The Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe has the makings of a great tent. Like other Big Agnes tents, it's bombproof, and chock full of well-thought-out design features. The thing is, it just feels like it's missing something. For instance, the Big House has no vestibule; it could really use one. Of course, the Big House is also noticeably cheaper than other Big Agnes family tents, but you can accessorize your Big House with the DLX Accessory Vestibule, a massive upgrade, and for a few more dollars on top of that, you can outfit your Big House with Big Agnes' mtnGLO technology, giving you ambient light at night. At its most stripped-down, The Big House is still better than a great many tents on the market, but at a more reasonable price, you can upgrade your camping experience significantly. It's a great tent for regular campers, those who find themselves sleeping outside with some frequency. It's probably overkill for people who only go out once a year.
Big Agnes Big House Deluxe 6 Review
Cons: Front and back are exposed to elements, extra add-ons increase price
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe does the basics well to provide you with a comfortable camping experience. With 75 square feet of floor space (roughly 8' x 9') the Big House is a little smaller than most of the six-person tents we tested. That being said, most six-person tents are most comfortable in more of a four-person reality, so the slight dip in overall floor space might be a bit of a moot point. The near-vertical walls certainly maximize that floor space, taking it all the way to the roof of the tent at a lofty max height of 6'5". With a couple of testers in the 6' range, we had zero problems with the headroom or feeling like we had to hunchback around inside the Big House.
The design of the Big House has mesh sections somewhat interspersed around the tent, not the whole sides or whole roof that you see in most designs. Mesh panels on the roof are limited to only the front and back panels while there are good sized swaths of mesh across the middle of both sides. Beyond that, both doors have window panels that can be zipped down to increase airflow. All told, we found the airflow to be on par with any other six-person tent we tested, the design of that airflow is just a little different. It seems like the idea is to have a varied pattern of entrances and exits for airflow, thus creating a more complete airflow throughout the entire tent as opposed to focusing it all in one area like the roof or doors.
Storage is plentiful with pockets in all four upper corners, three big pockets on either side of the tent, and two unique and movable pockets for whichever of the lower corners you'd like. These movable pockets are designed to be near-shelves. The triangular design actually attaches up from the flat (but malleable) bottom. In the end, they seem more like cubby holes than your typical tent pocket.
The Big House 6 has a "door keeper" for the front door, essentially an elastic loop that you can pull the door through to keep it out of the way when open. It's a nice touch, and quicker and easier than the standard roll-up, loop, and hook design that is near-universal in the tent world. The back door, however, has the more standard loop and hook at the bottom of the door.
As noted already, your comfort and overall space can be enhanced with any of Big Agnes' add-on features like the accessory vestibule ($140), mtnGLO lights ($30) or extra gear lofts ($22-$50). The accessory vestibule gives you another 50 square feet of covered area outside the front door, enough room to easily sit in your camp chair and enjoy your favorite beverage out of any inclement weather. The hitch, obviously, is that these upgrades will add to the overall price of the tent.
Finally, in the small but cute department, we loved the welcome mat outside the front door. While a number of other tents have started to add these on to their tents, this is the only one we've found that actually has the words "Welcome" and a stylish little map on it to boot. Is it a main selling point? Of course not, but we did find it to be a fun little touch.
Let's start with the positives. The Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe is sturdy. Thick poles, thick polyester floor and walls, and a beefy rainfly will hold up well in adverse conditions. Helped by guylines on all four corners of the fly and both sides, the Big House isn't going to crumple when the winds get gusty.
Our biggest concerns, however, come in the fly coverage. It's a quality fly, it just leaves the doors of the tent somewhat exposed. Both sides of the fly go basically to the ground and can be staked out to keep a good gap between the fly and the actual tent wall, but at both door ends, the fly gives you a small (6-8") overhang above the door, and that's about it. It'll work sufficiently if the rain is light and comes more or less directly down on the tent, but if it's even slightly breezy, you're going to have rain pelting the doors of the tent completely unabated. Furthermore, while many tents have small flaps over the door zippers to keep water out, Big Agnes seems to have neglected this. Well, actually, that's not entirely accurate. Like many tents, the Big House has flaps over the door zippers, they're just, for some inexplicable reason, on the inside of the doors. This means that if the rain is coming from the outside (which has always been our experience), it can and will leak through the zippers.
In defense of the Big House, the majority of the area that is left exposed on and around the doors is made of the same material as the fly, so it will offer a reasonable level of waterproofing. We just prefer the extra layer of protection that a fly provides. It is also worth noting that by adding the accessory vestibule, the front door will be well covered weather-wise.
Ease of Setup
For a large tent, the Big House 6 Deluxe is a pretty simple and easy up. Like a standard dome tent, you have two poles that crisscross to opposite corners. What gives the Big House a more roomy feel is a slight bend about head-high in each corner of the tent. It doesn't add any difficulty to the set-up, it just pulls the tent walls more vertical. Finally, there is one small pole that creates the small overhang in the fly across the front of the tent. This tent can be set up by one person reasonably easily. The only potential issue is getting the fly over the top of the tent, but a good heave gets the job done. With two people, set-up is a breeze. Two will get the job done faster, but even if one of you is corralling the kids and leave you solo, you should have no problem getting the Big House up in under ten minutes.
The Big House 6 Deluxe may have the best storage bag on the market. It's the same style as the other Big Agnes six-person tents we've reviewed. All together it's roughly the size of a normal suitcase. That suitcase folds out into two sides, each with a large elastic pouch with enough room to easily fit the tent or the fly. If you're a type-A personality, you can fold or roll each component, but you certainly don't need to. There is ample room to stuff everything in. A sewn-in pole bag splits the middle of the two sides, and finally, one side has a small zippered pocket for the stakes. The two sides fold together and then cinch down to create your suitcase-sized tent. It's not the largest, nor the smallest packed tent that we reviewed, but it's completely manageable. You shouldn't have a problem carrying the Big House from your car to wherever you decide to set it up.
The Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe is a high-end tent. If you strip away all the innovative features, this is a tent with good bones. The floor and lower polyester walls are thick enough to withstand rocky ground without tearing. The fly and floor sport a heavy-duty, 1500mm waterproof coating so you can be assured you'll stay dry when it starts dumping. All seams are taped. As a whole, the material quality of the Big House is confidence-instilling.
As we've mentioned previously, the Big House is a high-end tent, at a slightly more mid-level price. It's by no means cheap, but when you look at the most expensive tents out there, you won't see the Big House. So it would seem to be a good value. The only asterisk we have to add is that to truly pimp your tent (thanks Xzibit), you have to invest beyond the base price of the tent. The DLX Accessory Vestibule is a big and worthy upgrade, and the mtnGLO lights are a nice touch, but that's going to increase your final cost.
The Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe is a great starter-mansion-type tent. It's a high-end tent that you can get in on at a more reasonable price. Big Agnes makes some of the best tents on the market, and the Big House doesn't disappoint.
— Wes Berkshire