Welcome to Travel Non-Essentials, where T+L editors Mark Orwoll and Nikki Ekstein sound off on a different breed of travel product—sometimes ingenious, sometimes just plain odd. Today: Neso Beach Tent.
What It Does: This stake-less sunshade beach tent from Nesotents ($89) is lightweight, waterproof, and compact. Orwoll and Ekstein check it out to decide if it’s a must-have, or just a nice-to-have.
MO: This is a tent with two poles. And it doesn’t need any stakes, apparently. You know, I like the idea of this. It would be easy to carry around. It’s pretty compact.
NE: About the size of a rolled-up yoga mat…
MO: Very portable. Let’s see if we can figure out how to set this thing up right here in this office.
NE: This is probably the first time I’ve set up a tent in fifteen years. Let’s just say my knowledge is baseline when it comes to camping equipment.
MO: All right then, I’ll tell you what to do and you just follow directions. It says to lay the tent flat with cords outstretched…. Are there cords on only one side?
[Mark and Nikki, after a minor struggle, stretch the material flat and pull out the cords at each corner.]
MO: Jeez, how big is this tent, anyway?!
NE: We’re about to find out.
MO: Next we’re supposed to fill the four bags at each corner with sand.
NE: Oh, no!
MO: Right, we obviously don’t have any sand in this office. I guess that’s why you don’t need stakes, because the weight of the sand in the four bags would hold the tent in place.
NE: Well, we’re not in a place where we’re at risk of the wind blowing over our tent, so the sand isn’t necessary in this lovely conference room.
MO: So there are two poles. They’ve got the elastic cord inside them so the four sections of each pole easily connect. Okay, more directions: After you extend the poles, prop tent up with poles, round end upwards.
NE: Here’s a round end! I feel like we could sword fight with these.
MO: Shouldn’t there be a place where the poles fit into the material? Hmm… Well, just put the pole into the middle of your side, Nikki.
NE: What? Huh?
MO: Just prop it up.
NE: In the middle?!
MO: The middle of the edge.
NE: What did the instructions say again?
MO: Wait, come over here and hold my end. Boy I hope no one is listening to us on the other side of the door…. They’ll wonder what the hell we’re doing in here!
NE: Oh, dear…
MO: These instructions don’t make it very clear where the poles are supposed to go. Each one has a rounded end—I think you’re supposed to use that to create friction with the nylon material.
[Mark tries his new strategy and finds success creating a tent-like shape.]
MO: This it’s really a tent per se, not like a Boy Scout pup tent. So should we be calling it that?
NE: There are no walls, no doors, no way to keep a bear at bay. I’d call it an elaborate sunshade.
MO: Now let’s put it back into the carrying bag it came in and see how easily it all fits. The poles collapse very quickly, the fabric folds up easily. You don’t even have to fold it up; you can just wad it up into a ball.
MO: You can just shove it back in the bag.
[Mark fails to shove it in the bag.]
NE: Maybe put the poles in first?
MO: Once you’ve done it once, it would be easier the next time. The thing is, the only place you’re going to be using this is at the beach, because…
NE: Because you need sand.
VERDICT: Nice to have, but not a must.
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