Questions on tents

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Questions on tents

Postby thesandman » Sun Apr 25, 2010 12:14 am

I have started looking at tents now and getting mix info on a good one from REI or sportsmen’s or cabelas, I know all walmart tents bad lol, and I may use military stakes and extra 550 cord to keep at down but need to pick a good one.
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Postby Sham » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:13 am

There are thousands of different opinions on which tent is better to use. Here is one of them:

Having never camped in a tent before, I found myself going to BM for the first time 8 years ago, for a 4 night stay. I needed a tent that was light to go in my luggage and would probably be used for just this one time and then mothballed or tossed afterwards.

I bought a cheap, lightweight, no name, 4 person tent, for under $40 from that evil, mom and pop store crushing monopoly you mentioned in your post. I added the 10 inch stakes they had hanging on the rack and headed off to the playa. It worked out perfect in every aspect---weight, roominess, wind resistance, durability etc.

Fast forward to 2010 and I still have that $35 tent going in my luggage again, with a few patches on the fabric. A campmate brought a springbar tent with him this past year and paid $100 extra for the overweight charge on the luggage---each way. The tent seemed perfect, but so was mine.

If you're planning on driving, you could go for a heavier tent, but if flying, go for a lighter one.
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Postby gyre » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:19 am

Cabela's has different suppliers.
Most aren't topline, but generally adequate.
Just because they say it's for arctic weather doesn't mean it is.
They vary dramatically.
I bought one of their closeouts from a better company.
A great tent everywhere except the playa.

They had great deals on cabin tents, but suitable for the playa?
Doubt it.

I have no explanation for Shambala's luck.
Or tolerance perhaps?
Haven't seen his tent.

A good tent is a very sophisticated device.
Cabela's has many set up out front.
The corners cut were obvious from the way the tents draped, a crucial factor in wind.
But some were good enough.

My jansport was 7 pounds with the heavy poles.
Rated for 100 knot winds, probably good for 150.
That's what a good tent can do.

I think the springbar is a bargain, but heavy as hell.
I haven't seen anything to compare for the cost.
You can add a bottom door zipper too.
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Postby gyre » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:22 am

My walmart tent lasted five minutes on the playa.
The doors never worked again.
Want it?
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Postby C.f.M. » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:24 am

One of my playa veteran friends ( 10+ years) has been using the same Coleman tent.
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Postby gyre » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:24 am

One option is to use a rugged enclosed shade area and put a cheap cabin tent inside.
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Postby gyre » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:30 am

C.f.M. wrote:One of my playa veteran friends ( 10+ years) has been using the same Coleman tent.

Sadly, tents used to be well made.
Even coleman makes some real tents, or did.
Wind is another matter.

The marmot I bought is no longer available.
They no longer make anything I would touch under their expedition line.
Everything below that is shit.
Same for many companies.

Good tents are becoming more and more rare, making them even more costly.
And choices are few.
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Postby FIGJAM » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:49 am

Gyre it right. I have a ozark trails tent i bought in the late 80s for $40 that has a window in the door and back wall, but no mesh anywhere else. They zip completly closed. For the price of the better tents you can buy a big used camper.
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Postby AntiM » Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:33 am

Our REI backpacker tent has been going to the playa since 2001, and was used in Japan since 1993. Also went to the Australian outback without us. Has some mesh, but we covered it with a comforter clipped in place and stuck it in a carport, no problems. Of course, it is for sleeping only. The zippers are getting funky, but it is still a solid tent. Pricey? Yes, but it has held up well.

We did bring a Colemen the year our nieces went, worst tent experience ever. Don't know if that was the nieces or the tent. No matter, it snapped a pole at our regional in a wind gust. No more larger tents for me!

Last year we got a pop-up tent through Campmor, easy set up, no mesh ($149). Still small, but with a tick more room on each side of the bed for small items like water bottles and tissue boxes. We still hang the comforter as a cover, insulates it nicely both ways (hot and cold).

