Some tent questions
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Jay Lash
(jjlash) - F
Some tent questions on 04/05/2012 09:09:09 MDT Print View

Im trying to decide what we should do for tents and could use some input from folks. I am working on getting us some light weight tents to use only for high adventure but I dont know if that is going to happen for this trek. So...


We had been planning to use the Philmnt tents because most places Ive read say that they weigh 5 to 5.5 pounds. Is this pretty accurate? The Philmont Surplus Gear Sale page lists them at 6.75 pounds but maybe that is the weight to ship them.

At 5.5 pounds, they are lighter than our Timberline 4 Troop tents (about 9 pounds) assuming 2 people in the Philmont tent versus 3 people in the TL4.

The other wrinkle is that we have an odd split of people. For the purpose of tenting we have 7 youth and 5 adults (one of the adults is an 18yo going as a youth).

So...it looks like I have two decent options:
* 3 youth in a TL4
* 4 youth (the four smallest) in a TL4
* 3 adults in a TL4
* 2 adults in a Philmont tent
This gives us 4 tents at about 32.5 pounds total for 2.5 or 3 pounds per person

Or
* 3 Philmont tents with 2 youth each
* 2 Philmont tents with 2 adults each
* 1 Philmont tent with a youth and his dad
This gives us 6 tents at about 33 pounds total or 2.5 pounds per person

Is it worth the extra weight to have 2 fewer tents? Fewer tents means less space at the campsite but also a different distribution of gear.

The crew is all from the same home Troop so I dont think there will be any crew dynamics issues having one Scout share a tent with his dad instead of a buddy. We were thinking about it being the crew leader.

Thanks - the discussions and articles here at BPL have really helped in our preparation.

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Re: Some tent questions on 04/05/2012 12:53:00 MDT Print View

Just a quick post, but the PhilTents are about 7# (carried one for 1/2 summer as a ranger) and are poor tents. I really would suggest something like a BD Betamid/Megamid or similar (cheap, offer a good amount of space, light,...). These are great tents that would be good investments by the troop in general.

And I would really suggest not having someone tent with parent...I saw this many times and it was almost universally better to have all boys together an adults together. This allows better group cohesion, IMHO, but I understand that from a logistical standpoint may not be feasible.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
tents on 04/05/2012 19:25:35 MDT Print View

Buy some floorless mid shelters. Buy them new if you have too and sell them when you are done.

$300 large 11x11 mid can hold 5 boys and weigh under 60 oz with a floor, pole adapter, and stakes. Works out to be 10-12 oz or less per kid, and $60 ea. Probably get $40+ of that back selling it.

Paying $20 ea to take 2+ lbs off the back is a deal. But more importantly, you take the volume out of the packs so everyone can use smaller lighter UL packs too. Put together that can save you 4-5 lbs with just two items.

If you dont get rid of the volume, you will have large conventional heavy packs. Conventional tents is not the way to go unless everything else, is already UL and you can tolerate the weight AND the volume

Unless of course you are planning on making the kids haul 40 lb packs. To each their own, but this is backpackingLIGHT.com.

Honestly, there is no reason for a pack to be over 30 lbs with minimal forethought and minimal expenditure. With a little effort and $$,it can be low 20's.

Sleeping bag - 2.5 lbs (plenty choices)
Pack 3.0 lbs (lenty choices)
sleeping pad .5 lb CCF
Tent .75 lb share
Big 4 = 6.75 lb

insulation 2 lbs
personal 1 lb max
sleep clothing .75 lb max
raingear .75 lb (driducks)
spare clothing 1 lb max

Subtotal - 12 lbs

crew gear - 3 lbs share
= 15 lbs before food/water

8 lbs food, 5 lbs water = 28 lbs.

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/05/2012 19:38:04 MDT.

Jay Lash
(jjlash) - F
Re: tents on 04/05/2012 21:13:24 MDT Print View

@Joshua - Seven pounds...ouch.

@M B - I cannot argue with your logic but there are a couple of things it doesnt take into account:

* The guys already have conventional gear including packs, bags and pads. We dont do enough backpacking for (most of) them to justify replacing gear simply to lighten up. The trip is already a $1400 bill so new gear is really a stretch for most of them. A couple of them did buy new packs for the trip but even after several crew meetings where we discussed lightening up, they still went for the 5+ pound Kelty packs. I switched from one of those to a Golite Pinnacle...man I like that pack.

* The bigger obstacle is that they are teenage boys who dont do much backpacking. Thus, they think they can carry the world. One Scout actually brought a 2 pound knife/hammer/shovel multi-tool to a shakedown hike. We asked what he thought he was going to use the hammer or shovel for. He didnt know..."just in case" because "it doesnt weigh much".

Now, it isn't a complete lost cause. Other than that one young man who thinks he knows it all, everyone is doing a good job eliminating unnecessary stuff and getting the lightest version of things that they can afford. Almost everyone is under 20 pounds for all their personal gear (except tent). A couple are just over 15 pounds.

