I was looking for a versatile canopy with character and ambience to stage numerous small intimate outdoor events and shows. I wanted something sturdy but also light and small enough to be able to transport and use in my average sized garden and I also wanted something that made a statement. The Caribou seems to fit all these criteria and certainly gives that feeling of permanence and warmth as well as quality and stability once erected.
One of my main requirements was versatility: I wanted it to do several jobs, for example I wanted to use it to cover a stage or band performance area as well as use it as a standard ridge canopy for dining. It does both and does them well.
Working with Way Out West has been a pleasure and the impression I get is that they are flexible, enthusiastic and passionate about canvas stuff. Using the Caribou has been fairly easy to pick up especially if you have some basic scouting experience. There were a few challenges, the canvas does require some serious pegs and 10 inch wooden pegs in soft ground are too light weight, I have now had a dozen 15” metal pegs manufactured and these are bomb proof. To be fair WOW did help me to overcome this minor issue and I got the pegs made very easily and cheaply in a local metal fabricators.
One of my first uses for the Caribou was as a stage/band canopy for a small garden party. I suppose I could have used a standard garden pagoda but they are soulless, badly designed nasty looking things and I wanted something to make a statement and feel inviting. It worked brilliantly and it rained heavily but there was no fear of electrical equipment being damaged and the Caribou did the job as well a looking the business. Its second outing was to Greenman festival in Wales for a week where it became the central shelter for 5 families, we spent a lot of quality time in the Caribou, morning afternoon and night, it very quickly feel like a second home and it rained and rained.
Yes, I definitely feel more confident in handling the Caribou. Obviously the first time you do anything you can struggle but I quickly became confident in handling and erecting the Caribou with just two people. With the use of different length poles or hazel branches you can change the structure to suit your requirements and play about with the dynamics of the canvas - its not just a ridge canopy.
I love it, its an extremely well made canopy so much so that when you are erecting it you feel that it can handle a bit of negligence and abuse and once erected - its not going anywhere! This means it has great hiring potential. As a place to sit and socialise it feels great it exudes character and warmth, it doesn't feel like a tent rather it feels like a more permanent abode, and with a few walls in place I'm sure it would be even more cosy. Everybody who has seen it has commented on it in a positive way. Yes the canvas is a bit heavy and the poles and pegs are a bit bulky but compared to a modern event shelter it not only works better but more importantly it feels a lot better.