We Had Really High Hopes For This “Tent”

When we started out on the road we had a pop-up canopy with us to shelter our gear when it was out of the Tacoma camper shell. It was a nice one; way more robust than those “Easy-Up” brand flimsy things and a generous 12′ x 12′. In non-inclement weather it worked fine we just had to make sure any food was stored securely. At our first RTR in January of 2016 we were treated to several nights of driving winds and pounding rain which kept us up all night trying to keep the canopy stakes from being yanked out of the ground. We won that battle, barely, but decided that there were other options that would serve our needs better.

A fellow RTR attendee had purchased this little Let’s Go Aero trailer to pull behind her Ford Transit van. The sales rep for some odd reason decided to pressure her to buy the Tentris ArcHaus Shelter and related Clip-On Screen Room as well. She was unable to even lift these items out of her trailer and so had never even attempted to set it up. During our conversation it came up that she was willing to part with this ArcHaus shelter. We said we’d get back to her and did a bit of research first. We were excited about the possibility of eventually adding one of the company’s “Car Ports with its elastic sleeve and straps with clips for wrapping around the rear of the Tacoma so that we would be able to move from camper shell to shelter without coming into contact with inclement weather. When we saw the nice woman again we said we would be interested in taking a first-hand look at the items before a possible purchase and she was fine with that.

We lifted both canvas bags out from her trailer (she was amazed I tell you) and took them back to our camp area to set them up for the first time. Out in the flat desert around Quartzsite, AZ it is rare that there is no breeze and that was true on this day. This is when we started to see the true nature of this thing’s poor design and build quality.

The Shelter Behind The Tacoma
The Shelter Behind The Tacoma When We Were First Excited About It

When looking through the instructions I was happy to see that the person setting up the shelter was wearing the exact same Asolo hiking boots that I wear.

Human display model wearing my same Asolo Boots
Hey, My Boots

I took this to mean he appreciated quality construction and wouldn’t shill for a crappy product. I was wrong. My first clue should have been that he was setting the shelter up next to a warehouse thereby blocking any breeze from disrupting the process. Yes breeze, not wind.

Nice Wind Break You Got There Pal

This is such a lightweight contraption that anything more than a butterfly’s fart will make it almost impossible for a single person to set up without issues and breakage.

In their brochure and on the carrying case they tout some “features” that are laughable at best and misleading at worst. Let’s point out a few.

archaus brochure
Brochure Touting “Features”

1) Oooh, you can walk in and walk out of your tent. Will wonders never cease.
2) Its shape is an arc and has zippered door panels. AmAZing!
3) Highest quality waterproof material. Ummm, not according to their instruction sheet.
4) Ripstop. Nope again. Multiple rips started and continued to grow along the path of the ripstop threads. Maybe I’m being picky because the ripstop thread didn’t rip but the material around it did so…YMMV.

Actual Instructions
tag with some product "features" sewed on the carrying case
Touting Some Of This Product’s “Features”

Let’s talk about some brain-dead design decisions too.
1) The windows of the door panels can zip open or closed in both directions but the door panels themselves can only open/close in one direction.
2) They use both the terms “tent” and “shelter” but this thing has no floor so to us…not a tent. You want a floor you have to shell out another $100 for the Screen Room.
3) Take a close look at the Screen Room design.

Screen Room

Did you notice how, unlike the door panels on the shelter itself, the screen room doors are a third of the size AND they open on the opposite side from the direction the side panels open. This means that if you have the screen room zipped inside the door panels you have to unzip a door panel almost all the way so you can reach the zipper for the screen room and then unzip it all the way in the complete opposite direction just so you can step through both openings comfortably. Dumb.

Let’s talk about zippers. These are about as far from a quality YKK zipper as one could find. This company touts these as “self-healing zippers.” They need to be because they are some of the flimsiest, crappy zippers they could have used. We’ve had items made in China before with less-than-awesome zippers but these were seemingly chosen from the “Cheapest Pieces Of Shit Parts List” that their Chinese factory offered.

crappy zipper
Look At Those Tiny Teeth, Look At ‘Em I Tell You

That zipper is on the canvas bag this P.O.S. came in. They used the same crap zippers on the P.O.S. itself. The one/only nice “design feature” I can mention is on the bag this shelter came in. Once you take it out of its bag the first time you will never, ever be able to get it small enough to fit in there again as well as the Chinese slave labor* did when it was originally packaged. To solve that problem they added one more crappy zipper so that the carrying bag can be expanded.

The Only Thoughtful Design Feature…On The Carrying Bag

Sadly it works as well (not a compliment) as those zippers on the shelter.

