If you’re like me, you probably like the idea of a canvas tent for its many benefits such as being 4-season capable, breathable, and spacious. But with all the different styles and brands, it can be hard to sort out which one is worth your hard-earned dollars.
My first foray with Kodiak Canvas was in 2014 when I had three tiny kids and was looking for a comfortable family tent. I bought a Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe and spent many sleepless nights in it with a needy newborn and two wiggly toddlers that just wanted to run around all night. My wife and I were glad to have chairs inside to make story time more comfortable.
Many fond memories later, I reluctantly sold my first Flex-Bow in 2017 before moving overseas for a time. So I was glad to purchase a new Kodiak Flex-Bow Deluxe this year.
Then I got a few others to compare it to firsthand. I really dove deep into research in preparation for this review.
From all this, I’ve got a pretty solid idea of what makes the Kodiak great and where it lacks. Stick around to find out more.
Hands-on Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe Tent Review
The Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow tent provides a comfortable 4-season shelter for family campers as well as backcountry hunters and anglers. The workmanship is top-notch from the stitching to the heavyweight materials. Well-ventilated and easy to set up, the Flex-Bow is a canvas tent that will last for years.
PROS: High-quality materials and workmanship, great ventilation, excellent customer service, includes gear organizers and convenient carry bag, 4-season
CONS: Heavier and bulkier than nylon tents, not freestanding
Outdoor Empire Score: 4.5
Workmanship & Durability 5 | Ease of Use 4 | Comfort 5 | Features 4 | Versatility 4 | Value 5
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There are six attributes we consider when evaluating canvas tents: workmanship and durability, ease of use and setup, overall comfort, features, versatility, and value. For each attribute, a tent is given between 1 and 5 points (worst to best). We then add up the values and take an average, which is the overall Outdoor Empire Score. This helps us be more objective on our product comparisons.
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored, but the tent was sold to us at a discount by Kodiak Canvas so we could do this review. The links in this article are affiliate links. This means we might earn a small commission at no cost to you if you click on a link and make a purchase.
Solid Workmanship and Durability
The build quality on the Flex-Bow is top-notch. Seams are double-stitched without flaws and the points with the most tension (like in the corners where the wall meets the floor) are reinforced with additional canvas material.
The canvas itself is 100% cotton duck canvas with HydraShield, which is essentially a silicone-based water repellency treatment. While I did season the tent before using it the first time, I don’t expect any issues. I’ve never had one of these leak on me in the past, even in snow and rain.
The poles are galvanized steel and the heavy-duty stakes are stainless steel. As are the stake loops that are sewn into the tent floor.
The awning rope and plastic clip that tightens it are not the most rugged. I expect these will need to be replaced before the tent wears out.
These tents are durable and you can expect them to last a very long time, far longer than a typical nylon tent.
Easy to Set Up and Use
Despite what I have seen some internet people say, I find these tents to be very easy to set up.
They are not freestanding, so they merely take slightly more forethought about where to place it. And you have to swing a mallet a bunch of times to drive the burly stakes into the ground. But other than getting in some extra squats, this is not a problem.
The ease of setup is especially apparent in the pole system. With only two side poles and the roof system, the tent goes from bag to standing in about 15 minutes if I’m by myself. That’s not too different than a little dome tent.
While it takes up more space and weighs significantly more than a typical nylon tent, the Flex-Bow is still quite portable. It will fit in the trunk of a car and it comfortably fits in the back of my SUV with plenty of room for other gear.
One person can carry it around. Though I find it most comfortable to carry the tent or the poles in one go as opposed to both at once. My 10 x 10 ft Deluxe model weighs 68 pounds altogether.
Comfy as Can Be
In our 10 x 10 ft Deluxe model, our family of five plus one dog can sleep comfortably with some gear like our bags of clothes. If we take our two cots for Mom and Dad, we are especially comfortable. That’s because we can stuff most of the gear underneath them and save floor space.
Six people would be tight, but doable as long as at least two people were kids or shorter than 5 ft tall because they’ll need to lay end to end.
With a ceiling height of 6 ft 6 in, I love that I can walk around comfortably inside without hunching over. I’m 6 ft 1 in tall.
