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Can anyone give me some feedback on good tents. We have recently bought a few and already having problems. Troop Comm says we are sending them back, but that is going to put us in a crunch for tent space. What is everyone else using and what do you like. I kinda like the Coleman Sundome 8X8 or 10X10 - we have a few tall boys. HELP!

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I like to use REI they have many good tents. Two I would recommend are REI Camp Dome 2 $99 (http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?productId=11780909&storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&langId=-1) and REI Half Dome Plus 2 (http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?productId=47592792&storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&langId=-1) . I hope these links work if not go to www.REI.com and type in the names or go tents. REI has a great return and repair policy. Once I ordered a sleeping bag on line and when I used it , it was too small. They took it right back no questions. These are great sturdy tents for backpacking and can be used for car camping. The things you need to look for are rain fly that covers most of the tent not just a doily on top, solid poles hooked together with shock cords, and easy to put up. these even have the directions sewed on the tent's stuff sack. I hike with an earlier edition of the half dome and gave the new Half Dome Plus 2 for my daughter and her husband for a wedding present.


Their Learn and Share site has plenty of good information on out topics and equipment. This is the tent topic: http://www.rei.com/rei/learn/detail.jsp?URL=/rei/learn/camp/howtentf.jsp&ls=Camping

Check it out.


I know I am sounding like a REI salesman but Ive became a member when I still was a Boy Scout and I still am using a down sleeping bag I got back in 68


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They way boys use tents - even if they are taught to properly care for them - is HARD on any tent!


Coleman is a well-known brand name - but they are marketed to occasional family campers - not scouts and commercial groups. A family probably wouldn't use it as hard, and would take better care of the tent or replace it sooner than a scout troop would. I would NOT buy a coleman tent for a troop. (some other Coleman stuff, yes - but not a tent.)


What KIND of tent to buy depends on how your troop is going to use them - are you going for light weight - as in canoeing and backpacking? or do you do more car camping and camping in boy scout camps and state parks where you are not carrying them as far & need durability over light weight?


the Timberlines are not the optimal backpacking tent - but the smaller ones CAN be broken down to share between packs and can be used in backpacking - we've done it.


We also swear by the Eureka Timberlines - but be sure you ask for the OUTFITTERS. they ARE more expensive -but there's a reason Timberline Outfitters are considered to be THE 'boy scout' tent.


at a glance, they look the same - but the fabrics, floors, poles and zippers are heavier and tougher. In addition, parts are easy to get and many things are easy to repair yourselves. (because ANY tent WILL break or parts get lost) They can get you a grommet kit, patches, replacement zippers, etc. Timberlines can also be ordered with Vestibules - which give you an outside small, dry storage space for packs and shoes, etc.But they also have a great guarantee.


the 4 man are not large enough for a 14 or 15 yr old to stand up in - but that does not seem to be a problem with most boys. I like a tent i can stand in - but then, I'm tall and have old knees and back that doesn't deal well with crawling around to get dressed in the AM! LOL!


Most tent company's idea of '4 man' is 4 sleeping mats using every inch of floor (about 2' X 5' per person) - no room for gear or the fact that no one likes to sleep with their head in a narrow angle between the sidewall and the floor - (one reason I suspect dome tents are more popular now - straighter walls)So as a 'rule of thumb'; for a weekend campout, I would suggest one or two less than the recommended capacity of the tent. Definately two less for a whole week - like at summer camp.


We recently looked at backpacking tents for our troop - and in the end, the PLC couldn't make up their mind and opted for adding two, 6 man, 2-door Timberline Outfitters to our troop tents so we'd have enough for summer camp. They are REALLY commercial quality and are roomy and tall enough for an adult to stand in the center.


As for other tents - I'm sure there are others that are good - but look for the same kinds of things - extra stitching in the seams, better zippers, stronger fabrics, "bathtub" floors, aluminum poles instead of fiberglass, etc.


On our 'shopping trip' to REI, Galyans and Gander Mountain to compare tents and brands We saw a number of 2 - 3 man pack tents that were worth the $200 -$400 and up in quality and weight - but even the expensive backpacking tents are going to take more "care" than the Timberlines. Not only cleaning and airing them properly after use - but clearing the ground better before they erect them, not yanking the zippers open with one hand, not jamming stuff up against the sides, making sure they're not 'pulled' askew when erected - stakes and guy lines right. When they looked at the Marmot, North Face, Kelty, REI, and Eureka backpacking tents - the BOYS came to the conclusion that IF they got those kind of tents, that they would be used only for backpacking or by the older boys - as they KNEW the new scout 11 yr olds just don't take the care the older ones do.


