Adults supply their own tents, the troop supplies tents for youth. However, some of the youth have their own backpacking tents.
You have a lot of styles for tents. Most adults use a 2 or 3 person, 3 or 4 season backpacking tent pretty much year-round, but there are other options. Note that a 1 person tent holds one person, not one person and their gear.
A summer tent has a lot of screen area, and lets the breeze through. The advantage is that its lightweight and may be inexpensive.
A larger tent that can be set up in about a minute. When the tent is packed up, the frame stays in place Very easy to set up, but they weigh a lot and are really only suitable for late spring, summer and early fall car camping.
3 Season Tent
A 3 season tent is used in the warmer part of the year. It may have a mesh inner tent and a full coverage fly, or less often, a full coverage tent and a fly that only covers the top of the tent. Many of our adult leaders use a 3 season tent year-round.
4 Season Tent
A 4 season tent has a full coverage inner tent (all the windows have zipable covers) and a fly that goes to the ground or nearly to the ground. Vestibules may be larger than on other tents. There are usually more poles than in a 3 season tent because of snow loading, and the poles will be aluminum. Waterproofing will be better than with other tents. A winter tent should also have a low ceiling so that your body heat will warm it up some.
The tent shown is the Cabelas Alaskan Guide, shown without its fly. Note that it has more than the minimum number of poles.
A very lightweight tent, available in summer, 3 season and 4 season styles.
Some campers use hammocks (with or with out a fly depending on the weather) as a low-weight alternative. Hammocks also allow sleeping on hilly campsites. Shown to the right is a hammock with insect resistant mesh cover and tarp.
Polyester is a bit better than nylon, it does not absorb water and stretches less, so it doesn’t sag and will dry faster than nylon. Canvas is heavy, absorbs water, and leaks.
A waterproof “bathtub” floor will keep your gear from getting wet..
Aluminum is lighter and stronger than fiberglass. Some fiberglass poles get brittle in the winter and shatter (lots of snow on the tent can do this) and some fiberglass will lose strength in the heat and be weaker.
One company claims that their fiberglass poles are usable in the cold; those poles are spiral wrapped.
A footprint is something you put under the tent to protect the tent floor from rocks, twigs, etc. This will extend the life of your tent and is a good investment. You can use a “regular old” tarp as a footprint, just fold it or cut it so that it doesn’t extend past the wall of the tent. A piece of thick polyethelene sheeting is also a good footprint.
This is something you put inside the tent to protect the floor from stuff you put into the tent (including mud). It should be removable so that you can clean it off easily. Again, a tarp, polyethylene sheet, or even a piece of tyvek works.
Smaller tents require you to kneel before entering, a “welcome mat” gives you a place to kneel that’s dry and not dirty. Welcome mats give you a place to wipe your feet with larger tents.
If You’re Tall
Make sure to get a tent that you can fit into. Many tents specify the dimensions of the floor at the ground. But the walls may slope, so if you’re on a thicker airbed or ground pad, your feet and head may hit the wall.
The Marmot Limelight tent (shown to the right) has poles that bend so you get a larger sleeping area. This tent has a full-coverage fly.
You will have to air out your tent after use, and usually let any condensation or rain dry. In the winter, you’ll probably have to dry it and air it out inside your house. Bigger is not always better.
If there’s snow on the ground, you probably will want to shovel out your tent site. You will need a shovel. And again, a bigger tent is not always better.
Normally, a good sleeping bag and liner will keep you warm over even the coldest nights. But some like a heater to take the chill off when undressing at night and dressing in the morning.
Some medical conditions and/or medical equipment may require temperature above 40 degrees; in that case a tent heater is mandatory in the cold months. A propane heater with an oxygen sensor is a good choice, and a small carbon monoxide sensor as a backup to the oxygen sensor is a good idea.
Sharing a Tent
There are no rules against two or more adults of the same gender sharing a tent, and a married couple may share a tent.