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Researching New Tents for Troop

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I'll jump on the Alps bandwagon. We have used our Taurus tents down to about 10 degrees with no snapping of the fiberglass poles. You flat out won't find an equal quality tent at the same price. The folks at Alps are very helpful and pleasant to deal with. It is a family owned company.


We have boys who use the Zephyr model in warm weather. Lightweight and good quality. Easy in and out, full flies.


I have one question...why do some units need giant tents for the Scoutmaster. I'm a BIG guy and I often sleep in a 1 man tent, on the ground. Lead by example?

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Well Narritong I am one of those big and old scoutmasters that likes having a little bit of comfort after working all week. I have used a smaller tent when it is needed, but for a general campout with no limitations why not? I have done Northern Tier and other areas where small is all you could use. One outing I almost ripped the entire side of a tent out because of severe leg cramps from curling up in a small tent. Until the BSA tells me I cannot camp comfortably then I will use it as I see. Oh, and it is not s troop tent this is a tent that I purchased, the only tents our troop purchases are for the scouts to use.

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Raisin, are you looking for car camping tents or backpacking tents? How many boys, ideally, would you want per tent? I seem to recall you posting about your winter event, so are these to be used in snow and winter also?


Things I'd consider:

(1) Stay away from floors that are made out of that tarp material. They wear and get holes easy.

(2) No inside and outside poles. Some tents seem to have extra little poles for awnings, or windows or whatever, some are inside, some are outside, and it makes it too confusing. Keep the poles simple - two or three for the structure.

(3) Get a full rainfly, cheap tents have rainflys that only cover the netting, causing capillary action and wetness for the guys who lean against the walls.

(4) Aluminum poles over Fiberglass (especially in the cold)

(5) Vestibule if possible so boots can stay outside, yet dry.


There are a lot of tents that have those, but I'm not sure how well they meet your cost concern.

Alps Tarus 2 and 4

REI Halfdome 2 and 4, BaseCamp 4 and 6

Kelty Teton 2 and 4, Grand Mesa

Coleman Trailblazer (probably crappy poles though)


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About a year ago we completely re-outfitted the troop with Eureka Pinnacle Pass tents. The Pinnacles are an upgrade for the Apex models with aluminum poles and heavier floor material. It's about a $20 upgrade, but we figured it was a good investment from a durability standpoint.


So far, the boys are pleased with the tents. We sent a crew to Philmont with them and they did very well as backpacking tents, too. Of course I wouldn't call them true backpacking tents, but at this price it's a good compromise.


One thing we liked about the Pinnacle/Apex tents is that the come in 2- and 3-man sizes. We outfitted each patrol with three 2-man tents and one 3-man. Particularly with the younger guys, this gives us the ability to deal with an odd number of kids without someone tenting alone. Otherwise, the 3-man tent becomes a perq for the PL.


We went through a local independant outfitter who gave us a good price. I think he got Eureka to waive the shipping cost and passed that along to us. I think we paid about $130 for the 2-man tents and $150 for the 3-man. Like I said, if price is factor, you can go with the Apex tents and cut about $20 from both prices.

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We're in Michigan, so we do some cold weather camping but a 3-season tent is sufficient for what we need. These will be mostly for car type camping. When we backpack, we can come up with enough personal tents to use.


I like the advice about the inner and outer poles. The ones we have now does have a thin pole to hold up the window. More often than not, the boys don't even bother with it.


I've always though fiberglass is a little more resistant to accidental "abuse" from bending than aluminum is. In my personal tents, I have FG, steel and aluminum. Each has pluses and minuses but I treat them pretty well.


Fuul rainfly is a must. Anything less is not a consideration. Vestibule is a big plus. The tarp floors are definetely a concern. They tend to melt when lighting the campstove in the tent (just kidding).


I just bought my kid a sleeping bag from APLS and am jealous of the quality that he got so we are taking a very good look at their tents. I use my halfdome 2 on most trips and love the thing, but it's out of our price range for buying 10-12 of them.



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First of all, thanks to everyone for the practical advice -- I've been looking for a tent as well, and this information really helps (especially the pointers to discounted stuff).


Twocubdad: I've been eyeballing the Pinnacle/Apex tents, but as I recall, it has a strange fly system, where one side of the tent isn't covered. To me, that says the nylon on that side is coated, and I would expect problems with condensation. Have you found that to be the case? I'm up in the northeast, and I must have really saturated breath because I am regularly plagued by condensation drips (even on uncoated nylon in a tent that otherwise should have very good ventilation).




