Prepping 101: Large Portable Family Shelters

This Ozark brand Walmart tent is currently $209 online, and includes two queen sized blow up beds and free shipping. The Amazon reviews of this tent, (selling for much more money on both Amazon and Ebay), are very good and it has attached "easy up" poles. The reviews warn that the poles are a little flimsy, which is a complaint I personally have had with large and inexpensive family tents.

This Ozark brand Walmart tent is currently $209 online, and includes two queen sized blow up beds and free shipping. The Amazon reviews of this tent, (selling for much more money on both Amazon and Ebay), are very good and it has attached “easy up” poles. The reviews warn that the poles are a little flimsy, which is a complaint I personally have had with large and inexpensive family tents.

Ozark Trail 12 Person $209 Air Bed Bundle at Walmart
http://www.walmart.com/ip/41371597
Trek 10×16 (Chinese) Canvas Tent $663 Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Trek-Season-Cotton-Canvas-Sleeps/dp/B00020H2VI/
Trek Tents on Ebay
www.ebay.com/trektents

If there is one thing I have learned since starting this column, it is that survival is very detailed. The byproduct of this is that survival can also be very expensive, because the cheaper options, while they look viable, fail in the details. To stay on the topic of bugging out which I started three weeks ago with pack basics and essentials, I got to thinking about family tents. In any disaster scenario, a large percentage of those who survive will end up displaced, and third only to food and water is shelter. And while small tents may be the way to go if you are lighting out alone or as a couple, if you have a family, with supplies, being able to drop everybody and everything into a dry single secure shelter is going to be a very big deal.

The details come in when you talk about price vs. pack weight vs. durability. And this is one case where I can’t go buy all of the leading candidates and compare them, because even if I wanted to spend our editorial budget on it, I wouldn’t have the room or time to deal with so many big pieces of broadcloth and the headache of learning how to set them up. I will however share what I have learned, and if some of you have experience with some of these tents, please weigh in.

The other really good deal I found is $663 for this Chinese made canvas tent from Trek that is 16x10. It comes with a rainfly, awning, and about a dozen other options that would be custom and extra on an American made outfitter tent.

The other really good deal I found is $663 for this Chinese made canvas tent from Trek that is 16×10. It comes with a rainfly, awning, and about a dozen other options that would be custom and extra on an American made outfitter tent.


The good thing is, you don’t have to rely on my opinion or the anecdotal testimony of one commenter here either. This is the internet afterall, and the internet is full of reviews. When I first started this project I was visually impressed by several tents that when compared against the reviews on Amazon, proved to be not worth the time or money. I prefer to start with the 1 star and negative reviews, because they tell the story of what happens to the tent in the worst of conditions. Sometimes you’ll see a few bad reviews, but if you read into them, you find that the person was just a sloppy guy who didn’t read the directions, then blamed the tent. Others are incredibly insightful, like “We tried to stay in this tent for a month in Florida, and the UV shredded the roof.” When you think about a tent, you think about water resistance, wind resistance, but who’d a thunk of something like that? Thanks to the reviewer!
I have linked in the article to what appears to be a great canvas tent maker on Ebay. Tents of comparable size and features will be in excess of $1,700, but the canvas is heavier and they will have a stove jack. See prior articles here for a cheap portable woodstove that will fit this opening, and a multifuel stove that will also.

I have linked in the article to what appears to be a great canvas tent maker on Ebay. Tents of comparable size and features will be in excess of $1,700, but the canvas is heavier and they will have a stove jack. See a prior articles here for a cheap portable woodstove that will fit this opening, and a military multifuel stove that burns home heating oil, gasoline, wood and coal.


From what I can glean, If you want a tent under 50 lbs. in pack weight, you are going to have to settle for a nylon tent, but the good news is that they are cheaper than canvas. Huge caveat here though! Read the reviews! A lot of the very large family tents are made of very thin materials, and the hardware is not strong enough to hold up the tent under its own weight. I had an experience with a large family tent that I bought at Kmart a few years ago that resembled a lot of the reviews that I see on the cheaper large tents in the $200-$400 range (I think the tent at Kmart was $229). It looked great, and I followed the horrible directions stitched into the bag to the letter, but the corner pieces were made of cheap plastic and even the slightest twist while setting the tent up cracked them. Big tents are lanky. Even with two people setting them up you are going to get some flexes and odd angles at times. I was amazed at how many reviews sounded just like my experience.