The Flex-Bow is available in multiple sizes and variations including:
- 8.5 x 6 ft – 2-person – VX
- 9 x 8 ft – 4-person – Deluxe
- 10 x 10 ft – 6-person – Basic, Deluxe (as tested), VX
- 10 x 14 ft – 8-person – Basic, Deluxe, VX
If you’re not sure what size tent to get, check out our guide on how to select the right tent size.
The ventilation really contributes to the overall comfort as well. The canvas itself is primarily responsible for that, but the roof vents help release rising hot air on a summer day and the no-see-um mesh windows are great.
There are a lot of thoughtful features in the Kodiak Flex-Bow Deluxe tent.
The included gear loft and hanging pocket organizer allow for easy access to odds and ends like jackets, hats, books, and headlamps. My kids like to put their Kindle readers and flashlights in the sewn-in pockets at the base of the windows.
There are several attachment loops along the roof where you can tie a clothesline to dry out socks or damp gear.
The lighter color material of the roof does a great job at letting plenty of ambient light inside.
The doors are D-shaped and have zippers along the bottom. This makes it easy to keep the vermin out. I don’t really care for the fact that there are two doors since I find that one always gets covered up and rendered useless the way we arrange our stuff inside, but it doesn’t hurt.
There is no dedicated electrical cord access like some other tents like the Teton Mesa or White Duck Prota have, but it’s not a dealbreaker. You could always run a cord from a generator or solar array through the door zipper to a CPAP machine or heater inside the tent.
It would be nice if the height of the awning poles could be adjusted up or down. That way you could more easily change the slope and drainage of the awning so water doesn’t pool up so easily.
On the bigger Deluxe and VX versions, the included strap and cinch bags are super convenient. You don’t have to worry about a super tight roll on the tent and it keeps things about as compact as you could hope for transport.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the main features based on the specific Flex-Bow model you may get.
- Basic models – 2 windows, 2 doors, no vents, duffle carry bag
- Deluxe models – 4 windows (including 2 in the doors), 2 vents near roof, strap and cinch carry bags (except 9 x 8 ft has a duffle), gear organizers, YKK zippers
- VX models – 6 windows (4 on 8.5 x 6 ft), no extra vents, strap and cinch carry bag (duffle on 8.5 x 6 ft), gear organizers (not on 8.5 x 6 ft), YKK zippers
The Flex-Bow is not in the running at all as a backpacking tent. And it may not make sense if you only camp a couple of times a year on fair-weather weekends.
But if you go car camping regularly, for multi-day trips, or want to be comfortable even during the shoulder seasons or winter, then the Kodiak Flex-Bow makes a lot of sense.
Not many large family-style tents can endure heavy rain, snow, and wind. The Flex-Bow can.
Be sure and clear the snow off occasionally if it is coming down heavy, but weather resistance is the Kodiak’s strong suit all year long.
The larger sizes also make it useful for camping with large groups like scout troops, family reunions, and outdoor events. I hear the Kodiak Flex-Bow is even commonly seen at Burning Man.
Is the Kodiak Flex-Bow Tent Worth It?
COMPARE PRICES AT:
AMAZON | CABELA’S | SPORTSMAN’S WAREHOUSE | BASS PRO SHOPS
Kodiak Canvas has made a name for itself by making high-quality canvas tents for reasonable prices.
Kodiak also offers a lifetime guarantee and they have excellent customer service. I even did a test where I submitted an inquiry to the customer service team about the warranty. They responded in less than 45 minutes and even included a happy face emoji. I have no doubt that they will stand by their product should something go wrong.
The standard price for the Flex-Bow is less than its competitors like Teton or White Duck. And the quality is top-notch, so it really offers the most bang for your buck.
Alternatives like the Springbar Classic Jack may have some additional features or accessories you’d like, but they cost a bit more as well.
If you’re an avid car camper or you’ve got stock animals and like to camp in the backcountry, the Kodiak Flex-Bow is a worthy option. It’s also great for hunters and even glampers who might want to set up a tent for an extended stay.
If you’re still wondering about canvas tents and whether they’re right for you, check out our FAQs on canvas tents.
For a full comparison of the Kodiak Flex-Bow with some alternatives, be sure to check out our Best Canvas Tents Buyer’s Guide.