaps built into the fly. I was pleased with the draft effect this created. And since the rain never materialized, I left everything in maximum vent mode all night. And while the screen doors at each end were closed, the doors to the fly part were wide open. I did the same for the side windows as I left the privacy curtains in the open position and kept the fly raised here. I used a self-inflating mattress and a light quilt for cover and while I did sweat a tad, I was comfortable.
It was just a few days later that I became sick and missed almost 8 weeks of testing opportunities. But on the bright side, this was also during the hottest part of summer when I prefer not to camp out much anyways. Now I'm fully recovered but of course the wife is back at work so I still haven't had a chance to test the tent as a "family" tent, but be that as it may, I did get a pretty good test in recently.
A few weeks later I saw it was suppose to rain so I packed my gear and loaded my canoe in my truck bed for a quick overnight paddle at Guntersville Lake. On previous paddles, I had already scouted and found an ideal campsite located in an isolated cove, but out on a point with nice pine trees for shade. I got a late start so I arrived at the campsite after dark, but this did provide an opportunity to put the tent up in the dark. Since it had been several weeks since I had last pitched the tent I will admit I was a little apprehensive, however, it went smoothly. I will say that I prefer clip assembly over pole sleeves, but this tent works well with the pole sleeves. I just think it would be easer and much faster to erect with clips.
It was also a very sticky night so I decided to hold off putting the fly up. This worked out well until around 4 AM when I was awakened by the splatter of cold water on my face. As I woke up I realized I'd better hurry and get the fly up or risk soaking all my gear. It was quite a challenge to get the fly support pole in the respective slots but with the rain getting harder I abandoned being careful and put a major bend in the pole to get it inside the slots. And by bend, I don't mean damaged, it's just that the fly support pole requires bending to get it in the respective end slots. The wind was also picking up so it was not much fun getting the fly spread out over the tent but again, I was motivated so I threw caution to the wind (literally) and just basically manhandled everything. This meant leaning on the tent to get the center strap in place and jerking on the straps of the fly to get them on the steaks. But the tent seems to thrive on this kind of treatment. I went back to sleep wondering if the fly would leak as I have not had time to seal it yet and it is not factory sealed. I did notice a little water running down the fly on the inside near the plastic window where the pole slots are sewn on but it didn't fall on the tent.
Rain on Fly
It rained hard for the next few hours and the wind was blowing in gust but not real strong. The rain started easing up at daybreak so I got out long enough to pee and take a few quick photos. I then went back to sleep until around 8 AM, but with rain forecasted the rest of the day I finally got up and struck camp in the rain. Of course this meant I packed away a wet tent. I put it up in the yard later that afternoon and it dried out very fast. The only parts still damp when I put the tent and fly away were the straps which connect each (fly and tent body) to the stakes. I also took the time to wipe the bottom of the tent clean with a few paper towels where it had become slightly muddy.
And now a few notes on how the tent performed on both nights. I was glad to see I had absolutely no problem with condensation inside the tent. This might be partly because the tent is fairly large and I was alone but I suspect the massive ventilation from the way the fly allows venting helped tremendously. Plus, the large screened windows and doors were a huge factor. I hung a small LED lantern inside the tent and it was all the light I needed. I placed a small folding chair inside the tent and sat in it some on both nights. I had plenty of head room when sitting in the chair and this included off to the side of center a few feet. The chair then served as a table to keep my stuff up off the tent floor and out of my way during the night. Not that it would have been in the way but that's what I did. And of course, a three-man tent used solo is roomy, but I never complain about too much room. The stakes provided are nice and were easy to mash into the ground, especially in the woods. They were a little harder to push down into the ground at the lakeside campsite but still not that hard. They held OK in the woods and even better at the lakeside campsite.
Interior of tent
That wraps up the performance (and the Field Report) so far. With cooler weather approaching I hope to use the Grand Manan 7 more then I have managed so far. So stay tuned for the Long Term Report which should appear in about two months.
Long Term Report
November 12, 2009
Test locations and conditions
I went on two more outings during this last phase of testing. Both trips were single night trips to the same location in nearby local woods where I could drive my truck very close to my campsite. I toted my gear to the site in a couple of trips since my campsite was not very far from the truck. The first night was a pleasant but windy night with a low of 56 F (31 C). The last night was a little cooler but still very nice for fall with a low of 47 F (26 C). It did not rain on either trip; in fact, there was very little dew. Elevation was around 1200 ft (366 m).
Long Term Test Result
I have not made any major new discoveries since the Field Report. However, I did notice a few things that for some reason I missed during those earlier outings. For one, when sitting in my chair with the fly off the tent, the view out the doorways in the front and back are great, but the view out the side windows was very limited unless I was laying on my sleeping pad. In other words, when sitting in my chair I would have liked the netting on the side windows to have been a little higher up on the walls of the tent. The width could remain the same or even be cut down a little. Another thing I failed to notice was how well this tent blends in with the surrounding woods with the fly fully deployed. On the first night I used the tent back in July, I set up right before dusk and stuck my camp at daylight. When I used it the next time down by the lake, I set up after dark but did strike camp well after daylight. However, the tent showed up well out in the clearing I had set up in. However, on my next to last outing, I was able to set up camp early in the evening and had several hours of daylight to lounge around. When I would walk away from the tent for whatever reason, I found it was just about invisible once I got a few hundred feet (around 60 m) away.
I was also a little concerned about all the acorns and small limbs that were falling but they did not seem to bother the fly. Then, just before dark I decided to remove the fly completely since it was slightly warm and there was no rain in the forecast. I don't know for sure if any of the falling stuff hit right on the netting parts but I heard acorns and such hit somewhere on the tent several times during the night.
On the last night I didn't even bother putting on the fly. The tent was easier to spot but still pretty well camouflaged when I walked a good distance away. It got pretty chilly this night but the wind was fairly calm. The trees had shed a lot of leaves by now and I was also able to view the stars and managed to see a couple of meteors out the top netting area. There were no bugs so I could have left the doors netting or top netting open but it was just cool and windy enough that I felt they blocked some of the breeze. All I know is I was about as comfortable as I ever remember being temperature wise. I didn't have to vent my cover to stay cool but never felt chilled either.
The Grand Manan 7 has held up incredibly well. Even the floor where I sat in my chair is hardly showing any signs of wear. The fly shows no signs of fatigue even after being pelted with many acorns and small limbs. All the zippers on the doors and netting are still functioning flawlessly. In other words, I'd say this tent is pretty much bombproof in terms of normal camping abuse.
The Grand Manan 7 is a very sturdy tent. The reasonably low profile does help in strong winds. The same low profile makes standing inside the tent impossible for me, and for that matter, anyone over 4' 3" (1.3 m). I regret that I was only able to test the tent in solo mode, but even so, I felt the near vertical 2 ft (61 cm) section of the side walls made the tent seem big compared to the relatively compact footprint. I am not a big fan of the continuous pole sleeves and would prefer the Grand Manan useed some type of clip system. I had excelent results setting up my Eureka Zeus 2 with clips. I've also seen a similar type clip system used on a friends large family sized Eureka so I don't think the tent size is the reason to use the pole sleeves. From my prospective, a clip system just makes setup much easier.
This concludes my reporting on the Eureka Grand Manan 7 tent. I'd like to again thank Eureka and BackpacGearTest.org for the chance to test this tent. It really is a nice tent despite the few reservations on center hight and the pole sleeves I mentioned.
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