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Extreme Camping with Coleman

Arapaho Back Pack, Kodiak Sleeping Bag and Orion Tent Review

Coleman(r) and Peak 1(r) Camping products
As you are probably aware by now, from our newsletters, one of our columnists, Jody, recently went on a 2-week trip to Morocco, Africa to cover the 1999 Mile Marker Winch – Atlas Challenge. Prior to Jody’s journey to the Sahara, we realized that he would be encountering a variety of seasonal changes as his trek led him through burning deserts, high snow-capped mountains and even a taste of jungle like environments. All of this equates to temperature variances from 20 degrees below Fahrenheit to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Hmmm, for some strange reason we felt that our old 9 pound (empty) military back pack, cheap and heavy 4 man tent, and worn out, bulky and not-so-warm sleeping bag just wouldn’t cut it. After all, the trip to Morocco would cover over 1,000 miles.

With all of this in mind, we set out to contact The Coleman Company to see if some of their familiar camping/hiking gear would be a good match for our extreme environments. Essentially, we needed an external frame backpack that would allow for some 2 weeks of travel with little or no supplies. We also needed a tent that was small, light, easy to set up and durable. Lastly, we were in need of a small, compact, yet durable and warm sleeping bag. This was no easy order to fill, but Coleman came through with their line of extreme duty Coleman® and Peak 1® products. We were now set to receive the Peak 1 Arapaho™ full-sized, external-framed backpack, the Peak 1 Orion™ 2-man tent, and their new for ’99 Coleman Kodiak™ sleeping bag. All of which, we were assured, would serve Jody well in his extreme conditions.

Due to the environment that we would be reviewing the products in and the fact that these items would really be our lifeline, we were a bit apprehensive to review them. After all, my parents have had Coleman® tents and so did my friends when I was in the cub scouts. This is NOT to say that I had a bad notion about Coleman, but I always considered them to be a mid-range tent manufacturer. After our brutal tests, we were surprised, to say the least, with the results.

Arapaho Back Pack Review


Enter Peak 1®, we received our Arapaho backpack and immediately started with reading the instructions. Believe it or not, we actually decided that there was probably a right and a wrong way to set up a backpack for different sized people. You have to understand that Jody is just over 5 foot tall, but has a torso frame equal to that of a 200 pound 6 foot tall man. This is the politically correct way of saying that he’s a squatty fellow. It’s a good thing we did read the instructions, because there is a right way to set up an external frame backpack to alleviate back strain and help with weight distribution. I took us a good 20 minutes to make sure everything was fit just right.

The Arapaho backpack sports 5 external organizer pockets, a side water bottle holder and two main compartments, totaling some 4,235 cubic inches all while weighing in at 5lbs., 6oz. The body of the pack is made of durable (Africa tested) 600-Deneir Polyester and the plastic frame is made of impact resistant plastic allowing more flex and comfort than the traditional aluminum backpacks. The rain fly (optional) is made of water resistant and tough Nylon. Additionally, it has anatomically shaped foam-padded shoulder straps with adjustable, torso load stabilizer straps and a mesh back band to keep your back cool and dry. With this much storage capacity, Jody was able to store 2 full weeks worth of clothing, extra boots, maps, handheld GPS, flashlights and much more with some room to spare. We continued to stuff the pack until it was full and then strapped on the new lightweight tent and sleeping bag. We stepped back to look at our wonderful masterpiece with pride. The next step was to pick it up and try it on for size. Originally weighing in at 12 lbs., 12 ounces with just the backpack, tent and sleeping bag, it now weighed some 60 pounds when he tried to pick it up! I saw, for the first time in my life, a kind of fear that I had never seen before in his eyes. I calmly said, (of course I didn’t have to lug it) “try it on first, maybe it won’t be so bad.” He did. Although the pack weighed more than most large dogs, it did a fantastic job at distributing the load evenly across his body, without the feeling of wanting to fall on his can. We took a short stroll in the deserts of Tucson just to make sure he would be okay with the weight of the pack and everything seemed a-okay. The last step was to put the rain fly on, wrap it up in cardboard and tape and put his name and address on it for his flight to torture, I mean Africa.

