We’ve been testing out the excellent Robens Kiowa family tipi tent. If you like this sort of tent or are interested in using a wood burning stove in your tent, read this.
Have you ever wanted to sleep in a wigwam as a kid?
Do you fancy the idea of a traditional looking tent with a wood burning stove in it?
Do you want a large family tent that’s quick to put up and not too heavy?
If you said yes to yourself to any of those questions, then you owe it to yourself to take a closer look at the Robens Kiowa.
Traditional Looks but Modern Tent
The Robens Kiowa is a modern tipi style of tent, where the tent is held up by a central pole.
The useful porch area of the Kiowa gives it a slightly different shape to many other tipi tents. To me, it looks a little like a cross between a wigwam and an igloo. And we like it. 🙂
Despite its traditional looks, the tent uses modern technologies, as you would expect from Robens.
Heavy canvas has been replaced with lighter polycotton, and the heavy wooden central pole found in traditional tipis is a lightweight aluminium pole that neatly folds up to make it easy to transport.
Inside the Robens
You enter the tent through its sizable porch, which is big enough for a family’s set of boots.
There is groundsheet too for the porch too that clips into place. When it was very wet we left this out (as our boots were very soggy) but used it when camping in drier weather.
The porch as a second internal door. This second door can be unzipped to expose a flyscreen, enabling you to get plenty of fresh air but without the bugs.
The main tent area is large with lots of headroom.
It feels quite warm inside the Kiowa. This not only comes from the polycotton fabric that insulates better than polyester tents, but the light has a warm glow as it shines through the light mocha tent skin.
You can find a window either side of the door. These come with blinds and another flyscreen protecting you from the bugs.
Below each of the windows are handy storage pockets.
The groundsheet in the Kiowa can be unzipped and removed, or just unzipped a little bit so that you can pass in a cable if you are on an electric hookup.
Robens recommend that the groundsheet should be rolled back if you are using a stove in the tent….more on that later.
Extras for the Interior
Robens Kiowa Tent Carpet
You can get a carpet to fit the Robens Kiowa…and the Kiowa carpet makes such a difference, immediately transforming the tent with a homely feel and making it even warmer.
The carpet has a waterproof rubber backing and is quite thick, providing very good ground insulation.
It is well worth getting the Kiowa carpet, especially if you aren’t using the additional inner tents.
The carpet can roll up on itself, complete with carrying handles, so you don’t need a separate bag for it.
Robens Kiowa Inner Tent
There’s an optional inner tent that enables you to split up the interior with 2 three-person bedrooms.
This wouldn’t work so well for our family, but you may prefer an inner tent.
One thing to note is that you can’t use a stove with the inner tents in place.
Pitching the Robens Kiowa
I’d like to say that we pitched it perfect first time…but that wasn’t the case.
The instructions led us to believe you pitch it different to how I thought, and the Robens pitching video wasn’t too helpful. However, after a bit of discussion between Shell and I, we realised you do pitch it as I expected.
You can see this video of our first test pitch, and looking back I don’t think we did too badly after all 😉
So, to clear up any confusion, here’s how we pitch the Robens Kiowa
1. The Robens instructions (and video) will tell you to attach the groundsheet. Our Robens came with it pre-attached, so you can skip that first step.
2. Unfold the tent and position where you want the door to be. Tip: if you are having a stove, you want the air to flow into the tent, so face it slightly into the wind.
3. Use the thin aluminium round tent pegs and peg out the groundsheet, not the pegging points on the main flysheet.
4. Set up the main tent pole.
5. Open the door and insert the small end of the pole into the cap at the top of the roof. Tip: untie the guy lines at the top of the tent and position the roof vent covers while the top of the roof is still reachable.
6. Walking through the door, push the central pole up. Tip: get someone to insert the pole’s plastic foot as it goes up to avoid the metal pole damaging the groundsheet.
7. Insert the tent poles around the front door.
8. Zip the door up and peg out the flysheet and guy lines.
Using the Kiowa in Bad Weather
Unfortunately, while pitching on a very windy North Wales coast, a gust blew before we had completed pitching. This knocked the pole down and took out 3 anchor points on the groundsheet.
Having since checked other tents in the Robens range, the anchor points are solid. I don’t know for sure if it was pitching it in strong winds or ours had weak stitching that caused these to come out. They were only held in by the round wire pegs.
However, once the Kiowa was up, strong winds were not a problem. The groundsheet anchor points are easy to fix and aren’t necessary in order to pitch the tent as you can pitch it without the groundsheet attached.
The other issue we had was a few puddles in the tent. Now, this was totally our fault. 🙁
With polycotton, you have to avoid your things touching the sides of the tent. In heavy rain, something touching the sides could let water seep in.
Unfortunately, we had too many bags close to the tent sides, and overnight as the wind blew the tent’s sides onto the bags, and the rain continued to lash down, enough water came in to make a few puddles.
On the following night we made sure nothing was near the tent sides, and as the wind gushed and rain lashed all night, we stayed nice and dry.
With strong winds and heavy rain, this was a thorough test of the Robens Kiowa, and apart from those two incidents, the tent handled it well.
Robens Kiowa vs. a ‘normal tent’
Our other main tent is the Outwell Hornet XL. Now when you have two exceptionally good tents, it becomes hard to decide which one to take.
Here are a few thoughts on which one we would take.
- Quite quick to pitch
- Not very heavy for such a large tent
- Breathable Polycotton
- Can use a woodburning stove
Outwell Hornet XL
- Fast pitching as you just inflate
- Separate bedrooms
- Large living space
Although the Kiowa is not a small weekend tent, the Kiowa would work well for us when:
- We want something smaller and lighter for a weekend camp
- We want to camp in cooler weather and use the stove
Which leaves the Outwell Hornet XL for longer stays, when we need more living space and the kids (teenagers at least) want more privacy.
However, it’s not as cut and dry as that. As the Hornet XL is also good for weekends, and you could always use it with an electric heater in cooler months….and if you need more space and privacy when staying longer on the Kiowa, you can always set-up an additional tarp shelter and the older kids could have their own little tent….
Oh, the decisions, decisions… 😉
Disclaimer: We would like to give a very big thank you to Robens for supplying a Kiowa tent for us to do this long-term review. All opinions expressed here are our own.
The Robens Kiowa is a tent with loads of personality and gets the thumbs up from us.
- A fast-to-pitch large tent that you can use a wood burning stove in :-)
- A strong gust of wind took the tent down before I had finished pitching it and we lost a few groundsheet anchors in the process, but otherwise, the quality of this tent has been very good.
Where to Buy: Robens Kiowa Tent Review
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