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Tent question

I’ve used a dome tent for all my rides (holds my family and me, but it’s snug). Thinking of switching to a cabin style tent. Any thoughts or experiences?

Appreciate any feedback.

14 Replies

Kerry kohl, February 26, 2022 at 8:37 am

Mark, as long as you can transport the larger tent it shouldn’t be an issue. Make sure it is waterproof as you may experience some very wet nights. Once you set it up be sure to put some items of weight in it. See Youtube video “2009 Ragbrai flying tent” ….it belonged to one of the Air Force team members as I remember.


Mike Murphy, February 26, 2022 at 12:42 pm

I have used a 4 person Coleman E-Z up tent the last several Ragbrai’s I have done. I use Brancel as a charter service so its not a problem with number of items and weight I have. I like this tent for a couple of reasons; its the easiest tent I have had it regards to putting up and taking down, literally up in a couple of minutes and the same taking down. The size allows me to have all my stuff protected inside, including my bike. Most people keep their bike outside, I won’t due to it being wet in the morning and the chances of someone knocking it down in the middle of the night is pretty good. My bike is expensive so protecting it is a priority.


Denton Kernodle, February 26, 2022 at 1:36 pm

Use the tent that is most comfortable because you don’t have to carry it. Every morning you pack it up with your belongings and put it on the transfer truck. They unload it at the campground.


Eric Strobel, March 5, 2022 at 12:48 pm

Mike Murphy, does this tent fit in one of your 2 bags you use to haul your stuff? All the ones I’ve seen are round and don’t look like they would fit. Love this idea though!

This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by Eric Strobel.


Mike Murphy, March 5, 2022 at 6:14 pm

No, however since I use Brancel I am not limited to two bags, I actually have items I put on their truck. 1-Tent, 2-Ground mat I sleep on, 3-bag with my sleeping bag-pillow-fans-flashlights, 4-bag with clothes & shower stuff.


Mike Murphy, March 5, 2022 at 6:14 pm

No, however since I use Brancel I am not limited to two bags, I actually have items I put on their truck. 1-Tent, 2-Ground mat I sleep on, 3-bag with my sleeping bag-pillow-fans-flashlights, 4-bag with clothes & shower stuff.


tjboland, March 7, 2022 at 11:52 am

The best 1-2 person summer tent you can afford.


Barry Schnoor, March 10, 2022 at 4:47 pm

Hammock with a rain fly. The upside is it’s portability and comfort (never sleeping on rocks or roots.) The downside is there’s not a lot of privacy. Some privacy offered by the fly. I find it challenging to change clothes in the hammock. But for some, RAGBRAI’s just an opportunity to check your modesty at the door.


Chris, March 10, 2022 at 6:31 pm

We used a cabin style our first year. Haven’t since.
The reason: they don’t seem to handle wind load as well as the domes do. Makes sense from a structure vs, surface area point of view, too. Granted, there’s a LOT more room, especially one of those Coleman ones that seem to have become popular over the last few years. I haven’t seen one collapse due to wind, but we haven’t had wind quite like Marshalltown in a few years, either.

Not that my opinion is worth the electrons on the screen: go with a big dome tent, 3 season. The extra weight of the 4 season isn’t worth it, and they tend to breathe like crap. Or, if you have the space among your family to carry it: a big tent for all of you, a little tent for all of your stuff.

Last thought: we had our bikes in the tent the first year, too. Wasn’t worth it. Throw a plastic bag over the seat, lean the bikes together and cinch the top tubes with a length of rope or velcro or the like, get a really bright day-glow safety yellow t-shirt for 10 bucks from Walmart and tie it to the handlebars, call it a day. It’s bright enough that no one will walk into your bikes at night, and tying them together gives the bikes stability so they don’t tip over. We did that for years….almost never a problem (ok, one night someone walked into them anyway. Once out of 50+ nights isn’t bad).

See you in July.


garywilk, March 10, 2022 at 6:37 pm

remember that there is a good chance it will either be raining one morning or night. Ease of up and down is a big plus. A few smaller tents will likely be a plus.


Barry Schnoor, March 11, 2022 at 6:51 pm

One good rule of thumb, regardless of what your sleeping quarters look like: Always Fly. Always Stake. Rain and wind can come out of nowhere.


tmarty, March 12, 2022 at 10:06 am

Used a high-profile dome tent my first few rides. In 2005 severe storms ripped through Sheldon and nearly destroyed my tent as it did to others in the campground. Came home and purchased a good, low-profile backpacking tent designed to handle strong winds. Maybe not as much room to move around but I don’t spend much time in the tent anyway and the peace of mind is appreciated when storms approach. Adding to Barry’s comment above: Always zip windows and doors when you are going to be more than 5 minutes away from your tent. Have seen numerous times when someone is in town enjoying the festivities and had their belongings soaked by an unexpected rain shower.


montestaples, March 13, 2022 at 7:34 pm

My first year on RAGBRAI, 2006, I used a fairly tall, straight sided, inexpensive tent. In Waukee we had a bad storm. I was inside with all my gear which kept the tent from blowing away. The side of the tent hit me a few times as it tried to fold up but somehow nothing broke. I used my camp towel to bail water afterwards. Some unoccupied tents blew away and ended up in a new pond that appeared a few yards away. Since then, I have used a Marmot back-packing tent. It is dome shaped with a full rain fly. It is much shorter, so I mostly crawl around inside. It has been through several similar storms with winds reported to be over 70 MPH, but it never folded up, blew away, or leaked. The charter I have used every year, for 15 years, now provides tents that are larger and taller, but I will always bring my own.


hnschipper, March 14, 2022 at 6:23 pm

My cabin style tent collapsed in the storm in Newton a few years ago. And it’s a pain to take down and pack away. My dome style tents packs much easier, and so far, has been better in storms.


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