Fast/Light Tents that will satisfy Scout parents
Oct 17, 2016 at 12:03 pm #3431556Christopher VBPL Member
Our troop is new to backpacking, but the two main leaders (me and our Scoutmaster) are very experienced backpackers. We are at a point of purchasing “troop/shared” gear for these outings. Would rather not buy tents if we can help it (prefer tarp/groundsheet lighter approach). Are there any good alternatives out there, other than the REI Passage 2 that will allow you to setup the floor saver, poles and fly without erecting the tent? Some of our parents won’t let their kids go without an enclosed tent so we’re fighting an uphill battle a bit. We also have good connections with the manufacturers (pro and otherwise) to get discounts. Thanks!Oct 17, 2016 at 2:19 pm #3431570
Some of our parents won’t let their kids go without an enclosed tent so we’re fighting an uphill battle
Don’t fight it yourself. Let the kids sort it out with their parents. Ah … brief the kids first over the pros and cons so they can make their best arguments. But hold hard to your opinions!
CheersOct 22, 2016 at 8:22 pm #3432437MJ HBPL Member
Every scout camp I’ve ever been in* has had floorless tents (sometimes on wooden platforms) with no screens.
*Which, I guess is only two different ones.Oct 23, 2016 at 12:59 am #3432473Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
“Some of our parents won’t let their kids go without an enclosed tent”
Why??Oct 23, 2016 at 1:05 am #3432475
Keeps them safe from the bears.
CheersOct 23, 2016 at 1:30 am #3432476Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Black bears or drop bears?Oct 23, 2016 at 2:15 am #3432477
Black bears obviously: you don’t get Drop Bears in the USA, only in Oz.
For the uninitiated: Drop Bears have no relationship to Gummi Bears.
CheersOct 23, 2016 at 9:27 am #3432489MJ HBPL Member
The parents or scouts who don’t like it could just get a bug bivy. They’re pretty reasonable in terms of cost and weight.Oct 23, 2016 at 3:12 pm #3432530Steofan MBPL Member
@simauliusLocale: Bohemian Alps
Christopher, just buy the tents/tarps that YOU want and “award” them to one Patrol at a time for some outstanding camping performance. I went through years of suggesting, trying to lead by example, setting weight parameters, etc. I had to throw in the UL towel and walk away from it. No one in the District wanted to try to lighten their packs.
Roger, tents with floors keep the bears inside (Gummi Bears, that is).
Steven M.Nov 3, 2016 at 11:39 am #3434030Terry HooverSpectator
Christopher, several of the Alps Mountaineering tents, available with a scout discount at hikerdirect.com, can be pitched with floor, poles and fly with their optional pitch kit.
TerryNov 3, 2016 at 1:52 pm #3434037Greg DeitrickBPL Member
I think you are forgetting that these kids are beginning backpackers. They need to start out with trips and equipment appropriate for their minimal experience. Consider Big Agnes Scout UL 2. 25 ounces for a 2 person shelter is not very heavy, the fully enclosed design is beginner friendly, and it should stand up to the weather and campsites that are appropriate for beginners.
Scouts that have been on a few backpacking trips will be far better prepared for more challenging conditions and equipment. Tarps are an acquired taste AND skill.
<edit>I have a Hubba Hubba and footprint. If I need a free standing double wall tent with dedicated poles it is great. However, if I need just a tarp and ground cloth it is a poor choice – I have lighter and more capable options, most of which are more robust and less expensive.Nov 3, 2016 at 2:27 pm #3434042
Tarps are an acquired taste AND skill.
I agree. From bedroom in parent’s house to tarp in outdoors is a rather big step. It is important to remember this imho.
CheersJan 14, 2017 at 10:48 am #3445090Monique SchaefersBPL Member
Our troop purchased a load of Eureka two man tents years ago.
I started out with a one person Alps Moutaineering tent with footprint then as the season got less buggy used the fly and footprint alone. The next year I made a silnylon tarp ten with Tyvek ground cloth which worked great for my son and I to sleep under on a backpack trip. Now we use hammocks and hex tarps with a Tyvek square to step on.
My pack for a 50-miler weighs 27-30# with 2L of water in it. I make EVERY boy pick it up and try it on before we start out on a trek. I weigh every pack in the parking lot before we start out on a trek. We go through every pack in the parking lot on the day before we start out on a trek. LOADS of things get left in the vehicles. Loads of things get shared *just in case*. Everyone is MUCH happier.
