Camping is one of the few things that isn’t easy to do on a whim. You might have the urge to head into the woods, but there’s a fair amount of packing and planning to do. Spontaneity is more possible if you’re blessed with a nice backyard or acreage. Have space, will camp — right? The trick is gear: which to use, and when? I recently tested the Quest three-person backyard dome tent from Dick’s Sporting Goods by taking it into Mt. Hood National Forest. Nice idea. Less-than-nice results. The tent isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s definitely better suited for kids’ backyard adventures than for a serious weekend or week-long campout.
I should’ve gathered that the Quest three-person backyard dome tent wasn’t designed for backcountry or woods-based outings. After all, it’s right there in the product’s name: “backyard dome tent.” But like any man with stereo instructions, I ignored the signs completely and went about my merry way.
Things started well. The tent’s light for a big-box product, weighing just 4lbs 6oz in spite of its seven-foot square footprint and 40-inch height. Dick’s also bills the Quest tent as easy to setup, and it is. With two telescoping fiberglass poles, the tent sets up in just a few minutes. The included rainfly also came pre-tied in two corners, so there wasn’t even a need to attach it. You know that Ronco tagline “set it and forget it”? That’s kind of what setup was like for the the Quest three-person backyard dome tent.
Once the tent was setup, its initial sheen began to lose some luster. The Quest dome tent is billed as sleeping two to three people, but I wouldn’t recommend more than two. Three kids might fit comfortably, and that may actually be a better application. Most kids will stay blissfully ignorant of the tent’s shortcomings and enjoy every minute inside it. Adults won’t.
Ventilation is a serious issue with the Quest three-person backyard dome tent. Although there’s a zippered window in its single door, that’s the only place the tents gets airflow. The inclusion of a rain fly implies a nice opening on top, but it’s actually not more than a foot wide, hence the fly’s small size. Because of the poor ventilation, things tend to get stuffy inside in warmer temps. Worse yet, the moisture that gathers inside the tent overnight is almost unforgivable. We’ve all experienced a little wall dampness or damp sleeping bag corner at some point, but I’ve never seen internal condensation like this.
On the exterior, the 450mm PU coating on the Quest three-person backyard dome tent keeps mist away, but it doesn’t deter heavier showers from making their presence known. This won’t affect campouts in clear skies, but any chance of showers should compel you to pack something with better waterproofing.
But again, kids won’t likely notice those things, especially if they’re just in the backyard. And if they do notice them, they may not really care. I keep coming back to this concept of a kids’ adventure tent because, well, the Quest three-person backyard dome tent is inexpensive. It retails for $40, and as of this writing can even be had for $25. At that price it’s OK to buy a kids-only tent, because even if they totally destroy it outdoors, you’re not going to be out a ton of cash. Would it be wiser to invest more in a tent that has a better long-term prognosis? Absolutely. But if your kids are at all like mine — attacking outdoor gear with reckless abandon — you may be leery of making that investment.
Long story short, I wouldn’t recommend the Quest three-person backyard dome tent for adults. There are too many shortcomings for the type of camping a grown-up is likely to do. Kids and backyard camping? Sure, why not? Just be sure you know what you’re getting into and don’t feel to picky. My complaints result mostly from taking it out on a longer trip in the woods.
The Quest three-person backyard dome tent was provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.
Quest 3-Person Backyard Dome Tent
- Quite light, all things considered
- Easy setup
- Its packed 22-by-5 inch size makes packing and storage simple
- Decent option for an inexpensive kids tent
- 10 different color combinations = family-friendly
- Poor ventilation makes for a stuffy interior
- Serious condensation issues inside
- Billed as a three-person, but really best as a two-person tent