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KenD500

Tents? Outfitter quality or not?

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+1 for ALPS Mountaineering tents, and Hiker Direct in general. The Taurus Outfitter tents are awesome. I have one of their smaller Zephyr series tents for myself, my everyday carry daypack is their (sadly just discontinued) Solitude, and I have a Caldera internal frame pack for bigger hauling. The current pricing through Hiker Direct for a 4 man Taurus Outfitter is $186.94 (MSRP is $329.99). But, order early, as they always seem to sell out the yearly production run.

We currently use Bass Pro shop brand tents, our old troop used the Alps Mermac 4 tents.  I think the Alps tents were a little nicer.  thicker poles, better bags to put the tents in, and easier setup.  Our tents always go home and so far no problems. other than a boy that snaps a pole.

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I've always been a fan of the Eureka Timberline tents, particularly with regard to ease of setup and durability, but they are pricey.  The last purchase our troop made was of a number of Alps tents.  It hasn't gone well so far, but part of that I think is that the scouts have no ownership of them, and care for them accordingly. I will also say, I've had 3 that had minor rips in the fly within the first 4-5 uses.  However, Alps didn't bat an eye when we called to let them know and just immediately sent us 3 new ones.

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We have a fleet of Kelty Gunnison tents in 2 and 3-person versions. They weigh 5 to 6 lbs and have been very durable. Full coverage fly, plenty of mesh for warm weather, and sturdy in high winds. Kelty has a great warranty program, and has fixed the odd tear and broken pole at no cost.

 

However, they're being used less and less since the hammock craze has taken hold!

 

Couldn't agree more.  We've been using Kelty Gunnison 3-man tents for two years now and the Scouts LOVE them.  In addition to the reasons you state, the rear of the fly unzips as a "hatchback" and the scouts find unique ways of erecting their "porches".

 

Question for you, Rock Doc:  We're a backpacking troop and are searching for a more backpack-friendly case for our Gunnisons than the bulky roll-top carrying case provided by Kelty.  Are you familiar with suitable after-market cases or sacks?

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We use REI two man tents. They are inexpensive and last a long time. Haven't replaced ours in 7 years and they are in great condition.

 

My only worry with two-man tents has been odd-numbered patrols.  Allowing two-scouts to sleep in a 3-man tent is easy, but squeezing three scouts in a 2-man tent is tough.  Allowing any scout sleep alone just spooks me.

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My only worry with two-man tents has been odd-numbered patrols.  Allowing two-scouts to sleep in a 3-man tent is easy, but squeezing three scouts in a 2-man tent is tough.  Allowing any scout sleep alone just spooks me.

If they are in clusters of three or four tents, you shouldn't let that spook you. Some PLs really deserve their own tent. Some, after coming from O/A or their venturing crew, are setting up a hammock (or less) anyway.

 

We don't micromanage sleeping arrangements. Patrols acquire the tents they think they need. I try to get each patrol to set up as far away as the SM can stand from us and any other patrol. It works quite nicely.

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My troops traditionally have purchased only 4-man tents.  When needed, they can squeeze in all four (2 tents per patrol).  One boy takes the fly, one the tent, one the poles and one the stakes.  Never a problem on backpacking treks.  If odd numbered, 3 in a tent is fine.  When plop camping, the boys enjoy the room of a 4-man tent.  If the PL wants to lug in a 4-man tent for himself, he's welcomed to it.

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I have been using Timberline Eureka 4 man tents for 30 years.  Great tent.  Troop uses outfitter version for troop purposes, heavier and works for winter camping.  Use standard version for backpackers.   Scouts tend to damage physical plant on regular occurrence and both tents are easy to repair.  Currently trying to acquire more outfitters, however, they seem to be gone.

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There are advantages and disadvantages to troop-provided tents vs. scout provided. Our troop has some REI Half Dome 2 person tents available, but we have the scouts provide the tents for our activities.  That ensures the scout is responsible for maintenance and damage done to the tent.

For car camping, they bring 3 and 4 person tents for the most part and fill them with 1 less than capacity for more personal space.

We have 1 scout with diabetes who uses a 1 person tent so that his dad can enter the tent at night when the scout's monitor triggers an alarm on his dad's phone.  This avoids any YPT issues and doesn't waken other scouts.

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Our Troop uses Coleman Sundome 3 ($39 each) and Sundome 4 ($47 each) tents.  I have three Alps Mountaineering (Merimac 2 and 3 and a Taurus 4).  I love the Alps Mountaineering for having two doors but the thin floor material worries me if we used it for the Troop.  We just had to do a Troop re-training on how to maintain equipment.  Each of our Patrols (we have three patrols with 8 Scouts each) has one 4-man and five 3-man tents.  They are responsible for maintaining these tents, which they didn't.  Now, we have four tents that were not aired out and have mold in them.  Guess what, the PL now has to assign a scout to take it home and take it to Laundromat to get the mold out and make sure it is dry before returning it.  The Coleman tents work great for us are several years old and you can get replacement parts cheap.  Many times three boys will stay in one tent and use a second for equipment and changing. 

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Our troop owns all Eureka tents.  A couple years ago we purchased four new Timberline Outfitter 4XT tents.  No complaints so far. We also have two Eureka Equinox 6 tents that are 20+ years old and really about at the end of their useful life.   Leaders tents are a fairly new Copper Canyon 8 and an old Sunrise 6 (rarely used),  although sometimes myself and others leaders will use our own personal tents.

Luckily we have the use of a barn loft at the edge of town where we can setup/hang tents to dry. We really stress the care and maintenance of the tents and other gear to the scouts.

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