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Its my understanding that the weird half-fly is a weight-reduction technique ... waterproof part of the tent itself and reduce the size of the fly so the whole thing weights a bit less. Of course that results in less ventilation and possibly more condensation. Its all a balance.


I myself prefer the more classic full fly with breathable fabric or netting underneath.

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Between Aluminum and Fiberglass poles, Aluminum poles are lighter and usually connect with a flush mount versus the fiberglass poles that have the metal connector that gets caught in the tent sleeves when scouts push them through.


It's really the cold weather suitability, fiberglass becomes more brittle in the cold, and can break under weight or they split lengthwise. I've seen the latter happen more than once. However, it may not be as big a problem as in the past, or some people never run into those problems, so it's not a big deal.


Kenk, the partial fly combination on a high end tent is, as you pointed out, to reduce weight. In cheap wallyworld tents, it's strictly to cut costs. On those tents, the fly covers the netting at the top of the tent, and when scouts lean stuff against the walls during the rain, a capillary action allows water to seep in. And invariably it's always someone's scout handbook that gets soaked. That's why I like the full fly, especially in very rainy weather.




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Our troop just purchased several Eureka Alpenlite 2XT 4-season tents. We decided to invest in better 4-season tents that would also double as backpacking tents since we backpack a lot and winter camp quite a bit. Unfortunately, they are a bit pricey (about $300.00 each new from Eureka), but you may be able to find a better price elsewhere. Check them out here:



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I want to chime in and say that all of opinions offered seem to be what fit each Troops style, frequency and type of camping. Which should indicate a question you need to ask yourself.


We use the Eureka Timberland Outfitter 4's, have tents that are now 12 years old that you can't tell the difference from some that were replaced(due to theft) 7-8 years ago, and when I first saw them I thought they were all less than 2 years old. While clearly not a preferred Philmont or Long backpacking trip tent(I'd hate to carry one for a 100 miles in 10 days) they are great for frequent weekend use. We encourage the Scouts to purchase their own tents for Expedition or Long Backpacking Trips(I'm looking at(in order of cost and incidentally weight, lo to hi) either a Homebuilt Tarptent(Henry Shires), a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight or possibly a TNF Bullfrog/Tadpole for my next personal tent purchase.)


One thing I would definitely consider is uniformity(not for it's own sake) but so everyone knows how to setup whatever tent they have drawn from the QM quickly and safely in the dark or in the rain. Also uniformity helps due to the familiarity with any quirks a tent show in use and set-up - once you figure out the fix/workaround it applies to everyone and simplifies training.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here is an interesting alternative for you: http://www.hennessyhammock.com/


I have one of these and found that it is the most comfortable sleep that I have, including at home. However, it requires trees, and/or poles and guys. Note that they have Scout ones too. I also have regular tents, and for backpacking demand aluminum poles, free-standing tents that for two weigh less than 4.5 pounds.



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Tent Report:




Thanks for the great advice.


We purchased a Alps Mountaineering Taurus 4 and had our first campout using it. The three guys who used it thought it was great. Full rainfly, vestibules and two doors made it pretty good.


Temps ranged between low teens to mid 30's and it performed well. It is a very full featured tent at a reasonable price so I think we're going to get a few more.


My father in law passed away last month. Several people asked about memorial donations. Since he was a scout for a few years and highly supported my sons endeavors, we recommended a donation to the troop. We will be able to purchase a few tents in his name.


I think we will also build a new patrol box this summer with a small dedication plaque.

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We are currently using two Eureka Sunrise 11 tents for non-backpacking outings. They have held up well for 3 years so far. Eureka is a great bang-for-the-buck brand.


We had some zipper problems last summer, and called Johnson Camping (Eureka parent co.). They said it's normally the sliders that wear out, not the zipper. They sent free sliders, and once installed, the zipper problems were absolutely fixed. EZ repair.


For those experiencing zipper problems, I recommend trying the new slider trick.

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I am sorry for your loss. Sounds like a great dedication to your FIL or more to the point, your sons' grandpa. My dad was a scout and active in my pack and troop when I was a scout and later. He did some district scouting as well after I had grown up and moved away. My dad passed away before my son was born but I feel that everything that I do in scouting is a tribute to him.



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