Advice/suggestions on tents?
I am about to start researching tents for a camping trip. I would like it to be dual purpose so I can include it as part of my “prep supplies”. Anyone have any advice on specific brands, what I should consider as I look at tents, etc?
Thanks in advance!!!
woodswalker - June 26, 2020
How many people are you needing to shelter? Are you backpacking? What region of the country are you in? I have consulted the Backpackers Editors Choice tents with success. If your’re looking at a 2 person tent I would look at the MSR Hubba Hubba, if youre looking larger Nemo and Big Agnes are great options. Have you looked at the Eureka Timberline? Its a more cost effective yet robust design (not a lightweight).
NewbiePrepper - June 27, 2020
I’m looking to shelter 2 people (myself plus one). I’m in Florida. I appreciate your response. I haven’t looked into MSR hubba hubba or Eureka Timberland, but I will!
John RameyStaff - June 26, 2020
We’re publishing a roundup of tent suggestions in the next week or so. If you can wait to buy, it might be helpful! To foreshadow, we’re mostly focusing on tents labeled as a “two-person tent” even though the idea is one tent per person.
NewbiePrepper - June 27, 2020
Thanks! I can’t wait to read it!!!
SeaBee - June 26, 2020
REI brand tents are great quality, competitive price and they have a “we’ll always take it back no matter what” warranty.
Backpacking tents (more appropriate for prepping than larger, spacious car camping tents) are usually n-1. That is, a 2 person tent is great for one person, but rather uncomfortable for two. The trade off in weight savings.
A 3-season model is probably your best bet. Full coverage fly with a bathtub floor. You don’t need a groundcloth unless you are too lazy to look at the ground where you’re throwing your tent.
I like a freestanding model: easier to set up solo and handy when stressed in a survival situation.
Since you’re prepping, look for a replacement pole section or repair kit (in case one snaps on you). I prefer aluminum to carbon fiber, more durable in my experience.
Like everything else, practice setting it up twice or more before you actually need to use it. Watching people clusterfuck new gear in the backcountry is hilarious on a climbing trip, but unfunny in stress/survival situations.
Good luck! I’m excited to see The Prepared’s new roundup.
John RameyStaff - June 30, 2020
Good input, thanks, is in line with what we’re drafting. This will be more of a quick-hit roundup — we haven’t bought All The Models and done a field test yet.
Mary Ellen Feinberg - June 29, 2020
REI is having a sale, and I just purchased their “backpacking bundle” of a Passage 2-person tent with ground cover, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad, for 192.00. The bundle usually goes for about $270, and separately would go for $328. (I think the fact that they bundle 1 sleeping bag/pad with the 2-person tent kind of reinforces the n-1 idea below as far as comfort.) Got it yesterday, and quite happy so far, to the extent that testing it out for five minutes in my living room counts.
Josh CentersContributor - June 30, 2020
I bought this bundle a few weeks ago, and I’ve slept in it once. I’m not a huge backpacker, but I like it! The tent is lightweight and not hard to set up, and the sleeping bag and pad are lightweight and comfy.
Mary Ellen Feinberg - June 30, 2020
That’s good to hear. It did seem like a good deal. I’ve never been backpacking, but have been wanting to start. (So far I am a big walker, sometime hiker.) The backpacking and prepping pursuits are kind of proceeding in tandem. I had been taking care of my mother for many years, who had Alzheimer’s. She passed in October, and between now having the freedom I didn’t have and COVID taking away any desire to travel/stay in hotels/go to cultural events, and the fact that I live in NYC, the idea of backpacking sounds perfect. Not to mention being able to practice all those bugout skills!!
SeaBee - July 2, 2020
I just looked and that’s a great tent for 100$. Glad you got it. There are lighter models, of course, but they are often quite a bit more cost-wise, and the design cuteness makes pitching/durability tricky.
If you want to bulletproof the tent, leak-wise, buy a couple tubes of seam grip, set up the tent outside (backyard, neighbors?) and seal all the floor seams. They are already seam-taped, but this will ensure that you never get an unwelcome surprise come some rainy night.
Harriman is a great place for gentle backpacking intro hikes. Easily accessible by public transit, although COVID adjustments are obviously in flux.
Mary Ellen Feinberg - July 2, 2020
Thanks! I will definitely test those seams. I’ve been checking out Harriman a lot online, and I joined up with the NY/NJ chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club and a couple of hiking meetup groups. Unfortunately I have to have surgery, and I’ll find out next week if I can have the laparoscopic version or the old school one that will pretty much put me out of hiking for the rest of the summer. But whenever, I’ll be ready. (And hopefully by then I’ll get over the fact that a young woman was just recently airlifted out of Harriman by special ops helicopter after being bitten by a rattlesnake. Yikes!)
The parks are pretty much opening up, with social distancing, so we’ll see if it stays that way. I know in the city people are getting very slack with their mask-wearing.
H. P. - July 3, 2020
Good overview, as expected.
(Disappointed I’ll have to adjust my priors about putting the whole family in one tent, but that’s a personal problem…)
Since something is better than nothing, when I do come back to looking at shelter, I’ll reference this, because even if the specifics change (out of stock etc.), the discussion will steer me away from suboptimal choices.
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