The other thing I see in the reviews of course is wind and water. I have seen reviews on $500 nylon tents that say “our tent was the only one that got flooded out from our whole group.” Ouch right! But in many of the reviews I wonder if it was just a notice camper making novice mistakes, because other reviews are very positive. I wonder if the person didn’t tie all the guy lines on, or if maybe they thought that a ground tarp was a way to stay drier, but they didn’t cut the tarp to slightly smaller than the outline of the tent, because otherwise the tarp turns into a bathtub, and you will for sure get flooded.

Make sure that you read reviews thoroughly. This Peaktop family tent looks like it is both roomy and wind resistant, but the old version wasn't even sealed to the floor and it got dreadful reviews. The new version seems to have fixed this, but there aren't any new reviews at all.  You have to sit and do the research.

Make sure that you read reviews thoroughly. This Peaktop family tent looks like it is both roomy and wind resistant, but the old version wasn’t even sealed to the floor and it got dreadful reviews. The new version seems to have fixed this, but there aren’t any new reviews at all. You have to sit and do the research.


In a survival situation, for one I’m going to try to find a protected spot to pitch my tent. If I have to set up behind an abandoned shopping mall, I’d prefer that to an open space in the local park. To some degree being in a group of tents is going to protect you from midnight raids, and that’s great, but if everyone else had a bad idea of setting up in a windy place, I won’t be joining them. No family sized tent under $500 lasts long in high wind. Now that I know about UV shredding tent nylon, I’ll be looking for shade as well. That brings us to canvas, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

The no-brainer deal that I found for this week, if you just want to check “family tent” off your list, is a deal from Walmart.com for a 12 person “easy up” tent with two queen sized air mattresses for $209. I have found that same tent on Ebay and Amazon from $289 to $500, so it is definitely a good deal. If you live in a mosquito infested area like I do, you may want to look at the Tahoe Gear Carson, which has a large attached screen room with a floor, currently on Ebay for $299. There is an even larger Tahoe Gear tent, but the dark green ones seem to be not available at a decent price right now. As you can see, I’ve tried to stick to subdued, earthy colors. I don’t think it is good idea to have a bright yellow, white or blue tent in the woods, hidden behind buildings, or even in a tent city. But maybe that’s just me. I haven’t found any large tents in camo, but I do have two large camo tarps that I hope to be able to carry with me.

If you can go smaller, this Coleman tent is highly rated and claims to have twice the thickness in the material. The Coleman tents have great ratings but they are smaller and bright colors, which I avoid.

If you can go smaller, this Coleman tent is highly rated and claims to have twice the thickness in the material. The Coleman tents have great ratings but they are smaller and bright colors, which I avoid.


If you can go a little smaller, a step above dome tents in size, there is a Coleman 8 person tent that I found for $209 that has double thickness walls and what seems to be a rugged pole system. In general the Coleman tents are smaller, but have very strong reviews, even though they are made in China just like the offname brands. I don’t know how much room you’ll have for kids and stuff in a tent that size is the only thing. They are also pretty bright colors.

Now for canvas. I’m sure that a lot of you elk hunters out there said right away “I know the perfect tent for you.” But um, nope. Canvas tents may be great when the guide and his mules or laborers is carrying the tents in for you, but otherwise a large tent, 10×8 or larger, is going to weigh at the top end of what a large man can carry in a pack. The poles are usually long and heavy too, even the aluminum ones.

I’m not saying don’t buy a quality canvas tent if you can afford it. With the poles and shipping, a large canvas tent from an American maker is up in the $1,200 range, and I don’t think they are making a lot of margin at that price. Broadcloth has come way up in price in recent years, especially domestic. The big thing with buying a canvas “wall tent” is understanding what you are paying for. Does it have poles, a screen door etc.? I prefer to buy on Ebay and Amazon if I can, because I have third party resolution if the thing isn’t right, and I found a great 100% positive feedback guy on Ebay that makes the tents in various configurations to order.

