The new Cabela’s West Wind 6-Person Dome Tent is one of the best family camping tents available in 2017. It balances a very usable design with an excellent price-to-value ratio.
The latest West Wind Dome Tent is new for 2017 and Cabela’s sent us a 6-person review unit to test out. The first time we set it up, we were expecting just another family-sized dome tent. We were mistaken — it’s an excellent overall tent, and because it hits all the core features we expect out of a great family tent, it also kicked off our 21 Best Family Camping Tents 2017 gear guide. Here is what we learned:
Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent Review
The Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent comes in 4-person, 6-person or 8-person versions, all of which are similar in overall design. The 6-person version is 6’3” tall with an 83.2 square foot floor — a 9’6” by 12’ hexagon shape. The added vestibule — which we’ll get to — adds another 19 square feet.
The main body of the West Wind includes a bathtub-type floor, which keeps running or splashing water from getting in during heavy rains. The sides feature plenty of bug-proof mesh for good airflow. The dome tent design uses five fiberglass poles, four for the main body of the tent and one for the vestibule.
One thing that we appreciate about the West Wind Dome Tent design is its pole structure. Instead of skimping on pole design, Cabela’s uses four overlapping poles to create the dome structure instead of just two. This four-pole design gives the tent good stability and interior height.
For rain coverage, the Cabela’s West Wind uses a tried-and-true full-coverage rain fly. This rain fly goes over the top of the arched poles, which creates a barrier between the mesh interior tent and the rain — a full-coverage rain fly over the top of structural poles creates a solid weather-ready design that rarely fails.
The rain fly is connected to the large vestibule, which is held up by a single pole and a staked guy line. This vestibule is a fantastic feature of the West Wind. Not only does it give you room for say, a wet family dog, it gives you plenty of space to store your shoes or boots out of the rain. We’re big fans of large vestibules on family camping tents, and the built-in vestibule on the West Wind is pretty great.
The rain fly includes vents to help with airflow — another good design if you get stuck with a lot of rain.
On the inside, Cabela’s includes a gear loft, four mesh pockets in the sidewalls of the tent, as well as a hanging entertainment system. This hanging entertainment system is basically a clear pouch for an iPad or tablet. You can hang it from attachment points in the wall and ceiling so you can watch it from your sleeping bags. For parents of small children, this feature can be a lifesaver if you’re stuck in an all-day rainstorm . . . or if your kiddos wake up far too early and you’re just not ready to get out of your own sleeping bag.
Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent Review: Setup
It’s possible to set up the West Wind Dome Tent yourself . . . but it’s far easier with a helping hand. Basically, spread the main body of the tent on the ground. Extend the four main poles, but start with the two poles that go next to the door. These make an X from the base of the door to the backside of the tent. Cross them and clip them in around the top section of the tent first, while the tent is on the ground. (If you set the poles without clipping in the top first, you’ll have to push the side of the tent toward the middle to give yourself room to stand to reach up and clip the middle of the tent to the top after you set the poles.) Make sure the far ends of the backside poles are connected to the base of the tent — stake these corners if you want more stability when you start. From the door, slowly lift and the bend the poles to create the dome. Connect to each corner of the floor by the door. The other two poles arch over the sides over the top or below of the starting X poles — you’ll see where they go by the clips. Adjust the tent to fit your spot and stake all the corners.
The rain fly goes over the top — spin it around until the extra vestibule material is over the doorway. The first time is confusing, but less so if you spin it looking to find the vestibule. Attach the rainfly to the poles with the velcro connectors, then attach the rain fly to each corner at the base of the tent.
The vestibule will use another pole to create an arch — it will stay in position when you stake the base and stake the guy line. Stake the remaining guy lines if you’re expecting wind or a rain storm. (We usually don’t bother with staking the rain fly when the weather forecast is good, but campers who are far smarter than us stake everything just in case.)
Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent Review: Size Considerations
Some campers have a hard time figuring out how to fit 6 people inside of a 6-person tent. Don’t worry, it’s not exactly your fault — we’ve all been here, too. All the manufacturers expect everyone to be cozy. Basically, if you’re using large twin-sized air mattresses or cots, you’re not going to fit six people comfortably. Most backpacking sleeping pads are 20 inches wide while lightweight sleeping pads for camping are usually 24 inches wide. There are roomier pads of course — and we like those, too. If you’re using 20 or 24-inch wide sleeping pads, you can easily fit 4 or 5 campers in one direction, plus 1-2 at their feet or heads. It’s easier for families that have kids of various lengths, of course — 6 adults in any 6-person tent will always be a closer squeeze and a 6-person family with kids.
As with any family camping tent, consider your planned sleeping arrangements by calculating the size of your sleeping pads or cots — and then choose your size of tent from there. If you want cots or large air mattresses, you’re just going to have to do the math to find the right fit for what you want. If you’re not sure, error on a larger sized tent and enjoy the extra space.
Oh, one more thing here: Some campgrounds limit tent spaces to a single tent pad, so you can’t always just add a smaller 2-person tent to handle your overflow.
Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent Review: Materials & Quality
The rainfly and bathtub floor are made from a durable but lightweight 75-denier polyester taffeta. In our experience, we’re generally pretty happy with 75-denier materials for family camping tents because they give you a near-perfect balance of durability, weight and easy packability. The floor is waterproof rated to 1,500mm while the rain fly is rated to 1,000mm — again, pretty solid specs for most recreational camping.
The poles are fiberglass. We prefer aluminum, but at the West Wind price point, it’s hard to fault Cabela’s for the fiberglass choice. Because of the four-pole design over the main tent, you get good stability. The included stakes are plenty stout for most terrain.
It all weighs 22 lbs 12 oz and packs down into a small duffel-shaped carrying bag. If you’re car camping, you’ll like how well it packs down.
Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent Review: Recommendations
The 6-person Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent is a great camping tent — and an excellent family camping tent. It’s roomy, designed well, can take some wind and shed plenty of rain. The hanging entertainment system comes standard with the tent — and if you have kids, that’s definitely a bonus, especially when a hard day of camping has them tuckered out but they’re still too excited to sleep.
If you’re camping on sharper rocks or gravel, you might want to get an inexpensive tarp to use as a footprint to help with long-term floor durability — we usually have a tarp with us but only use it if the ground is rough.
All-in-all, the Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent is a lightweight camping tent with a pole design that’s pretty sturdy once you have it set up and staked down. We appreciate the lightweight package, full-coverage rain fly and roomy vestibule. The price-to-value ratio is hard to beat. Highly recommended.
Get the Gear:
- Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent: 4-person
- Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent: 6-person
- Cabela’s West Wind Dome Tent: 8-person
P.S. The West Wind Dome Tent seems to be a popular tent — at the initial time of publication, the 4-person and 6-person versions had already sold out, available on backorder. The 8-person was down to limited availability. (The West Wind Dome Tent is a Cabela’s “Everyday Value” offering, though, so we’re pretty sure it will be back in stock soon. Try the similarly good Cabela’s Guardian Tent if you can’t wait.)