Camping Equipment - Tents


On other platforms I’ve talked about in length why the weight of your camping equipment is so important. When soldiers are selecting a tent, the recommendations are no different. Do you need a structure that’s got more square footage for comfort? Do you need one that’s lite weight and easy to carry?

Will you be alone in the structure during the cold weather months? Will you be living in relatively secure conditions? Do you plan to camp on uneven, rocky ground or on urban flat surfaces? Since every good structure requires a good foundation, the footprint will also be discussed. Let’s begin by talking about warm day outdoors vs cold days. Yeah, let’s start right there.


My general rule for most things is to have a little more than you need. Well in this case, less is better. In an ideal world, one for the hot weather and a second one for the cold is recommended. Since the world isn’t ideal for some of our soldiers living in outdoor shelters, here’s where you choose. If you have shelter, food and water, survival on hot days is uncomfortable but survivable. If you can’t keep warm on cold days, you could die. That said, having one for heat wins. Your own body heat will keep you warmer in a small shelter like the one shown above than a larger space. Larger shelters are harder to heat than small coverings. In the summer, larger coverings are cooler.

Tents For Security: Former soldiers living in unhoused encampments should consider another factor if given an option regarding shelter size. Larger ones are more likely to be robbed than smaller units. A thief is less likely to reach inside a smaller space while you’re asleep for fear of waking the occupant. Females are also a bit safer in a small space because there’s no cover for her attacker.

Rocky Ground vs Flat Surfaces: Now that you’ve made your decision between a big unit or a smaller one, it’s time to plan the foundation. The recommended foundations underneath are usually called a footprint or a tarp. The floor is pretty easily damaged from your personal items, uneven or sharp rocks, metal and glass on the ground. That’s why you should purchase a quality footprint or at least a tarp when you get it. Tarps are usually made from waterproof plastics or vinyl. 

Footprints are often made of rubber or some other waterproof material to keep moisture from soaking your sleeping bag. The rubber will also help level the surface, help the old soldier stay warmer and reduce punctures in the floor. If you’ll be setting up on a flat surface, a tarp might be good enough. On a rocky or uneven surface, a rubber footprint is better.

Three Season or Four Seasons: Understanding the difference between a 3-season and a 4-season will be clear in a minute. The 4-season is made for the winter (all 4 seasons). The 3-season basically provides enough protection for everything else. A good backpacking 3-season will be strong, lite weight and good in the rain. A 4-season model is made for extreme conditions including snow.

Sheltering A Family: Obviously a one person covering isn’t big enough for a person taking care of a family. A one person unit isn’t big enough for one person who’s got allot of stuff to store. Two people shelter for long term outdoor living requires a 4 person tent. A 2 person outdoor home has enough room for a couple to sleep side by side. That doesn’t leave much space for personal items like clothes, cooking stove, dirty laundry and folding chairs. 

On those rainy days, you’ll need more room when you’re staying inside all day. A covered area large enough for a family won’t be easy to move or be lite weight. A place this large won’t fit in a backpack. They probably won’t be very quick for the homeless to break down and reassemble either. You might need to find a place suitable for an extended stay.

Former enlisted persons caring for their families outdoors will need more space if they have small children. Kids are going to need at least a little room to play. Playing outside in homeless encampments can be extremely dangerous for children. You might also consider getting one with two doors. This way you wont have to step over someone going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I don’t recommend letting family members leave alone at night either.

You’ll Need A Few Tools: Whatever the living situation you’re dealing with due to a hardship condition, survival tools will be needed. A variety of equipment like a stove, dishes, pots and pans will be needed too. You need some way to heat the stove. Propane is one method if you’ve got a Coleman propane stove for example. One problem with using propane is that it burns transparent. Maybe that’s why there are so many accidental fires and injuries associated with it.

When or if propane isn’t available due to a lack of money or a store nearby to buy it, wood is usually around someplace. Now here’s where another useful tool is nice to have. An axe or a hatchet will come in handy for cutting branches for firewood. Fallen trees to most of us are just annoying and need to be moved. To someone needing to stay warm or cook their food, a hatchet and a fallen tree equal warmth and a fuel source. 

Don’t forget some of the basic tools either like screwdrivers, pliers and always make you keep a hammer. A shovel is a nice respectful tool to have around for disposing of human waste if the situation calls for it. Dig a hole and bury the poop. Nobody wants to step in your poop and human waste also attracts rats. This seems like a good place to closeout this section on camping.