We do all our clothing changes and washing, etc. in the shade structure, not in the tent. I sleep better in a small tent. Matter of preference and a lack of modesty.
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Postby curiousgnate » Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:09 am

I have a mountain hardwear hammerhead 3 that I have been using the past two years. it retails around 300$ it is excellent, I can fit my queen size air mattress in it and have room around the sides for stuff, It also has flaps on the outside that cover coolers etc. the only thing is that it must have the rain fly on to keep out the dust, but you can open places in it when the dust is minimal and get some good air flow. I use it year round. It is easy to set up and only has three poles. its light weight. I also have a small north face tent that i use for storage of costumes food booze etc. I put both of them under an ez up with three sides covered with tarps. great shade. I keep the ez up on a low level and not raised all the way up so as to minimize wind, and set it all up with the car on the wind side.
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wigwam

Postby VeganChoirGirl » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:54 am

I really loved my wigwam from sportsmans quide last year. Tons of room, tiny when packed down, and if they wind gets too intense? Just pop out the middle support bar and let it lie flat. It is also excellent at keeping out the dust. Only issue being that it doesn't fit under any standard type of shade structue. It would have to be specially made. I just left the wigwam when it got hot in the morning and took naps in group shade and at brc welding and repair.
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Postby Elorrum » Sun Apr 25, 2010 11:11 am

wigwam looks like a cool tent. good price. roomy, stand up, no mesh.
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Postby epic_elite » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:26 pm

we bought our 2 man tent about 5 years ago at target for $20. used it at bm '07 and it worked awsome. we never staked it because we were unfamiliar with wind conditions. when the wind picked up we were already at camp so we just slid it under one of the shade structures and threw a cooler in it for that un-necessary level of security that could probly have been ignored.

while that proud and massive camp across the street was colapsing under the wind atleast once daily, our camp stood strong and the tent was the last thing on my mind. (which is a good thing).

my tent was super low maintanence. one of those 2 man dome tents. has any one had any problems with those and the wind? my modow is the smaller the tent, the less wind it can catch. BM 2010 is going to be this tents last venture before we send it off to the forest in the sky as it now leaks. then we will buy a new, maybe $30 tent from target to replace it.


but you know, it's cooler in the shade structure than it is in the tent n e ways, once the sun has risen. it's easier to get up in the morning and move under the shade and breeze.

ive said before and ill say it again. Tents are only for 1 thing...... and it's not sleeping ;)
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Postby thesandman » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:05 pm

i had gone to REI agin today 2nd or 3rd look and started looking for a stronger tent with non-mesh walls, got the REI Arete ASL 2 its more or less a 4-season tent got it all most %50 off too, all the 3-season tents i find are all mesh and after looking over a lot of posting i figured out from the all smart people that mesh is a no-no this is heavier thin a 3season but hope this last a bit longer, i need to get the 12’’ military stakes now, sorry for the long post lol.
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Postby mdmf007 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:01 pm

When we bring tents, they have so much crap in them, that blowing over is never a problem with the stakes that come as standard equipment.
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Postby gyre » Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:42 pm

I posted a set of search terms elsewhere.

Look for four season, five or fifth season, expedition, arctic, etc.
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Postby Sham » Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:25 am

gyre wrote:My walmart tent lasted five minutes on the playa.
The doors never worked again.
Want it?

Bring it back to them. Remember---"Satisfaction Guaranteed".
Even if you're over the 90 days, buy yourself a brand new one and return the defective one to them with the new slip. If they're going to sell you some inferior piece of imported crap, they deserve to get it back. Even if you'll never bring it to the playa, you'll at least have a new one for less extreme camping or to pass it on to a kid that might need one.

I try not to shop at Walmart, but if I do and the merchandise turns out to be garbage, they WILL get it back--even if I only get a store credit, so I can buy more cheap imported plastic crap.
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Postby Orchid » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:10 am

I've been using the same Ozark Trail tent since 2007, for both on and off playa camping and it has held up like a champ. I originally purchased it because I figured the playa has a tendancy to destroy things, and I'd much rather have a destroyed $50 tent than a destroyed $250 tent.

