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The Best Screen Enclosure!  Ever.

The Best Screen Enclosure! Ever.

After spending 2 months exploring the Outer Banks National Seashore, we wanted a screen enclosure to enjoy the beautiful beach/dunes at sunset – without all those pesky bugs.  After watching neighboring campsites struggle with enclosures that took forever (and often lots of swear words) to set up – and blew down (or broke) in wind – we knew it couldn’t be just any screen enclosure.

Camping at Fruita Campground, Capital Reef National Park - beside the Fremont Tiver, beneath the towering Navajo Sandstone cliffs.

Camping at Fruita Campground, Capital Reef National Park – beside the Fremont Tiver, beneath the towering Navajo Sandstone cliffs.

We wanted something quick to set up and sturdy enough to hold up to wind.  10,000 miles, 12 states, 12 national parks and countless state parks later,  I guess we succeeded because inevitably other campers stop by asking about our Clam Quick Set Enclosure (affectionately known as “The Clam”).  A list of retailers that carry the three different sizes is below if you want to skip to getting your own Clam.

Clam Quick Set Screen Enclosures are manufactured by Clam Outdoors, who also makes portable ice fishing shelters. How many screen tent companies build ice fishing shelters?  Anyone who can build an ice fishing shelter probably makes a sturdy screen enclosure for camping!

Full camp at Mesa Verde National Park.

Full camp at Mesa Verde National Park, with The Clam enclosing the dining room table aka picnic table.

We have the middle size, an earlier version of the Quick Set Escape, which is large enough to set over a picnic table or use as a portable “family room” for several chairs, a couple of coolers and camping tables.  We put our RV mat underneath just to have a “rug” in the family room and voila – space shielded from the bugs, wind, sun, just about anything camping can throw at it!

Top 10 Things We Love About our Clam Screen Enclosure!

1.  Ease of set-up and take-down.  Literally a few seconds to minutes from taking The Clam out of the bag, it’s in place, staked down with chairs inside for evening relaxing.  If it’s easy, we use it more. Period.

Done! The Clam Screen Enclosure is so quick and easy to set up, we were always done and sipping cocktails watching campground neighbors struggle with their shade and/or screen enclosures.

Done! The Clam Screen Enclosure is so quick and easy to set up, we were always done and sipping cocktails watching campground neighbors struggle with their shade and/or screen enclosures.

2.  One piece construction.  No struggling with figuring out which pole sections connect to which and go where.  We take the Clam out of its convenient oversize bag, lay it flat, pull the pop out side panels, then go inside and push up the pop top and voila it’s almost complete.  Finally, we put the door supports in place (by undoing the velcro holding them in place and popping them into pockets at the bottom door sides), and stake the enclosure.  Now seconds to minutes later, we’re moving in the lazy boy and camping chairs, ready to enjoy our evening – or easily moving it to surround the picnic table for dinner.   Want to see?  Watch the Clam instruction video below.

Our Clam Enclosure, sides down, RV "carpet" down for cool weather camping.

Our Clam Enclosure, sides down, RV “carpet” down for cool weather camping.

3.  Inevitably, everyone in the campground wants a Clam.  We’ve met so many nice people who stop by to ask about our Clam …. Where did we get it?   How do we like it? I never envisioned a screen enclosure introducing us to other campers.  The Clam is amazing!

4.  If we’re in a close campground, we put up the privacy/wind/sun panels and never have to look at the back of the next campsite a few feet away.  Privacy can be a great asset!

4 chairs, 2 coolers and room to enjoy the "family room"

4 chairs, 2 coolers and room to enjoy the “family room”

5.  No See Em Mesh Screens and an extra wide bottom skirt make it bug free.   Lots of screen enclosures have inexpensive screen, barely keeping the mosquitoes and flies out.  Our Clam has real no see em screens shielding us from those pesky little almost invisible critters who like nothing more than to make a nice sunset untenable.  And why would I want to sit inside the trailer during a spectacular sunset?

6.  With the privacy panels around and a yoga mat on the floor, the Clam Enclosure is a great place for morning yoga – the door facing the sunrise, I can see nature’s beauty without everyone seeing me doing my private yoga!

Warm pie treats inside on a chilly day outside! The wind panels keep the wind chill at bay. And note the standing room all the way to the outer edge.

Warm pie treats inside on a chilly day outside! The wind panels keep the wind chill at bay. And note the standing room all the way to the outer edge.

7.  The headspace at the outside of the enclosure walls is still tall enough for everyone but the tallest to stand.  The extra usable space makes it HUGE.

8. We’ve helped nearby campers struggle with less sturdy enclosures in the wind, while our Clam stood securely.  We have never had a wind gust blow down our Clam.  We stake it from the pop out panels and the bottom (an easy few stakes) and so far, it’s remained secure in everything Mother Nature has thrown at it through spring in the Southwest USA (New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Colorado).

ClamOneThirdVIew

9.  Two of the models have Clam’s privacy/sun/wind panels attaching with velcro under a rain flap at the top, making them removable.  The original 6 sided Escape  (ours) or smaller 4 sided Traveler have removable wind panels.  We love that we can undo the velcro at the top and drop the top 1/3 of the wind/privacy panel down allowing us to sit inside and see mountain views, light and air while still providing maximum privacy.

The 6 sided Pavilion, cadillac and largest model, has permanently attached wind panels with zippers down the sides that roll up to let the outdoors in.

