Big Agnes Bunk House 4 Tent
– Price: $499
– Weight: 14.2 lbs (6.5 kg)
– Floor size: 92” x 90” (233cm x 228cm)
– Peak height: 70” (178cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Capacities: 4 person / 6 person
– Shape: Cabin/dome
– What we like: Spacious, high-quality, and impressively versatile.
– What we don’t: Expensive, we hope you like red
The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict
Big Agnes has been making high-quality outdoors gear for the better part of two decades, and has a well-deserved reputation for making some of the best technical backpacking gear on the planet. The Big Agnes Bunk House 4 is their take on a premium family camping tent, and delivered the very same quality we’ve come to expect in their sleeping pads, backpacking tents, and camp furniture. The Bunk House was easily one of our favorite shelters in this year’s camping tent field test, and it got high marks on just about everything from weatherproofing to livability.
The Bunk House is top notch in terms of quality and performance, but what really stood out for us was its unique rainfly/vestibule setup. Big Agnes designed the Bunk House with a “shelter mode” feature, which allows you to use the fly and its pole supported vestibule as a standalone canopy without the tent. It’s a perfect companion for day-use areas and sunny days on the beach, and adds a lot of value to the equation.
Like all the camping tents we test out in the field, the Big Agnes Bunk House was selected after hours of research, and evaluated on a variety of performance aspects ranging from the quality of materials to rain and wind performance.
Alright, let’s take a close look at the Big Agnes Bunkhouse!
Here’s our take on the Big Agnes Bunk House 4 after spending a long weekend in the woods with it. In our field notes below you’ll find detailed information on everything from individual material quality to the big picture takeaways like overall livability and value for the money.
Space and Comfort
The Big Agnes Bunk House 4 wasn’t the largest four-person tent in our field test this year, but its cabin-style construction is still impressively spacious. Big Agnes aggressively uses pre-bent poles on all four corners of the Bunk House, which gives it an almost cube-like shape that creates impressive shoulder room throughout the tent.
The ceiling is just shy of six feet high (70 inches to be exact), so while taller campers may have to hunch over a bit inside the tent, you’re still able to stand up, walk around, and change clothes easily inside the Bunk House.
We had no issue fitting four full-sized sleeping pads inside the Bunk House with a few feet to spare at the front door for egress, so the 4P designation definitely lives up to its name. The outer two pads were right up on the walls though, so we felt that the Bunk House would be best suited to either three campers or two people sharing a queen bed with room on either side to make the most of the tent’s two large doors.
Where the Bunk House really shined though was just outside the front door: Big Agnes specs an impressively long front vestibule on the Big House, which uses dual zippers to convert into an extended sun awning when desired. There’s plenty of room to set up a chair or two and relax, and there’s even a large “welcome mat” attached to the tent that helps keep dirt outside the sleeping area.
Big Agnes also took a page from their own backpacking playbook and designed the Bunk House’s rainfly/vestibule to function as a stand alone structure using the same frame as the tent. We didn’t have the occasion to use this “shelter mode” during our testing, but it’s a nice feature nonetheless to have available for future beach outings, picnics, and anywhere else a little portable shade could come in handy.
We were a little skeptical of the Bunk House’s poor weather pedigree going into our test, but we’re happy to report this is actually one of the most well-protected camping tents we’ve ever used. Despite its big square shape, the Big Agnes’ full-length rainfly feels incredibly tough, and combined with the tent’s sturdy pole set and eight well-placed guylines, we’re confident it’ll withstand just about anything shy of a hurricane.
Big Agnes also specs both the rainfly and tent floor with a 1500mm waterproof polyurethane coating, so although we experienced mainly clear and sunny conditions during our field test, we all felt confident that heavy rains would be a non-issue here. The Bunk House’s vestibule was also particularly good in that regard, and gave us plenty of room to store gear out of the weather without taking up space inside the tent.
We also have to give kudos to the outright quality of Big Agnes’ seam protection: Every seam in the tent is thoroughly sealed with heavy duty waterproof polyurethane tape that feels like it could outlive the tent itself. It’s a minor detail, but it’s a good example of the kind of quality Big Agnes has built its reputation on.
Ease of Set-Up
Although this is a cabin-style tent, the frame is essentially just a classic dome design, so pitching the Bunk House 4 was simple and straightforward. There’s no color coding on the poles or tent body, but because the two main support poles are identical size and length, we never found ourselves reaching for the instructions during setup.The center awning pole may be a bit of a reach for shorter campers or children, but considering the Bunk House is a few inches shy of six feet tall, we don’t see it being an issue.
With that being said, all the Bunk Houses’ extra features do take a little extra time to set up, and between assembling the pole supported vestibule and staking out the welcome mat, it took us just over ten minutes to get everything together. There’s really nothing difficult about the process though, and the extra effort is well worth the time spent. Our only complaint here is that we wouldn’t mind seeing a few extra stakes in the bag: Between the eight guy lines, the corners of the tent, the vestibule, and the welcome mat, this tent needs a lot of stakes, and as we all know, it’s only a matter of time before one goes missing.
