With design roots linked to collapsible ice-fishing houses, the Gazelle hub tent is a unique, fast-pitching shelter. We gave it a first test review this month.
A recent weekend saw me camping at the headwaters of the Missouri River. It’s reported this is where Lewis and Clark camped long ago. As we quickly popped up the Gazelle Hub Tent I couldn’t help but think how much Meriwether and William would have appreciated such a shelter.
Review: Gazelle Hub Tent
The Gazelle comes from the minds behind Eskimo shelters, which make collapsible blinds and ice fishing houses. The borrowed technology makes the Gazelle a breeze to set up and gives an incredibly roomy four-person tent.
Built around a collapsible frame that already has the tent attached to it, the whole package folds into a large – and unwieldy – bundle. Setting up is a simple process of unfolding the tent, staking it down, pulling out each side, and popping up the roof.
It took me about two minutes to do by myself, although the task is accomplished even easier with a second person to help.
Car Camping Palace
To say the Gazelle is spacious probably doesn’t do it justice. With 61 square-feet of floor space, this thing is positively mammoth. And with 80 inches of headroom, my 6-foot-1-inch frame was able to stand up in the tent without any issue.
The tent is advertised as sleeping four people but we could fit six with room for gear. The convex walls add extra room in the tent, and with two doors on either side, everyone can get in and out at different times.
Eight zip-down windows provided sunlight and a fair amount of ventilation, and under the rainfly the ceiling is nearly all mesh. A gear loft and four hanging organizers kept everyone’s goods separate and accessible.
The fly stood up to a night of steady rain and wind, although we did wake up to a small puddle in the bottom of the tent that seemed to have run down the inner wall from an open window during the night. A removable floor allowed for easy cleaning and drying (and also allows you to set up the tent without a floor if so inclined).
Overall quality of materials and build is good, but not excellent, considering its $320 price tag. The fold-out pole structure is solid, and the walls are a durable polyester. The zippers aren’t brand name. The Gazelle falls into a mid-range category of tents you will find at Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, or Sportsman’s Warehouse.
The Gazelle is a base camping shelter or something you could throw in a boat. It does not break apart and pack down, so you cannot divvy the weight for packing it into wilderness spots.
Once folded up the tent slides into a huge, long carry bag fitted with backpack straps and, rather hilariously, a sternum strap, too. That being said, there’s no way you’re lugging this farther than a couple hundred yards. Weighing in at 33 pounds, it’s large and awkward to carry any long distance.
Family Camping Tent
Overall, my impressions of the tent were positive. I tend to look at gear that comes with any sort of gimmick as anathema, but the Gazelle turned out to be a solid tent for family campers, hunters, or festival goers.
The weight certainly relegates this fully to the “car camping only” category, but if you’re setting up camp next to a vehicle, you can’t beat the speed and ease of use — there’s something to be said for popping your tent in under two minutes and cracking a cold one as the rest of camp struggles with tent poles and rainflys.
Improvements? Even though there are multiple windows, we would have liked to see more ventilation throughout the tent. It warmed up quickly and, especially with the rainfly on, it retained a lot of heat. The doors were also a bit tricky to get in and out. Because they sit on the corner of the tent, they were hard to unzip at times and provided a narrow space to step through.
If you’re looking for a car camping tent that will fit the whole family and sets up in minutes, the Gazelle is a fair choice for a mammoth shelter and a portable home on the range.