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Our troop just completed several fundraisers; our goal was to raise enough money to replace some old, worn out tents. We have discussed somewhat, the kinds of tents we want. We want a good quality tent with heavy duty zippers; can withstand the impact of boys, and something that will last. We recently were at a Camporee and saw another troop use larger tents for their scouts. Each tent slept 4 scouts. We are now considering that same idea. Purchase less tens, but bigger to fit more boys. Are there any troop out there that is doing this same thing?

I am looking at the "more but smaller tents" vs. "less but bigger tents" pros and cons.


Any recommendations on brands or locations for purchase that give scouting units a discount?


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My former troop purchased 4 man tents but only allow 2 boys per tent. The only time we break with this is when we are canoeing and/or backpacking. Then we will push 3-4 boys per tent, we have the room.


The larger tents are more problematic for backpacking, but one boy takes poles, one fly, one tent and one groundcloth. It works out just fine. They are very cramped during these outings. Just because it says 4 to a tent, they had better be small people.


While at Jamboree, we as adults discussed the durability of tents and most of them said 4-6 years was about all most tents could endure. The Eureka TimberLites my former troop used were still in great shape after 20 years. Eureka no longer makes that style of tent and so when we added to them a few years back we used Kelty Gunnison 4 tents.


When it came time to pack up at the end of Jamboree I found out why their tents were not lasting very long. They folded and rolled all the tents up before putting in the STUFF sack.


I have a Kelty that is over 20 years old and it looks brand new. I take it out 8-10 times a summer. I STUFF it into the STUFF sack. By doing this the tent nylon folds in different places each time it is stored. The adult leaders were pressuring my boys to pack up and they had to drag the tents back out of the stuff sacks and "do it right!" Lay the tent out, fold in half and then half again, then put the poles on one end and roll up! It's simple and yet it is a 100% guarantee way of making that floor tent leak within 3-4 years.


As far as a good quality tent? Take any tent, no matter how good of quality it may be and without proper instruction boys can wreck them in a heartbeat. Take care of them and a poor quality one will last for many years.


1) Always use a ground cloth.


2) No shoes in tent.


3) No packs/backpacks in tent.


4) No food in tents.


5) No walking between tents.


6) UNZIP THE ZIPPER ALL THE WAY before going in or out!!!!!!!!


7) Never fold, always stuff.


8) Make sure it is dry before storage.


9) Seam seal when brand new and then again every other year


10) NEVER EVER tell your boys to treat these tents as if they own them themselves, tell them to treat them as if the SM owns them!


* if one uses a cot in a tent be sure to protect the floor from the legs. What I do is put "shoes" on the cot legs. My hiking boots, camp shoes and shower thongs all do nicely on each of the 6 legs. Otherwise a folded t-shirt will work too. When I car camp I have a braided rug that works for this as well.



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Each of our patrols have several two-man tents and one three-man. The three-man tent is to accommodate an odd number of Scouts on a trip or the extra space becomes a perq for the PL, if he wants to use it.


The smaller tents are going to give you more flexibility. And I also agree with Perdidochas that having more kids in a tent creates more problems. I don't know that's a big deal with just four guys, but it certainly becomes a problem when someone brings a big, 12-man Coleman Condo and the whole patrol piles in together.

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Philmont documents say that 2-man tents are required there. But, it doesn't appear to be enforced. 2-man tents on any backpacking trek allow you to find appropriate tent spots more easily.

We have 4-man tents for new scouts and then they 'graduate' into 2-man tents and pass the 4-mans to the next generation. There are usually 3 scouts in a 4-man tent.

A full rainfly with enclosed vestibules rather than an open-ended fly makes a huge difference in keeping scouts and stuff dry. As other threads have said, scoutdirect.com does good discounts on good tents. In Boys' Life, there is a campingmaxx.com advertising, but I've not used them.


Nothing can withstand the impact of boys. :-) We have tents assigned to patrols by the quartermaster. If the tent or parts of it need replacing, the patrol pays for it - broken poles, ripped rainflies, lost stakes all cost money. I believe this approach has helped limit tent problems, but there are still occasional rips and breaks.


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That said, there are many pros and cons for having or not having troop tents. There are some out there who say that if you dont have ownership of it, you will not take care of it. I dont buy that flap. There are innumerable times in our lives from school age through employment and retirement that we will be required to take care of things which do not belong to us. I feel it is important to instill a sense of value in things we do not own but are responsible for at an early age, and this covers that very effectively.


I feel it is important to consider all angles when deciding on tents, and I do mean ALL angles. Does your troop backpack regularly? You will probably be looking for a lightweight, smaller tent. These can be more expensive. Where do you live? Will you camp in warm or cold weather? You will need to consider a tent with plenty of mesh or all fabric walls. I agree with perdidochas, that putting too many scouts in tents does leave room for a bit more chaos. Also, the larger the tent, the more volume and the greater difficulty you will have in keeping warm in cold weather. Also consider your patrols. If you have 7 scout patrols and 4-man tents, how practical is it when 5 scouts show up? Smaller 2-man tents are easier to manage with odd numbers.


