If you are thinking about starting to camp, perhaps the first thing you’ll look for is a tent. Your Hilleberg and Helsport tents are the standard explorers and adventurers surviving in the harshest conditions.
Naturally, the proven ruggedness, reliability, and practicality have a stiff price tag. Whenever we begin searching for a product or a service, be it a car or a vacation, we run into options. Essentially, there are two, with in-between layers: the expensive and the cheap. Or luxurious and with pedigree vs. budget, affordable and down-to-earth.
Then there are Ozark Trail tents. They come at a fraction of the price you’d pay for one of the top-notch shelters. They will probably last proportionally long in a snowstorm – but you won’t take it where you may face one.
Ozark Trail markets its tents are suitable for hiking, backpacking, and any weather. According to most reviews on the internet, you should take the all-weather claim with a large grain of salt. Bloggers and user reviews point to below-average insulation, which means that a night in cold weather will be, well, freezing.
The question is: are Ozark Trail tents suitable even for an occasional camping trip, far from the challenges of deadly weather? Let’s take a look.
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Ozark Trail is Astonishingly Affordable. Or Just Cheap?
Ozark Trail is an outdoor equipment brand in ownership of the budget US retail giant Walmart. Walmart named the brand after the Ozark mountain range in Arkansas, the location of its home office.
Ozark manufactures a wide variety of outdoor equipment – tents, canopies, backpacks, sleeping bags, furniture, kitchens, coolers, accessories, clothing, and footwear.
Are these products any good?
Considering Walmart is a chain focused on the budget side of retailing, it’s no surprise that its sub-brands target the same audience.
The price-slashing for Walmart, as well as Ozark Trail products’ really is astonishing. However, even the most budget-minded campers will think twice and think hard before investing in the cheapest products. They know that their comfort and the success of their eagerly awaited camping vacation depends on the equipment. For instance, they neither want a shoe that will split during a hike nor a leaky tent.
But at the same time, prudent campers are also unwilling to spend exorbitant amounts of money on tents and gadgets that are overkill for what they know they need. So, people feel they need exactly an Ozark Trail tent – or something similar from the low-end offering. First, let’s take a look at the most crucial backpacking and camping piece – the tents. Ozark Trail offers a wide range of tents of all sizes, all economically priced.
The Price and Quality Range
You can buy an Ozark Trail tent for yourself starting at 25 dollars or a gigantic 20-person contraption for around 270 dollars. The prices are amazingly low.
A tent for two will set you back by only 25-45 dollars. The Helsports two-person or Hillebergs, on the other end of the price range, go for 550-1.100 dollars. Of course, those manufacturers are masters of the craft, and, along with tents that can keep you alive in the Arctic or the Himalayas, they offer stuff like a lifetime warranty.
For 5 percent of the price, Ozark Trail offers none of that. Neither the tradition nor the warranty and the quality is a far cry away. But maybe you don’t need it at all. If you’re considering your first camping tent, what do you think you’ll do with it?
Ozark Claims All-Weather Badge Only When it Sells?
Even more damaging to the claim of all-weather usability are the reviews in the wet. YouTube reviewers The Outdoor Gear Review took a one-person Ozark Trail tent donated by a subscriber for testing in the rain. He pitched it in the backyard and left it in light-to-moderate rain for two hours. Even after such brief exposure, the tent allowed a considerable amount of water had leaked into the tent.
What would a stormy night be like for a camper in that tent? It would probably be a wet and shivering memory.
So, it’s unlikely that an Ozark Trail tent is recommendable for anyone planning a night, much less several, far from some other shelter. But if you want to spend a few nights in the backyard with your kid in good summer weather and not much more? Yes, by all means.
Outdoor Gear Review called Ozark Trail customer support after the wet experiment seeking clarification for the leaky shelter. The response was reportedly the same as what other complaining users received, and it boils down to – the tent is built for good weather only. That was in stark contrast to the Walmart selling slogan, urging buyers to “strap [it] on a pack and head out on a hike, hit the mountain bike trail, or take a motorcycle ride down a long windy road for a weekend away.”
The Ozark customer support response was quirky in at least one more way. According to the reviewer, the person on the other end of the phone line never asked which model was in question.
Price Scaled to Match Size, But also Quality
Ozark Trail scales the price to the size, so it is questionable whether the more expensive models are better. In fairness, the Ozark brand comprises products from various manufacturers, so we can’t presume the guilt of poor build for the entire range.
The mass of poor reviews does seem to raise concern in the mind of anyone planning anything more serious than a mini-adventure in sight of home. Even if you plan to use it only for that, you may end up disappointed.
According to many complaints on the internet, the tent will not last very long even without serious weather challenges. Users say they faced wear and tear after unpacking and packing just a handful of times.
All in all, the poor build quality and misleading online descriptions should be enough to dissuade anyone half-serious about camping or backpacking from investing in Ozark Trail tents.
Other Ozark Trail Equipment
So much about Ozark Trail tents. That doesn’t necessarily mean all the brand equipment is shoddy. But, there is that inescapable rule: cheap does come at the cost of quality. And Walmart and its subsidiaries do push the low-cost, low-end goods.
So, as with the tents, you should take a close look at other deals that seem too good to be real.
When it comes to Ozark shoes, the story seems to echo from the tent department. In fact, with the 1-star reviews dominating, their footwear seems not to be what you want to depend on on a hike. Too many users complain about shoes splitting within a couple of weeks or being unbendingly, painfully uncomfortable.
And footwear is an essential item when you go hiking. If your tent leaks, you might have a miserable night. But when your shoes split open in harsh terrain and miles away from safety, you are in big trouble. Even if you have light sneakers attached to your backpack, you may be more exposed to stranding injury. So, if you plan to hike away from trodden paths, perhaps it is better to spend a few bucks more for better-rated footwear.
Ozark Trail Backpacks have far better ratings. There is a consensual view that they are solid, sturdy packs, especially considering the price. Still far from the top-rated products, they’re unlikely to split, rip and fail on a job.
An upcoming hiker/camper must not underestimate the value of the backpack. It is a vital piece of equipment that will hold your stuff, essential and less important. Add compression straps to your backpack and it will become even more useful. It contributes to a safe, comfortable hike and camping.
Two concerns come up in reviews of Ozark Trail backpacks – they pack more volume than weight, and some models tend to cause chafing.
Here a buyer may also ask the question: how will you use it? For everyday use, for school, light camping, and hiking – sure. For a challenging camping trip – better not, but more experienced campers already know that.
Ozark makes a multitude of camping accessories. Non-essential items may be worth trying, especially stuff that routinely breaks or is intended for single use.
Whether you want to try walking sticks, play with an outdoor knife, or add a cheap kitchen set to your camp set up, Ozark Trail has it all. As long as your life, safety, and even comfort don’t depend on it, knock yourself out buying – you may discover something you’ll want to upgrade, while most you’ll probably find redundant, expensive, or cheap.
Ozark Trail offers a cheap alternative to expensive, well-known brand outdoor equipment. While cheaper is fine, it’s rarely better. An extended, challenging backpacking or camping trip requires dependable gear.
Ozark’s products may suffice for making a summer weekend trip not far from your car because they aren’t very reliable. For anything more, get something sturdier and simply better.