Ground tents... An open ended discussion


Blatant racism... well, I never, LOL. :eek: My latest tent is an Ozark Trail Hexagonal Sport Dome Tent, and it's actually quite well-made: the seams are well-stitched, while the mesh stargazing panels are adequate but could be improved (I was spoiled by my last tent when it came to stargazing, as it had HUGE mesh panels). Though this model tent employs poles and sleeves/clips in setup, it goes up pretty fast and offers plenty of room for one or two people. The center height is only 4', so it's definitely NOT a tent for tall people, but I'm nearly 6' and I have no problem scrunching down to enter or exit the tent. Sure, I'd like a taller tent, but the price was right on this one: FREE!!! No, I didn't steal the tent off the top shelf at Walmart, it was given to me, LOL. My old tent, which lasted about a decade despite hard use, finally had its door zipper blown out, and the tent had holes in the floor which were patched with duct tape. Good tent for climbers, that old tent, wish I could remember the make and model, but I donated it to some military wife on Craigslist, so her children could have a play tent on the lawn in their back yard, right? Anyway, I've already used this current tent several times, and it has worked quite well for me, though I experienced unexpected problems when removing the poles from the sleeves: the sleeves are fairly small in diameter, and I made the mistake of trying to PULL the poles during extraction, rather than PUSH them. In my old tent, it made no difference either way, as the sleeves were loose and baggy, so to speak, but THESE sleeves kinda gripped the poles when I attempted to pull them out, which led to the pole sections breaking apart and then returning together to pinch the fabric of the sleeve... a mistake which I only made once upon noting the difference in sleeve diameter. Now I gently PUSH the poles in whatever direction to extract them, 10-4?
Having said this, let me tell you about my latest trip to the mountains & desert, which I made last week... I only spent two nights out there, when I usually spend at LEAST three or four nights per trip, but one of my seven brothers was visiting from out of state, so I cut my trip short. Spent the first night in the mountains (or high desert, if you prefer) near Boulevard, specifically in Lark Canyon in McCain Valley. Then I dropped down into Anza-Borrego to hit the hot springs at Agua Caliente, as well as the cold-water pool, since the temp was over 90 on the second day of my trip. After enjoying the thermal pools and cold-water pool for about six hours, I drove to the turnoff for Palm Spring, intent upon merely camping for the night and returning to San Diego in the morning to hang with my bro. There's a small cove near Palm Spring where one can easily set up camp, not far from S-2 so one can make a rapid departure the next day. Well, with half a trunkload of firewood still in the Camry, that p.o.s. started to bog down in the soft sand en route to Palm Spring (the Olds used to make it no problem), and I didn't want to get stuck, so I turned around and went to another spot on the advice of an old school desert rat. Wound up pitching my "new" tent in what I call the "Tamarisk Dome"---a dome-shaped Tamarisk tree with a soft carpet of dead needles or foliage in the hollow center. Moonlight filtered through the branches at night and laid an intricate pattern of shadows on the tent fabric and mesh panels, so realistic that the branches appeared to be woven directly into the fabric and mesh panels. Bats flew through the Tamarisk Dome all night, and their little bat shadows added to the pattern. Unreal spot, and the tent was the PERFECT SIZE for the enclosure or hollow center of the Tamarisk Dome. Could've put a larger tent there, in fact, but this one worked just fine... and that site is my favorite new free campsite in Anza-Borrego!!! What can I say, I'm a cheap bastard as well as a long-winded one, LOL.
Anyway, that's the story of my "new" tent, which you can probably Google on the Internet, since I have no photos of it (yet). Not a bad tent at all, it seems well-made for a Chinese tent, or a Mexican tent, or whatever... I haven't even looked at its place of origin yet, I imagine it's Chinese but there are instructions in Spanish on the outer label, a piece of cardboard in a clear sleeve on the tent storage bag. Let's just call it a Chinese Mexican tent, that'll cover all the bases, 10-4??? Or should we call it a Mexican Chinese tent??? Does anyone here have a preference? I know I like Chinese AND Mexican food, and I have a burro-load of Mexican blankets in my room, but I can go either way on this one. All I know is that the seams are stitched well, the zippers work just fine, and the mesh stargazing panels are adequate, though not quite as large or clear (in terms of visibility) as the stargazing panels in my last tent. Gotta have my stargazing panels, I like looking up at the heavens once I've downed my final beer for the evening and crawled into my fartsack to crash. Yesiree, those Chinese-Mexican (or Mexican-Chinese) sweatshop laborers DONE GOOD when they put together this tent, and that ain't no lie. Thing is tight, stands up to powerful gusts of wind no problem when fully staked, and looks heller cool when lit up at night, LOL. Oh, yeah, there are some little stretchy pockets hanging inside, I guess for keys or lighters or perhaps cigarettes for smokers, and those pockets were kinda cheesy... felt as if they'd require two hands to insert small objects such as those mentioned. Enough said, I'm off to crash, ADIOS!!!


