REI launched the spacious Wonderland X four-person tent to replace the iconic REI Kingdom for 2022. We took it camping for six nights to give the Wonderland X a thorough review.
Spring in Colorado can be, well, blustery. But the 40mph winds buffeting the side of the very large tent were still alarming. I lifted my head from my sleeping bag to see my father and another buddy had already gotten out of bed, their headlamps cutting through the blackness as they checked ten stakes and guy-out points for possible failures.
But no, everything was secure. A few minutes later they were back in their bags and the wind howled past the Wonderland X. Aside from a few shudders and flaps of fabric, it stood tall and secure as the spring wind whipped through the forest. I grinned a little as I drifted off to sleep. This tent was indeed a bit of a wonder.
Launched this spring, I took the Wonderland X first on a weekend turkey hunt with my family and friends, then on a camp trip with the GearJunkie staff team. And after several nights of sleeping and living in the tent, I’m convinced it stands out as one of the best tents for car camping on the market — with a few caveats. Read on for the full review.
In short: The Wonderland X is an innovative, stout 4-person tent with an incredibly spacious interior, vast awning, and room to stand for a tall adult. But while it’s one of the best new tents in years, it does have some minor flaws, requires an enormous patch of flat ground for setup, and comes with a hefty $1,250 price tag.
REI Wonderland X Setup
REI just introduced the Wonderland X as its flagship car camping tent in May 2022. And wow, does it take tent architecture in a new direction.
To explain the design simply, the Wonderland X is a tent-in-a-tent. What I mean by that is that you set up a large free-standing rainfly first, then hang a smaller (but still spacious) mesh/floor tent inside the rainfly. Confused? I was at first, too.
So I went against my nature and read the instructions to set it up the first time.
The first setup took me and three other adults about a half-hour total. But the second time was much faster, probably 15 minutes. It entails assembling poles, erecting the tunnel-tent style rainfly, staking out the large structure, and then hanging the interior tent in the rainfly. Once familiar with the setup, you’ll spend most of your time hammering stakes.
REI Wonderland X Review
Once standing, the Wonderland X is quite a spectacle. My fellow editors have referred to it as a “carport” or “barn.” My buddies were blown away that they could stand up in the shelter. It makes for an enormous space, particularly before you add the interior “sleeping” shelter. You could seriously park a midsize car inside the structure with the inner tent removed.
And herein lies both the brilliance and the problem with the Wonderland X. For a four-person shelter, it is enormous. The inner tent has a spacious 100- by 100-inch footprint. But the entire footprint measures a whopping 156.7 x 109.8 inches. That makes it, by far, the largest 4-person tent I’ve tested.
And this is, in general, awesome. You get plenty of sleeping space for four 6-foot adults. They don’t even have to cuddle if they don’t want to. Add on a massive 38.3 square feet, 75 inches tall vestibule, and the Wonderland X is genuinely palatial. In our testing, I sat with three other adult men, all in camp chairs, and drank beer and whiskey for a couple of hours inside the vestibule.
I put the emphasis there because, in 40-plus years of camping, that’s something I have never been able to do in anything other than canvas, wall-style tents. And given the aforementioned cold winds, it was pretty darned nice to be inside.
REI Wonderland X Specs
- Best use: Camping
- Seasons: 3-season
- Sleeping capacity: 4-person plus
- Minimum trail weight: 29 lbs. 14 oz.
- Packaged weight: 35 lbs. 1 oz.
- Packed size: 12.8″ x 14″ x 27.4″
- Floor dimensions: 100″ x 100″ (8’4″ x 8’4″)
- floor area: 70.5 sq. ft.
- Vestibule area: 38.3 sq. ft.
- Peak height: 75″
- Number of doors: 4 doors
- Number of poles: 12
- material: DAC MX Aluminum
- Pole diameter: 0.6 mm, 13.8 mm, 14.5 mm
- Canopy fabric: 75-denier coated polyester (Bluesign-approved)
- floor fabric: 150-denier coated polyester (Bluesign-approved)
- Rainfly fabric: 75-denier coated polyester (Bluesign-approved)
- Footprint included: No
- Design type: Freestanding
- Sustainability: Contains materials that meet the Bluesign criteria
Pros, Cons, and Considerations
But with lots of time on our hands and a fair amount of whiskey, my buddies and I started to dissect the design. We uncovered a few potential flaws. Granted, these are fairly minor given the exceptional design of this tent. But they’re something to consider.
Can a Tent Be Too Big?
First, there’s the elephant at the camps. Can a tent be too big? Well, maybe.
This is where you really need to consider how you will use the Wonderland X. If you expect to set it up in large, open expanses, awesome. I set it up in two places in Colorado, one during our turkey hunt, and another during our camp gear test, and found a good spot both times.
But if you plan to use this in the Boundary Waters, for example, you may struggle to find a space large and flat enough to accommodate this beast.
Keep in mind that most campground tent pads are 10 x 12 feet. The full footprint of this tent measures a pretty mind-blowing 156.7 x 109.8 inches — about 13 feet by 9 feet. So even fitting the entire tent into a developed campground pad may be a challenge at times.
Fortunately, because of the unique design, you probably don’t need to fit it all on a pad. The enormous vestibule will fit over a picnic table, or even over the tailgate of your full-size pickup, providing optional ways to set up and use this clever abode.
The next issue we uncovered was, that if you stake out the guy-lines tightly, they exert quite a lot of pressure on the zippers. We fiddled with the setup in both locations to remove some of the pressure from the zippers on the end doors. While they were entirely functional, I would worry about long-term use with the zippers under stress. Zippers are a common fail point in tents, so I would recommend future owners bear this in mind as they set up the tent and learn its quirks.
Finally, this tent is expensive. At $1,249, it competes on a price basis with canvas wall tents. And at about 30 pounds, it also aligns with wall tents in terms of weight. So given similar use cases, potential buyers should weigh the pros and cons of both.
While generally a little harder to set up, many wall tents have one big advantage — you can add a stove inside. You won’t have that ability with the Wonderland X. But I think for many buyers, particularly those family campers looking for a versatile tent like this in summer, the point is moot.
Wonderland X: Who Should Buy
Should you buy the REI Wonderland X review here? I think the answer for many will be a resounding yes.
Do you want a large family camping tent to sleep four (or more)? Do you value a very large awning space in which to stand, cook, and sit with your family during bad weather? Would you possibly use a carport-size awning while camping with groups (which you get when you remove the inner tent)? Are you considering a small wall tent for a hunting base camp, but would also use it for car camping with the family?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, I’d recommend taking a strong look at the Wonderland X. In a few days of use, I’m impressed with the build quality, unique design, and versatility of the structure.
It is indeed a palace for car campers.
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