Ground tents... An open ended discussion

Mr. Leary

Adventurist
Founding Member
#1
Different solutions work for different folks, and different trips mean different requirements. Although ground tents are less popular lately among the fashion conscious overlanders, I would argue that they possess a utility and versatility that is tough to beat with any other solution.

Lets take my long time go to tent, dubbed "ol' reliable." It is an ozark trails trails tent that I purchased about 10 years ago along with two smaller tents that attached to it, for less than $100. I have since lost / retired the other tents, but this one, the centerpiece, still remains. A simple 5 pole design that meets in the middle, it is one of the easiest tents imaginable to set up quickly or in the dark / bad weather. While not supremely light weight, it has come along on a couple backpacking trips with me and served its purpose as a roomy two person shelter, or three in a pinch. Ive easily spent 200nights in the tent, a number I thought I would never get close to given the price point. It has weathered storms in New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas... it's the loaner tent, the tent for those rowdy wheeling trips with the fellas, and the tent that I don't quite love, but can never justify getting rid of. The way I see it, it's paid for itself many times over, and its earned its place in my gear loft. No plans to get rid of it, even though I have other tents that see more use nowadays.

Lets hear about your favorite, or not so favorite, ground tents!
 
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Dave

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Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#2
Too funny Mike, I'm 99% sure I too have the exact tent you refer to... I'll dig up a pic but I concur with all points. I even still have the side tents tucked away and the kids use them from time to time. Connected it makes quite the basecamp.

EDIT: Here it is in Baja circa 2006... we still have this tent!

Docs-Taco-Baja.jpg
 
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NC_IslandRunner

Adventurist
Founding Member
#3
I have a huge ozark trail one room tent, it's been used in the mountains from Georgia to Virginia and on islands off the NC coast, you see it in most my pics of camp. I also have a little 2 person OT tent I've used a few times, namely in GWNF back in 2010 when it kept 4" of snow off me, I wasn't sure it would survive that trip but I still have it. And my newest tent is a cot tent, keeps me off the ground, but lacks room for changing cloths or any other hygiene rituals. Best used when you can leave the windows open as it's so small it can have a condensation issue.
 

Fowldarr

Adventurist
Founding Member
#4
I have a 6 person kelty that I picked up on clearance when a sportsmanship warehouse was closing down. Paid $60 for it. Never had an issue with it and we have probably put 100 nights in it with kids and dogs. Now that we are a true family of 6 (and 2 dogs) it is a little tight, so we will likely go with something bigger in the not too distant future. That said, we have a smaller tent as well (I think it just might be an ozark trails) that my kids have. Been bringing along and setting up their own camp. So we make due for now.
 
#5
We currently are using an Oztent RV-4. When my wife and I started traveling, we were using a Coleman 2 man backpacking tent. It was fine for sleeping, but sucked when we were stuck in camp due to rain. The Oztent is a true 4 season tent, sets up and breaks down quickly, and has plenty of room for a queen size air mattress. If its raining we just back the truck up and attach the tents awning to the roof rack. It's only downside is the fact it is a large package when stowed, but this is a trade off we gladly accept.


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#6
I have gone through my share of tents, shelters and simple tarps with sticks......They have all served their purpose over the years, but with recent, "technology" if you will, a ground tent really doesn’t have much of a purpose these days for me, though I still have a collection.

Let’s start with what I currently have and why I use/don’t use them (the ones in the past are too many to mention):

Sierra Designs 2 person 4 season tent (free standing): This is a TANK of a tent and is STILL my go to high alt mountaineering tent. I use this when me and my climbing buddy are going up some nasty climbs and whiteouts, etc are possible. That being said, the last few times I rolled up Whitney (considered high alt here in cali, though a VERY easy mountain to get up), I did not take it, I simply took my sleeping bag and wrapped myself in a tarp (much like a bivy sack)..much lighter for quick overnight mountaineering adventures.

REI Dome 6: This was purchased once I embraced the "car camping" thing..it is big..no, correction, it is HUGE, but when I’m not packing it on my back, who cares. This tent work well for a few trips but was later replaced by my Kodiak Canvas. The tent was actually a great tent if a LARGE tent is what you are looking for, the only reason I went to the Kodiak is because I have always had a thing for canvas tents. haha


Kodiak Canvas 6 Person Flex Bow: This is one of my favorite tents EVER...when it can be used, that being said, the downfall is the fact that it’s not free standing, you have to stake it down, and it takes a LOT of stakes, so it limits where you can use it. HOWEVER, if you are in an area where staking is possible, this tent is amazing. I will never get rid of it. I do not use it as much lately simply because I have my flippac now, which is MUCH easier....but I will always keep the Kodiak, and my friends still use it all the time.


Flippac: This is the new go to for car camping. The strait ease and speed of setup cannot be beat, and the comfort is second to none. It’s a bit of an investment, but if you are serious about being comfy out there, you cannot go wrong. If I'm in my truck over night, I am sleeping in the flippac.


