BlackOut technology is put to the test as we pitch Coleman's latest Rocky Mountain family tent
The sing-song chirping of the dawn chorus, the light streaming in shards through the unzipped tent; nothing beats waking up on a campsite. But, at this time of year, as we near the summer solstice, it's far more common to find yourself blinking awake at 5am than lazing late-morning in your sleeping bag. That’s certainly the idea that inspired tent manufacturers Coleman, anyway, who this year patented the first BlackOut Bedroom technology in order to keep campers snoozing beyond the brightness of early dawn. We got our hands on the brand new Coleman Rocky Mountain tent and headed to riverside campsite, Bwch-Yn-Uchaf in North Wales to test the technology out.
After exploring the cute, redbrick railway station next door to the campsite, we ventured across the meadows of Bwch-Yn-Uchaf and found a grass pitch beside the river where we could roll out that large, five-person tent. A traditional tunnel tent by design, the Rocky Mountain Five has three fibreglass poles holding up the exterior shell, while an inner BlackOut Bedroom is hung within. The poles and hooks are all colour coded, making it easy to set-up (even without closely following the instructions), and clips and toggles inside were simple and sturdy. In all, the tent took around ten minutes to set-up on our first attempt.
Inside, there is a fantastic sense of space. The front of the tent, with both a main, roll-up door and a smaller side door, provides ample room for a fold out table and chairs (particularly useful in wet weather), while the interior sleeping area has a number of webbed pockets on the outside, for storing your torch, clothes and other essentials. In fact, in truly terrible weather, you could even take down the sleeping room and use the entire space of the tent shell as a big group shelter – the whole thing has one continuous ground sheet. It’s a useful touch if you're camping in a large group.
The real test, of course, was of the BlackOut Bedroom itself. On this, the Rocky Mountain Five did not disappoint. Even when first erecting the tent, it was clear the interior of the bedroom was significantly darker than regular family models we’ve used before. In the morning we really did find ourselves snoozing until the unnatural camping hour of nine o’clock, while the real evidence of its success was that, even in the gentle evening light of dusk, we required a torch to read our books.
So, where there any drawbacks? Well, at 17¼ kilograms, the Rocky Mountain Five certainly isn’t going to win any hiking awards for its feather-light weight. But as a family tent that you’ll be loading in your car, that isn’t particularly important. The extra load is an inevitable consequence of enjoying a better, darker lining and a good night's sleep, so, on balance, it's worth its weight. We also noted that some of the external doors and windows were partially secured with Velcro, rather than zips alone, which, though it was fine during our test, seems an unusual choice when you consider velcro's lack of real longevity.
In all, the Rocky Mountain Five was a quick-to-pitch, spacious family tent that marks itself above the rest with its BlackOut Bedroom interior. The patented BlackOut fabric ensures the tent is dark and cool as you sleep, and the bedroom chamber, which can be divided in two with the use of an extra sheet, is ideal for parents who want to put children to bed at an earlier time. There’s ample room to stand up without stooping and plenty of wet-weather space for a table and chairs. And, at the end of the day, we even managed to pack the tent away and fit it back in the bag it came from without having to shove and push and squeeze it in with all our might. Now there’s a first.
> Easy and quick to pitch with helpful colour coding on the poles, clips and toggles.
> A high frame and pre-shaped pole ferrules allow you stand up fully without stooping.
> A large sleeping chamber that can be divided into two rooms for children and parents.
> Spacious wet-weather area with ground-sheet (and even more space available by taking down the interior bedroom).
> Lots of pockets and extra storage spaces.
> Highly effective BlackOut Bedroom that helps achieve darkness well after sunrise.
> It doesn't take Hulk Hogan to fit the tent back in its bag once packed away.
> At 17.3kg the Rocky Mountain Five is a little on the bulky side when it comes to carrying and storage.
> Velcro fittings in some key areas could be vulnerable to wear and tear after a prolonged period of time.
The Overall Verdict
The Rocky Mountain Five is an ideal family tent for those camping with a vehicle and particularly for parents who value keeping the kids quiet early on bright summer mornings. There's ample space for wet-weather shelter as well as for sleeping at night and it's easy to pitch and pack away.
Click here for more information on the Rocky Mountain Five tent. The following video has been provided by Coleman UK: