Ok, let's talk gear today. We currently have an eight man tent that we love; it's the Cougar Flats by Columbia.
We researched and researched and chose this one for several reasons. First off, we needed lots of space for our three boys but still wanted high quality at an affordable price. An eight man tent seemed to be the perfect size for us. The reviews on this tent from other families were great which is always a big selling feature with us. One thing we liked in particular about this tent was that it claimed to allow good airflow through the tent which I definitely think it does. The tent itself has two rooms, one room that has windows that can be closed or opened and little openings at the bottom that are protected from water but that can be left open for ventilation (love these). It also has a hook in the ceiling for a light which is nice. The second room's walls can be closed up if it's cold or the sides can be rolled up to create a screened in porch if it's nice out and you want the air flow. This room has been perfect for the baby. We are able to put the pack-and-play in there and he can see us and still be a part of the action without being bothered by biting insects.
My only small issue with this tent was Columbia's customer service. Our first time setting up the tent, we discovered that one of our roof poles was broken (I know, I know, we should have set up the new tent before we left - always set up a new tent before you head out to make sure you know how to set it up and know that everything is in working order!). We created a fix for the trip and when we got home we called customer service. Columbia's customer service at the time we called was being run by a different company so we had to jump a few hoops to get our new pole. We did finally get a new pole and it's the correct size so I'm guessing it will work fine, but it wasn't a pole that came from that tent. Despite this small glitch, I still love this tent and I think it will be our main outdoor residence for some time to come.
Now of course, as soon as we bought the eight man tent, our four and five year old decided they wanted their own tent to sleep in. So we pulled out our old four man tent from our "before children" days and they have used that and love being "big kids" in their own tent. You can see a pic of the two tents set up together in the slide show. In order to make the transition easier to the boys being in their own tent, we bought them a flashlight/nightlight. My husband looked around at different choices but in the end he decided on the Coleman Companion Flashlight with Light Show.
The kids love that it's not only a flashlight but it can also do different series of colored lights in the tent at night. We still get visitors in the big tent on rainy nights, but on a nice clear night, the boys love having the four man tent to themselves.