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Big Agnes Bunk House 4 Review

A top-of-the-line, multi-use tent for all your sporting adventurers
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Price:  $480 List
Pros:  Super versatility, quality build, ease of packing/transport
Cons:  Zipper design is funky, less head room, pricey
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
By Rick Baraff ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 15, 2020
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 14
  • Space and Comfort - 35% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Ease of Set-Up - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Packed Size - 5% 10

Our Verdict

Big Agnes knows you like to play hard and responds with high-quality, well-designed, versatile products that do cost a few pennies more but can be worth it if you're looking for a long-term relationship with the wilderness. Thus, calling the Bunk House 4 a "tent" is like calling a platypus simply a duck. Multiple amenities and configurations (like using the fly by itself as a freestanding sunshade or gear garage) make this a great mobile field house for your more sports-related outings. Pile on the adventure while piling into the Bunk House.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Achieving "cult status" thanks to its top quality and "high volume architecture," this box-like base camp will appeal to sporting adventurers who enjoy multiple activities (with the requisite large quiver of bikes, climbing ropes, hiking packs, etc) and need a tent that can keep up. With a full-coverage fly that provides a large vestibule and tons of mesh so you can air out after all your activities, the Bunk House is your garage transported to the trailhead.

Performance Comparison


Like driving a Porsche SUV  the well-constructed high-end Big Agnes Bunk House 4P. The front vestibule flap can be staked up to create an even larger awning.
Like driving a Porsche SUV, the well-constructed high-end Big Agnes Bunk House 4P. The front vestibule flap can be staked up to create an even larger awning.

Space and Comfort


The Bunk House 4 is a multi-configurable piece of kit who's fly can double as a roomy sunshade/respite for concerts, kids soccer games, and backyard picnics — or as your ultimate remote gear garage (though note you need the poles that hold up the tent to fully configure this, so you can't have both at the same time).

Welcome to the Bunk House. Two wide doors and a high-walled interior make it comfy for up to 4 people.
Welcome to the Bunk House. Two wide doors and a high-walled interior make it comfy for up to 4 people.

When attached to the main tent, the fly creates a large front vestibule who's door can be propped up to create a good-sized awning, again adding to the usable space and versatility. But wait, there's more! There's also a decent-sized rear vestibule at the equally sized back door. Leave shoes, packs, and more at the back door, then walk through to enjoy a clutter-free environment up front.

Looking towards the front door and vestibule.
Looking towards the front door and vestibule.

Unfortunately, the interior height maxes out at 70", just under 6 feet, so taller folks will bump their heads a bit, but we can see this not being a problem for the more limber, athletic types who just use a tent as simply a place to stretch out flat after a long day on the trails. If you need to host a dance party or stay indoors for longer than the time it takes to change from mountain biking gear to swim trunks, you might want a taller tent.

Adequate interior space inside this classy tent.
Adequate interior space inside this classy tent.

With a slightly-on-the-small-side (for our test group) 58 square feet of floor space (about 7.5' x 7.5') the Bunk House is roomy enough for a family of four (mom, dad, kiddos) or probably a max of three adults unless you keep all your toys in your vehicle and don't mind getting really cozy.

Weather Resistance


The Bunk House 4 has a full-fledged expedition weight fly that will stand up to your most adventurous adventures. While the floor is a seamless "bathtub" style that wraps up the sides, we recommend you either purchase the manufacturer's custom-sized footprint (a weather-proof piece of material that goes underneath for extra protection) or get a much cheaper un-branded piece of plastic (like a painter's tarp) at the hardware store. This helps truly maximize weather resistance against groundwater, soggy conditions, and/or rocky terrain as well as shielding the base from bottom-side abrasion so your tent lasts longer and can protect you more fully against the elements.

All hatches battened on the super fly of the Bunk House 4.
All hatches battened on the super fly of the Bunk House 4.

This tent has "pre-bent" poles (with extra curvature forged into some sections to help maximize interior space), which aren't quite as strong as "straight" poles — so they might feel a bit wobbly if not staked down properly. That said, if you stake with care and also attach the guy-line points of the fly, the only way you're going anywhere is if a twister hits.

Side view of the full-coverage fly. The main large vestibule can be seen at the left and the smaller back door vestibule on the right.
Side view of the full-coverage fly. The main large vestibule can be seen at the left and the smaller back door vestibule on the right.

Ease of Set-Up


Not much to report here in terms of non-ease. The Bunk House employs the classic crisscross pole design that should be easy to get without even needing instructions or youtube videos. There's a third, shorter pole across the top that clips in to add interior headspace and figuring out how to clip that in is about as tricky as it gets.

The shorter center pole isn't structural; it's to give extra interior headspace.
The shorter center pole isn't structural; it's to give extra interior headspace.

Durability


We're not sold on a few design elements here that could be an issue down the line. In particular, the vertical door zipper (there are unfortunately two you need to employ to get in/out) ends at a precariously pointed nexus where a top loft pole already stretches the fabric quite a bit. This leads to more tension on the zipper at a spot that's already tense. This area could be vulnerable, so just be sure to take care when trying to get into and out of the tent — especially if you're in a hurry. Otherwise, the fly is killer and durable, the poles are made of very high-quality aluminum, and the floor takes whatever you throw at it.

The shorter non-structural "loft" pole atop the Bunk House. This is where the highly tensioned door zipper (orange) ends.
The shorter non-structural "loft" pole atop the Bunk House. This is where the highly tensioned door zipper (orange) ends.

Packed Size


Big Agnes carry cases rock. They're actually like school backpacks with multiple pockets for organization! We're obviously a huge fan, and you will be too the next time you're schlepping out to your campsite.

The mighty awesome backpack case for the Bunk House 4.
The mighty awesome backpack case for the Bunk House 4.

Value


Big Agnes slots in as the Mercedes of camping gear with high-quality, somewhat expensive products that can be worth it for long-term investment. The price might seem a little steep, but compared to the other fancy gear you're probably lugging around — like a mountain bike, climbing stuff, fishing tackle, surfboard, bottle of single malt scotch, etc. — it's a good bet you want a nice place to enjoy it all from and in. Long story short, this tent is worth its price.

Room with a view.  Worm's eye view of the Bunk House 4.
Room with a view. Worm's eye view of the Bunk House 4.

Conclusion


The Big Agnes Bunk House 4 is your mobile adventure cave. It doesn't take the cool welcome mat to feel welcome in the many versions of this tent that we know you will enjoy. Versatile, well-crafted, and spacious, this is a friend for the long haul.

A large vestibule and sewn on welcome mat greet you at the front door of the Bunk House.
A large vestibule and sewn on welcome mat greet you at the front door of the Bunk House.


Rick Baraff