Picnic table inside.

Picnic table inside at Snow Canyon State Park, St George Utah

10.  Did we mention it’s SO EASY to set up … and it doesn’t blow down?   🙂

Cons … everything has negatives, right?

1.  Hmmm… trying to think of negatives.  I guess the fact that technically our Clam is water resistant with taped seams but not waterproof is a bit of a negative.  We sprayed it with 303 Aerospace Fabric Guard for additional water resistance and so far, so good.  A few days it poured rain steadily all day long and we were still dry and snug in Our Clam.

Storage? No problem, we just slide it into our front pass through storage. Don't have a pass through storage? Slide it onto the floor the last thing before traveling. It's worth it to find the space!

Storage? No problem, we just slide it into our front pass through storage. Don’t have a pass through storage? Slide it onto the floor the last thing before traveling. It’s worth it to find the space!

2.  Size?  Size is a pro and a con.  The Clam is so spacious when we’re using it that we don’t mind making a place for it in our outside pass through storage.  Our Lance 1685 is a small, lightweight travel trailer (20’9″ bumper to hitch in length and 3800 lbs dry weight), so if we have room to store it, anyone that wants an outdoor family room, shouldn’t have any trouble finding a travel location for it.  And once we’d used it a couple of times, it quickly became a priority and a necessity, not a nice addition.

3.  Other cons?  A Clam shelter may cost a bit more. but this is truly a case of “you get what you pay for”.  If you’re camping much – even weekend warriors – do yourself a favor and invest in an enclosure you won’t need to replace every few years and swear at every time you set it up.

Plenty of privacy inside. Even for morning yoga!

Plenty of privacy inside. Even for morning yoga!

I WANT A CLAM!!!  But Where Do I Get One?

You can visit any of the following retailers to get your own Clam!
Amazon.com
Big Bear Sports Store
Cabela’s
GanderMountain                                                                                                                                                                                           Frank’s Great Outdoors
Joe’s Sporting Goods
L & M Fleet Supply
Marine General
Mills Fleet Farm
Sportsman’s Warehouse
Reeds Sporting Goods
Runnings

OK, Show Me The Video, I Want to See This For Myself!

So what do you think?  Please leave comments and share your thoughts about screen enclosures!  Cheers!  Jan

(Full Disclosure – Clam Outdoor kindly provided an older version Clam for us to road test and provide input.  We were blown away, as were all the folks that stopped to chat and inquire about what it was and where we found it.) 

    8 Comments

  1. What size mat are you using under the clam and does it provide complete coverage?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Pamela! Our mat is 9′ X 12′. Our Clam is 10′ X 10′, so the mat extends on two sides and is 6″ or so short on two sides, no big deal. Cheers! Jan

  2. Does the Pavilion now come with “Windows” in the shade panels?

    • Not to my knowledge, but we don’t have the latest version! I’ll ask! Cheers! Jan

  3. Thanks for the info on the clam that you have on your page here. not sure how i found it, was doing a lot of research on the clam screen (as it is much more costly than others) and somewhere along the line i found your page here. I wanted to thank you for the time you took to tell the world about your clam (your very excited about it and i thought this guy must own the company or something). I bought the updated brown one from Land M fleet (best price around) and i must say i see why you rave about it so much, it is in fact a wonderful screen house. I put it up the night it arrived, and after watching a few videos from clam I felt like a seasoned vet putting it up and down, did only take about minuet or so for the first time.
    I have had it up in the yard a few times for get togethers to get away from the bugs and look forward to its first camping trip. I was planing on putting it in my camper but i think its going to have to stay a bit more accessible! I see us using it a lot.

    For anyone who wonders, the update clam screen has flaps that go over the wind/rain covers to help keep the water out, uses an updated side that works with the new Velcro locations to incorporate the flap design. and is a new color tan/brown.
    I also called Clam about questions i had, and the girl i talked to was very nice and happy to answer all my questions. (side note most stores have them drop shipped so your new clam is coming right from the clam company. This was a nice surprise as shipping was super fast)

    I love mine as much as i think you love yours. Thanks for sharing, and fantastic pictures

    -Chris

    • We too love our clam(s). I first bought the largest Pavillion model and then found out folded up it is about 3 inches too long to go into our pop ups front storage bin. Had to go back and purchase the Escape which is the mid sized unit. So easy to assemble as it were. The Pavillion is now in the hands of my parents in northern MN and they use it all the time to get away from the bugs.

  4. Do you still like the clam shelter?

    • Absolutely. We love it. We use it in so many unexpected ways — for example, we took our Lance 1685 camper to my brother’s house for my niece’s wedding. The wedding was to be outside and the reception in a nearby barn. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and it poured rain, making it impossible to hold the wedding outside … and also impossible for the wedding party not to be in full view of the wedding guests prior to walking down the aisle. We set up the Clam with the side panels in place on the side of the barn, the entire wedding party in full formal regalia piled in and when it was time to walk down the aisle, the groomsmen simply picked up the Clam and walked it around the front of the barn to the sliding door and they proceeded down the aisle dry and happy. I would never in a zillion years have guessed the Clam would have saved the day at our niece’s outdoor wedding, but …. It’s NOT waterproof so but we sprayed it with 303 FabricGuard and the wedding party was dry for the time they needed to be dry, so …. The answer to your question is a resounding YES! Can’t wait to take it camping again, but in the meantime … Cheers! Jan

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