From summer vacations to gorgeous fall weekends, getting out of the city and onto a campground is a favorite pastime for millions of people each year. Of course, even sleeping under the stars requires a place where you can feel safe and comfortable, which is why purchasing the right tent is so important. From finding one with enough space to something that is durable enough to withstand the elements, a lot goes into choosing a tent. The REI Kingdom 8 is a popular choice among campers, but is it all that it’s cracked up to be? Check out this full review to determine if it is right for you.
About the REI Kingdom 8
The REI Kingdom 8 is a tunnel-style, three-season, eight-person tent that touts quality engineering and true comfort. The 104-square-foot tent features enough space to house the entire family, and two separate sleeping rooms create personal space for everyone who is sleeping in a tent.
One room uses nylon mesh as the divider, making it perfect for giving the kids a play area while keeping an eye on them. The other separate area uses a more private divider. A 33.3-square-foot vestibule offers plenty of storage space for all your camping gear in this car camping tent.
With vertical walls, a rectangular floor plan, and a peak height of 6.5 feet, the REI Kingdom 8 also allows nearly anybody to walk around at full height comfortably. Sleeping the maximum of eight people in the tent’s rooms means everybody gets 25.5 inches of space each, which is the perfect width for average camping air mattresses.
Keep this in mind
Before purchasing this tent, it is important to consider where you’ll want to camp with it. The REI Kingdom 8 was designed for use in high altitudes, near the ocean, or in low-temperature situations. The strong nylon material and well-made rainfly can create quite a hot tent inside if used when the humidity is high or at low altitudes during the summer months. Although it touts itself as a three-season tent, it is best for spring, fall, and early or late summer.
If you do find yourself getting too warm when you’re inside the tent, get more ventilation by rolling up the full-coverage rainfly. There are also two big doors that you can keep open when it is safe to do so.
Durability is an important quality for any tent, and the REI Kingdom 8 seems to have it. The nylon is strong enough to resist rainwater and humidity; however, it is not waterproof, so if lots of rain or big thunderstorms are in the forecast, camping in this tent may not be the best idea. The material is strong enough to create a safe floor, but avoid walking on it with outdoor shoes on, especially if you don’t have a footprint to protect from punctures and abrasions.
This tent is light at only 22 pounds when packaged, which is beneficial in many ways, but also means that strong winds can pick it up if you haven’t secured it properly. While it comes with eight stakes, several users recommend purchasing at least two extra stakes for maximum protection from the wind.
These are the specifications for the REI Kingdom 8 according to REI.
- Freestanding design with two hubbed pole assemblies, sleeves, and pole clips
- Bug-proof mesh paneling
- Seam-sealed, waterproof rainfly
- Seam-sealed, cut-in floor
- Compatible with Connect Tech zipper attachments
- Includes a backpack carrying bag, six guylines with tighteners, pole and stake bags, eight stakes and a pole repair tube
- Minimum trail weight of 19 pounds, 14 ounces
- Packed size of 25 x 17 x 9.5 inches
- Floor size of 12.5 feet by 8 feet 4 inches
- Peak height of 6 feet, 5 inches
- Features two doors
- Includes two hubbed pole sets and two crossover poles
- Poles are made of 7001 aluminum and have a diameter of 11.0/14.5 millimeters
- Canopy is made of nylon taffeta
- Floor is made of coated nylon oxford
- Rainfly is made of coated polyester taffeta
The first thing you’ll notice about the REI Kingdom 8 is that the sleek and stylish tent is much roomier than most tents. Not only is there plenty of space for people to spread out, but the set-up of the entire tent also allows people to walk around in a full standing position. Most tents only have standing room in the center of the space, so this is a big bonus. Without the rainfly, the tent offers plenty of large windows for ventilation and stargazing. With the rainfly, it looks like a perfectly warm cocoon, and previous buyers agree.
Many reviews mention how well the tent stands up to unexpected inclement weather that includes everything from horizontal rain and thunder to overnight ice storms. The doors at each end of the tent are another big benefit, making it much easier to enter and exit without disturbing everybody else in the sleeping space.
When it comes to setting up the sleeping area, you have several options. If you plan to sleep eight adults, the tent easily fits six people the width of the tent and leaves additional room for two people to sleep the length of it. If you are camping with children, you’ll have more space to move around. You can also use the dividers to create separate areas for parents and kids. Depending on how many adults you camp with, you may even wish to bring along some air mattresses for a bit of a glamping experience.
