The REI Kingdom 6 has been a mainstay of our review for some time and with good reason. It sets the standard for large, family-style camping tents. With a recent redesign, it gets both better and worse. The better: REI reinforced the pole structure a fewfold. While we're not engineers (not all of us, anyway), we can recognize that adding two poles will add stability. The worse: this tent used to come standard with a garage-like vestibule, and now it doesn't. Overall, it's still a big, versatile, reliable friend with seven zillion pockets, a room divider, two doors you could practically drive a car into, and a full mesh ceiling for stargazing — an ideal tent for many families and adventures indeed.
REI Kingdom 6 Review
Cons: Only one vestibule, back door is more exposed to the elements, lots of poles
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Co-op Kingdom 6 has been a top contender in our lineup for quite some time. This year though, a few close contenders pulled ahead. That said, it's still a great choice if you are looking for height, separation, and maximum bed space.
Space and Comfort
The Kingdom is a master at both space and comfort and has scored among the top tents in our review for many, many years. The main reason isn't because of the square footage (83.3 sq ft plus a small vestibule), but because of the layout. The Kingdom is more of a rectangle, with a much longer length (10' long) and shorter width (8' 4"). This is great for sleeping and fitting air mattresses. We were able to put a full mattress in the "master suite" and two twins for the kids in the "guest room."
The Kingdom has pockets like a forest has mushrooms — 22 in all. And they are not all small: the bottom pockets are more than a foot and a half long. A room divider is a great addition for privacy, and the vertical walls and a 6' 3" max height make for spacious living quarters. The carry case is also a hidden comfort for the Kingdom, with three nice compartments to store poles, fly, and the main tent. It even has convenient backpack straps to help you with your journey from the car to the tent pad and vice versa.
The biggest hit on space and comfort is the lack of a real vestibule. A tent of this size and quality should come with a respectable outdoor space, yet REI chose to make this an additional purchase. The included vestibule is for storage only and isn't big enough to do much more.
Rain and sun are your friends in this tent. The seam-sealed waterproof polyester fly covers three sides of the tent all the way to the ground, and the back door has a waterproof covering. The fly has several popup vents to help with airflow, and should you keep the fly in the bag, the entire roof and about ¼ of the sides are all mesh.
The wind, however, is another story. This tent likes to fly, so be sure to use the 13 stakes and 6 guy-lines that are included. This is extremely important for any tent of this size, but you certainly don't want to be stuck trying to repair a tall, hub-style pole setup in bad weather.
There are a few additional weather tricks up the Kingdom sleeve. The fly's door can be propped up as an awning (you'll just need some poles or sticks to get the job done). And the rainfly can be rolled and staked at different distances, opening up the tent as much or as little as you like with minimal effort.
Ease of Use
The Kingdom went up in 10 minutes, 2 seconds. A hair faster than some, but much slower than our top scorers. Why? Likely the dual hub system with two additional poles, several clips that are 6 feet in the air, and 13 stakes to pitch the tent fully. But in reality, pitching a 6-person tent in 10 min isn't that bad. We appreciate the color-coded poles and rainfly and that the bag is both organized and easy to carry.
After our initial setup, however, we realized that we might have been able to shave a few seconds off our pitch time (and a bit of frustration) had we realized that there are zippers in the ceiling to help reach the clips. This is a thoughtful addition.
This tent has a beefy floor made of 150-denier coated polyester oxford, a quality rainfly, 75-denier coated polyester taffeta, thick aluminum poles, and all of the seams are seam-sealed. Plus, the mesh is bugproof and proven to last. The Kingdom also comes with extra thick long poles and guylines with plastic tensioners. We just wish REI would stop making updates to these tents that are not backward compatible.
Huge wins for theKingdom in this category. Honestly, for a family who is only interested in car camping in fairly decent weather, this should be at the top of your list. It checks the boxes for air mattresses (a full and two twins), privacy, storage (22 pockets and a storage vestibule), quality, and price.
The floor is strong enough for dogs and kids, and setting up and tearing down will not ruin a relationship. About the negative here is the fact that should you be stuck in the rain, cooking in the vestibule will be very difficult.
Performance and price are both fairly high with the Kingdom. You get lots of space, quality materials, and good functionality for a higher-than-some but still very reasonable price.
For families and larger groups looking to get a spacious tent, the REI Kingdom 6 is a solid pick. You can expect comfort, quality, and great views on warm nights. Ease of use isn't the best in our lineup, but over time, that will likely get better. Likewise, this tent isn't ideal for especially wind-prone areas. But the pros of the Kingdom far outweigh the cons, and should this be your camping tent pick, you will not be disappointed --in fact, others might be envious.
— Rob Gaedtke
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