This is the Tahoe Gear Carson. It has pretty good ratings but is only on Ebay right now for $299. For mosquito infested Florida I like the screen room with a floor.

This is the Tahoe Gear Carson. It has pretty good ratings but is only on Ebay right now for $299. For mosquito infested Florida I like the screen room with a floor.


I also found a Chinese canvas wall tent, and before you start throwing tomatoes, let me say that we are talking about survival here, on limited resources. For $663, shipped, you can get a 10×16 canvas tent with screened windows, screen doors, a sewn floor, steel poles, and the pack weight is about 75 lbs. with its **included** polymer stretched rainfly. The same deal is currently on both Amazon and Ebay, and the reviews on Amazon are outstanding, from people who used it in 4 season weather. There is no stove jack, and the weight of the canvas is 8 lbs. per yard, not 10 lbs. per yard like the outfitter tents, but this tent is the expensive no brainer for this week, if you can swing it.

Military tents are also very popular among preppers, but I don’t know why. If you plan to bug out to land you don’t own, and you expect to be able to set up your giant military tent there, great. I hope it works out, but most likely your “secret spot” isn’t as secret as you think it is. Military tents are heavy heavy heavy, and not cheap. If I have to leave my preferred location, I do hope to be able to use a vehicle, but there is no way I would put my eggs in a big heavy military tent basket.

Beware of heavy and expensive military tents. This 5 man 13x13 arctic tent is I'm sure a great tent, but it also has poles that won't fit in a backpack, and for the weight it just isn't much room.  Anything is better than nothing though.

Beware of heavy and expensive military tents. This 5 man 13×13 arctic tent is I’m sure a great tent, but it also has poles that won’t fit in a backpack, and for the weight it just isn’t much room. Anything is better than nothing though.

Tent in the Living Room?

Or for that matter, the basement! There are two uses for a tent that I think most people don’t consider. The first is if you live where it gets really cold.
Most likely, in a survival situation, you won’t be able to heat your whole house, and because it is a whole house, any heat that you can generate will quickly get eaten by the sheer amount of space in which it can dissipate. Nylon tents these days tend to have screen roofs covered by a rainfly. From what I have seen ad read, they are notably cold. But dome tents with solid shells and canvas tents hold in heat pretty good, and if you set one up in the living room, a half a dozen people sleeping in it will keep it pretty warm even in really cold temps. If you want to run a small stove in the tent safely with a stovejack, which you can buy and sew in yourself, then lead the vent pipe out of a window. If you use the military heater I reviewed, even a half gallon of home heating oil a night just to take the edge off and melt some water, an inner tent will preserve a lot of that heat.

The other use I think of for these tents is as a sealed filter room in the case of nuclear fallout. As I’ve explained a few times, air does not become radioactive. But in the first 48 hours after a nuclear attack or explosion of a nuke plant, there will be particulate of Alpha and Beta particles floating around. If your windows are closed, that is going to protect you from a lot of fallout, because the particles are fairly heavy and fall mostly straight down. But if there is a wind and some of the particles are being driven into the air leaks of the house, even a nylon tent will be good protection to filter the particles that are pushed your way. Nothing is foolproof, but short of an actual fallout shelter, which I hope to get to here, a nylon tent in the basement is actually not a bad plan.

The Risk of Bugging Out

As I’ve said several times in this column, I don’t think that bugging out should be anyone’s Plan A. But we all have to accept that there may come a day where we survive the initial event, but we have to leave. I think you have to make baseline plans for “how we would bug out.” And I don’t think that bugging out with no plan for shelter is a very good idea, especially with kids, even in a vehicle. You can’t sleep sitting upright very long without it affecting your ability to cope. There is so much crap out there about makeshift shelters, but I’ve looked at the plans, and as I explained at the start of this article, survival is all in the details. It isn’t like the survival reality shows. Palm fronds don’t make a viable shelter unless you have experience in binding and laying them. Regular tarps rip, get pockets of water between supports, and never stay where you think you are sure they are going to stay. Good luck with your mud hut and Walmart tarp, but I don’t see a lot of success there, and makeshift shelters aren’t very portable.

