Bug Out Shelter - Texsport Camouflage Pup Tent
One of the major gaps in my previous Bug Out Bag was lack of decent shelter; a new blue tarp from Walmart was assigned the task of keeping me warm and dry. While this was definitely better than nothing it was one of the first items to be upgraded when this project started. I decided to try a Texsport Camouflage Trail Tent for use as a bug out shelter; it is a pup style camouflage tent that sells for about $30.
Since this tent would be going inside my Teton Scout 3400 it had to be both lightweight and compact. Also, simplicity and reliability are always factors I consider when shopping for gear headed into my Bug Out Bag. An earthtone or camo pattern to help blend in to the surroundings was also on the want list. Finally, this tent had to be affordable as the list of other items needed to complete my Bug Out Bag were numerous.
The Texsport Camo tent quickly emerged as the logical choice. First, there are very few lightweight tent options in the under $100 range. Second, it doesn’t get any simpler than a pup style tent which can be setup in minutes even with very little practice. Third, while this tent comes with poles it is not dependent on them, and sticks or an overhead line could keep this tent going should the poles become damaged, lost, or purposely left behind. Next, the selection of camouflage tents as a whole is currently very sparse, even earthtones are seriously difficult to find with the majority of tents containing some areas of highly visible colors. Finally, being basically the only tent left that met the criteria and costing less than $30 bucks made the Texsport trail tent an easy decision to at least try.
My first thoughts of this tent were that it was very small and lightweight and would easily fit inside of my pack. Unpacking revealed the tent, 6 sections of poles, 10 tent stakes, 4 plastic clews (tensioners), a bundle of guy ropes, a little piece of ribbon, and 3 large instruction sheets in various languages. The instructions provided essentially no help outside identifying what should be in the package and seemed to show a way of setting up this tent not possible with the materials provided. The six links of tubing quickly assembled into the two end poles, with rubber stoppers on the ground pieces and pointed ends for the top tent grommets. The guy ropes were divided into two long pieces, and two short pieces. The directions show two guy ropes on the front pole and two on the rear pole, and no mention of the side attachments. I decided to use the long guy ropes for the front and back poles and the short guy ropes for the side.
Initial Set Up
I unfolded the tent camo side up, and then used four tent stakes on the corners and two on the sides. Next, I placed one pole next to the front of tent placing the rubber stopper just in front of the tent and ran the pointed end through the grommet at the top of the tent. Then I placed a loop of a long guy rope over the pointed end of the pole and secured the other loop of the guy rope with a tent stake directly in front of the tent. Next, I repeated the same setup procedure at the back of the tent. Finally, using the short guy ropes I tied them to the side attachment loops on the tent and then to the ground, again using tied in loops and tent stakes.
This little tent is actually pretty roomy, 1 person with gear was my goal but two medium sized people would be able to fit pretty easily if needed. The tub floor is made of sturdy tarp like material and should hold up pretty well even if a footprint or tarp is unavailable to put underneath, although it is generally good policy to use one if available. The areas where the side attachment loops are located have been reinforced on the inside to prevent tearing. Opening the front flaps and back window keeps the air circulating and leaving the mesh front panels zipped keeps the bugs out.
It’s a $30 dollar tent so I’m not going to nit pick too much but there are a few things worth noting. The front flaps have to be tied together, not zippered like the mesh front panels. Also, the rear window can only be opened or closed from the outside. Finally, the guy ropes appear to be made of some pretty questionable looking rope/cordage material. While this rope did hold up to some pretty stiff winds during its initial setup, it seems a little on the light side to depend on especially in a survival situation.
While this tent could probably be used as is with no problem, I decided to make a few modifications. Replacing the included guy ropes with paracord seemed like cheap insurance and allowed me to add some extra length to the guy rope which can provided more tent stake placement options when setting up the tent. I also bought both a seam sealer product (Gear Aid - Seam Grip) and a waterproofing product (Teton - Waterproofing/Seam Sealer) to give the material some added water resistance. I applied one coat of the Teton waterproofer/seam sealer to the tent and will save the seam sealer should any leaks appear. Finally, I purchased some Velcro strips and added several 1.5" sections both to the center and bottom of the front flaps. This makes it faster to close the flaps up and provides a better seal that the included cord ties.
While the above modifications will bring the cost of the tent to over $50 dollars, there still isn’t any options that fill my criteria at that price level anyway. Furthermore, this tent could be used as is without any modifications, these are just simple, easy modifications I want to do for added insurance. The Velcro strips are a cheap and easy fix that really address what I feel to be the main weakness of this tent, the front flaps. After installing the Velcro strips I felt much better about keeping the wind and rain from entering through the front door. The other modifications are more of a peace of mind insurance against Murphy's Law. For the price and with a few simple modifications the Texsport Trail tent shows good potential as a survival shelter; however, I have yet to have the tent out in the rain, so I will hold off giving it a thumbs up until it proves itself in wet conditions.