Big. Ass. Tent. There is absolutely nothing hobbit-sized about the REI Hobitat 6 tent, except perhaps that at just over 20 pounds it weighs as much as a hobbit. A small one, anyway, but hey, aren't they all small?
The redsesigned for 2011 Hobitat 6 is intended for car camping or basecamp use, and with that in mind it's a stellar design. Even the duffel it comes in is well thought out, with two carrying handle straps long enough to put your arms through backpack style. The three poles and 8 stakes come in their own stuff sacks, and a pole repair tube and 4 guylines with tighteners are included.
The instructions for setting up are simple and printed right on the duffel. A highly motivated individual could set it up, but it goes best with two people, who should be able to set it up in ten minutes the second time. The hoop poles are loooong and the ridge pole ginormous, and they make for a solid three pole setup once clipped in. The fly goes on tight, with velcro pockets slipping on over the ends of the ridge pole. The sides can be easily rolled up to expose the mesh panels on the tent in good weather. In not-so-good weather the seam sealing easily keeps out the moderate rain we experienced. The awnings built into the fly are the perfect size for keeping the drips out, and it's very pleasant to lie in the tent in a light rain with the doors open.
Livability is excellent, with a 6 foot ceiling and 8×10 floor for just over 80 square feet of living area. That's bigger than some Tokyo apartments. Six adults would fill it up, but any lesser number of occupants leaves a bundle of space. The mesh on top gives a nice view on clear nights, and the doors are a clever design that can be opened to one side or the other, or completely opened for a pavilion-style setup. Inner zippers expose a mesh door, and the whole thing can be stuffed overhead in a pocket. There are four medium sized pockets in the corners, and plenty of hang loops.
You want accessories? REI has got 'em, with a footprint, a vestibule and an aptly-named garage. Although we tested only the footprint, the garage in particular looks intriguing since you could easily store bikes or other large items inside. Overall the Hobitat 6 is a great design for those trips where you need or desire to bring the kitchen sink.