Columbia Sportswear started in 1938 by German immigrants as a hat company in Portland, Oregon. The company evolved into a sportswear company with the release of its first fishing vest in 1960 and it has continued to expand into the outdoor equipment market ever since. Today, the Columbia brand includes not only parkas and boots, but also camping goods like sleeping bags and tents. Columbia's tent selection is limited to numerous variations of just a few basic models, and parts vary little between them.
The body of the tent itself varies widely from model to model, but it consists of the room or rooms that make up the tent. Included in this are interior walls in a multi-room tent, as well as windows and doors, which may also have insect screens. This is the largest single piece of the tent and it takes up the most space. Columbia tents are made from polyester taffeta and parts of the tent's surface are treated so as to be waterproof. The hardiness or denier rating of this material may vary from tent to tent.
As of 2010, Columbia's tents all came standard with a rain fly. Some tent manufacturers do without this, but permanently and completely waterproofing a tent typically makes for poor breathability.
The rain fly stretches over the exterior of the tent, adding a waterproof layer over the areas of the tent that are not waterproof, such as skylights and windows. Typically, the roof of the tent is not waterproofed and the rain fly sits an inch or two above it, allowing the tent to breathe even when it is raining.
Depending on the model, the rain fly may attach to the corners of the tent with stretch cords, or it may have its own small tent pole to support it.
Columbia's dome tents come standard with a number of fiberglass poles that support the structure. In models where the poles are of different lengths, they are color-coded for ease of use, so the tent builder can match the pole with the loops and sleeves that it is to go through. These poles are attached with stretchy cord so they can break down without completely coming apart.
Columbia's cabin tents typically use a combination of fiberglass poles and heftier, steel ones, which take the greater weight of the tent. Unlike the fiberglass poles, these break down into completely separate sections which are connected by socketing the poles into each other.
The Stuff Sack
Your tent has to live somewhere when it's not guarding you from the elements in the great outdoors and each Columbia tent comes with a stuff sack (or two) in which to store your tent. Unpack your tent and let it breathe for a while before putting it away in long-term storage, or it might get musty from trapped moisture. The stuff sacks for Columbia's Cougar Flats cabin tents are much more like duffel bags and they conveniently have rolling wheels so you don't have to carry their 50+ lb. weight.