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Henry Shire's TarpTent Use at Philmont
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Michael Wills
(wildwills) - F
Henry Shire's TarpTent Use at Philmont on 12/25/2011 12:21:37 MST Print View first post on the forum. Our BSA Troop has a spot for Philmont in July 2013. I was in Boy Scouts as a youth but never went to Philmont...did Northern Tier. This will be my son's first high adventure and my first time at Philmont. In my active duty USAF days I was stationed in Colorado Springs (96 to 99). Remembering how the July thunderstorms could be in the high country, what have been people's experience with TarpTents at Philmont? I'm considering getting the new StratoSpire 2 for our trek. But a bit concerned about how well I'll be able to stake and guy out the shelter given the soil at Philmont. Can anyone give some of their experiences with Sylnylon flys and how well they hold up to the wind and afternoon showers? Thanks.

Glenn Smith

Locale: Southern Arizona
Re: Henry Shire's TarpTent Use at Philmont on 12/25/2011 14:13:12 MST Print View


You will be fine with a Tarptent product. My crews have used them successfully on treks in 2007 & 2009. I personally used a GoLite Shangri La 2 this past summer with just a tyvek ground cloth. In 2009, I used a MSR tarp similar to the GoLite with a tyvek floor. Just make sure you pitch sides low to prevent rain or hail from getting inside. Depending on the weather, staking can be an adventure. This past summer was a challenge since it was so dry. My only caution is that you may be able to find a lighter solution to split with your tent mate. 40 oz. for one is a little heavy but then you have plenty of space.

Feel free to email me at gosmithpa at hotmail dot com with any questions. I will be going in 2012 and possibly 2013 too.


Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
I used the SMD Gatewood Cape this July at Philmont on 12/25/2011 16:13:36 MST Print View


for myself I used the Gatewood Cape - the other advisor and I had decided early on in our preparation to each have our own shelter :)

Our scouts used a variety of shelters - TT Double Rainbow, BD BetaLight, BD BetaMid.

We had no problems at all with our shelters during our trek (7/13-25). So the Stratospire 2 should be absolutely fine.

Best Regards,


Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Henry Shire's TarpTent Use at Philmont on 12/25/2011 18:55:28 MST Print View

light weight shelters @ Philmont:
* I shared a RainShadow 2 with our scoutmaster in 2007 ... worked great
* we had an odd number of adults in the crew in 2010 so scoutmaster and another adult used the RainShadow 2 and I used a silnylon version of the Jay Hamm tarp (plans here on BPL) and an MYOG SMD Meteor bivy (adapted to provide a bathtub floor) ... worked great although I altered the tarp so that it was narrower on the wide end when I returned (removed a triangle from each side, 8 inches removed from each side of the head end tapering to zero on the foot end)
* the 5 scouts in our 2010 crew used a Golite Shagri-la 4+ with a MYOG bathtub floor, stood up well, was snug for 5, is very adequate for 4
* two adults in our second 2010 crew used a RainShadow 2

All of the above are not free standing. The RS 2 in the other crew withstood winds that "made it looked like it was gonna alternately explode and implode"

Carl Zimmerman
(CarlZ993) - MLife
Tarptent @ Philmont on 12/26/2011 06:16:20 MST Print View

I used a Cloudburst tent for Philmont during my 2007 & 2008 treks. I shared it w/ another adult leader. No problems whatsoever.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Tarps not allowed at Philmont on 12/30/2011 20:47:01 MST Print View

I was told (and have read) that tarp, bivy, and hammock camping are not allowed at Philmont. I'm glad to read here that this is not the case in real-world experience.

One of my former scouts (who was a Philmont guide/ranger last summer) told me their main concern is being "fully enclosed", and they really prefer floors/net inners to keep the creepy crawlies at bay. He said something about the bears being "trained" through experience to know the food isn't in things that look like tents.

So basically, if your tarp can form a mid, you're good to go.

Personally, I'm still having trouble letting go of a fully enclosed tent, but I'm very sensitive/allergic to bug bites.

tarps on 01/01/2012 17:07:00 MST Print View

bears are conditioned to LOOK for food under the dining flys, where smells usually remain, which are simple tarps. They dont want open shelters that "bear" any resembelance .

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Tarps vs Tents at Philmont on 01/03/2012 13:38:50 MST Print View

Bears play into the 'no tarp' decision, but don't down play the hantavirus issue as well. Much of Philmont is covered in a very fine dust (some call it Caliche dust - resembles gray corn starch), so the 'mini-bears' and other creatures are as much to blame for the 'tent' requirement.

