Review - Eureka! TL-4 Tent
Eureka TL-4 Inside View

Friday night, and I hadn't even packed yet. Worse, I didn't have a servicable tent. My 10-year-old High Adventure dome tent's fiberglass poles were cracked and were sure to fail, probably at a most inopportune moment, like while I was setting it up. I couldn't find replacement poles. At two of the many places I went looking, I was told that I would probably not find any for such an "old" tent. So the hunt was on for some new shelter.

I checked a local sporting goods mega-store and saw tents ranging from a $29.99 backyard square dome "toy" to $500 solo bivvy shelters. What caught my eye was the Eureka Timberlines. I had seen these at previous campouts, and have always thought they were a good design, and was truly amazed at how quickly they seemed to go up. The store had two models available, the 2-person TL-2 (Floor: 5' 3" x 7' 2" Height 3' 6", $99.99) and the 4-person TL-4 (Floor: 8' 9" x 7' 2" Height 4' 10" $139.99) Both pack down to 24" long, with the 2-person being 6" around and weighing 6 lbs. 10 oz.; and the 4-person being 7" around and weighing 8 lbs. 8 oz.

I checked several stores, including some on the Internet, most notably Campmor's Online Catalog, and found that the price was identical at all that stocked it. I decided to go for the -4 for two reasons: 1) it was big, and 2) it was BIG. Adding the gear loft ($9.99) brought the total to just under $160.00. If this tent lasts me 10 years as did the dome, $16.00/year for shelter seemed very reasonable.

I did a dry-run setup in the TV room that evening, much to the delight of my two boys, Kevin (8) and Brian (5), who immediately tried to make it their own personal Nintendo Haven (it was set up in front of the TV where the game is). I finally got them to relinquish it by promising them popcorn if they cooperated. Set up is a snap. The first time, reading the instructions, I had it set up in under 20 minutes with help from the boys. I might have shaved a couple off that if I had been alone. At camp the next day, I had it up in less than 10. TIP: tie the junction tubes to the tent as described in the instructions - Murphy's law states that you will lose them otherwise. The folks at Eureka even provide two nylon cords for this purpose, as well as a tube of seam sealer.

Life inside the tent is nothing short of spacious for one. Two is still roomy, and three is still OK as long as you turn sideways, parallel to the door. There was still room for some gear with three of us in the tent. Four would begin to get crowded, depending upon what you're sleeping in/on and how much gear you want to keep inside. The addition of the optional Vestibule or Annex Fly ($39.99 each) would be a plus when there's more than two of you inside.

Although it only sprinkled Saturday night, it appears that the included rain fly would do a superior job of keeping even wind-blown rain out of the tent even with partially opened windows. I'll follow up on this - Murphy says it WILL rain on at least one campout every year. There are reinforcements sewn at all the stress points on the tent, and it appears that it should last for many years. The floor comes factory-seam-sealed, so I did not see any reason to use the included seam sealer, considering the fact that when properly set up, at no place does the rain fly touch the inner tent. Again, it WILL rain, so I'll eventually get to test this theory.

Usage to date:
May 30-31 1998 - IBMC Promised Land Campout (1 person, insignificant rain)
September 18-20 1998 - IBMC NY State Camp-in (3 on night 1, 2 on night 2, no rain)
October 31-November 1 1998 - DHMC Bean Run (VERY cold, no rain)
July 17-18 1999 - Camping at Lakota Wolf Preserve (HARD rain - no leaks!)

Entire site © 1998 by: Frank Altamura aka "Jersey Dog"