Starting with a well reviewed family tent puts you that much higher on the “what can go wrong” scale, though of course, stuff is still going to go wrong. Putting the big tents up, taking them down, wind, rain, flying debris, all kinds of things can and will go wrong. I just think that you should pay attention to the specifics of long term road survival now and have something before it is too late. Tents last forever in their bags. Ten years early is better than one minute too late, when you won’t be able to find a tent for any price.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Olaf Berg July 18, 2015, 1:14 am

    Good article and comments. Always seam seal. It can be purchased in a tube. If you have Nylon zippers make sure your oil is plastic compatible, model railroad sources carry this, or use a Teflon based product. It is best to do this with any zipper, because oil will degrade any Nylon it touches.Also aluminum is not always the best choice for poles, they can bend. A good quality fiberglass pole with proper care should last almost indefinitely. Site selection is important. Make sure you are not in a depression or even a flat surface. A slight down slope with the entrance on the down side is preferred. Dig a small drainage ditch around your shelter. I have used a Coleman Red Canyon, 10×17 in green for many years. For the price under $200, it is hard to beat. They are still available online though the green ones are hard to find. The only issue is that the tent looks like it has been discontinued, so replacement poles may be hard to come by.

  • Blasted Cap July 16, 2015, 10:30 am

    Has anyone else tried a pop up hunting blind as a tent? With all the windows zipped up they are very wind resistant and body heat will warm it up when it’s a little chilly out (I’m from South Dakota, so my idea of chilly may vary from yours.) I put a tarp down on the inside and pack leaves and pine needles around the edges inside and out for extra insulation. The 2 man blinds have enough floor space for a sleeping bag and extra gear. Set up and tear down take about a minute for the bulk of the shelter, they are wind and water resistant, camouflaged, and fairly lite.

    • Joe August 11, 2015, 10:32 am

      Excellent suggestion BC…I have another. How about a pvc frame, tarp covered shelter. There are lots of plans on the web for building these shelters and greenhouses. I have built simple ones, with clear plastic, to cover the tomato plants in my garden. Clear plastic alone is too hot to occupy in the summer, but you are limited only by your imagination as to shade options. Here is a free plan to build a 13ft. x as long as you want, shelter. For the price of a cheap tent, you can have a much larger space. By not gluing any of the pvc together, it is quite portable. The addition of mosquito netting or screen is a must in most areas.
      http://www.pvcplans.com/pvc-greenhouse.htm

  • Will Drider July 14, 2015, 10:09 pm

    Good article and commonts are dead on. I recommend an alternative set up. Instead of on big family tent use 2-3 smaller rwo to four person tents. They are easier to pack and carry, distribute adults and kids based on the situation, one group can aid ter other from the exterior if their is a problem, you can shift gear to one and people can gather in the other. If you lose one you still have shelter. If you have to split the group you all still take shelter with you. What ever set up you decide on: ALWAYS keep a single person tent as your ace in the hole plus it could be your pantry, water/cooler storage, time out area, play pen what ever. Hiking away from the main camp, take it. You will use it.

  • grizzlydude July 14, 2015, 12:31 pm

    Cheap tents, are in a word: CHEAP. They will not hold up under constant use without extra fabric, grommets, glue, and a good sail maker’s palm/glove, needle, and thread.

    As for pitching a tent in a SHTF situation…good luck with that.
    Maybe when things calm down you can have a tent for shelter, but not during the chaos. A good sleeping bag with a waterproof cover is the best you can hope for in that sort of situation. During the chaos, you’ll be hiding and a camp will only call attention to you.

