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Researching New Tents for Troop

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OK Scouters, I need your years of wisdom. Our troop needs to replace our fleet of tents. Chronic zipper problems have rendered ours nearly unuseable. Me and another ASM have been given the dubious honor of researching the options.


I'm a long time tent camper with more tents at home than people so I've got some idea what features are good and what are not, but given the great amount of stored wisom on this board, I yearn for your input.


Of course, cost is a big concern, but so is ease of set-up/take-down as well as reliability when subjected to normal scout abuse.


Have at it gang.

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Alps Mountaineering, Taurus 2-man, aluminum poles. Retails for $199.99, Scout price is $128.00 thru Scoutdirect.com




Other option would be REI Half Dome. Retails for $169, occasionally on sale for $139, had them down to $99 a few years ago.



The Taurus is a little bigger than the Half Dome, and little heavier. Nearly every Scout in our Troop has one of these two tents; we've been very pleased with them. (Our Troop doesn't buy tents, the boys use their own)(This message has been edited by BrentAllen)

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Do you find the boys do OK with a smaller tent? I use my halfdome most of the time and while I really like it, it is very small. I wonder if the small size would prevent stuff from getting thrown all around, as some boys tend to do.


Since your tents are personally owned, how do you handle damage by a tentmate?

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We buy the Coleman Sundome. The 9x7 is $59 at Campmor, easy to set up, durable, has a very water-proof floor, and plenty of room to hold two Scouts and their gear. We have a stock of extra poles, as those will break occasionally, but overall the tent handles considerable use and abuse from the Scouts month after month, year after year. We have a number of 7x7 Sundomes as well ($49), but have found the extra room works out better on winter and wet camping trips.


link: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___20135


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"Since your tents are personally owned, how do you handle damage by a tentmate?"


I would submit that Brent would not be handling this situation as its not Brent's tent. The owner and 'lessee' would have to work it out, not the adult leader ( personal responsibility and scout led/patrol method things ).


We also use personal tents and we've been fortunate never to have a situation where there was intentional damage by a tentmate, and we are a backpacking troop so these tents get a workout.


I also ditto Brent's tent recommendations. We have had a couple of ALPS and they've worked out well, and I've had my Half Dome for 5+ years now and its watertight and durable ( and I got it on clearance from REI for $79 ).




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The last time I bought for the troop I used to belong to I purchased the Gunnison-4 tents from Kelty. They are still being used and still look nice. The great part of this tent is the rain fly extends to the ground all the way around, has two openings with a huge vestibule on each side for securing gear. The unit always bought a 4 man tent for two boys and only housed the full 4 boys in the high adventure outings where weight was an issue.


The "chronic problem" with the zippers is because the boys do not open the doors all the way and stress the zippers by squeezing into the tent with the door only half opened. The tents that I was buying did not replace the previous Timberline tents, only supplemented them as the troop grew. Those tents lasted for well over 10 years with no problems. The troop had a waiting list of boys that were caught not opening their tent doors all the way. They were put on a list so that the next time a zipper had to be replaced they had to pay for it even if it wasn't their fault. The practice was policed by peer pressure as the names on the list grew. There were very little problems with zippers after a couple of boys got "stuck with the bill". When such things get translated into $$'s it is surprising how well the boys pay attention.



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These tents are very good for both car camping and backpacking. I was taught, and continue to teach, buddy system camping. 2 boys per tent. Add even one more Scout and they get much less sleep. For each additional Scout added to a tent, the amount of sleep lost grows exponentially.

These tents are fine in size for the boys. They are a little tight for adults. On car camping trips, I take a Taurus-4 for the adults, and we will put up to 3 adults in it. I'm getting into hammock camping http://www.mosquitohammock.com/ - see Expedition Hammock - so I either take it and/or my MSR Trekker Tarp on backpacking trips.


I was also taught, and continue to teach, that backpacks and equipment don't go in tents - they stay outside either under the rain fly, or are hung on a stick lashed to a tree (pack rack) - which helps keep lashing skills fresh. Backpacks can ruin a tent floor. If the boys pack their clothes in zip lock bags, one day's worth per bag, then that is all they need to take into the tent with them. Why do they need to take their entire pack?


We haven't had any tent damage issues so far (knock on wood). If we did, the boys and their families would work it out, just as CA mentioned. We have had similar experiences with the tents - camping in absolute frog-stranglers and they stayed completely dry.


One last point - I like both tents, and we own both. The Taurus is easier to set up than the Half Dome. The poles on the Half Dome have an upside and a downside - if they are put on upside down, they won't work (there is a hanger where the poles meet on top). Also, the fly has to be put on correctly, or the doorway on the rainfly won't match the rainfly on the tent. Not really a big deal, but the boys do have to pay more attention with that tent.

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Personally, I like a dome tent with a tub floor, tarp material that makes the floor and goes up the sides about 6 inches. But any tent is good if you take the time to prep it with waterproofing the tent material and seal all seams. The most important thing is to buy one with a really good rain fly that covers most of the tent.

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Unless you're going to do backpacking, I'd recommend 3-person OR 4-person Alps Mountaineering Taurus Outfitter using the 45% Scout discount via ScoutDirect.com. Very nice tents. Supposedly made at the same factory as the REI tents.


The outfitter version has extra heavy duty zippers (mostly likely item to fail) and floors. They also have aluminum poles, which will outlast most fiberglass poles.


Here is a link to ScoutDirect: http://www.scoutdirect.com


Here is a link to Alps: http://www.alpsmountaineering.com


For Scoutmasters I'll recommend the 5-person Taurus Outfitter (for interior height).


If they're backpacking, consider the Zephyr tents. I've read good reviews on them. Get 2-person or 3-person versions and share parts between backpackers.

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We got 22 ALPS 2-man and 4-man Taurus tents before Christmas from ScoutDirect.com when they had a big sale - just $29 and $39 each. We've been using this style tents for 3 years now and have been very pleased. Now, we're set (and committed) for the next few years.

I prefer fiberglass poles - they are less expensive, they break rather than stay bent weird, and I don't like aluminum around me in storms. Fiberglass weighs a little more, but not so much to make a difference backpacking.

They have a full rainfly that creates a completely enclosed alcove on both sides of the tent, so a 2-man has room for both scout's gear protected right outside the tent. The fly to the ground is tons better in rain than those that are open on the ends or go part-way down.

I've spent two Philmont treks and 3 other weeks in one of these 2-mans.

We start the new scouts with 4-mans and 3 scouts in each. When they get ready for high adventure, they graduate to 2-man and pass their 4-man on to the next class of scouts.


Scout On


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I love my ALPS Mountaineering 2 man Taurus Outfitter after just a few outings. Can't wait to use it more.


I signed up for a Coleman non-profit number, but I haven't used it. I was wondering if there is an issue for individual use versus for the scout unit. Have you used it alot?

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Had an adult use the discount for a new tent. He put his information and our code popped up for him. You pay shipping on order unders $250. I think is the cutoff. I have let everyone know there is a troop discount code and use it. Troop will probley be purchasing some items within in the next month from there.


The leader who used the discount thought it was great. Who wouldn't. LOL


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