REI Grand Hut 4 Review
Cons: Difficult pole set up, flimsy
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
While not an award-winner, the Grand Hut 4 still offers many fine (and some not so fine) features for campers looking for a tent on the simple side that can withstand a decent variety of conditions. The all-in-one, spider-like pole structure is one of the not so fine points, but the height, weight, packability, open mesh top, and potential to employ the full-fledged rainfly are all top counterpoints.
Space and Comfort
Vertical space is where this tent has its moment in the sun — literally and figuratively. The interior height and vertical walls give the moderately sized floor (about 8.3' by 7') the illusion of more space. As with practically all 4-person tents in this review, the Grand Hut really only comfortably fits 2-3 adults for un-squished sleeping. Families with smaller members (i.e., kiddos) shouldn't have much of a problem at four heads, but if you're going without the fly on, there's little option for storage or getting things off the floor.
With two giant D-shaped doors and a top half that's all mesh (including the ceiling), this is one of the most "comfortable" tents for enjoying the breeze and gazing around on nice days… but then there's the issue of "comfortable" on not-so-nice days. We found the Hut a bit unstable in winds, and many others report folding sides and failing poles as all of them are integrated into a top hub that's pretty unforgiving.
While the fly is pretty substantial and fully covers this otherwise insubstantial tent, there are a few design issues with the way the doors on the fly unzip that allow rain to run in through the mesh. So as an actual water repellent, the fly works fine; it's just not the best design when you need to get in and out during the rain. Beyond the fly, the poles are not the sturdiest, and the integrated hub design doesn't help, so the Grand Hut isn't super resistant to wind either.
Ease of Set-Up
Unfortunately, the wonky pole design — which we like to call the Spiders From Mars design — makes this tent quite the, uh, animal to wrangle. Once you start to unfurl the giant all-in-one, "spider-like" structure that holds this thing upright, you'll feel as if you're in a bad 1950's sci-fi movie wherein the citizens are attacked by giant spindly-legged creatures from outer space.
With two (or more) people, this becomes exponentially easier to wrangle. So, if you're not left diving at the legs by your lonesome, this tent will go up in a scant amount of minutes. All kidding aside, it was a mere 5 minutes for a solo tester to put this up for the very first time — but there is a bit of a learning curve.
This is not the best attribute of the Grand Hut. Outside of the awesome, bend-proof steel stakes (why aren't ALL stakes like this?), the overall durability is questionable as it's a pretty thin-walled tent. Many others report bent poles (and collapsed tents!) in moderate to high winds, and we'll corroborate that the "spider" pole system isn't the most stable by any means.
That said, the fly is much thicker and abuse-ready, so if you get this staked down well in bad weather, you'll have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, while the stakes can be run over and survive, they don't include enough of them! This contributes to a lack of durability when your tent starts taking abuse it can't handle due to lack of ground contact. So please purchase a few extra.
The Grand Hut gets stuffed into a standard, old school heavyweight stuff sack that has ample room if you do a half-decent job of rolling the tent and fly tightly together (we recommend rolling one inside the other, like a layered burrito, cuz it's easier to stuff one item rather than two). The poles and stakes jam in with minimal grunting, and you haul it all away with a slightly thin grab handle. The whole thing weighs just over 14 pounds, so no one will be in danger of throwing out their back.
While at the top end of moderately priced tents, there's plenty of value in what this tent IS good for. As a warm-weather, sunny-day, mild-breeze place to hang your hat for a few days, it's excellent. The fly is something you'd get on more expensive tents for sure, so if you can survive any potential weather by getting it all staked down (with extra stakes), this can last you some time.
An entry-level to moderately adept camper-level tent, this isn't for burly adventures afield or places you'll run into tons of inclement weather. Where it carves out its campsite is with a simple, modest, open design that fits into the broad range of easy-breezy summer tents for beaches, lakes, and established campgrounds.
— Rick Baraff