Anyway...I like the idea of buying light tents and reselling them if the long-term finances require. Im open to other suggestions.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
tent on 04/06/2012 07:22:11 MDT Print View

Well, then it would seem, the only place left to save is on the shelters.

Oware has good prices on mids, and they resell here quickly, to others in the same position. Even MYOG sell here periodically. There was a 9x9 MYOG mid here a few wks ago I briefly considered buying for the same reason. Also an Oware. Search back on the forums and you can convince yourself you will have no problem reselling at 50-70% of purchase.


Good luck.

Maybe they need some strenuous training hikes to show them the light?

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/06/2012 07:31:36 MDT.

Gordon Forrest
(gf2020)
Go with a real tent on 04/06/2012 10:03:51 MDT Print View

Floorless tarps and whatnot may work fine for Philmont but they are not practical for year round Scout use in New England where I live.

Our Troop does not backpack very much either, our shakedown trips and trek to Philmont this summer will be the first exposure for most of the 8 boys. However, we do anticipate doing more backpacking in the future. Our troop supplies tents and cooking gear and our "standard" troop tents are 7' X 7' Coleman and 8' X 10' Wenzel tents. I wouldn't take either on a backpacking or cold weather trip, however, they are too heavy and the fiberglass poles too brittle.

To that end, our troop committee just approved the purchase of new tents for high adventure use. We just placed an order for 4 ALPS Mountaineering Chaos 2 tents under ALPS' ScoutDirect program, $578 shipped to MA. These tents will be used by the boys in our Philmont crew and we will probably add more tents to the troop inventory if these seem to work out well this summer.

http://www.alpsmountaineering.com/alps/products/tents/backpacking-tents/chaos

The Chaos 2 is a little heavier than the ALPS Mystique 2 or Zephyr 2 that seem popular with Scouts at Philmont but it is built sturdier and offers 4-season features that are appealing. I would look at purchasing gear that the Scouts can get 4-season use out of, not just for their 12 day trip to Philmont.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
tents on 04/06/2012 11:46:32 MDT Print View

This is backpackinglight.com.

It is the premier site for discussing ultralight backpacking gear and techniques. There is a veritable wealth of knowledge to be gained here from the experiences and opinions of others.

However, this particular forum is a bit of an anomaly. Ive noticed a significant percentage of people here destined for Philmont make excuses for not going UL. Defending the need for heavy boots, heavy tents, gigantic heavy packs.

There is only 2 reasons to stick with conventional heavy gear today IMO:

1) Cannot afford to spend any money to lighten up, already have gear
2) lack of knowledge of the lighter alternatives.

If you are spending $1400 it is worth a little more to have an enjoyable experience, vs. a miserable one. That should be made clear to everyone upfront IMO.

There are 2 types of people that leave Philmont. Those that cant wait to go back, and those that say they are never doing that again. There is no reason for anyone to not have a totally enjoyable experience.

My 13yo son and I just completed a "short" trip, crossing over 7 mountains, several in one day, 4days food, 2L water, up to 13 miles per day. Wearing trail runners. Steep, very rocky, strenuous terrain, lots of water crossings too. We hit the trail with packs weighing 16 and 18 lbs, and that was carrying a heavy 4lb tent. We were able to hike at 2-3mph, even on climbs, feet were wet all day every day. No foot problems, no twisted ankles. Feet always felt comfy. We passed other hikers with conventional gear like they were in slow motion, because they were.

We came upon a couple of hikers looking at a waterfall down the slope at one spot. They stayed on the trail, I climbed down and took a picture, and climbed right back up with my pack on my back. They were unable to do that, and didnt want to shed their pack and have to put it back on either. So they didnt get a good picture.



Believe in the UL approach, really. Embrace it. It makes a world of difference. Strive for it. It can be the difference between the kids loving the outdoors and backpacking, or hating it and never doing it again. You are shaping the kids vision of what outdoor experiences can be like.

For the last 5000 yrs a tent was a floorless single wall shelter with a door, still is at summer camp. Only in the last 40 has it become a heavy double wall monstrosity with multiple poles and bug proof innner sanctum with attached floor.

Peoples idea of a tent and what they NEED is often based somewhat on marketing, not reality.

The mid is the epitome of a storm resistant 4 season shelter. Philmont doesnt have bug issues, and climate is dry enough so that condensation shouldnt be issue. You can get net inners for mids too, however, for use in wetter/buggy areas. Making it quite versatile too.

ultralight  13yo

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/06/2012 13:25:16 MDT.

Jay Lash
(jjlash) - F
tents on 04/06/2012 14:35:06 MDT Print View

We have 4 season tents already, well...not technically 4 season but we use the TL4 year-round.