But, as it has been pointed out: you often get what you pay for. Perhaps I just got lucky?
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Postby jcliff » Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:13 pm

I haven't read all the responses, but if you're tent bound and concerned about price.......go for a cheap tent with good stakes. Small tents handle the wind better than big ones. My 3-man tent cost me $20. Look for a tent that has a rain fly that covers all the mesh. If possible, pitch your tent with your vehicle blocking the predominant wind (west to east.) Bring with you 2 king-sized sheets. When you leave for the day, cover your air mattress or bedding with one sheet, and all your other crap with the other. In the event of a dust storm, all you have to do is carefully fold up your cover sheets when you crash. Take a long walk to the outskirts of the city the next day to dump the dust from the cover sheets.

Plenty of places sell tent stakes that are 12' long. They can be hammered down so they're even with the playa.....no one will trip on them. No wind will rip them out. BUT....they need a hammer fork or some other tool to get them out. If you plan on pulling up stakes early am.....make sure you have a tool to get them out so you don't leave them for someone else to deal with.
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Postby dragonpilot » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:04 pm

Hand stitch blanket material cut to fit over the mesh in the top. You won't believe how much that cuts down on the dust getting inside...plus covering everything with an old sheet while you're out and about...and zippering her up tight, too.
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Postby thesandman » Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:15 pm

The tent i pick up was a Rei 4-season, i fig its only got 3 small areas with mesh that zip close from inside so hope to be safe from most dust crossing fingers and toes :D
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Postby Badawg » Sat May 01, 2010 3:38 pm

I took a 300 buck Eureka in 2007 that had a mesh top. I covered the top with blanket and still got tons of dust. It was in a shade structure too. After the Playa it survived maybe 4 trips before the poles completely splintered up and I ended up replacing it with a real tent.

The new tent, bought last year is a Kodiak, and just like a Springbar. Real canvas and real sturdy. I have high hopes for it on the playa as it has performed well in heavy winds in the Borrego desert.

My advice is either go with a small one, go with a big one and spend a lot to get Aluminum poles(Avoid Fiberglass), Buy a springbar type and spend the whole paycheck, Or expect to replace it.

Throwing a shade structure over it is a huge help though for daytime comfort.
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Postby gyre » Sat May 01, 2010 5:25 pm

Fibreglas is just fine, when done right.

Most crappy poles are some other plastic anyhow, not fibreglas.
But there are crap fibreglas and aluminum poles out there.
It's quality you're after.

My Jansport fibreglas poles are still just dandy after many years of being stressed, and are good for a lot of wind.
I only heard of them being broken when someone fell on a tent.
They are heavier than aluminum though.
(Weighed more than the tent.)
Wish I still had the tent for them.
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Postby thesandman » Sat May 01, 2010 10:41 pm

my REI has Aluminum poles and not much mesh may get hot but o will
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Postby CapSmashy » Sun May 02, 2010 8:15 am

gyre wrote:I think the springbar is a bargain, but heavy as hell.
I haven't seen anything to compare for the cost.
You can add a bottom door zipper too.


With the Kodiak that Cabellas sells for around $100 less than a Springbar, you get the bottom door zipper, a second door, a total of 4 windows and vents along the top ridge.

The windows make a nice addition since it airs out the tent fast during times when the wind is calm and they zip up tight when the dust is flying.

In the years we have been using the Kodiaks, we were responsible for just about all the dust that made it inside.
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Postby Rice » Sun May 02, 2010 1:02 pm

thesandman wrote:my REI has Aluminum poles and not much mesh may get hot but o will


Hi, you will find that you don't want to be in your tent once the sun is up!!!

I had a thermometer last year and at about 2pmish my it was about +50°C (122°F??) inside my tent. I did not bother to heat the canned food that day ;)

You will still need that large sheet to help keep down the playa dust in your sleeping area...

It isn't the steady winds that will cause problems, but the mega-gusts and dust-devils that cause the most grief. From a distance, it is cool to see lawn chairs and tables getting thrown around.... Make sure to stake your tent well and lay your lawn chairs on the ground when you plan to be away from your camp.

Don't forget to read the Survival Guide!!

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Postby gyre » Sun May 02, 2010 4:56 pm

CapSmashy wrote:
gyre wrote:I think the springbar is a bargain, but heavy as hell.
I haven't seen anything to compare for the cost.
You can add a bottom door zipper too.


