At a glance
Plusses: Sturdy shelter, aluminium poles, multi-pitch system
Minuses: Awning poles not included, small vents
Features: The four person Solstice 4 stands rigid with three grounded aluminium poles and one floating pole to increase head space. It has a 2000mm hydrostatic head fly, with a hardier 5000mm tub floor. A front vestibule provides extra storage space, and the awning can be pegged or poled out (awning poles are not included). Two side entrances and three vents aid ventilation. Internal pockets allow storage, and ceiling loops allow lamps or the included clothes line to be strung up. Two zip ports provide power cable access to an external solar panel or power source. Macpac’s MultiPitch system means the fly can be pitched independently or with the inner simultaneously.
Pitching: I believe this is Macpac’s first family tent series to utilise the excellent multi-pitch system, which allows users to pitch the inner and fly all at once. It’s an excellent feature, particularly in wet weather, as it allows for a quick setup that won’t get the inner soaked. Pitching is intuitive and easy with one person, and poles are colour coordinated with their respective sleeves. It’s hard to go wrong.
Comfort: While the Solstice will sleep four shoulder to shoulder, its 5.2m² floor area is far more comfortable with two adults. Three vents provide airflow, but could be larger – particularly the rear vent. The circular front door zips nearly off, which promotes good airflow, though the side doors are only about one third mesh, which is good for privacy, but not for ventilation.
In use: This is a sturdy tent, standing taut and rigid without guy ropes. There is little sway in the poles, as with cheaper domes, and its boulder-like shape should see it stand up to decent winds, especially when guys are pegged out.
The floating cross pole provides rigidity and broadens the head space significantly, but for my tastes, the ceiling could be 15cm higher; at 1.8m, I have to bow my head inside. The large circular hobbit hole-like front door is excellent for vistas and ventilation, though the tent does not include awning poles, which are required to pole out the sizable awning. Without them, the sun streams into the tent for much of the day – especially if facing north. Corner eyelets on the awning allow for the possibility, so with spare poles or guys, you can still fix a decent awning, but it’s a shame poles are not included.
With such a large front door, the side doors are hardly necessary, but they’re a welcome addition that improve comfort and ventilation greatly. The multi-pitch system is excellent, though could make properly drying the tent more time consuming. The tent bag is generous, too, which is always appreciated.
Value: It’s not the cheapest option around nor the largest floor area, but the aluminium poles, sturdy design and build quality should stand up to Aotearoa’s unpredictable summers.
Verdict: A sturdy tent with quality poles, strong build, and thoughtful features.