The Montana 12 is a large, very well made tent and comes in two separate boxes. One box contains the tent bag and the other a heavy pole bag. The poles are all-metal (painted brown in my case, so new design I think) and are in sections held together with wire rope. This makes it very easy to connect the right sections together to form a roof beam with two side posts. There are 5 sets of poles (roof + 2 sides) in total.
Opening the boxes and seeing the bags gives an immediate impression of quality. The bag material is quite thick and has two sets of straps for carrying both by hand and across the shoulder. The pole bag has a reinforced end section so that the metal poles won’t damage the fabric.
On arrival at the camp site, we laid out a couple of tarps (4m x 7m footprint) to act as groundsheet protectors and laid out the tent. It wasn’t windy so pitching could be carried out by two, but in windy conditions three people are recommended.
The tent is pitched ‘all-in-one’, that is, flysheet with sewn-in groundsheet and interior bedroom compartments. So no worries pitching in the pouring rain.
*** Outwell Montana 12 Family Tent ***
We did the following:
1) Inserting the 5 assembled roof poles (which are pre-formed to a curve) and laying down the sets of assembled side poles along side.
2) Have one person at each side of the tent and then starting at one end (of the tent), fitting each side pole to the roof pole, clipping the tent to the pole and finally inserting a pin into the bottom of the pole. It is not necessary to stress anything in doing this because there is lots of adjustment in the pin system on one side of the tent.
3) Peg out two guy ropes attached to the end of the tent to hold up the pole section and the end of the tent.
4) Repeat at the other end
5) With the two ends assembled, we then assembled the three remaining poles sections clipping on the tent and fitting the pins.
6) A quick tension of the pin adjustment and you can begin pegging out the tent.
7) Start with all the pegs in a line across one end and then
8) with each pole, walk away from the end, pegging out the tent as you go and attaching further guy-lines. This approach means that the tent poles are set at the correct distances apart and by the time you reach the other end, the tent is essentially pitched, needing perhaps only minor adjustments. The groundsheet protector can act as a guide for this.
9) Final stage is to peg out guy-lines for the end vents.
I guess you can get away without pegging out all of the guy lines, but in windy weather I would recommend fixing them all to prevent damage. I am sure that there are other ways to pitch the tent, and one modification might be to peg down the tent in windy weather as soon as you roll it out.
The tent has many vent openings along each side at roof level and these are held open by a fabric strip and Velcro. These allow ventilation without rain ingress, There is a door on each side of the tent, and four 3-way windows (closed with mesh, closed no mesh or open with or without mesh), each window has a blind. One strange thing is that the zips don’t go across the bottom of the doors - but remember this is a sewn in groundsheet tent and some ventilation is needed - Maybe that’s the reason. One door also has a small rain canopy fitted held in place by a fibreglass pole. Next years model will see this increased in size apparently. Note the tent was not supplied with poles to form the door into a canopy, but these are available from Outwell for about £8.
Nice features include small windows positioned alongside the bedrooms so that you can see the weather outside when in bed (yes there is a small zipped blind in the bedroom compartment). Because it has a sewn in groundsheet, we took care to lay picnic rugs in the high traffic areas to avoid long term damage to the precious groundsheet from chair feet and tables and stiletto heels.
The optional side canopy is great, It is a flysheet that forms a 3m x 2m covered space over one side of the tent, held up by two sets of metal and fibre glass poles and a long section of fabric that goes over the tent and is held in place by guy lines attached by hooks to the pin system of the main tent poles. Pitching is simply carried out by installing the poles and then taking the long section of flysheet over the tent roof. The whole canopy is then held in place by a series of guy-lines. This is much clearer in the photographs! Due to the size of the Montana 12, the guys that go over the tent were too short, but that’s easily fixed by replacing them with a couple of Outwell fluorescent 4m guy-lines (about £4 for 4). This canopy is big enough to have a table out with your stove and some chairs on the other side. Just take care to make sure the rain doesn’t change direct though! Having the canopy meant that we could leave stuff out without risk of it getting wet overnight.
Living with the tent
Inside, regardless of what you might hear, the Montana 12 has a very light and airy central living area 2.5m x 4m. Each door opens into this area, as do the windows. Most of the time, we had the windows shut only because we forgot to open them – it is that ‘light’ during the day! There are large, tall bedrooms at each end. By ‘tall’ I mean that you can stand up in them. I am 6ft (1.8m) and there is height to spare. One end has two bedroom compartments and the other a single large compartment with removable separator. We were 5 (2adults + 3 kids) on this trip so I was allowed to sleep with the other adult (my wife) in the largest compartment, using the partitioned section as a dressing area. The three kids slept at the other end of the tent in the larger of the remaining bedroom compartments. We decided to remove the smaller bedroom compartment to form a kitchen area for larder, tables and fridge, which just added to the spacious living area.
When our fourth 16yr old comes with us, we will swap things around and turn the dressing area into his bedroom. The three kids will sleep on the other side of the partition and we will sleep in the other bedroom so there will be no need to lose the kitchen area. Does this make sense?? By the way, I just cannot understand all of you out there who sleep with kids next to you or in the next bedroom. Give me space man!
Taking the tent down - striking camp
Pretty easy really. Make sure the bedrooms are not fully zipped up so that you don’t work against a vacuum next time you pitch the tent. Remove all guys except the two important sets at each end. Remove the centre three poles (sides followed by roof pole) and put into the pole bag and then un-peg the tent completely. Finally, remove the end pole sets one at a time and straighten out the large tent fabric ready for folding.
Getting the tent into the bag
The bag is oversized, but it helps if you take some measurements of the tent as it comes out of its box!.
The important measurement is the length of the finished roll at 700mm. The only real problem with rolling up is air trapped inside, so I think it will help to leave the doors unzipped some way. Fold one end of the tent to the other to form a 4m x 3.5m flattened out tent. Try to remove all air at this point too. Then you divide the 3.5 metre sides into 5 folds so that you are left with a 700mm wide 4m long folded up tent. Now you can Fold/roll this up to form a roll 700mm long will fit nicely (as delivered) into the bag. Bet that confused you all!
Anyway. We are very happy with this spacious and 'airy' tent. It’s not too bad to pitch and easy to take down. If you buy one, I hope you will also be as pleased we are.
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