More coming soon!
For many years I used a ‘standard’ coated nylon tarp as a dining fly until I discovered “Tundra Tarps” made by Cooke’s Custom Sewing.
|Grommets are the weakest point of the ‘standard’ tarps I have used. Tundra tarps feature bomb-proof nylon loops at each corner and every 20-24″ along the outer edges and all seams. The 3/4 inch nylon webbing tape also reinforces the outer edge of the tarps.||“Quad Loop” at the center of the tarp provides a reinforced spot for securing a center pole.|
Tundra tarps are constructed of 1.1 oz or 1.9 oz silicone coated nylon. Sil-nylon is lighter weight with more than twice as much tear strength compared to 1.9 oz urethane coated nylon.
We have used our Tundra Tarps for six or seven years now, most extensively during our annual week-long canoe trips to Algonquin Provincial Park. We’ve pitched them vertically as windbreaks many times in winds well over 20-30 miles an hour without worrying about tearing out grommets. Our patrols use them on every camping trip as rain flys . I can’t recommend them highly enough. They cost more than standard tarps but have proven to be a great investment for us.
I often use my own Tundra Tarp instead of a tent. At less than three pounds (including a groundsheet, stakes, and lines) I have a huge (10″ x 14″) ,versatile, shelter that I much prefer to a tent.
|Cooke’s Tundra Tarps|
I recommend the 10’x14′ size in 1.9 ounce nylon. Weight 2 lb. 10 oz.
|Available from Cooke’s Custom Sewing|
Tent stakes have, perhaps, the highest mortality rate of any gear a Scout Troop takes camping (we usually pick up one or two left behind by someone else at every campsite we use!).
Standard 7″ gutter spikes make excellent, low cost, lightweight , tent stakes. Each weighs less than half an ounce, and cost less than a quarter if you buy them by the case. For comparison garden-variety galvanized steel tent stakes cost about seventy cents and weigh 1.1 ounces each.
|Case of 250 around $65.00 (with shipping)|
|Available from Amazon|
|Marmot Limelight 3 at Campmor|
|Marmot Limelight 3 at REI|
Many of our old Eureka Timberline tents had been in use for 15 years and it was time to replace them. It occurred to me that I hadn’t really looked at alternative tents in a good many years. This led me to the Marmot Limelight 3.
Our Timberline 4 tents are relatively inexpensive, durable, and easy to set up. They backpack well; the fly, tent, poles and stakes are divided amongst three or four Scouts. The Timberlines do have a pretty big footprint that can make finding level space for them a challenge, tend to partially collapse inward in winds or snow, and have limited space for gear storage. Over time we learned that although the Timberline is claims room for four it really fits only three Scouts and their gear.
The Marmot Limelight 3 is nearly two pounds lighter (a noticeable difference when backpacking) and only two square feet smaller than the Timberline. The dome shape promises better performance in the wind and snow; in fact it has special tie outs for windy, snowy conditions. The Limelight makes better use of it’s floor space; there’s 41 square feet of space in the tent for three sleeping bags and 10 square feet vestibules under the fly on each side for gear. The Limelight 3 costs more than the Timberline 4 with one door and is significantly cheaper than the Timberline 4 outfitter with two doors . The comparison with the outfitter model is more appropriate as the Limelight has two doors and tougher fabric than the standard Timberline 4.
We ordered one Limelight and I set it up at home. My two immediate concerns were the length of the poles and the complexity of setting up the tent. Two thing Scouts inevitably do with shock-corded tent poles (despite dire warnings) are to twirl one or two sections around in the air like nunchakus stressing and sometimes breaking the shock cord and using the poles for impromptu sword fights. The limelight’s two main poles are about eight feet long and they seemed, at first, destined to last about as long as a paper shirt in a bear fight once put in the hands of Scouts.
I gave the new tent to some of my Scouts at our next meeting and asked them to try setting it up and tell me what they thought. I walked away and let them do this on their own. The Limelight does not come with illustrated pitching instructions -there are only written ones on a tag on the tent bag.
The Scouts set the tent up with a minimum of confusion and had a generally favorable reaction to it. We took it out camping one weekend and it got very good reviews from the Scouts who used it. Based on their reaction we ordered three more to take with us on our annual week-long canoe trip. By the time they had used the tent for the week (we had some high winds and rain) the Scouts were sold on them. My initial concerns about the complexity of setting up the Limelight were dismissed when the Scouts remarked that it was much easier to set up than the old Timberlines.
Three years later I’ve spent a many nights in the Limelight and I’ve really come to like it. I don’t see any real signs of wear or tear and the Scouts are very happy with their new tents too. The only possible downside I have seen thus far is that the small plastic clip that holds the two main poles together has broken on a couple of the tents. I hasten to add that you don’t need the plastic clip – I am not sure why it was there in the first place.
Here’s a comparison of weight, cost, and floor space based on 3 Scouts per tent.
|Marmot Limelight 3||Eureka Timberline 4 Outfitter|
|Total||Per Scout||Total||Per Scout|
|6 lbs 11 oz||2 lbs 4 oz||11 lbs 3oz||3 lbs 6oz|
|61 Sq Ft||20.33 Sq Ft||63 Sq Feet||21 Sq Ft|
|Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern at Amazon|
We replaced our old propane gas lanterns five or more years ago with Coleman Pack-Away LED Lanterns. Like any Scout gear they’ve been battered, bruised and broken and we’ve decided it’s time they were replaced.
Overall the Rayovac Sportsman seems to be built more solidly than the Coleman Pack-Away.The telescoping feature of the Coleman Pack-Away turned out to be a weakness, as did the battery compartment cover; they simply didn’t stand up to regular (Scout) use.
After some research and testing we have decided on the Rayovac Sportsman LED lantern. It’s smaller, tougher, uses three rather than four D batteries, has higher brightness and longer battery life.
|Rayovac Sportsman||3 D||40 hours (high), 90 hours (low)||High – 240, Low 90||$26|
|Coleman Pack-Away||4 D||18 hours (high), 40 hours (low)||High – 145||$28|
Comparing the cost of running a propane lantern to an LED lantern:
Average cost $1.50 each, 3 = $4.50. Lasts 40 hours on high setting = .11 per hour
1 LB Propane cylinder
Average cost $3.50. Lasts 5 1/2 hours on high setting = .63 per hour
I think it’s safe to say that propane lanterns cost at least six or seven times as much to run as an LED lantern when considering the cost of mantles.
To run a propane lantern for 40 hours you’d use at least 7 disposable cylinders, with an LED lantern you’d use three D sized batteries – the LED lantern creates far less waste.
The Rayovac Sportsman does have one minor problem (I hesitate to call it a flaw) and that’s closing the battery compartment. Two arrows must be aligned perfectly and it’s not quite so simple as it sounds, but you’ll get it with a little practice.