I have a 10 yr old, heavily used, $79, cheapie 6 man dome tent i got from Sam's Club. I have camped in it 12 months of the year, in all kinds of weather, and took good care of it. Even so - it's on it's last legs - because it is a cheap tent. i've repaired tears in the floor (from loaning it to someone else) repaired seams and stake tabs that have pulled free (when it was still new - they weren't sewn solidly in the first place)added velcro tabs to keep the poles from twisting, replaced poles & shock cords(common -fiberglass poles break easily) Most scout troops would have given up on it long ago! LOL! To make it last out one more season - I'm going to be 'taking up the slack' where the fabric has streatched out and lays over on the floor and leaks.


I can make these repairs myself, because i'm a pretty decent seamstress and good with this kind of stuff - but most people wouldn't attempt it - they'd send it out for expensive repairs or get a new tent. So your best 'value' is to spend the money to get a really good quality tent, like the Timberline Outfitters, to start with.

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Thats why I love Scouting so much, most of it is in tents.


In our troop, we have a few troop tents, mostly the boys bring their own tents and we dont have much of an issue with lost parts, wrecked tents because then you have to answer to Dad,(or Mom) who is a much stronger force than "the troop".


As a sidelight, who doesnt have tents for their whole troop? With a Troop of 78, and 40 or more on every outing, keeping us in tents is easy, or hard depending how you lok on it.

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I second everything Laura says except one thing: Boys can and do take care of tents if they are expected to.


Our Troop Quartermaster checks tents out to Patrol QMs. They are recorded by number, so the Troop QM knows what Patrol has what tents. Upon return from an outing, the Patrol QM assigns gear to each boy to take home and clean. Each tent is assigned to one of the boys who used the tent.


At the next meeting, tents must be returned to the Patrol QM. He is responsible for verifying the condition of the tent. He then hands it back into the Troop QM. the Troop QM does a spot check or two to verify all is well. The Patrol QM is responsible for minor repairs before it goes back into storage, or to report major damage to the Troop QM.


When we have a good QM, this process runs seamlessly (sorry for the pun).


To answer OGE, we generally have 35 - 40 people on Troop camping trips, like summer camp. We've had as many as 62, and we have tents for all. This took developing a plan to raise the money to get there, and then about 3 years. We now are in a mode of replacing 2 - 3 tents per year. they usually are 6 - 7 years old when we replace them, but even then, most are still servicable. We've kept a few of these for demonstrations (to the community and for new Scout practice), we kept a couple to scavange parts from, and we've donated I think 4 tents to area Troops who are either just starting out or seeing big growth spurts.



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I used the Eureka Timberlines for years and found them to be a pretty good tent. However several years ago when they wore out we replaced them with the Eureka Tetragon 7. It seems to give the kids more floor space being that it is dome shaped and to their way of thinking is easier to put up. I sleep all by myself in an Eureka Timberline 4 with double doors. It holds my cot nicely and I can almost stand straight up in it to get dressed. As far as backpacking with Timberlines my troop did it for 8 years in Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Virgina.

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We have used the Eureka Timberline tents for all of our camping. This summer, we even took them to Philmont, sleeping 3 16-year olds in each tent. These tents put up with a lot of abuse and we have found them very reliable.

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I too have been very pleased with the performance of the Eureka Timberline tents. After 10 to 12 years use on some, and even more on others, the only problem seems to be with the zippers, but only after several years of use.


Our SM took a little training course years ago to learn how to repair and replace the zippers, but it's been so long since he's had to do it that he says he would have to be shown again.


As Mark said above, proper care is the key. One thing to accomplish this that I didn't see above was to make sure that you have a sturdy plastic ground cloth below them every time they're set up. Make sure that they are about a foot and a half wider than the tent all around. Then after the tent is set up, roll the extra ground cloth material down and just under the tent and just barely exposed. This will keep water from collecting under the tent, while protecting it from rocks and roots.


In rainy weather we also have a thinner sheet of plastic for inside the tent and about 6 inches wider all around that wraps just up the sides of the tent, just in case there is a small hole in the tent floor. The sleeping bags will stay bone dry with this system.


The only real problem we have with these tents is that the boys think they look old fashioned and dorky, since they are a Modified A Frame compared to the modern Dome designs. But while the boys that bring their own tents have trouble in rainy or windy conditions, the ones in the Timberlines are very dry comfortable.