Warbonnet Hammock: My new "go to" when it comes to shelters for basically EVERYTHING that is not car camping, is my warbonnet hammock. Never again will I use a tent except "extreme mountaineering" with a partner when the sierra design comes out. The hammock has it all. A full winter setup, (hammock, tarp, underquilt, overquilt) it is MUCH lighter than a traditional tent, sleeping bag and pad setup, and WAY more comfy than a little thermorest ultra light pad.
When there are no trees around, no problem, leave the hammock packed, but use the tarp to make a bivey sack around the under/over quilts. Or if you have hiking poles, use them to make an a frame tent, and now you have a SUPER lightweigth ground tent. I am now a devoted hammock camper, and have all but retired my tents, except when they are needed for their SPECIFIC (flippac and sierra design) tasks.
The fact that there are different parts is great too. If you go out hiking in summer, lighten the load by leaving the underquilt/overquilt at home. IF you have a ground tent, you cannot really do that...the setup is what it is, you need all parts.
 

Mr. Leary

Adventurist
Founding Member
#7
A staple for solo trips, my ECWS bivy sack has travelled all over the country with me. Used in conjunction with a REI 2.5 sleeping pad and a sleeping bag, I am cozy, comfortable, and very mobile.

For backpacking solo, it's nice to keep the weight down, but when backpacking with a buddy or my wife, I have another tent that gets more use (ill talk about that one later).

Advantages that this "tent" holds over the others in the gear loft are its low packing weight and volume, it's simplicity, and its small footprint. Camp can be set up virtually anywhere.

Disadvantages are that it leaves something to be desired in the privacy department and that it can get a little uncomfortable in bad weather.

I'm not super attached to this tent, but it does the job, and I haven't found another option that fits my requirements better.
 

Dave

Adventurist
Founder
Senior Staff
Editor
#8
There's a lightweight system not mentioned yet. Hated by some, revered by most. It's in the "pack light freeze at night" class.

I give you one of my all time favorite pieces of gear, the GI Poncho Liner:

poncho liner.jpg

Also known as the "Liner, Wet Weather Poncho", it's super light and amazingly warm, inexpensive and even somewhat windproof. Add a GI Poncho and you have a "ranger roll" that can be used as a full shelter and sleeping system. IMO, if you don't have one of these stashed in your truck or the trunk of your car you are wrong. New fangled versions can be had in many patterns and even have options like zippers etc. Real GI Ponchos can be connected to make even larger shelters. Limitless possibilities.

poncho shelters.jpg
 

NC_IslandRunner

Adventurist
Founding Member
#9
There's a lightweight system not mentioned yet. Hated by some, revered by most. It's in the "pack light freeze at night" class.

I give you one of my all time favorite pieces of gear, the GI Poncho Liner:

View attachment 1976

Also known as the "Liner, Wet Weather Poncho", it's super light and amazingly warm, inexpensive and even somewhat windproof. Add a GI Poncho and you have a "ranger roll" that can be used as a full shelter and sleeping system. IMO, if you don't have one of these stashed in your truck or the trunk of your car you are wrong. New fangled versions can be had in many patterns and even have options like zippers etc. Real GI Ponchos can be connected to make even larger shelters. Limitless possibilities.

View attachment 1977
I have a quilt with one of those used for the inside. warm.
 

rangermatt

Adventurist
Founding Member
#10
northstar.jpg

Ive lived in in lots of tents over the years but this one has been my favorite, Eastern Mountain Sports Northstar,
3 -4 season, dual vestibules and entrances, 2 person (if shes cute LOL) and one of the easiest tents to set up ivee ver dealt with, cannot say enough good things about it.
 

Stuart

Adventurist
Moderator
Founding Member
#11
I dig my OzTent. Easy to set up and I have always staked every tent I have ever put up so it really isn't a deal breaker for me. It is cumbersome, but hey, that's what the truck is for. The integrated front awning is great. I connect it to my legless awning of my truck for a mini-compound.
 

BMThiker

Adventurist
Founding Member
#12
There's a lightweight system not mentioned yet. Hated by some, revered by most. It's in the "pack light freeze at night" class.

I give you one of my all time favorite pieces of gear, the GI Poncho Liner:
Dad gave me and each of my brothers one of these when we were pre-teens. I still use mine to this day to supplement our sleeping bags or as a standalone light blanket in moderately chilly weather.

As for tents, I haven't broken the $200 threshold because (as a married couple) we don't do much inclement weather camping. We have a Kelty Merced 8x8 that get's used the most.

We have a Coleman Hampton 10x16 family tent when we will be set up for more than 2 days or need to share living quarters. 30lbs, but easy 10 min setup.

