Suggestions for affordable AND dependable tents for Boy Scout Troop

10:22 p.m. on June 26, 2006 (EDT)

Our Scout Troop has a little extra money and we decided we needed to replace some of our tents.

Obviously, money is a HUGE consideration. (looking at under $150) We also would like a 3-4 person tent, as the boys need room for all their gear for a week-plus long camping trip (not backpacking). The floor would have to be extra sturdy, as the boys all use cots, not to mention that they are rambunctious BOYS. Easy set-up is obvious.

Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.

11:02 a.m. on June 27, 2006 (EDT)
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Eureka Timberline.

7:43 p.m. on June 27, 2006 (EDT)
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Strong second to Ed G's recommendation. The Eureka Timberline (2-person) is quite dependable and durable, and the Troop I used to be SM of has been using them for something like 25 years (maybe more). We use them summer and winter (including some heavy blizzards in the Sierra), for everything from the new scout car camps up to the 50-milers. There is a variation called the Timberlite that is standard issue at Philmont. There are also 3 and 4 person versions.

Campmor sells the Timberline quite cheaply, plus they give a discount to Scout troops.

One thing you need to teach your scouts about any tent is to clean it out, dry it, and air it out fully pitched when they get home. Storing a tent wet or even slightly damp is guaranteed to produce a stinky culture of mildew, which also lifts the waterproof coatings off the floor and fly.

6:28 a.m. on June 28, 2006 (EDT)
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Agreed. The Eureka! Timberline (2 or 4-person) is definitely the standard among Scout troops and similar groups. Just about any time I run into a big group on the trail or in a campground -- Scount troops, summer camps, college outing clubs, you name it -- they're using Timberlines.

2:53 p.m. on July 5, 2006 (EDT)

a.k.a. Dr Pepper
Timberlines were OK untiil you mentioned cots ...

The Timberline floors won't stand up to cots for very long, especially if the legs aren't U-shaped -and putting 2 cots into a Timberline-2 will definitely call for creative geometry. If you must have cots, a Timberline 4 MAY accommodate 3 Scouts on cots with some gear, but you'll have to protect the floor, perhaps with a sheet of visqueen or something similar INSIDE the tent as well as outside for a groundcloth.

If I may make a suggestion, forego the cots and have the Scouts sleep on pads on the ground. Show them how to protect their gear outside the tent with rain covers or trashbags - or use older/leakier/smellier tents as 'garages' for gear.

Our troop has used Timberline-2's for 1 weekend every month for over 10 years. Yes, we've replaced parts and whole tents; for a cost-effective shelter, you can't beat 'em. But, we don't allow cots in them.

6:06 p.m. on July 5, 2006 (EDT)
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ooops, overlooked the "cots" bit

Thoroughly agree with JimB. And more ... I don't think there are any tents short of "outfitter" tents that have floors that can stand up to cots for very long, especially cots used by the typical teenage boy we get in scouts. Even in the case of "outfitter" tents, what is usually done is to get tents with no floor, then put down a heavy canvas tarp or outdoor carpet - definitely not for backpacking.

Also, cots add a huge amount of extra weight, which makes any backpacking trip absolutely miserable. The boys will be comfortable enough with closed-cell foam pads, and the floors will stand up much much longer. We found long ago that inflatables were a bad idea for the youth - we often got 10-20 percent leaks on any given trip (always caused by the tent partner, of course, never the victim of the flattened mattress). On winter trips, a leaky inflatable is a disaster, since it provides zero insulation from the snow or cold ground. If they MUST have a brand name, then have them get Ridgerest, etc. But the generic "blue foam" works just fine.

As JimB said, teach them how to protect their gear outside the tent (something as simple as a plastic garbage bag over the pack). The contents of the pack should always be packed in individual plastic bags anyway, and a rainproof pack cover (Campmor has them fairly inexpensively), plastic bag, or even a tarp covering several packs together (use the Philmont pack stacking approach) works quite well.

10:04 p.m. on July 9, 2006 (EDT)
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I would look at the outletsections of retailers like REI and Moosejaw and see what they have to give away and start my search there, tailoring my needs and expectations to my budget more efficiently.

I got my MH Haven 3 on REI for around 275-ish and love it.

3:42 a.m. on July 14, 2006 (EDT)
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Not knowing what actual tent you want as in what conditions will you be using it in makes it difficult to suggest. So some of my ideas may be rather inapropriate to your location.

Firstly, ughk! those eureka tents seem hideous, so so many poles poles to break and its still only a glorified A-frame tent. You could by a much cheaper A-frame tent with stronger (cheaper) poles.

As for using the cots. If you use them, do you really need a tent floor?? Perhaps just a tent fly and a piece of plastic cut off a roll from a hardwear store. Better yet, buy the entire roll. Either way I would use a sheet of plastic beneath any tent floor to protect it from the ground.

Anyway, you want a tent that is specifically designed for institution use. JUMBO zippers, eg, #10, like that used in heavy duty rucksacks. The Less poles the better as thats simply somthing else to replace. Ideally only a single pole that way it doesn't matter what poles are available cause they are all the same.