Fast forwarding two weeks… Jody came back from his trip to the Morocco for the most part unscathed. The backpack survived the 3,000-mile journey with only little signs of wear. Although we’re not sure if Africa or the airlines did more damage. The pack held up perfectly in the worst of conditions and did everything it was supposed to do and more. The only items we noted that were less than perfect on the pack were the lack of additional straps for tents, sleeping bags, canteens and whatnot and the fact that the quick-release clips were lost in the first week. There are two main straps that go across the face of the backpack that help to hold things together. They utilize plastic, adjustable quick-release clips, but the ends of the strap were not sewn over. If anyone happens to be in the Atlas Mountains and finds them, can you let us know?

In rain, snow, freezing and baking temperatures, the pack held up great. If you are in the market for a lightweight and durable large, external framed backpack, the Peak 1® Arapaho from Coleman® is the unit for you.

NOTE: All ratings on a scale of 1 to 4 with flat tires equal to a half.
Description Notes Rating
Ease of Install N/A N/A
Ease of Use There is a lot of setup required to get the back designed for any particular body with straps, belts and clips to adjust. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just’s take a while to get it perfect.
Performance Pockets, zippers, straps, webbing and the likes are all placed well on the pack. Drawstrings and more are really the icing on the cake.
Durability The pack held up perfectly in the worst of conditions. Freezing temperatures, rain, burning sun and even the airport luggage center! The only problem we had with the pack was the quick-release clips fell off and are now lost forever.
Appearance Conservative looks keep it from drawing attention, but it is has a “utility” look to it.
Drivability N/A N/A
Comfort Even loaded with 60 plus pounds of clothes, boots, flashlights and the likes, the pack distributed the weight well without having the feeling of wanting to fall on your butt.
Price in comparison to related products Peak 1® offers top-notch, durable products at a price lower than their competitors within the packs class.
Was it worth it??? We really think so. The pack did everything it should have and more.
Editors Notes The pack served us well during our trip to Africa and we feel it will offer us many more years of service…RW


Kodiak Sleeping Bag Review


Of all of the products that we may have been skeptical about, the “loaf of bread” sized sleeping bag really worried us. When we opened the package, we saw the stuff sack that was really just about the size of a loaf of bread. Two thoughts immediately came to mind. One, how in the heck can something this thin and small keep you warm at 32 degrees? Two, how in the heck are you supposed to get this 6 foot plus long sleeping bag back into the stuff sack???

Figuring we had nothing to loose (we did have our trusty and smelly military sleeping bag), we started to pull the bag out of its stuff sack. And we pulled and pulled and pulled. It was the strangest thing really (can you tell we’re not serious hikers/campers?); this sleeping bag just kept coming out of the stuff sack. It was huge! Now you must understand at 6 foot 3 inches tall, I’ve never been able to enjoy two things in my life. One, legroom in a car or truck and two, a sleeping bag long enough to fit my lanky body. We won’t go into the whole shoe thing… When I held it up in front of me I was shocked that I had finally found a sleeping bag large enough for me! Too bad it was now Jody’s.

Deciding that Tucson is not the place to test a sleeping bag at 32 degrees, Jody climbed in and sat on the couch to watch a bit of TV. He lasted all of about 3 minutes and came out sweating. “I think it will do just fine” Jody huffed. The next thing out of his mouth was “What the heck are you giggling at?!?” “I’m just curious to see you get it back in the stuff sack” I chuckled. Lo and behold we figured it out. Just start stuffing and stuffing and stuffing. Amazingly enough it was easier than folding a map. It just squeezed right in without having to roll it or fold it.

Weighing in at just 36 ounces with the double-draw-cord stuff sack, this little sleeping bag is packed with features. It has an interior chest cord to create a snug fit and to trap in body heat. It also has a semi-sculpted drawstring cord that surrounds the head for added warmth and a full-length weather seal and zipper gusset to prevent cold air from coming in. Finally, its full cover construction with no quilt lines (also designed to keep cold air out) is stuffed with Dupont Thermolite Micro® Insulation for exceptional warmth without bulk. This bag is rated as a three-season sleeping bag.

Overall, this sleeping bag worked well in Africa at and just below 32 degrees. If you are looking for a small and efficient sleeping bag, the Coleman Kodiak sleeping bag is for you.



