The Caddis Rapid 6 Tent is an outstanding instant-up tent. It's great for all but the most hardcore big tent campers. It goes up in under a minute and comes down in about the same. The fly provides good coverage, which is comforting when the clouds get dark, and the ground gets wet. It offers ample, well-placed storage pockets, including a sizeable gear loft. The quick and easy set-up and takedown is enough to make the Rapid 6 a worthwhile investment. But the small touches, and a noticeable increase in quality over its direct competitors, truly set it apart.
Caddis Rapid 6 Review
Cons: Still mainly a fair weather tent, bulky to carry and transport
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Like almost every tent in this category, it's a bit of a stretch to expect the Rapid 6 Tent to accommodate six people comfortably. Of course, if you travel with small children, or have petite friends, you may be okay. We say that a comfortable capacity for this tent is closer to four.
That said, at 100 square feet with a peak height of 6'8", the Rapid 6 has a decent amount of headroom. The roofline has a gentle slope too, so you don't lose too much of that 6'8" headroom when you meander out to the walls of the tent. Even though the Caddis is roomy, and offers thoughtful features, this simple tent can't compete with the R&D poured into the higher-end competitors.
The roof is made almost completely of mesh, which allows trapped heat to escape overhead. It also gives you a full view of the night sky as you doze off to sleep without the tarp. There are windows on all sides, including the doors, so you can keep a breeze flowing through no matter what direction the wind is blowing.
The large, Hobbit-style door unzips nearly 360 degrees, giving you plenty of room to get that blow-up air mattress inside without snagging it. There are four storage pockets spread evenly throughout the tent. So everyone can have a little place to store their things without reaching over their tent-mates. Caddis also includes a roomy gear loft that is easy to set up with the provided plastic hooks and loops.
If you prefer to travel with the kind of creature comforts that require electricity (or if you just want to run an extension cord to charge cell phones), the Rapid 6 Tent has a Velcro-sealing power port to appease your electricity-based needs. Small as it may be, the velcro is a nice touch as it will keep out small critters and water.
One of the first things we noticed once we got the Caddis set up (so, about 45 seconds after removing it from the storage bag), was its rain fly, which reaches nearly to the ground on all sides except the front.
This is a major win for the Caddis. We don't like to car camp in the rain, and typically try to avoid it when possible, but it's comforting to know that when the local meteorologist whiffs the forecast, you'll still be covered reasonably well. There's no front awning, so there is the potential for precipitation to get through the front, but there is at least a small sun visor out front that should keep some direct rain out. Is it perfect? No. Still, we tested many higher-quality tents that offer far more weather protection.
The Rapid 6's floor is a thicker polyester than its walls, and all the floor seams are taped. The Caddis should keep your feet (and sleeping bags) dry.
Simply because of the design, the Caddis is susceptible to deforming in high winds. Unfortunately, this is simply a function of the instant tent design. Because all of the poles are permanently attached, and because they have to fold in on themselves to store in any reasonable way, you're left with some joints that lack the rigidity of a single, straight pole line. So when the wind really howls, the structural integrity is going to be tested at those joints. To combat this, the Rapid 6 comes with a fistful of stakes and guylines on all sides to strengthen and support the tent. We found a noticeable difference in the rigidity and strength of the tent when roped out the guy lines and staked everything down.
Ease of Setup
This is the section you came for if you're interested in the Rapid 6. This is what sells the tent. Rapid is not hyperbole. The tent goes up in under a minute.
The Caddis has a fairly simple design. Four tentpoles emanate from a central hub. They unfold and then extend out and until you're standing there looking at a fully set up tent and wondering where you set the cooler. Because you're going to want to enjoy a cold beverage watching your non-instant tent friends struggle for the next 20 minutes.
The whole tent can be set up by one person without any particular experience or know how. Still, an extra set of hands with the fly does make it easier to pull it over the 6'8" high point. The fly attaches with simple buckles and one small pole slides into eyelets to create the small sunshade in front. Dropping the Rapid 6 is also quick and easy. Lower the poles, fold them in on each other and start stuffing it into the storage bag.
Aside from the common constraints of any instant-tent, the Rapid 6 is a solidly built home away from home. The poles are sturdy, the polyester walls and ceiling are thick, and Caddis paid attention to every detail.
We mentioned that the floor (clearly the side most likely to take a beating) is made with a thicker polyester than the rest of the tent. The Rapid 6 also comes with floor repair tape just in case you miss a rock underneath the tent during set up and have to patch a hole. The extension locks on the main poles are smooth and easy to operate. All in all, we are impressed with the craftsmanship and durability of the Caddis.
Petite is not a word we would use to describe the Rapid 6. The storage bag, a long rectangular affair, is not small. Then again, you're family camping, likely within a bowling-ball-toss of your car. It's not like you're hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with this thing on your back.
The upside to the slightly larger bag is that getting the tent packed away is fairly easy. We didn't have to pull the sides of the zipper, strain, huff, and puff to get it all back in its home. We've all struggled with tents (or at least suitcases) this way, right? It's nice to have a storage bag big enough to eliminate that hassle.
The storage bag also has a small zippered pocket on the bottom to keep the one small pole and all the stakes separate from the tent itself. Another nice touch from the folks at Caddis. It keeps you from losing critical pieces of your tent and separates them from the tent fabric so there are no accidental tears or rips during storage and transport.
For what it is, the Rapid 6 Tent is a great value. If you're looking for a four-season tent, or want more of a base camp experience, this isn't the tent for you. If you just like being outside somewhere beautiful, enjoying the outdoors with friends and family and you don't want to break the bank to do so, this is your tent.
Not only does it come in at less than half the price of some other tents we've reviewed, but it also sets up and breaks down in way less than half the time. You're left with more money in your pocket and more time to enjoy your trip. The insurance and peace of mind offered by the rain fly alone will make you glad you splurged the first time it gets dark and stormy.
This is the instant tent we've been looking for. If you want a quick, hassle-free experience, look no further. If you've ever felt exhausted while setting up a tent, or even reached the point of shouting at it because the stupid pole won't go in the stupid hole, here's your cure.
— Wes Berkshire