Funny you should ask that... some hand I know gave me an older digital camera, and the thing worked okay in my room, but when I took it to the field, it steadfastly refused to cooperate. At first, I found this mildly annoying, but then I realized that it was not MEANT to function properly, due to "natural progression"---everything happens or does NOT happen for a reason, and if I posted a pic of my favorite new free Borrego campsite on the Internet, next thing ya know, the place would look like the Katella Exit on I-405 at rush hour, 10-4? Did I mention the fact that this is a SECRET SITE? LOL... the weird thing is that I've blown past it a hundred times over the years without really noticing it, it took an old school desert rat to "clue me in" to the site. And in many ways, I'm an old school desert rat myself, go figure, but I reckon no one man can possibly know it all when it comes to a park the size of Anza-Borrego. Better stop here or I'll get chewed out for straying off topic, chewed out like those boots getting chewed out by Lee Ermey in "Full Metal Jacket" (LOL). Already been there and done that, 10-4??? :eek:
I too have had many tents over the years and my go to tent for family camping was a $75 Ozark Trail family dome tent slept 6+ people, that I purchased back in 2004. Some of the shock cord broke in the poles no big deal, one of the poles cracked and snapped so I taped it. I finally got rid of it last October when the stitching at the roof went. All in all not a bad run for a 10+ year old tent that was extensively used.

Now for a family tent we've moved onto a Black Pine Turbo Tent 8. Which works out great for our family of 4 soon to be 5, plus our dog.

And when it's just my self and I'm hiking/ backpacking I'll use my Mountainsmith Morrison backpack tent. Or my tarp setup with a bivvy.

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Although I usually prefer my RTT tent, we decided to give the Coleman 8 person Instant Tent a try on one of our desert outings. This way we figured so we can take off from basecamp for trail rides w/o having to fold up things up which would be the case w/ the rtt. To our surprise it withstood wind gusts of at least 30mph that weekend towards the afternoon and throughout the evening.

Notwithstanding that I was half asleep most of the time to see if it will hold up but thankfully it did. I did however set it up next to two small boulders, staked it down w/ metal ones then parked right in front of it to shield it. One thing about desert tent camping is to always use metal stakes and a steel drilling hammer since a rubber mallet won't cut it when driving those suckers in that type of surface. Just let the weight of the hammer do the work for you and try not to bend the stakes in the process and even though I had to use a pry bar to pull them out that really helped the tent hold its ground.

We had their earlier models that didn't come w/ a rainfly so I called them to suggest that perhaps they need to design one which they do now but as an option. See picture below.

In one of my searches, I did come across a tent from a company from Utah called Kirkham's that boast of their tents (the Springbar model) withstanding winds higher than 30mph. Even though that might be an overkill of sorts, I figure it might be interesting to share a video on their site that shows exactly that.


I'm not sure if the link will work w/ this post but they do have it on their website for those who are interested.


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Founding Member
Raul, I'll have Robert's Kodiak tent at Toys for Tots. It's the larger of their options. The Kodiak is the chinese version of the Springbar tent, which normally I don't dig, but it actually has a couple features the Springbar doesn't, although I can only recall the main on off the top of my head (vents!).

Come check it out. This is the tent we used at MRV14.
Cabela's has some really nice wall tents in their outfitter series


I love my wall tent. I have a 9x12 with 5'walls and 8' ridge. Its really nice to be able to get dressed standing up, and walk around out of the weather when its bad out. I have a Sims folding wood stove, it makes it really nice in the winter or all, and you can dry out your clothes. I lived in it for a couple months once when waiting for a rental to open up. It was pretty comfortable. I also took my twin size bed and frame from home, a folding table and chairs, small dresser, and a rug. It's heavy and bulky but great for serious heavy duty use. I use it with wood poles and have a steel frame. With the steel frame it was fine in 60-80 mph winds

I had a tipi many years ago, the are the absolute best tent for comfort and all weather use, so long as you can deal with the size and weight, and haul the poles. Its REALLY nice to have an open fire inside any time you want. I've been comfortable in shirt sleeves when it was zero outside.



