After years of working in the camping and outdoors industry, I was well aware of the Oztent products and the reputation the brand holds in the marketplace. A quick trip to Stony Bay in the Coromandel turned out to be more than a test for this cleverly designed tent, one that it passed with flying colours.
Arriving at the DOC campground at Stony Bay at around 7pm meant we didn’t have too much time to muck around, so after selecting a prime spot under the pōhutukawas at the eastern end of the grounds], my partner Sara and I were straight into unpacking and getting organised before the sun made way for the moon and stars.
The first thing to mention about the Oztent RV-3 is that even though its packaged size is quite large in comparison to a traditional tent, we found it very manageable. At two metres long, the tent package size is something you need to take into consideration. However, its clever aluminium frame design results in a relatively lightweight package of 22kg, and the narrow, cylindrical shape makes it easy to store for travel.
Tent out and ready to go, the first step was to lay out the optional mesh floor saver we had brought along. Given the name of our camping location ‘Stony Bay’, you can probably envisage what the ground was like – plenty of smooth rock covered by a thin layer of soil and grass.
The floor saver did several things for us, and it would absolutely be something I would purchase for myself. Firstly, its thick mesh construction performs well at its core function, protecting the floor of the tent from damage from stones, sticks, and the odd stray bottle cap.
Also, over the weekend, it meant that underfoot, everything was clean. Hopping in and out of bed, I noticed the absolute lack of debris that got carried in with us, and as I ran back and forth between the beach and the tent, any sand that I dragged with me fell through the mesh floor, rather than coating the base of the tent.
Floor saver down, we slid the tent from its bag and to replicate a real-life family pressure situation, we completely disregarded the instructions and dove straight into the set-up.
The RV-3’s big party piece is its super simple and fast set-up time. Lying the tent flat, it’s simple to unfold by walking back the two sides, holding the tent frame in the centre, then simply standing it up and sliding the side wall framework past its centre point to lock into position. This is a 30-second job, even without reading the instructions. Even better, it’s almost impossible to get it wrong and inadvertently damage anything.
Once standing, position it at the rear of the floor saver, peg it down via its sturdy anchor points, and you’re away. Next, while one of you starts unloading the plethora of unnecessary things you packed for the weekend, the other can set to running a few guy ropes – in our case, every guy rope we could find due to the rain and 40-knot plus winds that were now hitting us.
The RV-3 is rated as a three- to four-person tent, so it’s also perfectly suited for a couple, offering ample room for all the goodies required for a weekend away. As well as the main room, the RV-3 comes with a large 2 x 2.4-metre, awning, which is more than enough space to shelter from any overhead showers, and it’s got some great little features.
I was also impressed with the quality of the poles supplied – lightweight but with a solid diameter – and was pleased with the twist-locking mechanism. They lock solidly and best of all, don’t bind together when you give them a good twist. This makes packing up simple.
We were lucky enough to also have the optional peaked side panels supplied. These zip onto the sides of the awning to create an open front room, perfect for wine and cheese-consuming duties, and out of the showers and wind that started battering the side of the tent shortly after we arrived (typical).
The tent itself is extremely well constructed. The 8oz Ripstop Polycotton canvas is more than enough to create a sturdy wind and rainproof barrier between you and the outside world. Stitching is noticeably heavy-duty and any real stress points have been reinforced throughout the tent.
We all know that a camper’s worst enemy is, of course, the zipper. Thankfully, in the RV-3, they haven’t skimped here and zips to the main entry point are supplied by YKK, so there are no concerns about stripping teeth and jamming the door at 2am on your dash to the toilet block.
The RV-3 has all the other features you might expect, too, such as side windows for a nice early morning view from the comfort of your sleeping bag, No-See-Um mesh throughout to keep little midges at bay, and there’s a handy power inlet to run your extension cord for the coffee machine.
Packing up the tent is simply a matter of doing it all in reverse. There was no fighting the folding mechanism at all, and it guides you as you tuck the legs back in to return it to its original packed position.
Overall, I’m a big fan of the RV-3. The design is well thought out and the level of quality is impressive. And, as we proved on our trip, the RV-3 stands up incredibly well in less-than-ideal conditions. If we were in a traditional poled dome tent, I’m tipping that we would have had a whole lot less sleep and potentially I may have been walking the 300km home.
Words and images by Chris Bain