(Note - I can't find the reference that used to be in Philmont documents about 'enclosed' or 'floored' tents.)

I used a Henry Shire's Rainbow on my 2010 trek - it worked perfectly, plenty of room for 1 person!! I will use a Double Rainbow or a Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo this summer as I will be sharing a tent with my daughter.....need to decide which on soon.

Edited by SCKuhn on 01/03/2012 13:46:13 MST.

Wesley Marshall
( - F

Locale: Eastern US
Tarptent at Philmont on 01/10/2012 21:12:59 MST Print View

I used a TT Contrail in early August 2011. Using Vargo Ti shepherd's hook stakes, no problems except a bit cramped at Ponderosa Park in the woods. The ground is soft enough but holds well. I did fine with a dry trek - two rain storms only. Loved every minute of the miniscule weight from my tarptent [my tent partner got knocked out of the trip due to a trail injury before we left]. Got about a cup of water from blown rain at the foot of the floor one night. No big deal and this was due to not dropping the sides in enough. I did not use a ground cloth.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
"Fully enclosed" on 03/21/2012 22:54:25 MDT Print View

The Philmont rules have changed. They used to require fully enclosed tents, though meny competent campers (like myself) used floorless shelters.

The 2010 Guidebook to Adventure says, under "Hantavirus": "If possible, do not sleep on the bare ground. Use tents with floors."

The 2011 Guidebook to Adventure says: "Do not sleep on the bare ground. Use tents with floors or good ground cloths."

The current Guidebook has the same wording (

ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
Guidebook to Adventure on 03/22/2012 08:16:16 MDT Print View

To my knowledge, the "Guidebook" is still the 2011 version. It shows a 2011 copyright. I don't believe the 2012 Guide is up yet. I know it's to be included with the Itineraries books in the mailing.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Rainbow VS SMD Lunar Solo on 04/12/2012 19:01:24 MDT Print View

Sarah, I own both tents and have done extended treks in both.

The TT Rainbow is heavier but has a free standing option (with two hiking poles) and has an overall smaller footprint or area needed to set it up in.

The SMD Lunar Solo takes probably a 50% larger area to set it up, needs a hiking pole for it's main support, and is 5 or 6 ounces lighter than the TT. It is not freestanding.

SMD does a "scratch and dent" sale in Feb. each year. I saved about $40 on mine that way.

Both are top quality tents.

Edited by DonH on 04/14/2012 15:48:10 MDT.

bill berklich

Locale: Northern Mid-West
Rainshadow 2 for 3 advisors on 04/25/2012 14:32:30 MDT Print View

Looking at a Rainshadow 2 for 3 adults at Philmont in Mid July. Have not used a single-wall tent in years. I see here others have - any tips on using them and thoughts on whether the Rainshadow 2 can handle 3?

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Rainshadow 2 on 04/26/2012 20:00:57 MDT Print View
The Rainshadow 2 is listed as a 3 person tent. Photos on their website show it has plenty of room for 3 without gear.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Rainshadow 2 on 04/26/2012 20:18:20 MDT Print View

I'm a big fan of Henry's shelters, have owned three, made one from his original plans and still share ownership of a Rainshadow 2.

But my interpretation of the Rainshadow 2 photos is that there is adequate room for three sleeping bags ... not necessarily three people.

For our 2010 Philmont trek our three adults concluded that it would be workable ... but we preferred not to make it work for the 16 nights we'd be gone (including transportation).

However, I know folks who have taken trips of duration similar to Philmont treks and used the RS 2 for three adults.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

bill berklich

Locale: Northern Mid-West
Rainshadow 2 ... on 05/14/2012 12:01:45 MDT Print View

So I got the Rainshadow 2. Great piece of gear. Used it last weekend for our Wilderness First Aid class. Slept 2 and gear with lots of room to spare and my tentmate was 6'4" 240lbs. So my Philmont tentmates who are both smaller (5'10" 180lbs) should fit nicely.

You absolutely need to put the Silicone sealer stripes on the floor as directed though. I didn't and my NeoAir was sliding all over. There was a very light moisture in the inside in the middle of the night but it was dry by dawn.

Oh and it did go up in about 4 minutes firts time and reading the instructions and weighted in at 41oz.