I had hoped to write a different kind of review at the end of rally season but three incidents with our camping gear have prompted me to share with the club my experiences.
Last year my nearly new Big Agnes Air Core insulated air mattress kept losing air. Now, I know when the temperature cools you sometime have to add a bit more air. However, I would have to air it back up 2-4 times a night. I contacted Big Agnes, shipped the defective mattress back to them (at my cost) and they quickly sent me a new mattress.
With this rally season I started using my brand new air mattress. four rallies / weekends later I’m back to blowing up my mattress several times a night. Many thanks to Ray Kaufman for bringing my backup air mattress o the MOA rally so I wouldn’t have to buy another one to complete the trip. By the time Ray arrived the mattress I was using was a lost cause.
This week I’ll be contacting Big Agnes about warranting another air mattress. Lost sleep and more return postage is prompting me to start looking at alternatives. Let’s see if their customer services is as good as it was with the first air mattress.
Earlier in the month I had made prior arrangements with Big Agnes, located in Steamboat Springs, CO, to complete a minor repair of a fitting on our tent poles of my Wyoming Trail 2 tent. I could have shipped them the poles but did not have enough turnaround time between rallies. In route to the Paonia rally I took a 2 day detour north to Steamboat Spring and the BA offices. They were good to work with and I was back on the road in less than 15 minutes, though I had already made arrangesments to stay overnight in a motel.
On Wednesday afternoon, 7/22, high, gusty winds tore through the Montana State Fairgrounds. The local news agency reported the wind gusts were over 40 mph. Outside vendors had canopies blown over resulting in a rally attendee’s bike being damaged. For the most part the campers in the infield were not affected. However, my Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 2 tent took the brunt of the winds for our area. The poles, and even some stakes were bent. The strange wind patterns did not affect an identical tent set up just a foot from mine!
This is our first season with the Big Agnes tent! I know wind is a fickkle element but two problems with the tent in the first season are a bit much. I don’t expect a free ride from Big Agnes because of wind damage but hopefully they can work with me on replacing the poles.
For 30+ years we’ve relied on Eureka Timberline tents. In fact, we’re only on our second Timberline tent. The first tent, and now the second tent, was retired only because UV rays finally took their toll on the tent material. I had hoped, going forward I can get the same long life from my Big Agnes tent.
So, in just a few months, I’ve had three problems with Big Agnes products. The cost per use on the equipment has exponentially increased: a cross-country detour to their offices, shipping the defective air mattress back home to deal with after the rally and yet more return postage to Big Agnes for restitution on the poles and air mattress.
The quality of a company is measured by their products and their customer service. Hopefully Big Agnes will redeem itself with great customer service. Stay tuned for an update in a few weeks!
You can see below the exaggerated bend in the first and third sets of poles.