I'm dragging this thread up from the depths, because I love tent camping.

Here the REI half-dome 2+ we've been using for a couple years:


We'll be keeping it for backpack trips and whatnot, but I just ordered a REI kingdom 6, as the family is growing and I need room for kid and dogs when we car camp!
I've posted about my beloved canvas wall tent before, this last weekend my friends with a CVT were jealous. We had 20-25mph gusts all night long as weather blew in, the wall tent didn't budge, their CVT flapped and made so much noise they said they barely slept.

Instead of a modern wall tent like what Cabelas has, I bought a traditional tent from Panther Primitive, the biggest reason why are zippers. Modern wall tents use zippers, zippers fail. A period correct reenactment tent uses canvas ties, they can fail too, but I have heavy needles and F-thread in my kit to make a repair while in camp if need be. So far we've seen nearly 45mph gusts without the tent being damaged (although our chosen tent stakes for that trip failed spectacularly). The fabric is water proofed 10oz sunforger, as long as you don't let it mildew the fabric is good for around 20-years of use.

An angle kit from The Wall Tent Shop in Colorado and a frame made out of 1" EMT, the tent goes up fast and is super sturdy. I made a mesh flap kit for it out of mesh tarps that I cut to fit along with magnetic flap closings for the summer so we can let a breeze through. In the cold months we use a Mr. Buddy and the tent warms up very nicely.


Mr. Leary

Founding Member
Just bought a Coleman 2 in 1 8 person instant tent / canopy to replace my Ez up canopy and big Agnes 6 person family tent.

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So this thing is a piece of crap. Returned.
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Here is our Kodiak Canvas 10X10. We have it now for just a year and have used it about a dozen times. It works great for the two of us with a couple of Slumberjack Tough Cots and Slumberjacks's Country Squire bags.


Jonathan Hanson

Founding Member
I just picked up a used Springbar. Sets up easy, very stable in wind.
The Springbar is an excellent tent, made in the U.S., and the people there are great. After I reviewed a demo model a few years ago and got in touch to send it back, they suggested I donate it to a local Boy Scout group.

The Kodiak copy is a good tent as well, and better in some respects, but personally I find the blatant ripoff of the Springbar design annoying. They cloned the design, made the floor thicker and did a few other things, then had it made in China to undercut the price. Just not my ideal business model.


image.jpeg We've had several tents over the years but in the past few years it seems that whenever we've gone we have run into hellacious storms. So we ended up getting a Nemo Losi 3.

It has weathered some huge rainstorms with gusts approachin 45-50 MPH.
We recently flew from VA to Vegas and went to Death Valley for a week. We were able to pack all our camping gear into two checked bags. It worked great! We will probably use this approach again while we're still working and can't afford the time to drive several thousand miles to get to our destination.
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I'd like to hear opinions on the ARB awning enclosure as well. For $135 (can be found on sale), doesn't sound too bad.

I have and use the Kodiak Flex-Bow. Great tent. Quite cumbersome but overall a fantastic tent.

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Has anyone used an arb awning room as a tent? how was it in cold nights?
So, I bit the bullet and bought the ARB enclosure due to price, pack-size and ease of setup.

Bonards, I should be camping in the next couple weeks and will post up my impressions. I'm trying to simplify and speed up assembly of my camp. By using this enclosure and sleep, instead of the Kodiak and cots, I expect to shave off a lot of time and hassle off my setup.
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Senior Staff
So, I bit the bullet and bought the ARB enclosure due to price, pack-size and ease of setup.

Bonards, I should be camping in the next couple weeks and will post up my impressions. I'm trying to simplify and speed up assembly of my camp. By using this enclosure and sleep, instead of the Kodiak and cots, I expect to shave off a lot of time and hassle off my setup.
I've learned that ease of setup and tear down in camp is priceless. Everything I do now is vectored on improving those two processes.
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