Anyway somthing like
a "Sea to Summit" Shadow. These tents can be used with or without the floor. Zips are #10. the floor fabric is 100D. Only one pole. Large vestibule. Fantastic venting. Fairly cheap. if you contacted STS USA they maybe able to give you a quote

A Black Diamond Mega Mid.

umm really, I am not from the USA so I really shouldn't comment on heavy duty tents in US market as it isn't my specialty. I just thought the Eureka looked to be a terrible design and I had to say it.
toThis is a bit left wing but here are a few suggestions

6:35 p.m. on July 28, 2006 (EDT)
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I totally agree! The Eureka tent is the ugliest thing since canvas wall tents! This tent would never work in the Texas heat. We need more ventilation. A cot is a must during a week long summer or winter camp. So the floor needs to hold up to that.

I am not convinced there is such a thing as a reliable tent for matter how much you pay. The zippers never last.

Rather than spend $150 or more for a tent, just go buy the cheap 7 x 5 tents at Wal-Mart and plan on replacing them every two years. I have no complaints with the Ozark Trail 3-man tents. They are easy to setup, very water-tight and have lots of ventilation. My only gripe is that the zippers just don't hold up for more than a couple of years.

Divide a $40 tent by a dozen campouts and you spend less than $4 per campout for your tent. Just consider them a disposable item!

8:29 p.m. on July 30, 2006 (EDT)

The Timberlines are the best tent we've found. We use them a lot with our troop. We don't allow cots to be used in troop tents. We have the Timberline 4 Outfitter. Currently we have 18 of them; most of which are almost brand new. A couple of them we have had for 5 years.

Before we went exclusively to the Timberline, we were using Tentragon 9's. We still have a couple of those tents in our reserve stash, but we aren't big fans of those tents.

We had our week-long summer camp last month and we got quite a bit of rain. Out of 17 tents set up, we did not have one with water inside. Other troops using Coleman tents, Walmart tents, and others were wet and/or blown away due to winds.

10:13 p.m. on July 30, 2006 (EDT)
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Our budget concious scout troop bought used 2-3 person A-frame canvas tents (w/floor) from a local naval base for $5.00 each. The tents were heavy and smelled like one would expect a canvas tent to smell. There was minor maintenance to be performed every so often, so the scouts would get hands on experience maintaining their equiptment. If a troop is judged by the how cool their tents look, then we weren't very cool, but our arms were strong from hauling those tents around. We all learned how to take care of our sturdy and sometimes odiferous shelters, and life was good.

Military supply stores may (just a guess) carry a similar style tent.

Good luck,


2:13 p.m. on October 8, 2006 (EDT)
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Dear Scout Trooper,

You might want to check out ALPS Mountaineering. They specialize in durable gear for Scouts.

I have experience with ALPS gear. I use their tents, mummy bags and packs. I'm very pleased with the performance of their gear and service.

I highly recommend ALPS.

Hope it helps! :)

10:18 p.m. on October 10, 2006 (EDT)
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...And before I forget, Dave emailed me and requested to state if I had any affliation with ALPS Mountaineering.

I have no affliation with the aforementioned Company. I am just a REAL satisfied customer who happens to think ALPS Mountaineering makes some pretty good gear. This opinion is based on years of actual experience with the brand in question.

Hope it helps-Bruce

1:09 p.m. on October 24, 2006 (EDT)
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disposable walmart tents - there's a nice idea for an environmental ethic - really teach the boys about conservation - as you toss away cheap damamged tents.

The Eurekas may be ugly but the outfitter versions (heavier material) are durable. I don't understand the need for cots - they're colder in the winter (air circulation underneath) - and heavier 12 months of the year - than closed cell pads.

There are some floorless pyramid tents that could hold three or four boys - they're light - fairly waterproof - you can use a center pole or suspend them from a tree - when it's hot you can have an air-gap at the bottom for a vent - when it's cold you can batten 'em down tight - you can even find them with tie-closed doors rather than zippers -

Don't buy disposable crap camping equipment for boys - unless you want to ensure that they

a) hate camping
b) learn to waste resources and money

I'm an Eagle scout, by the way, and have been a Scoutmaster on and off for over 25 years - so I do have a hint of knowledge about these things.

8:30 p.m. on October 28, 2006 (EDT)
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I'm with Stevethefolkie. Take a look at the gear repair forum-you rarely see a question about a "name brand" tent such as Eureka or the better known quality manufacturers. Even setting aside all the questions about no directions or lost parts, it's usually Wal-Mart, K-Mart,and other cheap "house brands" that have come apart,leaked or have broken poles.

I was a scout years ago and I don't think we beat up our gear any more than other campers do, but gear that will get used weekend after weekend should be sturdy enough to withstand constant use and really cheap gear from discount stores just won't last.

I too don't understand the need for cots. Maybe the parents don't like the idea of the kids sleeping on the ground, but if each one has a full length pad-like the blue ones (about $10)or better, they'll be fine.

12:46 p.m. on November 1, 2006 (EST)
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The only reason I can think of for cots (for short term camping OR backpacking) would be to ensure that each scout has his own "space". I mean if you're on a tent floor and roll around you can inconvenience your tent mates quite a bit - on a cot - well - maybe it wouldn't be better - you'd roll off - the cot would flip up and land on the kid next to you - so maybe I'm wrong!

For long term camps (static summer camp, in wall tents, for example) I can see cots - they're more comfortable - but not for moving or short term (weekend) camping - I know I wouldn't want to lash one to MY pack!

June 22, 2018
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