This is an exceptionally well made tent, and we have no major durability issues with the Bunk House. All the fabrics feel high quality, the stitching and seam taping is consistent and well done, and the Bunk House’s DAC DA17 aluminum poles are some of the best in the business.
The only question mark we found was in the tent’s awning pole design, which stretches the front and back walls out above the doors to improve interior space. We’ve seen similar setups in tents like the Nemo Aurora Highrise and Marmot Tungsten, and it’s always a bit of a tradeoff.
On the one hand, the design works as intended, maximizing headroom by the door where you want it. On the other hand, it always puts extra stress on the tent fabric, and because Big Agnes’ design uses a single pole attached directly above a zipper (both the Nemo and Marmot designs we recently tested use two poles), the strength of the stitching in this area is particularly crucial.
We didn’t experience any issues during our time with the Bunk House, but we’ll be interested to see how it holds up after a year or two of regular use. To Big Agnes’ credit, they do use a particularly sturdy cup and ball attachment rather than a simple grommet here, and both corners are properly beefed up with extra fabric and stitching.
Weight and Packed Size
Weight and packed size were another highlight of the Big Agnes Bunkhouse, but it had less to do with the actual size of the tent (it’s actually one of the bulkier models) and more to do with it’s unique carry bag. That’s because Big Agnes uses a clever backpack-style bag for this tent, which was easily one of the best bags we’ve ever seen.
Lugging around a big camping tent in your hands or on your shoulder is always a bit awkward, so carrying one with both hands free was a nice change of pace. It might seem like a small detail, but it’s great for shuttling gear back and forth from the car, especially when camp is a few hundred yards from the parking lot. We’ll also note that although the backpack nearly doubled in size after our first use (they do some serious origami wizardry with this one at the factory), there was plenty of room inside the bag to get everything back inside on the first attempt.
The Bunk House 4 definitely isn’t the cheapest tent out there, but it’s still one of the best values on the market. Big Agnes really delivers on the extra features here, and the Bunk House is just as versatile as it is unique.
What really set the Bunk House apart for us was its rainfly: As part of the tent, it provides great coverage and stability for bad weather, while the impressive front vestibule wears many hats as a shelter from the rain or a shady pole supported awning in good weather. The fact that it functions as a standalone canopy makes the Bunk House feel like a two-for-one purchase that’s useful beyond traditional camping exploits.
Even if it didn’t have the “shelter mode” feature, the Big Agnes would still look and feel every bit like a $500 tent. The materials are exceptionally high quality, weatherproofing is top notch, and no corners were cut in its design and construction. Plus, ya know, it comes with its own backpack.
You’ll probably want to replace the stakes sooner than later, and a footprint of some kind is recommended, but assuming the awning pole design stands the test of time, this tent is worth every penny.
What We Like
In short, we love that the Big Agnes Bunk House 4 is a big three season camping tent that makes no compromises. It’s well put together using high quality materials, delivers an impressive amount of livability, and unlike some three-season tents at a similar price, it comes with zero disclaimers about bad weather.
This is a true all-weather tent that’s built to withstand a healthy dose of wind and rain, and it does it without sacrificing interior space or comfort. The unique free-standing rainfly’s ability to double as a day-use canopy also adds a ton of value for us,
What We Don’t Like
We could complain about the Bunk House’s relatively high sticker price, but there’s really no question that this tent is worth the money. If you’re going to charge $500 for a camping tent, it had better walk the walk, and this one absolutely does.
With that being said, we do have two small complaints to register: The first is that this tent is VERY RED everywhere you look, which makes the inside look and feel strangely like a nightclub or a film lab during the day. We have no doubt that this will be a feature for some, but we prefer the bright and cheery vibe of something like the Nemo Aurora Highrise personally.
The potential durability issue of the stress above the door zippers is our only other concern here, but again, that could simply be paranoia talking as we’ve experienced no actual issues at the time of this writing. Big Agnes also provides a limited warranty against manufacturing defects as well as a solid customer service program that repairs everything from zippers to poles for next to nothing (we’re talking like $5 here), so again, it’s a minor concern at best.
- The North Face Wawona 6: Extra interior space and similar exterior storage for less money. Read our full test and review…
- Nemo Aurora Highrise 4: Similar interior dimensions and premium materials for less money. Read our full test and review…
- REI Co-op Base Camp 4: Outstanding weather protection and cold-weather prowess at the cost of some interior space. Read our full test and review…
The Bottom Line
What’s not to love here? The Big Agnes Bunk House 4 checks all our boxes for a three season camping tent, and delivers impressive bonus features to boot. It’s roomy, weatherproof, durable, and well designed, and also happens to feature one of the most versatile rainfly/vestibule setups on the market.
Yes, it’s a bit of an investment, but there’s really no question of whether or not it’s worth the money, which is increasingly rare in today’s wildly expensive arena of outdoor gear. If you’ve got the cash to spend, you just can’t go wrong with the Bunk House, and if the stand-alone shelter is a feature you’re likely to put to use, it’s a total no-brainer. Oh, and did we mention it comes in a backpack?