A secondary form of shelter is essential when an emergency strikes and evacuation is necessary. Camping tents are a great shelter option. Besides, camping can be a fun family activity. I get out every summer multiple times to backpack and camp in the western Rocky Mountains. But if you look at the prices of some tents on the market, you might be shocked to see that a three-season tent can cost you upwards of $300! For someone on a limited budget looking to invest in an emergency preparedness shelter, this is not feasable. What about Wal-mart Coleman tents?
2 night camping trip to the Uinta Mountains in Northern Utah in September 2010
First night – Slept in a four man Kelty Grand Mesa 4
Second night – Slept in a three man Coleman 7’x7′ Sundome tent
All other variables were kept the same, such as:
- tent placement
- sleeping bag
- floor mat
- ground cloth
I decided to set up an experiment to determine if the expensive name brands are really ‘worth’ $150 more. For this test, I chose the Kelty Grand Mesa 4 tent because it was situated somewhere in the middle of the price range for mountaineering tents. I have used Kelty tents in the past and I like them. I packed up my camping gear, the two tents to be tested, and my trusty sidekick Radar (black lab). We went to a favorite camping area up in the Uinta mountains in Utah on a weekend in late september. We stayed 2 nights and switched tents each night. The sleeping bag I used was a North Face Goliath, which is rated to zero degrees. The first night I slept in the Kelty Grand Mesa 4 tent (for testing purposes, I couldn’t sleep in the each tent the same night, so I chose to sleep in the Coleman tent the second night. It reached 40 degrees. I was comfortable all night. I didn’t get cold, and only woke up a couple of times. In the morning, there was moisture in my tent, around the edges on the floor, and on the tent walls. I had the rain fly on because it was overcast, and it rained. I was a little surprised by the amount of water in my tent, especially because I bought the tent based on the idea that the seams would not allow water in. The second night I slept in the Coleman sundome tent. It also reached 40 degrees. As with the Kelty tent, I was comfortable all night, only waking up a few times. As with the Kelty, I had the rain fly set up, and it rained again. There was about the same amount of moisture in the Coleman tent as the Kelty tent.
I got two nights of restful sleep with both tents. Both were tested in the same temperature range with rain. Both the Kelty tent and the Coleman tent had roughly the same amount of moisture within the tent. (A side note: the water may not all be becasue of leaky seams. The rain fly was up, trapping moisture from exhaling. The low temperatures caused this water vapor to condense on the walls and floors of the tents by morning.) I thought the Kelty tent was a little easier to set up, especially since I was by myself (my dog could only bark). The coleman tent took longer, but both were set up easily enough. The Kelty tent was marketed as a four man tent, with roughly 55 square feet plus vestibules. The Coleman tent was marketed as a three man tent, with 49 square feet. Both would make great two man tents. You might be able to squeeze three men into the Kelty, but four is a stretch at best. The Kelty tent weighed a lot less than the bulky Coleman tent. But durability could be an issue with the Kelty three season if left up for extended periods of time through incliment weather.
For the price, the Coleman tent can’t be beat. I thought it performed as well as the Kelty on my experiment, and would be a valuable asset for survival preparations. Check the coleman tents home page for discount coleman tents online, or look for cheap coleman tents on amazon.com.