Alcott Explorer Pup Tent

Robin’s an Alcott Ambassador, and they sent over this tent, a sleeping bag, and some other great gear for us to try!

Price: $39.99

Sizing and colors: One size, in Explorer Green – it’s 2.75′ x 3.5′ and 2.5′ tall.

Before it arrived, I didn’t think we’d use this tent for much more than a photo op. As it turns out, I absolutely love it for keeping Robin (and his friends) warm enough¬†around the campfire, and it’s also come in handy as an “emergency” shelter for ME!

Design 4/5: 
The tent walls are lightweight green nylon, and¬†the floor is made of a tough, waterproof woven plastic (the kind that sounds crunchy when you fold it). While the floor sacrifices¬†weight and bulk savings¬†for¬†durability, it’s nice not to worry about rocks and toenails the way I do with¬†our big tent. The tent has three mesh windows with roll-down covers and a windowed door with a zippered cover. The upper section is not waterproof (thought it’ll resist drizzle), but with some waterproofing spray it could probably become reasonably water-resistant.

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Side mesh windows on the Pup Tent

It assembles with two skinny sectioned poles that collapse down to about¬†17″¬†(ideally, they would collapse smaller so that a midsized dog could easily carry it, but they’re currently the appropriate width for backpack pad straps).¬†Assembly is simple in concept – the poles crisscross corner-to-corner. However, because the poles’ couplings are on the outside (see video), they can be finicky to thread through the sleeves – internal couplings would make tent assembly slicker.¬†The ends of the poles nest¬†into reinforced webbing pockets on each corner, which is functional but more fussy than a simple strap and grommet system, where the pole ends poke into a grommet.

Despite its hefty base, the Pup Tent is pretty light- our¬†tent body weighs 407.22 g (14.36 oz) and the poles weigh 221.66 g (7.82 oz), putting the whole thing at 22.18 oz or 1.4 lb. It’s light enough for backpacking, especially since a safe resting spot is even more important in the backcountry, and I¬†don’t really notice its weight in my daypack.

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Fit 5/5:
A big part of my initial hesitation was that¬†the tent seemed unnecessarily huge for Robin. It is big (I’m 6′ and I can fit tightly inside) but it’s not cavernous, so it retains some of his warmth, and a benefit of the extra space is that it holds his gear too. I toss his harness, leash, sleeping bag and any other stuff into the back corner while he occupies the front. It easily fits him, all his gear, my camera and jacket, and a similarly sized dog friend, even when they’re not in a snuggly mood. Two large dogs could easily share the tent if they were willing to sleep close together.

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Robin, Moonie, and plenty of extra space.

Function 5/5:
Aside from the setup annoyances, the tent works great. I’ve actually used it as an “emergency” shelter for myself when Robin and I stayed to watch a sunset and the temperatures dropped more rapidly than I’d expected- it trapped my body¬†heat well. We don’t have much weather here, so I haven’t tested it in rain or strong winds, but the bottom is definitely waterproof. It also comes with a set of heavy stakes, which I’ve never used and would leave home when backpacking.

Build Quality 4/5:
The tent is well made, but tent fabric is not going to contain an untrained dog. If your dog behaves, the fabric and seams¬†feel like they’ll hold up for a long time, and the tough floor would be hard to destroy. The¬†weakest link is likely the poles, which are¬†thin. They’ve¬†held up fine so far and the crisscross assembly seems to be pretty stable, so the greatest risk would probably be a stray foot in the campground during assembly.

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Overall 4.5/5: 
While the Pup Tent is a novelty item, it’s well-made and has become very useful for keeping the pup warm when we’re not ready for bed yet. It’s also a good “backcountry crate” in parks that require dogs to be leashed or contained. Though lightweight, it’s plenty big enough for a big dog or an assortment of small dogs, and I can even fit inside!

Best for:  Car camping, backpacking (without stakes), backyard hangout, state/national parks (leash laws), all sizes of dogs

Not ideal for: Untrained or rambunctious dogs

Updates:

7/3/16: added exact weights

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