    I have a half dozen or so good quality tents, including a wall tent with stove – and even those tents require annual maintenance. They’ve served me well for many years and will continue to be good tents for years to come. I also have a truck camper ready to go…

    But it is unlikely that I’ll be bugging out. I live where most people consider a bug out location. Trust me, you don’t want to squat on my land, shoot my game, or take my wood; I have more firearms and ammo than any band bug out guys can muster. In the absence of law, it is shoot first, ask questions later. If there is still some law, after the first one all the rest are free. Take my resources and face my wrath. I’ll deal with the law when order is restored.

  • Bill Searcher July 13, 2015, 8:45 pm

    Can you explain a little more about the tent becoming a bathtub if you have a tarp under it that is not cut smaller than the outline of the tent?

    • Administrator July 13, 2015, 10:49 pm

      Water drips down the sides of the tent and pools on the tarp and eventually seeps into the tent. If the groundcloth is cut smaller the water drips off the sides of the tent and perk out through the ground and the ground cloth never gets wet.

  • oldLady July 13, 2015, 6:17 pm

    Check out Sportsman Guild for their tee pee type tents. From what I read they would be a great summer tent as for winter you something you have some type of heat in. Most tents that will have room for a stove as you have to use wood or anything that burns . I live already off bride so I keep a canvas tent with a stove that will fit for friends that might show up if they can get out here also a small tee pee with h poles as I live in one years ago and they are a way to go if you have land to set it on. As carrying the canvas and poles take a truck or car with rack on it built just for your poles.12′ tee pee= about 16′ poles. Just to give you a idea.

  • David Wolfe July 13, 2015, 4:33 pm

    No disrespect intended to any of you using inflatable air mattresses and cots but I will give you a pearl of advice. A decent sleeping pad will keep you warmer (and more comfortable) and I personally find I can get by with a much lighter weight sleeping bag with the proper pad underneath me. There are plenty of places to save money and this is not one of them. A comfortable good night sleep is very important. I am a bit hypocritical because I only own one rolls Royce type Exped pad (down filled but inflatable) I cannot think of any better pad on the market. There are knockoffs that I think are pretty darn good as well. It is so important to insulate beneath your body rather than just having air. The ground robs one of body heat. Because I am not of huge financial means and spend most my money just living in the outdoors rather than preparing for that eventuality of it, my family utilizes a lot of closed cell sleeping pads.( again I make my own) We stay warm and dry but I have to admit I feel like I am in my mother’s arms or my bed at home when sleeping on that Exped pad. I save it for when I’m doing serious mountaineering trips in sub zero weather. (No I am not affiliated with their company)
    Also those of you that seriously want to spend some time camping out need to get out of the mindset of trying to reproduce ones home in the mountains. It is absurd to try to heat your sleeping space (personal opinion). Have a sleeping bag that keeps you warm and comfortable no matter how low the Mercury drops. You can always unzip if too warm. ( your drying space does not have to be where you sleep) Then have clothing that is warm and comfortable when you awaken and go about your day. If you’re blessed with heating oil then use it to heat food. It will go a lot further than burning it up all night long while you you are asleep and not enjoying the heat. As for cots…my person opinion is that this Is taking your “home mindset” camping . They are a complete wast of space. My family of four routinely sleeps comfortably in a low volume shelter we pitch on the ground ( be it snow, grass, rock or dirt) in the time it takes to put together a bulky cot and in much less space. What about if it’s hot climate and one “needs air flow under them? I have experience in jungles also and anyplace I have slept out where it was so hot I wanted to get off the ground and circulate air under me I found insects a problem so one may as well go to the sleeping hammock option (not too comfortable for me) or sleeping platform. One can make it on site using local resources and make it relatively bug proof.
    My last bit of unasked for advise (then I will quit preaching ) is go out and USE your stuff. It will be immediately apparent what is working and what isn’t so you don’t have to take advise from a red neck Montanan that had to spend a lot of cold sleepless nights figuring out what actually worked best for his family. Camping light and mobile can be and should be very comfortable and fun. Hope you can find a morsel to help you sleep better from what I have shared.