Storage is excellent in the REI Kingdom 8 as well. There are mesh pockets of various sizes lining the corners of the tent. The smaller pockets are perfect for cell phones, toiletries and other smaller items, while the larger pockets will secure extra clothing, cameras, shoes and other large items. Overall, the first impression is of an excellent tent that will help families or groups of friends create a lot of memories.
Setting the Tent Up
REI’s Kingdom 8 Tent includes its directions right on the carrying bag, so you never need to worry about holding on to paper directions while juggling poles and worrying about the wind. The instructions claim the tent is color-coded with orange and black tabs for easier setup, but several reviews state that they never did find the tabs. Some reviews also indicate that the tent’s ridge pole pockets were sewn shut.
Despite this, an overwhelming number of people say that putting the tent up is very easy, even if it is only one person doing it. Whether you’re well-versed in pitching tents, or you’ve never set one up before, it’s a good idea to do a practice run or two in your yard first if you can. That way, things go faster when you’re at the campground so that you have more time to spend doing the fun stuff. The REI Kingdom 8 comes with eight poles and six guy lines to protect against wind, but some users do recommend purchasing a couple of extra poles for added protection.
The Space Factor
Image Credit: Keith Lowry
The REI Kingdom 8 claims to be an eight-person tent, and technically, you could fit eight people into it. However, you probably wouldn’t be very comfortable. Once everybody is in their sleeping bags, there is very little room for eight people to sleep comfortably, especially if any of the campers are the type to toss and turn in their sleep. If you intend to camp with eight people and don’t mind cramped spaces, this tent is a great choice, but if you prefer space to move comfortably while you sleep, it’s best to bring two tents or to purchase one made for 10 or 12 people.
That isn’t to say the REI Kingdom 8 doesn’t have its space advantages, though. It’s an excellent choice for families or smaller groups. On average, reviews come from families of four or five who camp for two or three days at a time. These reviewers say the tent provides enough space to relax and sleep comfortably. There’s even enough room for your furry friends of the large variety.
The vestibule is the perfect amount of space to store things you don’t want to trip over or roll into while you’re sleeping. Many families also purchase garage add-ons or other add-ons that create even more space, but this is up to you and how much room you like to have during your camping trips. For weekend trips, the basic setup is probably plenty, but if you intend to camp for an extended period, you may find the extra space keeps you from going stir crazy.
Durability and Longevity
REI has created a highly durable product in the Kingdom 8. The weather protection alone makes this tent a grade above the rest. Although it touts itself as water-resistant, but not waterproof, plenty of reviews say the seamless structure and strong nylon rainfly kept them dry and warm in all types of weather. In fact, one reviewer got caught in a storm so strong that tent’s poles bent, but the tent itself remained dry inside (REI replaced the poles free of charge). Others have used the tent in unexpectedly cold temperatures or snowy conditions and were warm throughout the night. Staying warm and dry is simply not a problem with the REI Kingdom 8.
It is usually wind that causes a tent to be less durable or not to last as long. Luckily, the REI Kingdom 8 doesn’t seem to have that problem. True, the hooped tunnel does sacrifice a bit of stability due to its unique shape, but camping enthusiasts simply ensure they guy out the tent in many places, which helps to break any strong winds. Double-guying the rainfly by adding two guylines to each attachment on the rainfly and angling them out from each other will add further protection. Many people say the tents stand up to wind well, but experts still suggest packing it up and heading to the car if the winds hit gale forces.
Overall, the REI Kingdom 8 has quite a long life. Many reviewers have used the tent multiple times per month over the course of several months to a year. Some have been using the same tent for several years without needing to repair or replace pieces. Of course, longevity does depend on how well you take care of the tent. Keeping it clean and storing it properly between uses is essential.
All in all, the REI Kingdom 8 seems to be a sound investment. Individuals, couples, dog owners, families, and groups of friends alike have all used them for weekend camping trips or long excursions and enjoyed the product. The three-season tent has proven itself an excellent product in multiple types of weather, and although a bit warm for high humidity or mid-summer months, it could be workable with battery-operated fans and a smaller number of people.
Reviewers rarely complain about broken or defective products and most who did receive a replacement from REI without issue. Whether you intend to camp once a year or once a month, the REI Kingdom 8 is likely to last for years to come and will help you make many happy memories.