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"tarp" sleeping at Philmont?
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Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
"tarp" sleeping at Philmont? on 10/10/2013 11:02:24 MDT Print View

Does anyone know the where to find the "written" policy about the use of sleeping under tarps at Philmont?

For example, if I wanted to use a Gatewood Cape with some bug netting and a "floor" underneath it, would that be acceptable?

Are bivy's out of the question? I saw the previous thread about hantavirus, but I suspect the biggest issue could be privacy.



Glenn Smith

Locale: Southern Arizona
Re: "tarp" sleeping at Philmont? on 10/10/2013 11:32:08 MDT Print View


Page 7 of this link ~ is about all you may find.

A Gatewood Cape is acceptable with some sort of floor (Tyvek, etc.). I have used a GoLite Shangri La 2 and an older MSR model which was similar to the GoLite. I opted for the Tarptent Contrail in 2012 simply because of all the dusty sites. However, this past season they had a good bit of rain.

Some campsites can be difficult for a tarp versus a freestanding lightweight tent simply because of the ground. I've camped at one terrific site in Ponil that was literally on the top of large boulders. We had limited stake use with more rock use to keep tents/tarps upright.

The key would be to have the sides guyed as close to the ground as possible and you shouldn't have any issue.


John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Philmont tents: from the 2013 "Guidebook to Adventure" on 10/10/2013 12:01:48 MDT Print View

Due to the terrain, wildlife, and sudden change in weather conditions, tents are a required shelter for a Philmont trek and therefore all crew members are required to sleep in a tent.

Bivy sacks are not acceptable. Every member of your crew should be able to set, take
down, and fold the tent. Philmont has 2 person backpacking tents (footprint 5’6” x 7’6”,approximate weight = 6lbs, 3oz) available for your use at no charge. If you choose to provide your own tent it must be a two person tent and free of all food smells. If you think your tent may have been compromised by food smells, please use a Philmont tent.

Philmont will allow a single person tent in the event of an odd numbered crew.
Philmont has begun to introduce a new freestanding backpacking tent in cooperation with Cascade Design and MSR. The tent is called “Thunder Ridge”. It requires 6-8 stakes and weighs 5lbs, 13oz. A crew may be able to select these tents if they are available at the time the crew checks out equipment at Services. No pre-reservations are available. (700 tents will be available in 2013.)

Space for tents in most campsites is limited. Use of two-person tents minimizes the
footprint and avoids encroaching on the “Bearmuda” Triangle (page 28). Two one-person
tents take up nearly twice as much space as one 2-person tent.

A 6’ x 8’ waterproof ground cloth must be used under each tent. These are not provided
with the Philmont tents.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
And the hantavirus warning section: on 10/10/2013 12:17:45 MDT Print View

All participants and staff engaged in hiking and camping should take the following
precautions to reduce the likelihood of exposure to potentially infectious materials.
• Avoid coming into contact with rodents and rodent burrows or disturbing dens
(such as pack rat nests).
• Do not pitch tents or place sleeping bags in areas in proximity to rodent feces or
burrows or near possible rodent shelters (e.g., garbage boxes or woodpiles).
• Do not use or enter cabins or other enclosed shelters that are rodent infested until
they have been appropriately cleaned and disinfected. Report these to the next
staffed camp.
• Do not sleep on the bare ground. Use tents with floors or good ground cloths.

no tarps on 10/10/2013 17:59:40 MDT Print View

They really would prefer everyone in an enclosed tent. For rodents, wildlife, and insect avoidance, as well as weather protection.

They dont specifically require this however. If a tent or shaped tarp (pyramid, etc) can be pitched tight to the ground, pretty much enclosed, and you have a groundcloth, thats fine as well. No high pitches ala dining fly, a-frame, V, etc.

No one is going to check what you have before hit the trail, and its highly highly unlikely that once on the trail they will make you get a philmont tent if they disagree with what you do have. You cannot do that until the first staffed camp or commissary, and by then your Ranger will probably have departed anyway.

