While I don’t consider a tent to be “up there” on the list of SHTF priorities, It’s certainly worth considering. I would first make sure you have a decent bug out bag first and a few provisions for long term food storage. However, in extreme climates getting proper shelter from the elements can be a matter of life or death. For the average person, a tent can provide additional shelter for extended members of the family who were forced to bug out of their homes. A lightweight tent can also be a crucial piece of gear in a bug out bag.
Choosing an SHTF tent comes down to your objectives. Are you using the tent as part of a bug out bag system? Will it be to provide additional shelter for your home? Will it need to blend in? The answers to these questions will determine the kind of tent you purchase.
While I can’t answer these questions for you let’s cover a few features I think are absolutely necessary when buying an SHTF tent.
SHTF tent features…
- Sturdy (guy lines and sturdy poles)
- Waterproof or at least water resistant
- Rain fly
- Camouflaged (optional)
- Bathtub floor
- Quality reinforced seams
- Fast setup and breakdown
- Good ventilation
With those basic features in mind you can now begin to flesh out your objectives. For example, If I was to include a tent as part of my SHTF bug out protocol I would want something lightweight in case I find myself on foot. The tent is perhaps the heaviest and bulkiest item you’ll have in your bug out pack unless you select the right one. I’ve had personal experience with this single man tent from ALPS Mountaineering. The whole thing weighs just under 4 pounds so it’s a fairly lightweight yet durable enough to withstand multiple years of continued abuse. The seams on this tent are super reinforced and the bottom is damn near waterproof. The walls are mostly mesh which allows for a good flow of air throughout. This tent can certainly withstand some light to medium rain but you’d be in trouble in a massive downpour. Adding a tarp and some paracord to your rig would certainly make this setup invincible in many weather conditions.
For the same type of bug out situation but for 2 people there’s this 2 man tent from Kelty. Roomy enough for 2 people and the 40d nylon material will keep you dry in most conditions except a brutal downpour. Once again, a good tarp and some paracord is enough to make a decent dry homestead in any environment. This tent weighs 4 lbs 8oz so a little heavier than the one man I mentioned above. The thing is, if you consider a tent a bug out priority then you better be in shape! Toting these things around will eventually wear you down if you aren’t conditioned to backpacking long distances.
Now, if you want to go extremely low profile and lightweight but you still want all the great features of a tent, take a look at the Snugpak Ionosphere dome tent. This is a hybrid tent/bivvy that can easily blend in to a woodland or natural environment and keep you well protected from the elements. Best of all, this tent weighs in at a mere 2 pounds. This makes it the lightest SHTF tent on this list. It is NOT freestanding which means it needs to be staked out. This will add to the time it takes to setup and breakdown but overall you can get very fast at it over time with practice. This tent has great reviews and a lot of military guys love this thing. Certainly the most stealthy and lightweight tent you can buy for a single person. In fact, 2 people MIGHT be able to fit in this thing if you don’t mind spooning the whole night (giggity.) Simply throw this thing in the perfect bug out backpack and call it a day.
Choosing an SHTF tent can be difficult especially if you’ve never even been in a tent! If you go to an outdoor place like REI you can actually practice setting a few of them up and experimenting with the various designs. Remember the features I mentioned above and don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks on quality. I remember a good mate of mine cheaped out on a 26 dollar tent online and proceeded to be confused when the darn thing collapsed on him every night!
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will get back to you.