Tarp Or Tent

Discussion in 'Shelter' started by mangorockfish, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. mangorockfish

    mangorockfish Tracker

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    I have a chance to buy a really high end four season tent for a fraction of the original price, but really like the BCO tarps. I bought an el cheapo tarp and worked with it and liked the way it set up. Sway me to buy the tent or tarp. Both will cost about the same if I get a MEST with the tarp. I'm talking around $100.
     
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  2. Usingmyrights

    Usingmyrights Supporter Supporter

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    Which would you get more use out of/need for your area? It's hard to make recommendations without more information, but both have there pros/cons depending on the circumstances.
     
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  3. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker Supporter

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    As a point of comparison....

    In Utah and out west where I do lots of camping, a tarp is the most I have ever needed.

    Back east where bugs are an issue, a tent is far more comfortable for my needs.
     
  4. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    So how old is that tent? If it sounds too good to be true it often is. Mind you the pole set alone is the most expensive part of many tents and might be worth spending the money for spare parts. So I have to ask "What tent??"
    You can always buy a tarp but you may not always be offered a real bargain; if it really is a bargain buy the bargain. But what would I know without seeing the tent or knowing what your needs are.
     
  5. doulos

    doulos Guide

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    For me the decision is made for me by the bugs or lack there of!
     
  6. slysir

    slysir Guide

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    Sleep on the ground under a tarp here in Florida. Tell me how that worked out for ya!! :p:D

    -John
     
  7. 41magfan

    41magfan Scout

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    I use both and I don't see tents and tarps as being a good apples-to-apples comparison, personally. The mission should drive the equipment used, IMO.

    Many (if not most) truly "high end 4-season" tents tend to be of the single walled variety and relatively heavy. Does that describe the tent you're considering? If those necessary features (wind and snow load capabilities) are not a hindrance to your requirements, then it might be a smart move to go with the tent. But, tarps don't handle wind and snow loads very well so if that's a common occurrence when you camp the tarp is probably a no-go. If weight and versatility are more important, then a 4-season tent isn't usually the best option.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
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  8. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    Both. Both have their merits and its fun to switch things up.
     
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  9. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    I have a nice MSR tent and a nice silnylon tarp... both are good, but I prefer the tarp.

    Two thoughts... you said it's a four season tent. My first tent was a four season cuz I wanted to be ready for anything. But really, it was more than I needed and I was carrying extra weight 99% of the time. (I was young and foolish.) So, do you do winter camping in areas with lots of snow?

    On the other hand, if it's a good four season tent for $100, that's an opportunity that's not going come along very often. Maybe you should snap it up. You can get a tarp anytime.
     
  10. Riverpirate

    Riverpirate Supporter Supporter

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    The best use of a tarp is to hang over a hammock....I see no need for a tent. YMMV
     
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  11. Terasec

    Terasec Guide

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    as others stated, both have their pros/cons
    I use both,
    as for 4 season tent, what type of outing are you doing that justifies the 4th season use?
    3 season tents are just fine in winter for most people,
    if you currently have a tarp I would probably go with the tent,
    I mostly use a tent when close to the car, and a tarp when hiking to keep weight down,
    sometimes will set up the tent as a base camp and take tarp/hammock for excursions away from camo,
     
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  12. Keithturkjr

    Keithturkjr Scout

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    IME I can always get a couple camping things next year lol,..so if the tent is a really good deal now you might want to scoop it up and get the BCO tarp later.

    But like others said there's not enough info.

    Another thing to consider is the conditions you camp in. In the south its good to have a tent with lots of mesh and tons of air flow to reduce condensation. Dome tent with the rain fly off and a big tarp over it works great here.
    In the north 4 season tents often have a lot less air flow as they are trying to cut the windchill better.
    Separately 4 season tents tend to be built tougher to handle snow loads well and are often expensive compared to 3 season tents. A cheap knockoff may not handle snow loads as well as claimed, I wouldn't recommend considering one without seeing a lot of good reviews.
    If you find a good used one like a MSR twin sisters or the like, that doesn't need a bunch of parts and repairs, it could be a rare deal for you, but that is assuming that its is the right tent for what you are doing.
     
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  13. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    I like tents .
    If the need is less than a tent, it can be used was a tarp . I don't see the problem .
    If you learn to sew you can reconfigure the tent with zippers to open it up as a larger tarp.
     
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  14. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    DSCN4217.JPG
    If I add 2 zippers I can make this a tarp as well .
     
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  15. mangorockfish

    mangorockfish Tracker

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    I was under the impression that a four season tent was somewhat warmer, but from what I'm reading, they are stronger to withstand the weight of snow and ice. Am I right? If that's the case, I can see where a three season tent is all I need and I have a three season one already. Man, the stuff you can learn here!
     
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  16. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    A bit of both really and depending on where the tent is to be used, some mountaineering tents are designed to do the wind thing but also to be as light as possible.
    There are some tents that might be called 3+ seasons and some winter tents could be called the same but Late Autumn/Winter/Early spring tents so 2+ seasons. 4season tents are a misnomer, to cover all 4 seasons you really need more than one tent. To confuse things some tents come rated 5+ and you know these are for really gnarly conditions, Antarctica/ Patagonia in winter or high on K2 for instance and in reality totally unsuited for summer anywhere except those places
     
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  17. Skruffy

    Skruffy Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    As was previously stated, it would greatly depend on where and when and the conditions. I prefer tarps in different configurations or my Polish Lavvu.

