4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

ILIKE the sim­ple things in life: pull-on boots, hats that shade my honker, and tools that do a job prop­erly. The same goes for camp­ing gear. Noth­ing to break, noth­ing to lose and noth­ing to get flus­tered about – isn’t that why we go camp­ing? To re­lax?

When it comes to tour­ing tents – ones that are sup­posed to be quick and easy to set up and pack away – cen­tre-pole-de­sign tents are the best around. Sure, they miss out on some mod­ern de­sign in­clu­sions, but you can’t break them and they’re per­fect if you’re camp­ing with­out a camper trailer or car­a­van, and they’re a great backup if you need to leave the ’van be­hind for a few weeks while you hit Cape York.

Through­out his­tory you’ll find cen­tre­pole tents have been used more than any other type of tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion, apart from caves. The old-style tour­ing tents (cen­tre-pole tent, bus tent, or what­ever you call them) are still alive and strong, but they’re a rar­ity when com­pared to newer multi-framed, multi-hinged, pop-up, un­fold, ex­tend-a-frame styles.

There’s not much that can go wrong with this style of tent; no fancy spring-loaded clips and noth­ing that pops up or down.

We got our hands on a South­ern Cross Ul­ti­mate Trekker cen­tre-pole tour­ing tent. It’s large enough to jam in mum, dad and a gag­gle of kids, but it would be a lit­tle un­com­fort­able with­out the op­tional ex­tra awning if the weather was un­kind. No out­door can­vas cov­er­age is of­fered, but a zip-on awning is op­tional.

The tent mea­sures in at 4.0m long, 3.0m wide and 2.26m high when set up (the rear room sec­tion is 1.62m high) and packed di­men­sions are 1.0 x 1.0 x 0.15m. Given the tent is made from old-fash­ioned poly­cot­ton can­vas, the to­tal weight is 25kg. You won’t be hik­ing through the Red Cen­tre with it on your back, but you could ex­pect to cart it around on your roof rack or in the ve­hi­cle.

South­ern Cross uses Aus­tralian-made 10-ounce poly­cot­ton can­vas through­out, while the floor is heavy-duty PVC. Even the poles are made lo­cally. That cen­tral pole has a sim­ple dou­ble-lock fea­ture to en­sure the tent roof doesn’t slip down, re­gard­less of the wind speed. A side-pole kit can re­place the cen­tral pole to free up floor space; the floor has a re­in­forced patch so the pole doesn’t dam­age it.

Huge side and rear win­dows of­fer plenty of ven­ti­la­tion, plus there’s a small vent in the built-in roof frame to ex­haust hot air. No fly is needed with this tent, which means you don’t have to wres­tle to get an ex­tra sheet over the high peak of the tent. Good quality can­vas doesn’t need a fly to stay wa­ter­proof!

A gus­seted win­dow sys­tem, a de­cent-sized awning and a few other mod cons would be nice, but then it wouldn’t be a sim­ple, toughas-nails, quick-to-erect tour­ing tent, would it?

Win­dow mesh is fine enough to keep out mozzies and midges, and huge di­am­e­ter peg rings al­low a good grip to yank pegs out of the ground with­out tug­ging on the ma­te­rial.

The Ul­ti­mate Trekker claims to sleep four to six peo­ple.

Large win­dows let the scenery in, pro­vided you don’t park your 4WD in the way.

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