We also have a Eureka 2-man tent that is one of my favs. I got it at Dick's Sporting goods for around $80 on closeout. It's light enough for backpacking and big enough (barely) for a full size air mattress. It only has 2 Aluminum poles that are segmented at 16" instead of more traditional 20-22" which makes packing a breeze. Under 8lbs.
EurekaTent (1).jpg
I also have a solo tent from Walrus (now defunct) that is similar in construction to a Sierra Designs Lightyear. I think the design got bought and resold by MSR. Downside is it is not freestanding. Upside is that its under 4lbs.
 

Al Swope

Adventurist
Founding Member
#13
tent.jpg I have a Mountain Hardware 2 person, 3+ season backpacking tent with fly and footprint. it cost me $350, 17 years ago. I use for all spring, fall and winter camps. I stay dry and I know it won't get blown around. It is a quality piece. I also have an elcheapo Coleman large tent (10x14). I like to take it in the heat of the summer bcause I can use a cot, stand up, etc.
sorry for the picture FAIL
 

Mr. Leary

Adventurist
Founding Member
#14
View attachment 2415 I have a Mountain Hardware 2 person, 3+ season backpacking tent with fly and footprint. it cost me $350, 17 years ago. I use for all spring, fall and winter camps. I stay dry and I know it won't get blown around. It is a quality piece. I also have an elcheapo Coleman large tent (10x14). I like to take it in the heat of the summer bcause I can use a cot, stand up, etc.
sorry for the picture FAIL
That is one small tent!
 

Robert

Adventurist
#15
I used a Eureka Timberline for years- from my scouting days in the early eighties, through college, lived in it one summer in the mountains and it finally got to the point Eureka didn't want to fix it anymore. The zippers had been replaced, it was stained and faded, had patches on it and smelled a bit (that funky smell that nylon gets). I reluctantly tossed it sometime in the mid '90s and bought a used North Face Aerohead off a friend which I still have. I also bought a REI Half Dome 2 Plus a while back that I bought as a three season tent (it breathes much better than the four season Aerohead and has more room in it) and to carry on the motorcycle. The extra room is nice for riding gear.
 

wesel123

Adventurist
Founding Member
#16
There's a lightweight system not mentioned yet. Hated by some, revered by most. It's in the "pack light freeze at night" class.

I give you one of my all time favorite pieces of gear, the GI Poncho Liner:

View attachment 1976

I have my Dad's from his 2 tours in Vietnam. It is truly my MOST treaseud peice of kit, I

Also known as the "Liner, Wet Weather Poncho", it's super light and amazingly warm, inexpensive and even somewhat windproof. Add a GI Poncho and you have a "ranger roll" that can be used as a full shelter and sleeping system. IMO, if you don't have one of these stashed in your truck or the trunk of your car you are wrong. New fangled versions can be had in many patterns and even have options like zippers etc. Real GI Ponchos can be connected to make even larger shelters. Limitless possibilities.
Sorry to deviate from the tent talk.

I have my Dad's "Pancho Liner" from his 2 tours in Vietnam. It is truly my MOST treasured piece of kit, I use it as my blanket almost every night when camping. And for some strange reason the one I was issued was never as comfy or warm, can't quite figure that out???
 
#17
Really like the OzTent but keeping backing off because of the price.

Not a rich guy. Make a median income. How often would most of you have to use a tent to justify spending a $1000? Do you guys that buy them spend weeks a year in them or just buy them because they will last a long time? I know that is kinda a hard question to answer. Need some convincing I guess.
 
#18
Really like the OzTent but keeping backing off because of the price.

Not a rich guy. Make a median income. How often would most of you have to use a tent to justify spending a $1000? Do you guys that buy them spend weeks a year in them or just buy them because they will last a long time? I know that is kinda a hard question to answer. Need some convincing I guess.
Forgot to mention I already have a Marmot 2p backpacking tent and a Walmart special 6 person cabin tent.

The Marmot tent is great for backpacking or on my bike but is just to small for car camping. No room to move around, change, and hang out in bad weather. The cabin tent is HUGE but takes up a sea bag when packed. It it also a royal pain in the ass to set up. Would hate to have to set this up multiple nights in a row on a long trip. It does have the room I need but it is almost too big. Not sure how long it is going to last though.
 

Stuart

Adventurist
Moderator
Founding Member
#19
I can't see 'rich' because of all the dust left behind as it speeds away. I bought the OzTent used so it wasn't full pop. I haven't used it as much as I'd like to, but the main draw for me was the ease in set-up. Literally 30 seconds. No, that doesn't include staking time, but getting the main body up without fiddle-farting with a bunch of poles and sleeves is nice.
 

MotoDave

Adventurist
Founding Member
#20
I use an REI Taj 3 when I am tent camping, its a good size for 2 people, fits 3 in a pinch. I really like that it has entrances and vestibules on both sides, so you're not crawling over each other. It is light enough to backpack with for 2 people.
 
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