    Polish Lavvu.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
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  18. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Lets put this another way too, often a tent is the fastest way to get out of the weather, not always the lightest option although a modern tent is an industrial miracle of strength and minimum weight, but with practice I could get my 3-pole tunnel up in under 5 minutes in a 30mph wind and then a few more minutes for tweaking external guys. Speed equals safety in bad weather. Another way of thinking too is that with a framed tent you can camp almost anywhere and not have to try and find suitable trees and sheltered positions.
     
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  19. mangorockfish

    mangorockfish Tracker

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    Well, I bought the tent. It is a Eureka Alpenlite 2xt. I think that I'll be able to sell it later if I don't like it or it doesn't work out for me get most of my money back if not all plus a little more. I'll plan on getting a BCO tarp later as I already have a cheap 10x12. Does anyone have any experience with this tent?
     
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  20. Top Gibson

    Top Gibson Supporter Supporter

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    I live in a hot weather locale.....routinely 65 to 70 degree highs in the winter. I usually just go with my BCO tarp and double hammock (with bug-net in spring/summer/early fall). However, I like to canoe/kayak camp in the summers on sandbars.....a tent is handy then since there are no trees on the bars. You can even use a heavier one since it's been hauled by conveyance. The sand is soft, so tent sleeping in the summer doesn't even require a pad.
     
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  21. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Not personally but it has a stellar reputation for being very sturdy and storm resistant. Not light at 3.5 kilos but that's due to the strength. Old technology where tents are concerned, get some extra pegs and good guying cord. It can be thought of as a Tapered Timberline with extra wand or a tapered Alpine Meadows made small.
    https://eurekacamping.johnsonoutdoors.com/tents/backpacking/alpenlite-xt-2-person-tent
    While I haven't used it I have used tents this size from Eureka and it isn't 2 persons in a winter scenario with -40 down bags, in that case consider it a magnificent solo tent
    Bargain
     
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  22. riverjoe

    riverjoe Supporter Supporter

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    Can a stove be added to such a tent for winter camp ?
    Long term winter camp requires drying capability for your gear . ( clothing as well as sleeping bag or under quilt IMHO )
     
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  23. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Not even a small one Joe; but what you can do is use a pole frame and a big tarp; a tarp big enough to cover the tent with extra depth in front and set up the stove under the tarp.
    Said tent being a mountaineering tent where smaller really is better due to the paucity of places to actually pitch shelters.
    OP has said they intend to buy a new LW tarp and already owns a heavy one of a suitable size
     
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  24. Big ian

    Big ian Tracker

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    I would say at almost 8lbs it's likely overkill unless you might be using it in snowy/stormy conditions. But for $100, it seems like your risk of losing $$ is low if you decide to sell later. You can likely find lighter and more user-friendly tent if you don't need the snowload capacity of this tent, but they'll be more than $100 new. Use this one but keep your eyes peeled for a another used one that might fit your needs better, once you figure out what they are for the trips you take.
     
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  25. Verluerekascht

    Verluerekascht Tracker

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    TWANAT

    What Terrain will you sleep in?
    What Weather conditions will you have to endure?
    What Activity will you do during the day?
    How many Nights in a row will you stay outdoors?
    Will you be Alone, or will there be one or two or three...people with you?
    How will you Transport your shelter?
     
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  26. RJM52

    RJM52 Scout

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  27. mangorockfish

    mangorockfish Tracker

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    I already have a light weight dome tent that one of my wives, can't remember which one, bought years ago that I can use during the warmer months. I just hated to pass this up. I really think that most of my bushcrafting will either be in the back yard, about five acres, or at designated camping areas that I can drive to. One knee doesn't work well all the time so my hiking is limited so the weight of my gear isn't really a problem.
     
  28. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    No experience with that particular tent, but — a good while back — I worked at an outfitters for about ten years. After seeing various products come and go, Eureka became my default recommendation for some looking for a tent. If they had specific needs or preferences, I would work with them on that, but if they came in saying they just wanted a good tent, I would always point them to Eureka first.

    Their tents are never the lightest weight, but they’re always well constructed, a good value, and sensible to set up.

    Maybe like the Ford F-150 of tents. There are reasons it’s the best selling vehicle in the US.
     
  29. purevwmetal

    purevwmetal Tracker

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    I’ve used both. I am definitely more comfortable in a tent. The mosquitoes here in central NY will pick you up and carry you away. Not to mention the ticks and horse flies too. I have a few different tents for different situations. Small if it’s just me, a medium one if I’m bringing my kids, a large one if I bring the wife and kids, and one I can use in winter. I usually put a tarp up too like a canopy, so I don’t have to sit in the tent if it’s raining. It can get kinda stuffy in there if it’s warm out.
     
  30. mangorockfish

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    Well, I received the "tent" today. It is a Eureka Alpenlite 2XT. The person I got it from said that he had used it one night and put it in the closet. It looks like new and if weather is fit tomorrow I'll set it up and take pics. I'm excited.
     
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