I share the light backpacking with scouts dissertation with EVERY parent and all of the scouts. I have helped them create a gear list with weights. I have helped them create a gear list with costs. I have demonstrated how light and how cost efficient backpacking can be. (I have three youths involved in BSA plus myself and we are a single income, homeschooled family so not stellar, top of the line, super shiny, brand new, wallet shrinking gear for this family.) As I find super good deals on backpacking light gear I share them with the families via the troop email list. Now several of the scouts are on the hunt for those deals too. I bring in my adult non-BSA backpacking friends as experts to share their packs and knowledge and ideas.
It is a process. It was a process I had to go through. It is a process for the families and boys too. I have helped a lot of boys find and purchase fabric, sew their own tarps and hammocks. The joy of a light pack is only surpassed by the pride in their having made it for their own use.Jan 14, 2017 at 1:03 pm #3445108
The joy of a light pack is only surpassed by the pride in their having made it for their own use.
For a while there it looked as though the whole concept of DIY or MYOG was dying – which would be bad for the whole of society. Give them pride!
CheersJan 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm #3446250Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
To the comments
“Tarps are an acquired taste AND skill.
I agree. From bedroom in parent’s house to tarp in outdoors is a rather big step. It is important to remember this imho.”
My troop used Korean war army surplus poncho/tarps well into the 1970s. In college and grad school I could not afford a tent and was quite happy with a blue poly tarp from the hardware store. I think Scouts can be guided by the EDGE method into using tarps and save a lot of $. After all, a Scout is thrifty. BTW my recollection is that Oware offers a Scout discount. Cheers/BruceJul 8, 2017 at 5:24 pm #3477899George RamsdellBPL Member
@ghramsdellLocale: Pacific Northwest
Our Troop has 3 Lunar Duo Outfitters, that we use up here in the Pacific Northwest. They work out great! Though I see with some newer scouters that they are skeptical of a single wall tent until they try it out.Jul 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm #3481428Brad PBPL Member
With some of our younger Scouts, bugs are an issue for them. They bring bug nets to summer camp. Some didn’t even do Cub Scouts, so it’s not always easy for an 11 year old.Sep 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm #3488822Sarah DoxiadisBPL Member
@sarahdoxLocale: Northern California
A bit late to the discussion, sorry. ThreeFeet has been offline a bit!
Get real! Going light does not have to mean “macho” going without nighttime protection. Scouts and parents in some locations will be concerned about Zika and West Nile which are mosquito-borne, as well as sandflies, black flies, and midges/no-see-ums. Yeah, mesh won’t keep out the rodents and plague and Hanta virus, but just don’t go where that is prevalent.
It’s not that hard to get some no-see-um mesh, seam tape, appropriate thread, and some parachute cord (to tie to ceiling and corners of tarp.) Teach ’em how to make the mesh inserts or get older scouts involved as a project, and/or bring in the parents.
Mesh inserts do help against mosquitoes, and also those awful stinging sandflies which inhabit many Southern US beaches and dunes. You can throw a cheap mylar space blanket on the inside of the mesh insert floor to limit damage to the mesh and help insulate against cold ground. All should have the multi-use mylar blankets in their daypacks anyway – as one of the 10+ essentials.
Also good to teach parents and kids how to use Permethrin on at least socks, outerwear, and mesh insert/tent screens, as well as Picaradin on exposed skin. Not a fan of Deet, as its retained in body fat over time, at higher concentrations it damages most synthetics, and some people are painfully allergic to it (think burning blistered areas on your skin, which can be relieved with lots of soap and water and waiting.)Sep 11, 2017 at 9:58 pm #3490485Osvaldo RBPL Member
Late to the game as well –
I recently took our older scouts (the Leadership Corps) on a Survival overnighter! We stayed local, so no fear of real danger. They each got a 10 lb bag and were told we will pretend to have been lost on a day hike. One of the key componenets was to build your own shelter. No specific instructions – they came up with it themselves – and of course, most used some variation of a Tarp in an A Frame formation.
I’m hoping for the trickle down effect!
But older scouts are more apt to buy into these things than younger ones.
BlessingsSep 12, 2017 at 5:16 am #3490510Brad PBPL Member
Another thing to consider is, would you use these tents for Philmont trips? From what I’ve read, Philmont doesn’t allow tarps (must be that bear protection, but actually what I read mentioned their insurance). So maybe consider tents that have removable innernets if you want the flexibility of tarp and tent.
