Hands-on Gear Review

Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6 Review

Price:  $650 List | $649.95 at MooseJaw
Pros:  Massive gear garage, footprint included, very roomy.
Cons:  Potential for water pooling over the gear garage, odd back window in rain fly leaves a gap in the rain protection.
Bottom line:  A great tent for extended trips with room for all your gear.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Seasons:  3-season
Weight:  21.8 lb
Windows:  1
Manufacturer:   Eureka

Our Verdict

The Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6 is a good tent if you're planning on staying awhile. It's not a quick set-up like some of its contemporaries (specifically The North Face Wawona and the Big Agnes Tensleep Station), but if you're going to be spending a week or more camping, it may not matter. Also, adding to its long-term reputation is the Boondocker's most unique feature, the gear garage. This massive area off the side of the tent can easily store all the toys and gear you'll need for an extended stay. It could also double as a very comfortable place to pull up a chair or two and get out of the sun or rain. The tent itself is comparable in size (6' height, 82 sq. feet) to other tents in this category. Overall, the Boondocker is a solid tent with some interesting features that will no doubt appeal to the right crowd. This is a different tent, but different can be good.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Camping Tents of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Wes Berkshire

Last Updated:
Wednesday
May 16, 2018

Share:

Performance Comparison


Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6
Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6

Comfort


The Boondocker Hotel 6 has a nice balance of features you've come to expect (spacious, near-vertical walls, double doors), with a truly one-of-a-kind, head-turning vestibule. To start with, things like large doors and tons of space aren't new ideas, they're just good ones, and Eureka makes sure to give them their righteous place in the Boondocker Hotel. At 82 sq. feet, the interior is a little smaller than some of our top family tents (the Big Agnes Tensleep Station is 90 sq. feet and The North Face Wawona is 86), but when the side of the tent opens up into the "gear garage", it's like having a whole other room.

The Boondocker is spacious for four adults  maybe a little cramped for six. Of course  there's always more room in the gear garage.
The Boondocker is spacious for four adults, maybe a little cramped for six. Of course, there's always more room in the gear garage.

The gear garage is huge, both in size and genius. If the Boondocker is truly a hotel, the gear garage turns your standard queen room into a two-room suite. It certainly adds to the overall comfort of the Boondocker. While the gear garage doesn't have the height to stand up in (roughly 54"), it does have enough room to set up a chair or two, keep the cooler within arm's reach, even set up a small table for a card game. Of course, you could also stay true to its given name and store your gear there as well.

The Boondocker's Gear Garage can be your own private lounge  out of the elements.
The Boondocker's Gear Garage can be your own private lounge, out of the elements.

The Boondocker has a full mesh ceiling and a fair bit of mesh on the walls as well, meaning it will give you plenty of airflow to keep the temperature cool, or just to allow a nice breeze into your camping experience.

The Boondocker has plenty of mesh on the walls and ceiling to the the air moving.
The Boondocker has plenty of mesh on the walls and ceiling to the the air moving.

The drawback, however, is that you have to remove the rain fly to expose the mesh, which doesn't seem like a massive problem until you realize that the rain fly is also the structure of your gear garage. No rain fly, no gear garage. Adding to this conundrum is the fact that the size of the rain fly has been officially termed "enormous". NASA may very well be able to see this rain fly from space. Taking that rain fly off and putting it back on again (don't forget about the staking and guy-lining of the gear garage) is not a quick task.

The rain fly is huge. It could probably double as a parachute in a pinch.
The rain fly is huge. It could probably double as a parachute in a pinch.

Weather Resistance


The Boondocker's gear garage offers a truly ideal place to ride out any significant weather. As mentioned earlier, it's not tall enough to stand up in unless you're under the age of eight, but you could easily get a few chairs and a small table in it and comfortably out of the rain.

We did notice that, because of its size and independent pole, the roof of the gear garage, essentially an extension of the rain fly, has the potential to collect and pool water. Put simply, it doesn't seem to deflect all water directly off of the tent, which could be a problem in heavier, more consistent rain. We pulled the guy lines and stakes as tight as we could get them, but still found the fabric/rain fly over the gear garage to be susceptible pooling water.

Even staked and guy-lined to a full taut  the roof of the Boondocker does not inspire confidence against pooling water.
Even staked and guy-lined to a full taut, the roof of the Boondocker does not inspire confidence against pooling water.

With one exception, the rest of the tent seems well-protected with its enormous rain fly. That exception is the inclusion of a window along the back wall of the fly.

The rain fly window on the Boondocker Hotel 6.
The rain fly window on the Boondocker Hotel 6.

Eureka's intention was to allow you to open a vent or window on the fly when it's not raining. Fair enough. The problem is that to close the vent/window you have to reach up through a zip in the back of the tent and then hook the two top corners back into place, leaving a noticeable gap for rain to come right in.

The rain fly window is reached through a somewhat awkward zipper on the back wall of the tent.
The rain fly window is reached through a somewhat awkward zipper on the back wall of the tent.

We didn't feel entirely comfortable seeing an open gap where water could get in, and while most of the rain will simply run down the side and exit below the window, "most" is not "all", and when it rains, we'd prefer to keep "all" of the precipitation out.