This next picture is of a little canvas bag I bought off Etsy. This is some lady who sews these for fun and a little profit in her kitchen and she uses YKK zippers.

Look At These Huge, Grabby Zipper Teeth
Quality YKK zipper
Quality YKK zipper

After struggling for a bit trying to figure out the instructions and get the thing assembled and looking like it did in the pictures while fighting the extremely mild breeze we took a closer look and made a written list of all those dumb design decisions and low-end construction and then went to talk to the nice lady. She came back to our camp and I played Anti-Salesman while pointing out all the thing’s shortcomings. Not that she was a tent connoisseur but she did agree with my review and that all the items I was pointing out were indeed less-than-stellar “features.”

After my verbal lambasting of the tent I still made it a point to say that we would take it off her hands for the right amount and we negotiated a price of $100. I had looked it up and the retail price for both items totaled over $390 including tax! Absolutely ridiculous. Now knowing a bit about the shelter and its quality I figured $100 was an okay price as I had already sold the canopy to someone else at the RTR for $50 so our total outlay for this new item was $50. Now that it was assembled and officially ours we put our stuff in it, started using it and immediately experienced just what a poorly designed and constructed piece of garbage it was. Long story short, it was barely worth $50. Over the next several months we put it up and took it back down dozens of times and grew ever more annoyed at its shortcomings and flimsiness.

What all this comes down to is that within three months more than half of the tips on the spanner poles were broken and I saw no option to buy just a pole or four from their website.

broken plastic tent piece
The First Of Many Broken Spanner Pole Ends
more broken plastic tent pieces
Several More Broken Plastic Pieces After A Few Uses

The zippers on the door panels had become stuck or opened themselves so many times they were essentially unusable even after we had spent a couple of hours painstakingly rubbing some paraffin into the teeth. Rips had started in three of the four corners and the “ripstop” material had failed in its mission to stop their growth. The netting in the windows and screen room seemed to be pathologically attracted to any piece of velcro that was near it and would throw itself against it to then be badly deformed when the velcro was removed. Our Mountain Hardware Thru Hiker tent has performed almost flawlessly for more than 25 years and, when the zipper finally started to not work as well as it had for 20 years (but still way better than the zippers on this thing) that company happily replaced the zipper (a YKK one btw) for free.

I just met someone at the winter RTR in Quartzsite that had the same tent. We chatted about what a piece of garbage it was and they mentioned that they had bought it off Craigslist for $50. I complimented them on not paying full price. They had the same rips in the corners, the same zipper issues and had taken to tying several broken spanner pole ends to either of the main U-Tubes. Their screen room had rips in the screen and many of the fabric bungees that go from clips to the shelter poles had stretched or broken enough to be unusable. My screen room had been in storage and I had brought it with me to the RTR to toss (with extreme disgust) onto the “Free Pile” but I instead was happy to give it to these brave gluttons for punishment. Months ago I finally became so annoyed with my “shelter” that I cut it into little pieces and tossed it in the dumpster of the place in Portland, OR where I bought our ARB awning. I could have sold it to someone but that would have been a dick move and a dumpster is where garbage belongs.

If you are in need of a shelter/tent for your outdoor adventures you would do well to run, screaming, away from this amazingly overpriced piece of garbage and just go to Costco and buy any of their $60-$100 tents made in China which will be of a better design and quality for less than a THIRD or more of this thing’s price. The retail price of this objet de’crap is absolutely asinine and ludicrous! Remove the 2 from its $289 price and maybe you wouldn’t feel scammed after buying this thoughtless piece of junk.

You are free to look this company and their products up but I am doing you a favor by NOT linking to their website. You’re welcome.

BTW – any and all usage of that company’s name and/or product likeness is entirely under a fair use doctrine and duress. If there was any way I could have written this post without mentioning or showing the product I would have.

*Possibly not constructed using Chinese slave labor but I suspect people would have to be forced to make something this crappy.

2 thoughts on “We Had Really High Hopes For This “Tent”

  1. Greg

    Great review, thanks for saving me the cash from buying this thing as I had been checking it out.

    Have you found a system or tent yet that has taken it’s place for providing a shelter on the back of the truck?

    1. E

      I have not and we have not actually looked as I got that thing for a cheap price and attachment to the back of the Tacoma was not a purchase criteria. We’ve replaced it with a Springbar Vagabond 4 which is what many Burning Man attendees use and does great in heavy winds. As a bonus our ARB awning zipper is the same size as the Springbar area where their awning would attach so we can put up the tent, pull up next to it in the Tacoma, attach the ARB awning to the tent and make a suitable “covered walkway” between the two.

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