Reviewed by: TomWc
Alps Mountaineering Taurus 5 OF
Heavy Duty Construction
Simple to erect
Pin system for pole ends
22 years of camping in destinations reached by foot, small boat, bike, and car. I have owned tents from REI, Sierra Designs, Mountain Laurel Designs, Big Agnes, Wenzel and Sears. I am 6'2" with a family of 4.
My criteria for a new family camping tent:
Big enough for 4+ gear, but not bigger than 8x12
Aluminum poles (the fewer the better)
Full Rainfly to the ground
Two doors with two vestibules
Durable,simple,heavy duty construction with fully sealed seams
Tents that made the short list included:
Eureka Timberline 6 Outfitter 8.5x10.3 ~400
Northface Trailhead 4/6 8x12 ~$400
Kelty Grand Mesa 6 11x9 ~$250
Kelty Trail Dome 6 10x10 ~$260
Sierra Designs Beduin 6 8x10 ~$400
Alps Taurus 5 OF ~$300 $170- 45% scoutdirect discount
Alps Meramac 5 ZF AL ~$270 $149 - 45% scoutdirect discount
*Kelty Gunnison 4 came close but seemed too small, it would be a close competitor to the Taurus 4 OF
What's in the box:
Tan and Green Tent and Tan Fly
Anodized red shepherd's crook stakes
High Visibility guy out ropes
2 anodized gold poles
Stuff Sacks for tent, poles and stakes
Fabric swatches for repair
The Alps Mountaineering Taurus 5 Outfitter is very well designed and constructed. The natural muted colors of the tent blend nicely with the environment.
The day after I received it, I had the opportunity to go on a large scout campout with more than 50 examples of family camping tents to compare my new Taurus 5 OF to. They ranged from the cheapest big box brands like Wenzel, Hillary and Ozark Trail to high end gear like The North Face, Sierra Designs and the nicer Kelty and Eureka tents.
Setup was a breeze, the easiest I have experienced with a large tent. Two poles kept it simple, aluminum meant that they were not overly bendy and clip tent suspension instead of fabric sleeves allowed for easy attachment. It went up fast,less than 10 minutes on the first time setting it up, in the dark, with no practice. I noticed that you could set the tent up under the protection of the rainfly, minimizing how wet your tent would get while setting it up in the rain.
Construction appears to be robust to say the least. In comparison to other tents, the first thing that was obvious was the Heavy duty oxford cloth floor. This tent has the same floor material as The North Face Trailhead 6 tent that the Scoutmaster had and a heavier floor than the Kelty and Sierra designs tents. It is what you normally think of as being "backpack" cloth, heavy duty stuff. The Stuffsack is made of the same material. Next is the Heavy duty #10 zippers. These are the size that you normally see on luggage and stouter than I have ever seen on a tent. The poles are also heavy duty, but not as thick as the poles on the high end tents, also they attach in the corners with steel pins like fibergalss ploles. I would like to see a ferrule to grommet attachment like on the higher end tents. The thick polyester fly was also heavier duty than most tents there. It is the same material the Keltys and North Face had and should last longer than the Nylon one on the Sierra Design Bedouin. It didn't rain, but I have confidence in a full length fly that goes all the way to the ground. All the stressed areas on the tent body were reinforced with extra material and stitching. Sewing appears to be as good as anything I have owned from the high end makers, and better than my REI tent.
The Taurus blew away the big box brand tents in quality, none of them even came close. Less than functional rainflys, unsealed seams, small zippers, oversized mosquito mesh rather than no-seeum, bendy fiberglass poles, flimsy fabrics and overly complicated designs making for difficult setup were the norm. The Alps Taurus was much higher quality than all of these tents, though many paid more than I did.
I found that the Taurus OF matched the quality of tents that cost twice as much. The Taurus OF used as good or better materials and construction as the outfitter style tents from Kelty, Eureka! and The North Face that I compared it to, and heavier duty materials than non outfitter tents from the same manufacturers. I found no other tent that fit my criteria list so closely. The Kelty domes came close, but the trail dome doesn't have vestibules or a full fly and the Grand Mesa only has one door. The Taurus uses heavier materials than either. Spending less than half the money just sweetened the deal.
Alps added a few extra design elements that I wasn't expecting that were nice surprises when I set it up. First, it has vents in the fly to allow air circulation. The pictures on the alps site must be old because they don't show the great vents up near the roof. These vents can be propped open and still keep the rain out. We had no noticable condensation on the fly with 4 people and night time temps in the 40's. The second nice surprise was the stake and guy line set. The guy lines are flourescent hi-vis yellow, what a great idea! Why don't all tents have this? Guy lines in a crouded campground are a constant hazard, expecially with tons of kids running around. These lines end that hazard permanently.
I am very pleased with my purchase of the Alps Mountaineering Taurus 5 Outfitter Tent. It has exceeded my expectation on quality and met all of my selection criteria. Thanks to the folks at alps for making such a great product and offering such a great discount to Scouts. They really do offer "A little more, for a LOT less."