  • David Wolfe July 13, 2015, 3:49 pm

    Perhaps I can assist you with some information that may or may not help you. It’s probably worth as much as you paid for it which is nothing but having lived in Montana all my life we spend a great deal of family time living in the out-of-doors. Granted I prefer to travel with miles in the mountains but also make backcountry family ski and snowshoe trips into the high country as well (where weight is more of a consideration. ). With just a little Ingenuity and a little experience one can make very nice warm/dry shelters utilizing what mother nature offers for free. While I own now mountaineering tents designed for High winds and extreme conditions I rarely use them. When the focus is just a family Retreat in the mountains we tend to fall back on extremely lightweight options using tarps of my own manufacture made of high-tech materials that are extremely lightweight and durable.

    • Shane Connor July 13, 2015, 4:22 pm

      David,
      Specifically, what “high-tech materials that are extremely lightweight and durable” do you prefer to use?
      Thanks, Shane

  • GD July 13, 2015, 1:38 pm

    These are good tents made in the U.S. – http://www.camptents.com/shop/tan-canvas-tents/

  • Shane Connor July 13, 2015, 12:22 pm

    For something a little more permanent that’ll easily handle 100+mph winds, but still sets up or comes down in a couple hours and fits into the back of a pick-up, you might take a look at InterShelter Domes. If something like that is more of what you need/want, we’ve got them on a deep discount introductory sale for July only at http://www.ki4u.com/intershelter.htm

  • Shane Connor July 13, 2015, 12:21 pm

    For something a little more permanent that’ll easily handle 100+mph winds, but still goes up or comes down in a couple hours and fits into the back of a pick-up, you might take a look at InterShelter Domes. If something like that is more of what you need/want, we’ve got them on a deep discount introductory sale for July at http://www.ki4u.com/intershelter.htm

  • Ted July 13, 2015, 11:19 am

    Canvas must be oiled otherwise it will still leak and will wear like bluejeans. However, when canvas is properly oiled, this will be the best and most long lasting tent you’d ever own and will be something your grand kids use. Seams in any tent, no matter the material, must be waxed with beeswax. This can be accomplished by making the wax warm and soft enough to seal tiny sewing holes in the seams. I would do this on both sides. Don’t melt the wax to try to pour it on, that will render it useless.

    A tarp is a must for most modern nylon tents as they seem to be made for airy summer heat and humidity. I get they are trying to prevent mold, but this makes for one wet tent if not covered completely with a tarp! It must be covered from end to end, side to side and go all the way to the ground. For our 17×10 Coleman, we use the largest tarp available from walmart.

    Oiling any zippers is a must also to prevent misalignment and snags. It will zip faster and smoother if some 2 in 1 oil is placed on it.

    Camouflage is something to think about too. Most modern tents use bright colors, orange,red, blue and are tall. If you are trying to hide from anyone in the woods, a Camo tarp is a must or do it the old fashioned cheap way and cut small branches or brush to set around the tent but from above, where it really matters today with flying drones, you really need to think about something on top of the tent. A military Camouflage Netting is the way to go but you still need to block out any colors! Best to buy it that way to start with but spray paint and a camo tarp will work as well.

    The best option I’ve ever seen in a tent for total concealment is a tree tent suspended in the canape where most people would not be looking. You must be fit enough to climb the tree to begin with to fasten it in and then to climb into the tent either from underneath or along a the tree trunk. Some of these tents remind me to something an Ewok would live in but for total concealment, this is the best way to go, 30 ft up above anyone’s line of eyesight. Look for treeztreetents or tentsile for these tents but they are well above the $600 price point and for most, just not feasible due to the amount of climbing you would need to do, however, they are a great idea for total concealment.

  • Nabeel Kamal July 13, 2015, 10:34 am

    Any of these tents made in eth USA? interested in Exporting these tents to our office in overseas. Please advise.