Without a doubt, they might push the issue more with boys if they felt something was unsafe somehow, but generally will allow adults to do whatever they want. People have used homemade tents made out of polycro or polyethylene space blankets and tape.

A gatewood cape and groundsheet would be fine I believe. Others have used the GC there.

The written words are kind of vague, and thats probably good. I used a hexamid, worked fine, no comments from Ranger.

Edited by livingontheroad on 10/10/2013 18:07:40 MDT.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
thanks! on 10/14/2013 11:42:10 MDT Print View

Thanks all.

I appreciate your comments.


bill berklich

Locale: Northern Mid-West
Tarps? on 11/25/2013 06:08:53 MST Print View

Having been (as have many) and used both I would not recommend a tarp & tyvek. First is the dust. Trails are well trod and sites well used, so topsoil is loose. With the wind you will get a lot of dust. I used a HS Rainshadow. It is a great tent but really nothing more than a tarp with a floor attached by a 6" net skirt. I had to empty the dust out most mornings. Second is rain. If perfectly pitched it will work but you don't always have lux of a perfect site. We were in Cook Canyon and had just finished setting up camp when the heavens opened. We had a 2 hour down pour and water was rushing through the camp. All of our tents (incl the Rainshadow)had bathtub floors and no one was wet. Water did run under several of the tents. This storm by the way flooded Indian Writings.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Rain Protection: Canopy Tarps at Philmont on 11/27/2013 11:28:26 MST Print View

I've been directly involved with 3 Philmont crews. In all those 3 crews, we've used 4 man 10x10 Oware Pyramids. All treks have been in early August (monsoon season). All have stayed dry.

But some other crews using conventional tents had a few experiences getting wet from the rains ... especially this past summer.
(BTW, Attending the advisors' coffee, can provide you with a wealth of stories & information ... but that's another thread)

In each one of those cases, their advisors noted that in retrospect they didn't avoid one the 4 Ws (Water, Wind, Wildlife, Widow-makers) on picking a proper place to set up ... their scouts knew how to set-up their tent, but was not enough, they were not practiced at picking a proper place to set it up at.

In the "worst" example that was shared, a crew arrived late into their camp site & a pair of scouts hurried up and set up their tent in what turned out to be a high drainage spot (while there was no erosion ruts to flag it, there were very obvious signs in the forest duff that showed that it was a drainage path ... the scouts saw it, but it didn't register what they were seeing).
What happened? Their tent created a dam of sorts - restricting the drainage outflow, but had no effect on the inflow. During a overnight deluge, the water came in fast enough to crest over their bathtub floor ... causing some middle of the night scrambling. They were lucky in that they didn't get really soaked, their tent being self-supporting was easier to move quickly & that they had synthetic gear ... it all turned out just to be a bothersome learning experience ... an experience they could laugh at later.

The point is this: We were at the same camp, sleeping with the aforementioned canopy tarps (pyramids) and we stayed perfectly dry during that same deluge.
How? we simply took enough time to practice & understand the 4Ws beforehand. The knowledge of how to use gear is not the same as knowledge of how to stay safe in the back country.

When I hear about shelters failing in protecting, sometimes it IS the shelter (wrong season use), but MOST times is a lack of knowledge & practice.

BTW: We didn't experience a lot of dust because we were at Philmont during the monsoon season, but being behind a wind break can help reduce wind blow dust (but, NOT eliminate it). But then, if a tent can truly seal out dust, that's a tent that has lousy ventilation.


dust on 11/29/2013 19:19:30 MST Print View

we were at philmont in drought conditions, and its a pretty dusty place as you can imagine.

You will be filthy in those conditions. Everything you have will have dust in it.

Zippers on packs and tents get hard to work due to the fine dust in them. We had zippers on one older pack a scout was using fail due to the dirt. He had to replace his pack midway thru the trek.

Even so, using a hexamid I didnt have any issues with it. Wind was blowing the dust horribly at Harlan, but our camp was sheltered in the trees.