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We use to use and liked the timberlines. Good quality, easy to set up and you can backpack with them. But you won't see that many used by troops in Oklahoma because they don't hold well in our big winds. We really liked the Timberline 4 and the back door is great, but that one is so tall compared to it's footprint that it was impossible in the wind. Most Domes will hold up pretty good in the winds.


The couple things we have learned from the different tents we used are get a four corner tent because the round ones waste a lot of space. When found that four scout can fit comfortably in a four corner 10X10 but barely three fit in a 10 ft. diameter round tent. Unless you find a couple scouts who sleep in the shape of half-moons. And if possible, don't get a tent with a door where you have to step over the zipper because eventally someone will trip over the door and break the zipper.


One other thing, there are some Web Sites out there that sell used or seconds. I bought a few Colemans that way and saved a lot of money. I think we are trying out some tents from tentonsale.com now, but I don't know which one or how they have been performing.


Scouting Cheers



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There are dozens of tents that will work for a troop. Rather than recommend a specific tent may I give you some tips.

There are some things that you need to consider.

Budget, how much is available, how many tents are needed how bad do you need them?


Use, Are you backpacking or pulling the gear from the back of a car or trailer. Different style and different capacity tents have vastly different weight.


Environment, what are the temperature extremes that you will be camping in and what is the weather. A 3-season tent is not made to anchor well in snow or structured to hold up under a snow load. 4-season tents are but they are usually much higher priced. (see budget)


Design, dome or geodesic shape tents shed wind better than A-frame like the Free Spirit or the timberline. Smaller tents are usually warmer on chilly nights than larger tents.


Size, a good rule of thumb is a two-person tent will hold one person and gear, a 3-person tent holds two people and gear, a four person tent holds three persons and gear, Etc.


SUGGESTION; no matter what size tent you use NEVER put more than 2 scouts in a tent unless you are willing to accept the fact they wont go to sleep and will make more noise than you want. With two boys in the tent once the first one falls asleep, the party is over.


As far as the wind problem with the Timberline, I think I can help. If you look at the plastic yoke at each peak there is a hole that you can pass a line through. These are called storm tie-downs. Take a ten foot line through the hole and stake them out about six feet from the front and back end of the tent.

Remember always position a-frame style tents with the back into the wind and not the sides, you will have far less wind resistance that way and the storm ties will easily stabilize the tent through some pretty powerful wind conditions.


My sons troop uses a Eureka 3-man 7x7 dome tent that comfortably sleeps two, goes up pretty easily and has wrapped tub floor that eliminates the need for a ground cloth, cost $59. The adults use 10X12 geodesics that could sleep half of downtown Burbank, but we are old guys with bad backs who like their camp cots from time to time. Caught them on special for $90


Hope this helps,

Bob White

(This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Ah, the mysterious groundcloth! So many opinions. :) From what I have read AND experienced, you don't want to leave a little exposed around the edges. It defeats the whole purpose of a second barrier for the floor. When rain runs down the side of the tent and hits the exposed edge, the water runs between the floor and the groundcloth and gets trapped there. A groundcloth should actually fit an inch or so inside the edge of the tent so the water can run off and soak into the ground. Here in Oklahoma it stays pretty dry in the summer. I've used big pieces of plastic sheeting long enough to provide a front porch into the tent. If it does not rain, it works great. However, this summer at Webelos Resident Camp it rained cats and dogs each night and I had a wet floor in my tent. Of course, the campsite we were given was between a hill and a creek and the whole site was in about 3 inches of water during the storm. Every tent got water in it. But I think you will be happier if you measure and cut a ground cloth to fit just inside the footprint of the tent floor. What do you say guys.....agree or disagree?

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Depends on the construction of the floor and its condition. I would use a ground cloth if the tent had no floor, a damaged floor or a nylon floor. But some tents have a seamless coated tub floor that wraps up the side. There is really no benefit or advantage to puting a leayer of plastic underneath except to help keep the exterior cleaner (which depending on specific ground conditions you might choose to do). Some will argue that it keeps dew off the bottom so the tent is dryer when yo take it down. But my experience has been that when heavy dew conditions exists, moisture also forms between the tent and groundcloth so you don't really gain anything.


So I like ground cloths if they are the right tool for the conditions.


Bob White

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Funny thing is that my tent has a bathtub floor and had only been on one prior (dry) campout when my floor leaked. Again, being here in Oklahoma, I wasn't expecting rain. Shows you how smart I am. I didn't seal the seams as recommended and I believe the water entered where the stake tabs were sewn into the bathtub floor. That has since been remedied, but not tested. You see, I followed the Cub Scout motto of "Do Your Best" instead of the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared"! ;) Live and learn.

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