  • Ted July 13, 2015, 9:16 am

    I have researched this topic for over a decade now and have tried many options. Let’s talk canvas first. It is way too heavy as mentioned but one thing not mentioned is it must be oiled canvas or it will leak period! The oil will allow it to be almost under water before it begins to even show signs of moisture on the inside. This is not a real option for most since the cost/weight/size outweighs other options that are cheaper/lighter/better concealable. Today’s tents are more engineered for summer camping with a little fall or spring thrown in. You must have the largest sized tarp to put over the tent even over the rain fly to prevent water from coming in. My family of five tents every year and we have found no matter what, moisture gets in. So a tarp covering is a must and then it must be aired out as weather permits. Sleeping is an issue as well as the ground will suck every ounce of warmth from your body if you are sleeping on the ground. It does not matter if you have an air bed or blankets, if you are laying on the ground, Putting down the right mats or being raised off the ground would be the better option but now you are carrying more stuff, adding lbs to your system. We use cots but you still have to have proper clothing for sleeping both in cold and heat. Air will flow around you if elevated in the cold temps but not enough in the summer so wearing the right gear for the right temps is knowledge to seek out in your area and climate. Tents are usually made cheap but you can remedy this by simply applying beeswax to every seam on the temp. It helps stitching stay together and prevents water from entering in those little holes as they stretch from putting the tent up. Also put a little oil of any type on your zippers of the tent, machine oil is best. This will help it not become misaligned and it will zip smoother and faster. The final thought I have without writing my own article is most every tent out there is colored…red, orange, blue etc. If you are trying to not be seen, then you may want to either spray paint your current tent camo, or buy a hunting tent that already has a pattern on it but keep in mind, if it is snowing, you’ll need white and brown, if green is in season then you will need regular camo looks depending on your areas surroundings. I use a 17×10 Coleman family tent. It is heavy. I put it in a plastic storage box for trucks with wheels on it purchased from walmart. If I had to, I could roll it into a camp location, otherwise, it’s over my shoulder or on top of my pack. Hope this helps.

  • Ted July 13, 2015, 9:11 am

    I have researched this topic for over a decade now and have tried many options. Let’s talk canvas first. It is way too heavy as mentioned but one thing not mentioned is it must be oiled canvas or it will leak period! The oil will allow it to be almost under water before it begins to even show signs of moisture on the inside. This is not a real option for most since the cost/weight/size outweighs other options that are cheaper/lighter/better concealable. Today’s tents are more engineered for summer camping with a little fall or spring thrown in. You must have the largest sized tarp to put over the tent even over the rain fly to prevent water from coming in. My family of five tents every year and we have found no matter what, moisture gets in. So a tarp covering is a must and then it must be aired out as weather permits. Sleeping is an issue as well as the ground will suck every ounce of warmth from your body if you are sleeping on the ground. It does not matter if you have an air bed or blankets, if you are laying on the ground, Putting down the right mats or being raised off the ground would be the better option but now you are carrying more stuff, adding lbs to your system. We use cots but you still have to have proper clothing for sleeping both in cold and heat. Air will flow around you if elevated in the cold temps but not enough in the summer so wearing the right gear for the right temps is knowledge to seek out in your area and climate. Tents are usually made cheap but you can remedy this by simply applying beeswax to every seam on the temp. It helps stitching stay together and prevents water from entering in those little holes as they stretch from putting the tent up. Also put a little oil of any type on your zippers of the tent, machine oil is best. This will help it not become misaligned and it will zip smoother and faster. The final thought I have without writing my own article is most every tent out there is colored…red, orange, blue etc. If you are trying to not be seen, then you may want to either spray paint your current tent camo, or buy a hunting tent that already has a pattern on it but keep in mind, if it is snowing, you’ll need white and brown, if green is in season then you will need regular camo looks depending on your areas surroundings. I use a 17×10 Coleman family tent. It is heavy. I put it in a plastic storage box for trucks with wheels on it purchased from walmart. If I had to, I could roll it into a camp location, otherwise, it’s over my shoulder or on top of my pack. Hope this helps.

    • Mike July 14, 2015, 2:57 pm

      I appreciate the article and Ted’s comments. Just to second them, I will share that I have had much of the same experience as Ted. Lots of camping and scout outings in lots of different tents. As a family, we have settled on the 17′ x 10′ Coleman family tent. It has the brilliant hinged door with the fiberglass pole to hold it in shape. It also has steel main poles without the flimsy plastic corners.

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