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Freestanding or Not for Philmont?
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David Barnes
Freestanding or Not for Philmont? on 03/05/2014 16:23:36 MST Print View

Will Be going with a crew from the KC metro area 4-18 July. We do not yet have our trek but are leaning toward southern ones. I am really trying to narrow down my tent choices and would appreciate the imput re the need for my 2-3 man tent to be truly freestanding.

If yes, I am angling toward something by Big Agnes, i.e. Copper Sput UL 3. If not, I am considering something from Tarptent i.e Double Rainbow ( i understand that this tent is quasi free standing with treking poles) or Rainshadow 2.

I would like to keep the 2 man option under 3 lbs and the 3 man under 4lbs.
Thank You in advance.

Edited by twindaddy on 03/05/2014 16:24:28 MST.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Re: Freestanding or Not for Philmont? on 03/05/2014 16:58:26 MST Print View

First, to address the background question can a tent that is non-freestanding be a viable Philmont option? The answer is yes! - there are plenty of staking "opportunities" at the campsites of Philmont for tents that are non-freestanding ... that is, should you want to go with that shelter approach. Here are a few quick points illustrating that:
1.) All of the old style Philmont issued tents were non-freestanding
2.) Your crew's required dining fly which must be pitched at each campsite is non-freestanding.
3.) In recent years, my Troop has had three crews go to Philmont and the tents those crews successfully used were all non-freestanding. (= they all used Oware sil-nylon pyramids that are 4 man tents (= true sleeping capacity) at under 2 lbs (=28 oz) per tent),

So, back to the primary question: "freestanding or not?"
My advice: You'll be fine going with whatever tent style you think is best for you :-)
... and you might want to also consider ease of set-up too

Philmont is a great experience, you and your Scouts will have a great time.

EDIT: On the subject of stakes - Most of our crews took MSR Groundhog stakes and had absolutely no issues driving them into hard compacted earth that you can run into. I took Ti shepherd hook stakes for the adult shelter which worked fine, but required a little finesse at a few campsites that had their ground even more compacted down than most.

Edited by tr-browsing on 03/06/2014 14:50:45 MST.

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
Rainshadow and squall on 03/05/2014 17:20:05 MST Print View

Ain't never been thar but judging by the pictures I've seen I don't see any reasons why a non-freestanding tent would give ya any trouble.

I can solidly vouch for the three man TT Rainshadow 2 and the two man Squall 2.
I own both, and I've had both through some nasty weather without trouble.

I find them both very lightweight and easy to pitch. I don't normally use trekking poles and I've come up with some pretty odd arrangements to support the front of my Squall, before finally breaking down and buying the optional front pole!

I typically use the Squall as a roomy solo tent and the Rainshadow when backpacking with my wife. I guess we like lots of room.

Goofy photo of my wife one morning in the Rainshadow - (Don't tell her I posted this!)


Plenty of room for our double sleep system and both packs, plus more room to spare.

The front beak has plenty of room to cook under during stormy weather -
Goofy photo of me cooking for five hungry campers under the beak -

at fault lake

We carry an 8" one ounce aluminum snow stake to use as a potty trowel and as a magnum tent stake when pitching in very loose soil, and then use two of the regular stakes in the back, as we did here on a beach -


If you can keep those two stakes, the one in front and the one in back, in place in the ground ( or simply tie off to bushes and what-not ), the tents will withstand some pretty high winds.

I don't recommend 'em for snow though. I think the smaller Squall is rather more storm worthy than the bigger Rainshadow. I've slept through some wild storms in there without a drop getting in.

I especially love the ease of pitching 'em.
Once, in a tight spot I pitched the Rainshadow butt up against a small fallen log, and simply ran the back cord over the log and tied off to a bush rather than stake it down. Worked fine.

west fork lake

That Rainshadow is a palace for two! Certainly workable for three adults and I dunno how many kids!

Now the Squall 2 I've never actually had two people inside, but I'm sure it would work fine. I do know it makes a fantastic solo tent!

Now these silnylon tents are a bit delicate though! Once I tripped over a side tie out on the Squall and ripped the tent. Got a wild storm that night and was bone dry regardless. Sent the tent back to TT and they fixed it up for a very reasonable sum.

Edit - When I first got my Rainshadow I remember thinking "How can they make such a big tent so light??
I bought it used here! I think I'm the third owner and I ain't letting it go till it's in shreds.

One thing though, you will have to seam seal 'em, and do a good job of it!

Edited by Bawana on 03/05/2014 17:27:00 MST.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Freestanding or Not for Philmont on 03/05/2014 17:38:53 MST Print View

I think as long as you take a variety of stakes, you will be fine with a non freestanding tent.

You will find some hard ground in the staffed camps where you cannot drive a titanium shephard hook type stake. It would be prudent to take some 8 inches stakes like the 8 inch MSR ground hog stake. We had some of our 5 and 8 inch Easton stakes break.

I had a Varga nail type stake I would use to make the hole into which I would insert the thinner shephard hook.

In my crew we had three non freestanding tents: two SMD Lunar Solos and one original TarpTent design sold by Gossamer Gear. We even passed a work crew that was camping under 8X10foot tarps. And as one posted noted above, the mandatory dining fly is also non free standing.

I would focus on a taking a tent that breathes well during one of the Philmont downpours where you have cold rain and high humidity. My son and his buddy shared a BA Seedhouse and suffered from condensation issues. I pitched my Lunar Solo for max ventilation and still occasionally had to wipe down the inside.

I would take a tent that can take some abuse

There have been three or four excellent articles published on BPL about Philmont. Have you seen those? Doug Prosser wrote the first one.

non freestanding on 03/05/2014 19:18:05 MST Print View

I took a hexamid, had zero issues.

I had no problem inserting stakes into ground..... thin, quality Ti stakes. Sometimes you have to try a few spots because of rocks in the ground, but thats common in most mountain areas.

Fat cheap aluminum J stakes that come with just about all tents, will bend and not go in. Dont even try. Go buy good Ti J stakes and you wont have any issues. If you do, you just put a large rock on it.

Edited by livingontheroad on 03/05/2014 19:19:56 MST.

David Barnes
Thank you all for your insight on 04/01/2014 17:17:44 MDT Print View

Update: 4/1/2014

Thank you all for your help re my tent choice. I appreciate it very much.

I just ordered a Tarptent Squall 2 with the seam sealing kit and the "backup" poles.
I am just plain giddy re the concept of 2.5 lbs 2 man tent system (including a polycro groundcloth and some extra stakes.)

Look out Philmont, here we come.

Next up -Trail runners

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Thank you all for your insight on 04/02/2014 10:42:04 MDT Print View

Great choice!

Perhaps I'll see you out there w/ my Ranshadow II!