As I mentioned above, when you’ve got 11 – 17 year olds, you need to take into consideration not all scouts are at the same place in their comfort outdoors. You don’t want to lose a scout who would be fine in a walled tent, but not yet ready for a tarp.Oct 4, 2017 at 4:18 am #3494727Christopher VBPL Member
Thanks guys for all of the suggestions. I’m going to take a flyer on the Naturehike Mongor 2 tent (very similar to the MSR Hubba Hubba NX, weight complete is less than 4lbs. for 2 man tent) through Amazon for $159 – with Prime there is no shipping fee and no sales tax. It has the ability to use the floor saver with the fly and poles and ditch the tent (a little over 2 lbs.). Here in SoCal, it doesn’t rain very much so that will help us on the weight. If that tent works out, it’s inexpensive enough for us that we may buy a few. I realize it’s not tarps and true UL, but it’s getting there for us.Oct 25, 2017 at 4:28 pm #3498344Gerry HBPL Member
@geeteehLocale: USA Mid-Atlantic
Troop gear needs to survive minor lapses in judgement AND skill. Failure on a trip is a learning experience, but to some 11 year olds there is a finite distance between “hard knocks” and “I quit”.
The Philmont ranger and the staff Camp Director that taught our recent Field PASS session said the Philmont enclosed tent rule is to prevent rodent and reptile “cuddling” (their term). Their animal problem (especially chipmunk “mini bears”) is amplified by constant habituation to humans from 22,000 people passing through in one summer.
The real purpose of the BSA “old-fashioned” policies is risk management. As a sueable and insured entity, they and their “agents” have to demonstrate they did what they could to manage a known risk. Having written and enforced “simple” procedures are legal defense 101.Nov 23, 2017 at 10:16 pm #3503717John SmithBPL Member
@jcar3305Locale: East of Cascades
I have worked with scouts since about 1993 in various roles and during that time have always stressed education and development.
Incoming scouts are required to use two person tents until they show enough skill in the two person tents to graduate to a floorless enclosed tent, then to a bivy and tarp and finally just a tarp and ground cloth.
By making it a graduated process the scouts will patrol themselves and make sure everyone is ready. You will be surprised how many of the newer scouts will want to raise their game and move onto tarps. This will also allow the scouts that come from very resistant families to comply with their families choices too.
In the end I am excited when they just want to go out at all, that seems to be far less frequent than 20 years ago.Nov 24, 2017 at 5:47 am #3503780Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
I still struggle to understand the “need” to provide Scouts with enclosed tents.
Context: I “grew up in Scouting” on $6 blue “Wal-Mart” poly tarps. In fact, that’s the only shelter I used (other than a bivy sack) below the treeline until I was about 19 years old, whether I was in Scouts, doing trips with the Seattle Mountaineers, or my own thing in the Olympics and Cascades in WA St.
When I was the Program Director of the Montana High Adventure Base and had the incredible privilege of developing that program, the first thing we did was replace all the program’s tents with tarps. When I was a Scoutmaster, the first thing we did was ditch tents and go with tarps. With Crew One, we’ve never used a tent, regardless of the time of year or above/below treeline, glaciers, winter, whatever.
I mean, my goodness, even NOLS uses tarps. And they’re pretty heavy!
So, yeah, still baffled. Tarps and floorless shelters are such a great opportunity to teach SKILLS, which last time I checked, was a theoretical value of the Scouting program…Nov 24, 2017 at 8:26 pm #3503890John SmithBPL Member
@jcar3305Locale: East of Cascades
Your success will depend largely on the troop you have inherited as the scout master. If your troop has basically had a history of car camping then the parents have an expectation of that. The parents then transfer that expectation and their fears onto their kids. It can also depend on who sponsors your troop and how often your troop gets out for overnight activities. The troop I am SM for the last two years, had only 1 overnight campout in the previous 3 years. The troop has dying and when I was asked to be the SM I had a parent meeting immediately and let them know that I will make sure that campouts happened and we had our first one in two weeks in the winter in the Cascade Mountains, under a tarp. Only 4 boys went. We spent a day learning how to glissade and use a Mountaineering axe. Nothing we did was all that tough but after a night under a tarp while it was snowing, then a day playing with snow axes, those boys dang the praises of real camping.
We are small and LDS church sponsored but in the last two years we have gotten some serious excitement going, and are now known as the one of the only LDS troops in the area that emphasizes backpacking and to my knowledge is the only troop nearby with more than one week long backpacking trip a year.
Let the parents know that the kids will be doing hard things, they will sometimes be tired and some may even complain but they will be safer on the trail than living their life on an Xbox in the living room.
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