The only thing that seals the rain fly window are two hooks at either end  leaving a noticeable gap for water to find its way in.
The only thing that seals the rain fly window are two hooks at either end, leaving a noticeable gap for water to find its way in.

Ease of Setup


As mentioned earlier, the Boondocker isn't going to set any speed records. It's just not a simple or intuitive design. That's not to say it's difficult to set up, just that you should plan on spending a solid twenty minutes. The Taj Mahal wasn't thrown up in five minutes, and when you see the impressive overall size of the Boondocker Hotel you'll understand why it isn't either.

The Boondocker is a slow tent to put up. Not difficult  just slow. Maybe have a drink while you get it going.
The Boondocker is a slow tent to put up. Not difficult, just slow. Maybe have a drink while you get it going.

There are two crisscrossed poles that stretch the length of the roof. The difference with the Boondocker is that they only go the length of the roof, whereas many other tents (the Wawona, the Tensleep Station, and the Limestone for example) take these same poles all the way to the ground. Interspersed with the first two poles is a six-pronged hub that sits in the middle of the roof and sends four poles out to the corners of the tent, and another two, shorter, tensioning poles.

The Boondocker's six-pronged hub in action. Just a couple poles on each side and it will be up and ready.
The Boondocker's six-pronged hub in action. Just a couple poles on each side and it will be up and ready.

It's not difficult to figure out, but it's certainly a more intensive project than many other tents. Because it has to account for the large gear garage in addition to the tent itself, the rain fly is absolutely massive. It's a difficult task for one person. With two, it's pretty easy.

Getting the rain fly over the tent alone is a test of both skill and patience.
Getting the rain fly over the tent alone is a test of both skill and patience.

Furthermore, the outside wall of the gear garage has an independent pole that requires guy lines and staking to stay upright. Again, it's not difficult, just time-consuming.

Packed Size


The Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6 has a simple, but easy-to-manage storage bag. It's essentially a two-compartment duffle bag with a shoulder strap. The tent goes in one side, the fly goes in the other.

The Boondocker's storage bag has two sides  one for the tent  one for the rain fly.
The Boondocker's storage bag has two sides, one for the tent, one for the rain fly.

What you'll love is that for such a big tent, there's enough room that you don't need to be super precise in folding and/or rolling up the tent. You can actually just stuff it in like a sleeping bag into an oversized stuff sack. The design reminds us of the Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6, which sports a similarly oversized, two compartment storage concept. Noticeably different however, is that where the Tensleep has a sewn-in pole bag and zippered in stake bag, the Boondocker has more traditional loose bags for the poles and stakes that then can be fitted into size-appropriate pouches with small velcro patches. The velcro doesn't necessarily stand up to the bulk of the pole bag, but once you have everything in the storage bag, it doesn't really matter.

Workmanship


On the whole, we found the workmanship on the Boondocker to be outstanding. The poles are sturdy, as are their hubs (six-pronged in the middle and two two-pronged on the sides). The stitching is consistent and the fabric and mesh that make up the body of the tent are comparable to any other family tent.

Burly poles and quality stitching should keep the Boondocker working well for many years.
Burly poles and quality stitching should keep the Boondocker working well for many years.

The corner gear pockets did leave something to be desired. In addition to being a bit on the dainty side, they're stitched across the bottom and then up the corner side. That's it. Nothing on the other side, so anything you put in them is likely to fall out with even the slightest of movement in the tent walls.

Because there isn't a seam on the right (non-corner) side of the pocket  and because it's placed essentially horizontal  you may find what was once in the pocket  is soon on the floor.
Because there isn't a seam on the right (non-corner) side of the pocket, and because it's placed essentially horizontal, you may find what was once in the pocket, is soon on the floor.

Value


The value in the Eureka Boondocker lies in what you intend to use it for. If you're a quick overnight camper, or even just an occasional weekender, this might not provide you as much value as someone who plans a full week at the lake and needs to store bikes, chairs, coolers, kid's toys, or just about anything else during their trip. The extended set-up and take-down time might be a bit cumbersome for just one or two nights. However, if you've got an extended trip planned, or if you struggle to pack lightly, this is your tent.

The Boondocker does come with a couple extra add-ons you don't get with most tents. A footprint is included, that's an added $70-100 value.

Footprints are not cheap. The fact that the Boondocker comes with one included is a solid bonus.
Footprints are not cheap. The fact that the Boondocker comes with one included is a solid bonus.

Eureka also gives you a "Gear Caddy", a hanging set of pockets you can store your smaller gear (like headlamps, phones, sunglasses, etc.) in, though we struggled to find an adequate place to hang the "Gear Caddy".

The gear caddy seems like a nice add-on for some extra storage  but the only place we could find to hang it left it touching the floor of the tent.
The gear caddy seems like a nice add-on for some extra storage, but the only place we could find to hang it left it touching the floor of the tent.

Best Applications


The Boondocker Hotel 6 is a unique tent that would be a great choice for longer trips or if you tend to travel with more gear than the average high school football team.

Conclusion


This is a good tent for a laidback base camp. It works well for most situations and a great for a few, namely any gear heavy adventures. It has some very unrivaled, and potentially super helpful features, but also a few drawbacks.

Wes Berkshire

You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 16, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...