Another important consideration is how will you care for your tent? This is an issue which has plagued our troop since we began purchasing our current generation of tents a year and a half ago. We are just now getting into a groove on setting up tents AFTER the campout to air them out. None have mildewed yet, so we are still ahead of the curve, but it took a while to figure this out. If you have a 4- or 5-man tent (some local troops here do), how do you dry them out after wet campout? Does you charter provide you with a space which is usable to set up tents? If not, is the option to send a 5-man tent home with a 12 year old scout to set up in his yard? Tent care and expectations can play a big factor in practicality far beyond the campout.


And of course there is the ultimate deciding question, how much money do you have? Cheap tents can run as little as $30.00, but those are not really durable tents. Many troops like the Eureka! Timberlines (2- or 4-man), and admittedly those are excellent, well made tents, and thought not at the high end of the pricing range, they are far from the low end. Our troop opted for Alps Mountaineering. They give scouts a 45% discount on the listed price, and their prices are reasonable to begin with. Their website is


For specific details and registration for the scout discount, see their companion site


Alps has a large variety of tents in different sizes and for different purposes. We have been using the Taurus 2 man tents (with vestibule), which is one of the lower priced products. We have found the quality to be very sturdy, and in 18 months have had zero rips or holes, no zipper issues (beefy zippers!) and no leaks. I can only assume that this quality translates to their higher end lightweight and backpacking tents. The area provided in the Taurus (37 sq feet) is appropriate for 2 scouts, and with the vestibule, gear is not an issue. Others may recommend different tents, and I would probably not disagree. But we have found that the qualityprice factor of the Alps Mountaineering products is difficult to beat.



We charge new members a one-time $35 equipment fee, after joining. For this we offer that we will keep their scout in a tent as long as he is in the troop. We do allow scouts to bring their own personal backpack tent on backpack trips. And once a scout crosses over into the Venture Patrol, they may bring their own tent to all campouts. This gives the younger scouts a sense of unity, but allows the older scouts the feeling of individuality. It also allows a scout to have several years of camping experience before choosing a personal tent, which hopefully will give them the knowledge to make a wise choice. So far, this is working out well for us. Your mileage may vary.(This message has been edited by Buffalo Skipper)

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Big Tents: troop needs fewer tents, less to keep track of, may improve patrol cohesiveness, may be limited to car camping as tents may be somewhat heavy or bulky


Small Tents: improves the chances troop will go overnights) hiking and canoeing; canoe area individual tent pads tend to be small in area

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lots of good advice, and Stosh's rules reminded me of my troops rules, save we were fold and rollers, not stuffers. But we didn't have any problems.


One rule of thumb we had as a troop was that whatever "man" tent you had, divide it by two for scout and gear. So a 2 man tent was for 1 scout and gear; a 4 man tent was 2 scouts and gear.

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Eagle92, your divide by 2 rule is not unreasonable. But for us, the 2-man vestibule tents are excellent for 2 scouts. These tents have 2 vestibules and of course, and entrance on each side of the tent (extra zipper does add to the weight). This does 2 effective things. One, each scout has his own enterance, so they do not need to climb over each other to get in or out. Also, with the vestibule on each side, each scout's gear is separated from the other (and neither has easy access to one other's stuff).


I am not trying to impose this upon all troops. It has been surprisingly effective for us. But in my earlier post, I said to weigh every option to determine what is best for you. This is an example of what I meant.

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I'm sold on Alps Taurus 4 tents. Ours are about 2 years old. Zero issues. First time out, 90 mph winds. One pole section broke but that was great considering the wind load. Monthly campouts, Two 5 day backpack treks, one night with 6-10" of rain etc.


Plus, they'll sell new poles a section at a time and they have aluminum poles available. We have some of each, by design.


No backpacks or duffles allowed in the tent, use the groundcloth and take care of them.

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my son's troop uses Eureka tents - they have timberline 4 & timberline outfitter 6.


I have yet to have a tent that says you can sleep X to actually fit X unless you are very snug and don't move and don't have any gear in it.


The timberline 4 can fit 2 of our big boys or 3 of our little guys... the outfitter 6 will fit 4 big boys and we've had 5 little ones.


The little guys just aren't tall enough to put the big tents, but then we have the big tents because our bigger boys wanted a tent they could stand in to change their clothes.


The nice thing about having both sizes is that the boys can take the tent that fits their needs: activity, number needed to hold, size of the boys, etc...


the troop does NOT allow cots, the boys only use them at summer camp or in a lodge that doesn't already have beds provided... they have to remove shoes while in tent too. If the tent is wet when we have to pack up then the tentmates decide who is taking it home to dry out and return it - usually the same boys bunk in together and just rotate turns.


I prefer to sleep on a cot so I bring my own tent and any other female along bunks with me because I can fit 2 more cots into my tent and they usually don't use cots so I'd actually be able to fit 3 more ladies.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Did a little research and found a couple tents that may work. One of the things I was looking for was an enclosed vestibule so the scouts can store their gear and park their shoes outside the tent. In addition, we need to keep the cost around the $100 mark per tent and plan on purchasing 10 - 12 tents. The two we found are:

Coleman Hooligan 4 http://www.coleman.com/coleman/ColemanCom/detail.asp?CategoryID=11070&product_id=2000001591


Coleman Trailblazer http://www.coleman.com/coleman/ColemanCom/detail.asp?CategoryID=11020&product_id=2000000281


Does anybody use these tents? If so, how do you like them? Where did you purchase them from that gave you a good price?



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