Im taking the same approach and talking to our committee about tents to be used only for high adventures. Im coming to like the idea of a 4-5 person mid for the weight, bulk and cost. But I think we lose much of that benefit when we have to add the floor and bug nest - because Philmont wants an attached floor and because about 2/3 of our high adventures are in the BWCAW where solid bug protection is a necessity.

Guess Ill take the information to the crew and let them decide if they would rather have two in a tent but carry more weight, carry less weight but have 3-4 in a tent or kick in the extra money to get lighter tents.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
floor on 04/06/2012 14:50:57 MDT Print View

I dont think Philmont requires an attached floor, they just want a floor.

Plenty of troops simply use stick on velcro to attach the plastic sheet,tyvek, or polycro floor to the tent so it serves as a bathtub too.

Jay Lash
(jjlash) - F
good experience on 04/06/2012 15:04:50 MDT Print View

Again, I can't argue with your logic M B.

As I said at the start, we dont backpack much. Mostly because there are not many options for anything more than day hikes here in Iowa. I think this leads to heavy gear for both of the reasons you mentioned. Parents and Scouts buy heavy gear because that is what the big-box stores around here carry, because there is not a market for lighter stuff. They dont see the need to pay more for something lighter because they dont do much backpacking. When they do get to go backpacking they cannot justify the cost to replace "perfectly good" gear.


"If you are spending $1400 it is worth a little more to have an enjoyable experience, vs. a miserable one. That should be made clear to everyone upfront IMO."

I completely agree, but only because I carried a 40 pound pack on our trip to the Rockies a couple of years ago. That didnt kill me but it did make me much more willing to spend the $$$ for some lighter gear this time. I started by getting a scale and weighing everything. Then I traded a 3 pound Thermarest Basecamp for a 14oz Neoair and a 5.5 pound Kelty pack for a 2 pound Golite Pinnacle. Now Im deciding if it is worth picking up some Dri Ducks to save a pound on my rain gear. At some point you still have to draw a line.

Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
re: Philmont Forum an anomaly on 04/06/2012 15:53:19 MDT Print View

It is correct that this forum is somewhat of an anomaly from the rest of Backpacking Light. Here's why:

Parents who don't go backpacking are making the financial decisions on what equipment gets bought for their sons going to Philmont. Most parents can't justify spending the money we all gladly spend on lightening our load. I personally gave a 2 hour presentation to all our crew members and parents with specific examples of equipment to buy... I even found the best deals online and gave them a printout of URLs showing where to order it online. A lot of that presentation fell on deaf ears... all the parents saw was the $$$ and not the benefit.

For example, I have a boy in my crew who is in a single parent family who's income is about $1600/month. He is paying for his trip through his sales of Popcorn in the annual Boy Scout Popcorn drive. That's a hell of a thing to raise $1000 by selling popcorn. The gear he is taking is put together from what all the rest of us had left over for him to use. For the guys on our crew, just convincing their parents to buy a couple of Platypus bottles has been a hard sell. We were lucky to get many of them Eureka Silver City sleeping bags as Christmas presents.

For me personally, I have been buying gear for over a year here on Gear Swap for both my son and me. If it weren't for the fact that my son's gear will eventually be passed down to my younger son for his Philmont trek in 2015 I probably would have gotten cheaper gear for him.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
parents on 04/06/2012 16:58:48 MDT Print View

Yeah, I understand the difficulties. We are going in 2013 and might struggle with that, but so far our group is pretty small so maybe not.

I feel like if you can catch them far enough ahead of time maybe you can head off some of the difficulties, maybe Im wrong, find out soon enough.

Large light shelters are relatively cheap per person, and can be resold for minimal loss. If you can buy used here it will likely not cost more than $10 per person, most of that shipping loss. Golite packs go on sale every year around Jan. for less than conventional packs, this yr they were $70, how can you beat that anywhere??? Driducks are cheap and lightweight. Lightwt fleece is dirt cheap at walmart or old navy. Just bought my son an 11oz walmart fleece jacket for a trip for $7 because his favorite melanzana hoody "dissapeared". Old navy also had a very lightwt (~16 oz) puffy jacket too last yr for ~$30. Sleeping bags like MH Ultralamina 32 were available recently on Sierra trading post for $112, with rebate or coupon code only $93, for a 2lb bag.

I can see basically outfitting a kid with reasonably lightweight stuff for $300 if they shop smart, listen to advice, buy when it comes up, and dont go to the nearest big box store and buy crap. Of course if they depend on Christmas for this stuff, they likely will just buy whatever they can find local, and probably pay more for it too.

Get the 2.5 lb pack, the 2.5 lb bag, and share a large light tent, and 3/4 ridgerest and the rest is really convincing them to leave stuff behind they dont need.


The best situation might be a troop that doesnt backpack, because the kids dont have any gear to start with except usually a cheap $40 sleeping bag for car camping.

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/06/2012 17:31:55 MDT.