With the Kodiak that Cabellas sells for around $100 less than a Springbar, you get the bottom door zipper, a second door, a total of 4 windows and vents along the top ridge.

The windows make a nice addition since it airs out the tent fast during times when the wind is calm and they zip up tight when the dust is flying.

In the years we have been using the Kodiaks, we were responsible for just about all the dust that made it inside.

I will have to see a kodiak to be convinced.
I went by the #1 Cabela's on my way home on 80, and they had a lot of tents set up to check out, but not the kodiak.
There was one that I would choose over the kodiak though.
But the quality was nowhere near the springbar on the ones I saw.
The usa manufacture and warranty would easily be worth the cost difference to me.
You can have a tent a long time and a warranty that is backed up is worth a great deal.
There is much to go wrong on tents.

That is why I say to avoid the outlet north face tents, unless you find a real deal, like half price or a third of retail.
(The discontinued but still warranteed tents from campmor are another thing- those are legit.)
Outlet tents have no warrantee.
Also, north face reports outright fakes on ebay.
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Postby CapSmashy » Mon May 03, 2010 8:10 am

gyre wrote:I will have to see a kodiak to be convinced.
I went by the #1 Cabela's on my way home on 80, and they had a lot of tents set up to check out, but not the kodiak.
There was one that I would choose over the kodiak though.
But the quality was nowhere near the springbar on the ones I saw.
The usa manufacture and warranty would easily be worth the cost difference to me.
You can have a tent a long time and a warranty that is backed up is worth a great deal.
There is much to go wrong on tents.


I've never seen the Kodiak in the showroom. We've ordered both of our through the online site.

Martini Steve did a write up a couple of years ago comparing our 10x10 Kodiak to his Springbar and found no differences in terms of quality of manufacture or materials used. One of the review sites I used for my final decision between the two was that the Kodiak actually used thicker floor material with welded seam lines over stitched like in the Springbars, galvanized steel poles over aluminum and a denser canvas weave for the tent material.

Both utilize heavy gauge YKK zipper systems.

My 10x10 has weathered 2 trips to the playa with zero issues and my 10x14 went to the Playa last year and out to 2 regionals. We got flooded out at the last regional and despite heavy downpours and lots of puddling and fast moving ground water, the Kodiak stayed nice and dry inside without a rain fly or other cover.

That is why I say to avoid the outlet north face tents, unless you find a real deal, like half price or a third of retail.
(The discontinued but still warranteed tents from campmor are another thing- those are legit.)
Outlet tents have no warrantee.
Also, north face reports outright fakes on ebay.


I tend to make all of my high dollar camping gear purchases through a location like Cabellas as they have fantastic customer service that makes up for a little bit of a higher price. They've replaced items for us that have broken without hassle of need for a receipt. A quick call to customer service took care of it and we had replacement parts show up within the week.
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Postby Badawg » Tue May 04, 2010 12:09 pm

I bought mine at Cabelas too. As I have said it has been set up about 8 times now on everything from grass on the central coast of California (Rain and fog) Sandy Borrego desert wash with high winds, to, the sloping side of a rocky desert canyon and I have been very happy with it Calling it the Tent Majal.

I have checked out friends Springbars and the two tents are very similar. Main difference I can see is that Springbar has a bolt rope all the way around the floor with stainless wire stake loops.

With the 100 buck cheaper Kodiak I also got set of awesome playa ready stakes, 3 inside organizers(Crazy hat loft), the awning off the front and poles for that. 10 x 10 is HUGE and HEAVY to pack though.

Springbar makes a smaller and lighter one too.

First ever setup took 10 minutes by myself...
[img]http://i40.tinypic.com/21obj8i.jpg[/img][/url]

Edit: Pics not working for some reason...
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Postby gyre » Tue May 04, 2010 1:13 pm

The big question is how does the Kodiak drape?
How taut is it?
The Springbar seems perfect.

None of the Cabela's tents I looked at draped properly.
Very important in wind.
And harder to make than it would seem.
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