Big Agnes Bunk House 4 Review
Cons: Zipper design is funky, less head room, pricey
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Rick Baraff