The Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV is a four-person dome tent for 'general' camping use. Tall enough to crouch or (just about) sit on a chair in, the design is composed of a sleeping compartment with front and back entrances, and a (very) generous porch area for kit. We put it through its paces during a particularly windy week to see how it functions in practice, the kind of trips its best suited to, and whether it's a contender for our best tent ranking. Read on for our full Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV review.
Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV tent review: Design and features
Design-wise, the Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV is something of an hybrid, being not quite comfortable enough to qualify as one of the best family tents, yet not lightweight enough to be one of the best backpacking tents.
Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV tent: Specs
Weight: 6550g (stripped down: 6240g)
Inner tent measurements (L x W x H): 230 x 215 x 140cm
Vestibule depth: 185 & 55 cm
Pack size: 61 x 24/21cm
The design is based around your standard dome tent, and comprises a sleeping compartment and front vestibule. The latter stands out for its size: it is almost the same size as the sleeping area again, and features two screened windows with zippable 'curtains'. The main entrance is at the front, but there's also a back entrance that'll come in especially handy if it's very hot, or if there are four of you sleeping in it.
The inner sleeping compartment includes four pockets for storage, a handy hook for a camping lantern, and full-sized doors at both the front and back, both of with mesh flysheet options. Ventilation-wise, there are also vents at the peak of the tent.
The result is that this tent feels roomy, airy and well-ventilated. The windows let lots of light into the vestibule, and if the weather is hot, the ability to open the front and back of the tent up and let the air flow right through is welcome.
Jack Wolfskin says the vestibule can functions as 'a sitting room, kitchen or dining area, or as a storage space for bikes and luggage'. In reality, it's probably going to be mainly the final option (not to undermine how useful ample luggage space is). At a push, a couple of people could sit in chairs in there, to eat or hang out if the weather was really bad. For it to be a really usable space, a groundsheet might have come in handy, though.
The height is also a bit odd. While it's nice not to have to crawl in and out, if it's comfort you're after, you're probably going to want to be able to stand up fully and walk around. We found there was a lot of condensation on the inside of the flysheet in the mornings, which isn't necessarily unexpected but is more noticeable in the bigger area that you're moving around a lot in.
Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV tent review: Pitching, packing up, and weatherproofing
The Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV sports 'fast-pitch' features, such as snappable hooks and clips, designed to help everything go up quickly and painlessly. Indeed, once you've figured out the 'some poles on the inside, some on the outside' system, it goes up and down pretty easily. The roll-top carry bag is a nice touch, meaning you can adjust the sizing depending on just how neatly you've managed to pack up.
Jack Wolfskin says this tent employs something called 'real dome' technology, to make more stable and weatherproof. It happens that we tested it out in a week where the UK was experiencing wind speeds that verged on 'destruction-of-property' levels, and the tent held up well. We did have a few problems with a drip getting through the vent above the sleeping area – the outside fastens with velcro, which once wet was no match for the wind, and refused to stay closed. We suspect this wouldn't be an issue in usual circumstances however.
Should I buy the Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV tent?
Now to the important part of our Jack Wolfskin Grand Illusion IV tent review: is it any good? There's plenty to recommend this tent: it's roomy, with lots of ventilation, light and storage room, and it's easy to put up and down. However, we're struggling to think of a situation where this would be the best tent for the job. For a truly comfortable camping experience, you'd want to be able to stand up and walk around ... or at the very least have a groundsheet under your feet or bottom. And if weight is an issue, chances are you'd just go for something lighter. If you can find a use case for it, though, it's a good quality tent with some great features.