Rating: 4 / 5
Mark V – Appy Trails – Can’t beat the price!
First of all, the price on this tarp tent is dead on. At $120.00 it is a fantastic deal.
Sleeping capacity: 5
Average minimum weight: 1 lbs. 11 oz. (Based on Tent Only)
Weight with Tent and stuff sack: 1 lbs. 11.7 oz.
Weight of stakes and stake stuff sack: 3.2 oz.
Weight of poles: 10.7 oz.
Total Weight Delivered: With everything is 2 lbs. 9.6 oz.
Floor dimensions: 137 x 112 inches
Floor area: 70 + square feet
Height: 6 feet
Vestibule area: included
Floor fabric: none; requires ground cloth
Pole material: Aluminum
Pole: Four section pole, plus rear tensioning rod.
Packed size: 4.75 x 9 inches
The First set up was easy. I used my middle school outdoor skills class, on their second day, to do the initial pitch using everything as delivered (2 lbs. 9.6 oz). I wanted to see how easy it could be with 3 RV campers and 1 car camper under the age of 13. It took about 7 minutes with instruction. The initial impression was good. The only real dislike I had was the pole provided. It is adequate though a little loose. I knew I would not be using this pole in the future. So I wasn’t too worried.
The second set up was in the field at a BPL get together called the GGG here in California. My 16 year old and I set it up in about 10 minutes. The wind was blowing, we laid out the ground cloth first. Tied my hiking poles together for the center pole using the Velcro provided and some Para cord I had sized for securing both handles together.
I found the shape of the Mark V has you circling the tarp a few times to center the ridge line and tighten the sides up. In the morning I was able to straighten it out a little better after it had rained/misted. As claimed, when it rained the side walls did loosen slightly. The 6” aluminum stakes were adequate for the initial pitch, however, I ended up replacing them with 7 each titanium stakes and 2 each MSR Ground Hogs for the Ridge line set up. I also replaced the two guy lines with a sturdier, lighter line. The lines provided were the very cheap nylon lines like you get with a Kelty or Coleman dome tent. They even had the plastic adjusters.
The claim is that this can fit 5 smaller scouts. I suppose it is possible, but they would have to all be on the small side. We had great success with 3 of us. My large, and heavy 6'2" frame, my son's slender 6' frame, and my 9 year old daughter's 5'1", frame. We fit in the tarp nicely with all of our gear around the pole and in the vestibule area. I believe this tarp is good to 4 people with average sized adults and children, including all or at least most of your gear. 5 would be very tight and most gear would need to remain outside.
I love the tall entrance. For a guy my size this is a winner. The ability to pitch this in different configurations made it very easy to air out. It is single walled and there was condensation but it was a non-factor in getting any of us wet unless we touched the outer walls. The beauty of it was we got up in the morning, rolled back the doors, ate breakfast, and about 20 minutes later the tarp was almost completely dry.
The tarp tapers off and narrows like an arrow in the back. The rear Y-pole isn’t very high, around 12 inches at most, and doesn’t do much except expose the air vent. I have always had to set this pole on a wide piece of bark or something else to distribute the weight. Otherwise it works slowly into the ground.
We experienced some high winds and I let the tarp take them directly on with the doors open, and closed. It handled magnificently. The worst problem faced was a single side stake kept working its way out. This really wasn’t a big deal as it only happened with the tent doors open and direct wind blowing into the tarp. Something I wouldn’t normally allow happen. But for the sake of this review I wanted to see what would happen. At night with the winds blowing, the most effective pitch of the vestibule/door area is to use one stake and pin down both doors through their grommets. The Velcro tab closure on this tarp would not hold in direct winds without using this technique. I was able to squeeze my large self in through the birthing canal opening with little effort. I was in and out of the Mark V a lot so I could talk with everyone at the gathering and play games with my kids. It held up really well!
A fairly simple suggestion: The side walls can droop a bit and are not that steep. To maximize the wall space I recommend attaching two tie-out points to the side walls near their center. This should tighten up the pitch, increase the usable floor space, and provide more space for changing and sitting up. Also, it would reduce complaints of bags getting wet from touching the walls.
Honestly, after attending the GGG here in California last weekend, and seeing Tarps that were 3-4 times the cost, this provides a great amount of room for the money $$$.
The material: This traditional tent material was awesome! It worked really well and I have no complaints.
Rating: I am giving this 4 stars in general for a large, low cost, low weight, backpacking tarp tent that provides complete privacy for a person when needed.
For Scouts, especially here in California I give this Tarp Tent 5 Stars. The value, the size, the ease of pack up and storage are all winners. The fact that it comes with Poles, stakes, and guy-lines make this one of the best cost to quality winners on the market. When shared with a patrol it is a significant decrease in total weight spread across several members.