Over the years of GWA reviews it’s fair to say that some of our product tests haven’t exactly been done in a scientific manner. The methods or locations may not have been what the manufacturer had in mind or we may have thought of more suitable uses for the stuff.
Today I’d like to tell you how a giant Coleman Event Shelter Pro helped us put up an even gianter shed.
Mrs Muz and I, you see, have just bought a Victorian house renovation project – as I write, we’ve had the keys for just 10 days. Maybe you knew this already, maybe you didn’t. Either way it’s probable that many of my future reviews will feature said property and the woods that are right on the doorstep. If we had a doorstep.
So far we have used many former GWA review products in our work – some Happy Camper squeezy bottles gave us sauce for chips; three out of four of these Gelert chairs have helped us rest our weary bones; a Campingaz stove is set up and ready to go in the Murder Room (long story) and a Varta Indestructible torch has been lowered 200+ft down a capped well that we just happened to find lying around in the garden.
One of the essential first jobs was for us to erect a 20ft x 10ft workshop shed in the front garden, which I’ll use as my Man Cave. I told you it was essential. Mrs Muz thinks that because we can’t live in the house yet, we’ll pop a bed and chaise longue in there and set up some kind of fluffy pink boudoir for a week or two. My plans are for topless dancers and guest ales, so we might have to find a middle ground somewhere.
To get to the point, the first couple of days of prep for the shed and the laying of the base were spent in unseasonal baking April sunshine, and having taken delivery of the Coleman Event Shelter Pro just a week-or-so earlier, getting it up and us under it was a no-brainer.
The first thing to note is that because the shelter is so big, at 15ft x 15ft, it’s heavy – a claimed 22kg – and cumbersome when packed up in its bag (which feels very strong and capable). There’s just no way around it. (Note: There are 3 different sizes available – they’re testing the biggest one)
Tipping it out on the bone dry previously-JCB-diggered ground revealed numerous bags and lots of long, curved steel poles that are grouped together in threes or more and linked via internal metal chains and presumably elastic further up.
Fitting these all together and in to their plastic linking sections is a necessary physical faff which results in four large curved arches and a couple of cross beams, at the bottom of which are large plastic feet in the outer rim of which are drilled holes for the supplied pegs. The shelter’s double-taped, UV-resistant and 1000mm waterproof outer is then drawn across the top, with the help of quite a bit of confusion and swearing, and secured using plenty of tough Velcro straps along the poles and hooks at the feet. It’s a good, strong, taught construction, but given that it’s essentially a yacht sail on stilts only a numpty would ignore the pegs and guy ropes.
In all, taking in to account that I am a man and therefore incapable of reading or following instructions, it took us about 25 minutes to set up the Coleman Event Shelter Pro for the first time. But what that gave us was a truly enormous sheltered area that photographs don’t do justice to. I can imagine this being perfect on a car camping trip for a small family or for a bunch of mates on a fishing weekend – and even then there’d be plenty of room spare for toys or beer or both. Garden parties would be transformed for people with a large enough area of grass and summer BBQs in the rain wouldn’t be an issue for maybe a dozen people, or more. In fact I can’t wait to take it to our motorbike trackday in Pembrey later this year, where there’ll be plenty of people to fill it.
My next aim is to get a couple of optional extra sides, a pair of doors and a ground sheet to make it cosy when there’s a chill in the air. That would be ideal.
There are, of course, one or two problems. The first is a personal issue and if it were resolved to pander to my picky foibles the shelter would lose its sleek domed profile. It’s the side openings. I am 6’ 1” and the side arches are not. I didn’t measure them, but they’re probably a few inches short of six feet at their highest point. The rest of the shelter has excellent head room for me for the most part, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I clipped my head even when I was ducking through a side. I even lost my sunglasses a couple of times.
The second thing may well be a design issue and could shorten the life of the Coleman Event Shelter. One of the afternoons during our shed-erection session, the heavens opened. A couple of days later when we dismantled the structure we found that the plastic feet were not drilled in the pole sockets and were full of water which was in direct contact with the ends of the steel poles. I’m no metallurgist but that could lead to rust if left for too long.
Regardless of that, the Coleman Event Shelter Pro is an excellent product and so much more than a bog-standard rickety gazebo. The RRP of £240 reflects that, mind you, but if you shop around you can probably find a deal. Go Outdoors has them for around £150 right now, for instance.
They also, in a roundabout fashion, help build sheds. They’re rubbish at wielding a hammer or aligning windows, but when Mother Nature catches you out by presenting a glowing orb in the sky that actually emits heat they’re a lifesaver.