NOTE: All ratings on a scale of 1 to 4 with flat tires equal to a half.
Description Notes Rating
Ease of Install N/A N/A
Ease of Use Well, it’s a sleeping bag, so I guess it can’t be too hard to use.
Performance The sleeping bag kept Jody warm even below 32 degrees farenheight. I guess you can’t ask for more than that when it’s only rated at 32 degrees..
Durability During the two weeks in Africa, we experienced no problems with the zipper, draw strings or the material itself failing.
Appearance Conserative looks keep it from drawing attention, but it’s function over form here.
Drivability N/A N/A
Comfort The thin padding provided little comfort when sleeping on the ground, but it did keep us warm. A sacrifice of size over comfort is made with this bag.
Price in comparison to related products Coleman® offers top-notch, durable products at a price lower than their competitors within the sleping bags price.
Was it worth it??? Sure. You get a lot of bang for your buck with Coleman products.
Editors Notes The sleeping bag served us well during our trip to Africa and we feel it will offer us many more years of quality service…RW


Orion Tent Review

On our order for Coleman was the need for a small, 2-man tent that was light, extremely durable, versatile and easy to set up. We thought for sure that we could stump them on this one, but they provided us with the Peak 1 Orion tent. In its stuff sack, the tent is about double the size of a loaf of bread and weighed in at 6lbs., 6 oz.

At first we were skeptical so we decided to first set it up in my living room. Jody completed it, along with my managerial skills, and I timed him along the way. Without reading the instructions, he was able to set it up in under 4 minutes! (No we didn’t pound the stakes into my living room floor.) Coleman put some overtime in with the design and user interface for this Peak 1 tent!

Now for the real test… the extreme seasonal changes of Africa all within two weeks. The first night out in the Atlas Mountains put this tent to the real test with some nasty gusting winds that blew everyone else’s tent over except for ours! The tent leaned and moaned a bit, but stood its ground well while providing Jody with nothing but a slight breeze in the tent. The other nights in Africa weren’t nearly as bad, but freezing temperatures did put this tent to the test some more.

No noted problems, this tent performed phenomenally in some of the worst conditions. Below you will find a list of the tent features.

The floor size of this tent covers 90 inches by 60 inches, which equates to 7 foot, 6 inches wide and 5 feet across with a center height of 42 inches. It also has the following features:

  • Large 38- x 37-inch front and rear doors for easy entry/exit.
  • 2.3 oz. breathable Ripstop Nylon Taffeta and Nylon Mesh walls.
  • Weather resistant, heavy-duty, 2.3 oz. Nylon Taffeta floor, treated with 1500 mm of polyurethane and is factorysealed at the seams.
  • Super lightweight and durable gold 7001 Series Aluminum poles, connected by an internal bungee cord for quick setup and take down.
  • Toggle & Loop Fastener and “Quik-Up” clips make the tent assembly blazing fast.
  • The full coverage fly is extensively treated with a 1500 mm coating of polyurethane and the seams are factory sealed for weather protection.
  • The double vestibule, measuring in at 21.7 total square feet, provides ample rooms for gear.
  • Removable vestibule allows for the use of the large and tough Nylon No-See-Um mesh panels that give you great views and a great breeze.
  • A total pack weight of 6 lbs., 6 oz.
  • Colors:
    • Black Floor
    • Charcoal Ripstop, black Mesh Tent Body
    • Teal, Charcoal and Gold Fly
    • Gold Aluminum Poles 


NOTE: All ratings on a scale of 1 to 4 with flat tires equal to a half.
Description Notes Rating
Ease of Install Set up takes less than 3 minutes total with one person. It’s a snap!
Ease of Use There’s not too much to use with a tent, but the design of the tent with regards to the usability are extraordinary.
Performance In gail force winds and freezing temperatures, the tent stood it’s ground while others fell around us.
Durability Peak 1 uses the latest and most durable products. Our tent took some serious abus and held up perfectly.
Appearance Again, conserative looks keep it from drawing attention, but it’s function over form here.
Drivability N/A N/A
Comfort The tent keeps the driving wind and bugs out while providing you with a waterproof environment. A taller center section would be nice though.
Price in comparison to related products Peak 1® offers top-notch, durable products at a price lower than their competitors within the tent’s class.
Was it worth it??? Sure. You get a lot of bang for your buck with Peak 1® products.
Editors Notes The tent served us well during our trip to Africa and we feel it will offer us many more years of quality service…RW

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