Who doesn’t love a bit of luxury accommodation? For some that involves a five-star hotel with all the associated trimmings such as robes and room service. For others, it’s a tent that not only keeps you warm and dry but is also quick and easy to put up without either blowing away, getting drenched, or starting World War III with your partner debating whether the colour coordinated tabs are actually coordinated, because it’s impossible to tell which one is dark yellow and which one is light orange.
Happily, iconic Kiwi outdoor brand, Macpac, has mastered the art of colour coordination and when assembling the Solstice 6P tent (part of the company’s Solstice range, which also includes a 4P and 8P variant) , there is zero room for error or debate as it is supremely obvious exactly what goes where. In fact, it’s so easy and obvious, it almost feels like you must have done something wrong…
The one thing that seems to be common across every tent that exists, is that they never actually sleep the number of people they say they do. Maybe with the exception of one-person (1P) tents. The Solstice is ‘technically’ a 6P tent, but you’ve only got to look at the layout of the floor plan showing how they envisage fitting six people in, to know that you could fit them, but it’d be more comfy with one less. Realistically, you could comfortably chuck a couple of kids in the mix to make it a 4P fun-for-all-the-family tent, or four mates, without too much drama. (To be fair there is a disclaimer on the website stating it’s ‘comfortable for four, snug for six’.)
Good foundations are key to any house and a tent is no different. Having tried and tested a few with somewhat ropey old-school fibreglass poles recently, we were pleasantly surprised to find the Macpac Solstice comes with a set of sturdy, lightweight, and beautifully colour-coordinated aluminium poles. Setting them up and feeding them into the outer fly was quick and easy, and it’s so logical and obvious where everything goes (mainly thanks to that simple but exceptionally effective colour coordination) you barely need to look at the instructions.
The poles clip into a neat metal clasp at the base, which is simple and well designed, and once the poles are all clipped in and the outer fly erected, the numerous crossover points mean that the structure feels sturdy and secure. Admittedly we tested it in fair weather with only a gentle breeze, but it certainly feels like it would be exceptionally robust and durable even if you were braving the elements… we’d say it’s definitely a solid three-season tent, bordering on four-season.
In the field with the Macpac Solstice 6P
The tent feels nice and roomy inside and, at 1900mm, it’s a reasonable height, although the hanging inner does reduce that slightly . There’s an internal removable divider to offer ‘privacy’ and split the tent into two rooms down the middle. Although it’s not exactly a soundproof wall, it’s handy if you want to divide the tent into two bedrooms or a bedroom and a ‘living’ area.
There is a large entry way which offers some vestibule space, as well as the ability to turn the front door into an awning, with two extra poles and guy ropes included. Two additional side doors provide extra access points, which along with the large back window means there’s plenty of cross-ventilation to help reduce condensation. The vestibule space isn’t huge, and not ideal for storage as it’s directly in front of the main doors, but the awning does provide a nice front porch and some extra shade, although it doesn’t offer much in the way of protection from inclement weather, i.e., rain, if left open.
The party trick of the Solstice, however, is the hanging inner tent design (also a feature of many of Macpac’s hiking and climbing tents, including the Olympus, reviewed here), allowing users to pitch the tent without getting the inner wet, even if it’s chucking it down with rain. The seam-sealed waterproof polyester ripstop fly is PE coated with 2000 mm hydrostatic head and the waterproof tub floor design has a dark PU coating and 5000mm hydrostatic head to keep you dry.
Once you’ve hung the mesh inner the first time (more colour coordinated fastenings make it a breeze to do so), you can leave it attached to the outer fly, making it quick to pack down and even quicker and easier to pitch next time round.
Just like ‘the shopping channel’, there’s more: the ‘well designed’ applies to not only the main elements; it’s the extra bits and bobs that made us smile: light hooks, washing line tabs, zip access on both sides to run power in, plenty of internal storage pockets, the most stylish and durable guy rope tensioners we’ve ever encountered. Oh, and did we mention it’s REALLY well colour coordinated? It might not sound that important, but boy did it make pitching it a breeze when all the poles, sleeves and tabs all obviously and logically matched.
The Macpac Solstice 6P: The final word
The Macpac Solstice offers a tent that’s quick and easy to pitch, waterproof, sturdy, spacious and well designed. It’s full of great features and is hard to fault. The tent is let down a ‘smidge’ (technical term) with overhead height, and we’d be keen for a larger vestibule… and if we’re picky, we’d love to see some integrated LED lighting as a finishing touch. As far as bang for your buck goes, the Solstice is up there with the best (if you’re a Macpac Club Member, it’s significantly cheaper) and delivers one of the most bombproof designs we’ve seen in a family tent.
RRP: $1400 For info on the entire Solstice range, go to Macpac.