Recommended Troop Tents (long)
Charlie Thorpe (charlie2@RO.COM)
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 13:33:41 -0600
Hello Ben -
>I am looking for comments about good/inexpensive 2-boy tents for troop
>purchase. Up to now the troop has gotten by with boys bringing their
Good question(s)! Both parts of your question are ones that we all wrestle
with from time to time.
What kind of shelter should the boys use?
Should it be provided by the Troop?
IMHO, the second question is the most important! There are LOTS of good
reasons to have Troop equipment (you KNOW how well ALL the Scouts are
protected, makes QM job meaningful, economies of scale, standardization of
maintenance/repair, helps build Troop/Patrol team identity, allows older
Scouts to learn how to use Troop gear and then teach the younger guys,
substantially decreases camping equipment costs/confusion's for non-camping
The only downside is that the Troop must be well enough organized to take
care of Troop equipment. Some "way to do business" must be established to
ensure that the equipment is properly stored, well maintained, and used
appropriately. It's not hard to do <g>, it just needs to be done before
stuff starts to disappear amongst all the other good stuff in our garages
or sit under some kids bed for weeks after an outing (still wet...). It
can be great fun for the Troop to develop an "equipment program" that both
allows good Scouting fun to happen AND adds to the growth environment that
the Troop provides for the boys. Don't forget to keep the Scouts involved
in the decision-making and to let the Troop Committee do the adult gear
work (SM's should put up their OWN hammock <g>).
Now, on to the first question! Our Troop went through almost the exact
same tent gathering process as you described. We had made the decision
that Troop tentage was the way we wanted to go and we carefully scraped up
a small pile of $ to make the first order. We futzed around for a year or
so talking to other Troops that we met at Camporees AND at some of the
popular gathering places in the South (Shiloh, Chickamauga, Grimes Canoe
Base, Vicksburg, etc.). Every time we saw a group using common tentage we
wandered over, shook hands, and started asking questions. We discussed,
poked, lifted, struck/pitched, and kicked the tires on lots of different
kinds of tents (from pups to domes to big cabins).
Over and over, the majority of Troops that used common tentage kept
recommending the same brand: Eureka Timberline. Some used the bombproof
"outfitter" model and some used the "deluxe" model (haven't seen it
advertised in years), but most used the good old green plane-Jane
"standard" Timberline. Most used 2-man tents, some used 4-man tents, and
we even saw a couple of the 6-man Timberlines!
We put the Troop engineers to work (we really DO have some rocket
scientists in our Troop family <g>) to determine which tent would give us
the most program flexibility, the best ease of use for Scouts and adults
alike, maximum protection from southern thunderstorms, the best ventilation
for muggy/buggy southern summer nights, and the best bang for the buck.
The decision was unanimous: the 2-door 4-man standard Timberline!
The rationale goes as follows:
maximum headroom (the biggest adults can easily sit up, some kids can stand!)
great flow-thru ventilation (BOTH ends have netted windows as big as the door)
minimized footprint (one 4-man takes up 17% less room than two 2-man tents)
cheaper (2-man = $50/kid,....4-man = $40/kid....20% savings!)
more efficient (one Patrol usually needs just two 4-man tents for 8 Scouts - 2
pairs of Scouts can pitch tents while the other 4 Scouts can do other stuff)
significant weight savings (backpacking and lightweight canoeing):
2-man (2 per tent) = 3.47 lbs per Scout for shelter
4-man (3 per tent) = 2.96 lbs per Scout
(4 per tent) = 2.22 lbs per Scout (36% lighter!)
MUCH more outdoor program flexibility:
can put 3 or 4 Scouts to a tent in cold weather ("puppy pile" effect helps
marginal sleeping bags cope with unexpected dips in nighttime temps)
can put 2 or 3 Scouts to a tent in warm/hot weather (non-lightweight)
always put 3 (older) or 4 (younger) Scouts to a tent on lightweight outings
a 4-man tent group works great as a 4-man cooking group (share group gear)
adults can be stuffed into the tents as required (1-2 on hot nights, 2-3 on
cold nights, 1 per tent on long-term camps)
snorers can have a tent of their own (WAY over there....)
We have used the 4-man Timberlines in swamps, on beaches, at Jamborees, in
the Philmont backcountry, on river banks, in light snow, in thunderstorms,
in micro-bursts, in crowded public campgrounds (plenty of room to change
clothes inside <g>), inside shelters (bug protection), on all Troop outing
weekends, on Troop tours, and on Troop hi-adventure outings. Our Troop's
families borrow the tents to go family camping and baby sister to grandma
has done fine in them.
The 2-door gives us a big window at both ends and allows easier
entrance/exit when using the tent for 4 bodies (it is WELL worth the extra
$5/kid and extra vulnerability of having another zipper).
Hmmmm....so what are the con's with using the 4-man Timberlines?
"They make a bigger and bulkier package...kinda big for a young Scout to
carry in a backpack"
Our Scouts either divide up the shelter load (poles/stakes, ground cloth,
tent, rainfly) or let one carry the tent and the others divide up the
remaining group camping stuff (food, stove, fuel, etc.). The kids have no
problem working it out so that each camping/cooking group allows each
member to carry his fair share of the group gear. It's the sore-knee
adults that give all the problems!
"The extra zipper on the second door is another failure point to worry about."
Can't argue that one <g>. We have had to make sure that our new-camper
training program includes plenty of advice about how to keep from killing
zippers. We do have to remind the Patrol Leaders and Patrol QM's that it
probably ISN'T best to open the tent door by grabbing the fabric on both
sides and violently pulling it apart <g>. We carry a Leatherman tool which
sometimes gets used to re squeeze the tent zipper pulls. But...I guess we
would be doing all this even if we used the 1-door 2-man tents!
Hooboy...can't think of any more con's...somebody help me out!
We made our initial buy under the assumption that we would get our money's
worth if the tents lasted at least five years (we liked the idea of
spending moderate $, getting a moderate life span, and then being able to
change tents if we want at replacement time). It turns out that we
severely miscalculated! It has been about TEN years now and we are just
now retiring the first couple of tents from the original buy! Those two
lasted twice as long as we expected and the others from the initial buy are
still going strong...
Hmmmm...would I ever use any other kind of tent? You bet! I personally
don't enjoy sleeping in a tent, so I use a trail tarp 99% of the time
(about the only time that I like a tent is on those muggy/buggy nights
where it is too warm to mummy up and use a head net). If I can ever talk
our PLC into doing some SERIOUS Yankee-style snow camping (not a
particularly easy sell in Alabama <g>), I would like to buy/borrow some
4-season tents. If we get an opportunity to spend a lot of time in exposed
camping situations (above tree line, windy desert, etc.), then we might
want to look at some other kinds of shelter. Shoot, I even enjoy futzing
around with tipi's <g>.
For now (the last decade), the 2-door 4-man Eureka Timberline has done just
fine for our Troop's active outdoor program.
BTW, the 4-man is more weight-effective than the 2-man wiggle-in tents
provided by Philmont...and a WHOLE lot more comfortable (if you are taller
than 3 feet!).
Be sure to check out Basspro...they had a good buy on the 4-man 1-door
tents a few years ago ($20 - $30 less than Campmor!). Otherwise (in
general), it is hard to beat Campmor for price, customer satisfaction, and
You will have to live with your tent choice for years (good news <g>), so
you might want to borrow tents for your April outing. It never hurts to
borrow tents to let the Troop Scouts/adults try them out before you commit
to buying a pile or two of the same type. I have seen quite a few
hardly-used low-end dome tents offered for sale by local Troops...VERY
Good luck with whichever tents you buy....and good camping!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City