REI Co-op Grand Hut 4 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Grand Hut 4 is roomy and tall for a 4-person tent, and should the weather turn, the full-coverage rainfly will keep you and the crew dry. The ample headroom is thanks to the pole structure that includes a hub system. We will get into the negatives of that later, but it is a trade-off. Because of the 6'3" structure with nearly vertical walls, wind and this tent isn't the best match. But for this tent's speed, weight, and size, you get loads of value.
Space and Comfort
The Grand Hut scores well here, especially considering it is a 4-person tent. Remember that many of the tents in our lineup are 6-person tents, so scoring this high against some larger heavy hitters is a bold statement. This is because the floor space, height, and vestibule of the Grand Hut make fitting a few extra people inside totally manageable. You will have plenty of stash spots with the eight pockets, and the huge doors with tuck-away bags make this a superb summer tent. REI decided to put a translucent white material around the bottom half of the tent, giving you some privacy should you choose to change when the fly is off, a nice feature for packed sites and families with bashful offspring.
When it comes to packing a family of four in this tent, don't plan on bringing everyone a blowup bed. The Grand Hut is best suited for two twins with some extra space for walking. We were able to fit a full and a twin, but that makes the interior 100% bedding and not super functional. The vestibule is also a little tight, and frankly, because of the large size of the tent, having a stubby tail looks a little awkward.
Hot days, no problem. Rainy days, this hut has you protected and well vented. Windy days, be warned. Six-foot tall walls plus a plastic hub system are not a great pairing. Let's start with the walls. You will see the sides trying to cave in if you have the rainfly on and the wind is blowing. We would strongly advise always using the guylines that come with this tent. For poles, REI chose to go with a single hub-pole assembly, complete with a hub that isn't super intuitive. For the initiated, you know the drawbacks of a hub system; for the rest, a hub system is a way to avoid the typical dome shape that comes with crossing poles. The hub gives strength to the middle of your tent while allowing your walls to be much more vertical. The drawback to this is that you have a mess of connected poles, and they tend to be weaker and have more points of failure. On the plus side, the Grand Hut comes with eight good-sized stakes and a pole repair tube that may save you from a rough night in a broken tent.
Outside of a windy nightmare, the Grand Hut is fairly qualified in a diverse range of weather — just keep in mind when finding a campsite the height and vertical nature of the tent you are pitching. Use the guylines, put rocks on the stakes, and enjoy.
Ease of Use
Though the hub system feels like a mess, the poles still go together fairly easily, and if you mess up and put the red poles in the grey holes, well, maybe don't blame REI. Once the poles are in, 16 snaps later, the hut is erected and ready. This setup is much easier than many of the popular 2-person REI tents. While the hub system isn't ideal, it's easy to manage. We were pitched in just under 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
The teardown is about the same; however, if you are shorter than 5' 9", unbuckling the top clip will be a slight ego hit. Thankfully, getting everything back into the oversized carry bag is easy. When packed, the weight (13.7 lbs) and size of this thing are also pretty impressive. You would get a few laughs pitching this at a backpack-only lake, but the lighter weight certainly means you can walk farther from your car without breaking your back.
Two adults, two kids, and two dogs "fit" in this tent. However, it's tight. Each person may not have their own mattress (depending on size) and forget about cooking or sitting in the vestibule area. While there are fancier and more spacious choices for a family car camping tent, this tent will get the job done. If you plan good weather trips with tables and fires and can keep some of your clothing and gear in your car, you will find this tent completely adequate.
The translucent white walls that go ¾ of the way up the tent are a great privacy feature for changing, and four pockets in the ceiling and four on the floor mean all your keys, phones and headlamps will stay easy to reach.
We might sound like a broken record here, but the Grand Hut has typical REI tent quality outside of the hub system. Probably the highest quality item is the floor and the rainfly, two areas in a tent you don't want the manufacturer to skimp on. The remainder of the tent looks and feels well-made, and the bug-free netting is also sound. All four corners are reinforced, and the tub flooring should keep groundwater from seeping in. The included bag isn't anything special but doesn't feel cheap, and the standard stakes and guylines are on par with the rest of the offering. The Grand Hut isn't winning awards for the highest durability, but it is on the winning end of the spectrum of tents we tested. Adding this tent to your camping gear collection will be a solid investment that should last a long time.
Should You Buy the REI Co-op Grand Hut 4?
The REI Grand Hut 4 is a great choice for those looking to get an excellent tent for their money. It has good airflow on hot days and is well protected should you need to get the rainfly out. This tall outdoor hut is also light, simple to pitch (once you learn the hub system), and offers many pockets. It's not as spacious as other tents, and the vertical walls aren't ideal in the wind, but when you step back and look at all the positives combined with the price point, this is still a great value snag.
What Other Camping Tents Should You Consider?
The REI Grand Hut 4, despite its shortcomings in various areas, is of great value. The next step up – particularly in terms of space and comfort – is the The North Face Sequoia 4. But our top pick for a 4-person tent is the MSR Habitude 4. If you're looking to step up in size, but not necessarily price, the Kelty Wireless 6 presents an outstanding value.
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