Robens Pioneer 4EX tent review: an ideal family tent for comfortable nights in the outdoors

Affordable, simple to pitch and offering tons of room for the whole family, the Robens Pioneer 4EX is a great option for group wildcamps or family camping holidays

Robens Pioneer 4EX
(Image: © Craig Taylor)

Advnture Verdict

The Robens Pioneer 4EX is a large three- to four-person family tent that comes with an enormous vestibule space and delivers solid performance in varied weather conditions. Very comfortable for two adults or suitable for a close family of four, the tent is a solid option for versatile three-season camping, and it comes at an almost unbeatable price.

Pros

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    Very reasonably priced

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    Huge vestibule

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    Lots of space inside

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    Easy to pitch

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    Performs well in a range of conditions

Cons

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    Too small for four adults

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    Quite a large packed size

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    Relatively heavy

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Meet the tester

Why I Love Camping – Finally time for a brew
Craig Taylor

Craig loves nothing more than pitching up in the backcountry, preferably while taking on a long-distance thru-hike. His adventures usually take place in the hills and mountains of Wales but he occasionally gets away to his beloved Alps. As one of our expert campers, Craig revels in testing camping equipment and knows a sturdy shelter from one that will give up the ghost when conditions become challenging.

Robens Pioneer 4EX: first impressions

The Robens Pioneer 4EX is a four-person tent from the brand’s Route range. These tents are built to deliver the best compromise between performance, packed size and price – all to deliver everything you need from a tent to encourage you to get out on your first adventure.

Specifications

• List price: £239.99 (UK) / Currently not officially available in the US
• Style: Tunnel tent
• Weight: 3.8kgs / 7.9lbs
• Waterproofing: 3,000mm
• Rooms: One bedroom, one vestibule
• Compatibility: Three people and gear (advertized as four and gear)

That means that they’re not built to withstand a deep winter storm on a summit somewhere, and nor are they designed for fastpacking across the Sahara Desert. They’re here to empower campers to “take those first steps into an outdoor pursuit”, and alongside other lines such as the Arrow Head and Boulder series of tents, the Pioneer 4EX is here to be newbie group campers’ “passport to freedom”.

With an advertized pack weight of 3.8 kg, the Robens Pioneer is relatively competitive for a tent that promises to sleep four and packs down to a reasonable size considering the space inside.

Naturally, however – as any four-person tent will do – the Pioneer 4EX does take up a lot of room in your pack. But if you’re sharing with one, two or three other people, you can comfortably split the load to reduce not just the volume in your pack, but the weight you have to carry per person, too.

Robens Pioneer 4EX

The Robens Pioneer 4EX is a lot of tent for under £300 (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

What’s more, thanks to the three-pole, tunnel-style design, the tent promises to perform well in a host of different conditions, ranging from driving rain through to heavy wind, with Robens’ own wind tests establishing that the Pioneer 4EX can cope with gusts up to around 140km/h. Just don’t expect a comfortable time.

But the most impressive thing about the Pioneer 4EX? Well, that has to be the price. When bought directly from Robens, the tent will set you back a super-reasonable £239.99. And for that you get a versatile shelter that can be used on a whole range of three-season family adventures – all for less than the price of many down jackets.

Robens Pioneer 4EX: in the wild

Man fixing the inner to the outer of a Robens Pioneer 4EX tent

Clipping the inner tent to the fly involves threading various latches through the loops fastened to the flysheet, which is a relatively simple process in itself, but a bit of a faff in wet, dark conditions (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

For a four-person budget backpacking tent, the Robens Pioener 4EX is an impressive bit of kit. Firstly, it’s a cinch to pitch. Even if you do this on your own, you can get this four-person palace up in under 10 minutes and you can pack it away as quickly the morning after. 

In fact, without setting the guy lines, I was able to fully pitch the Pioneer 4EX in around seven minutes, which was a godsend in the rain. Unfortunately, however, it’s worth being aware of the fact that the inner and the outer don’t come pre-assembled out of the box. For that reason, it took me around 15 minutes to get fully set up the first time I pitched the Pioneer 4EX. The process of clipping the inner to the fly involves threading various latches through the loops fastened to the flysheet, which, despite being a simple process in itself, was pretty painful to do in wet, dark conditions. Thankfully, you only need to do this once.

Robens Pioneer 4EX tent highlighting the color-coded pole system

Note the poles being color-coded to the corresponding sleeves (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

To pitch the Pioneer 4EX, you simply need to thread the color-coded poles through the corresponding sleeves. As the tent isn’t freestanding, you then need to peg out either end to get the structural integrity necessary to allow the tent to stand up. All in, you need 12 pegs to fully fasten this thing to the ground and then a further six to lash out all of the guy lines.

Thankfully, Robens also graciously provides you with the precise number of pegs necessary for this straight out of the box: 18. Which may not sound like a big deal on the surface, but is something that goes against the current trend of not including enough pegs to peg out all the guy lines, as is the case with tents like the Trail Lite 2 from The North Face.

inside Robens Pioneer 4EX

“Four” may mean different things to people with varying definitions of personal space (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

When the Robens Pioneer 4EX is pitched, the tent offers bags of space for multiple people and kit. Unfortunately, however, it would be a tad tight for four fully grown adults. To test this hypothesis, I kept adding sleeping pads until I ran out of room, and I maxed out at three. And while a fourth person could fit in here, a fourth inflatable pad couldn’t, so one unlucky bedmate is going to have to sleep either on a hard foam mat or directly on the floor. 

If you managed to squeeze four bodies in here, none of you would have a particularly sound night’s sleep in any case. For that reason, I see the Pioneer 4EX as a super-comfortable two-person tent or a shelter that’s ideal for a family of four (assuming the kids are still small).

The vestibule, on the other hand, is absolutely gigantic. It offers more than enough space to store four mounds of kit while still affording you enough room to sit up and cook. That said, as the tent only comes with one door, I still think it would feel quite cramped in here.

Inside the Robens Pioneer 4EX’s vestibule

The vestibule is extremely spacious (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

Durability and condensation

Manufactured from a durable 75D polyester, the Robens Pioneer 4EX feels super rugged and immediately induces confidence in its performance. What’s more, as the inner comprises almost 100% 68D polyester panels, it remains remarkably warm on the coldest nights, even when you’re sleeping in here on your own. 

For that reason, I’d be comfortable using the Robens Pioneer 4EX in light four-season conditions, providing there isn’t any snow forecast through the night. Inside the tent, two ventilation ports allow for a solid degree of airflow, which meant that condensation was kept at a minimum.

Robens Pioneer 4EX

The Robens Pioneer 4EX is made from hard-wearing 75D polyester, so it should last you a decent while (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

Overall, I think the Robens Pioneer 4EX is a phenomenal tent for the price. Naturally, as has become the convention, any tent listed as a four-person design is better suited to a maximum of three, and the Robens Pioneer 4EX is no different.

Were I to go camping with my family or head out into the hills with a friend, however, I think the Robens Pioneer 4EX delivers some of the best bang for your buck right now, and I’d bet that you won’t find a roomier, easier-to-use and more comfortable group shelter for under £300.

Craig Taylor

Growing up just south of the glorious Brecon Beacons National Park, Craig spent his childhood walking uphill. As he got older, the hills got bigger, and his passion for spending quality time in the great outdoors only grew - falling in love with wild camping, long-distance hiking, bikepacking and fastpacking. Having recently returned to the UK after almost a decade in Germany, he now focuses on regular micro-adventures in nearby Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, as well as frequent trips to the Alps and beyond. You can follow his adventures over on komoot, or visit www.craigtaylor.co for more info.