One of the things you need in case of a bug out, or destruction of your primary dwelling, is a tent. Tents can be very simple, or quite elaborate and expensive. If you are into camping and will be using your tent regularly, then by all means acquire a high-quality tent. However, if you need a tent purely for prepping purposes then I am a fan of the simple, and best of all cheap, Tube Tent.
If you are unfamiliar with Tube Tents, then let me give you a brief introduction. A Tube Tent is just a plastic tube approximately 8 feet long. A line is run through it and attached to two trees, or anything else at the right height to support the tent. You couldn’t ask for a simpler set up. Traditionally they are orange, but they are now available in other colors, or in silvery space blanket material.
They come folded and packaged so small you won’t even notice one tucked into a BOB. A Tube Tent is so cheap you can consider them disposable. You can find them on eBay or Amazon at prices so low that you can easily purchase them in quantity. For some reason, I keep seeing them sold in quantities of five. Why five? Beats me. 😊
The most obvious use for a Tube Tent is as part of a BOB. BOBs quickly become quite heavy due to the variety of items people pack in anticipation of emergencies. A traditional tent will weigh several pounds and take up space either in, or attached to, a pack. A Tube Tent will weigh ounces, not pounds, and significantly reduce the load of your BOB, or free up weight and space for other gear. Did I also mention they are cheap? 😊
Another overlooked use is as emergency shelter after a natural disaster. After a hurricane or tornado, it may be impossible to evacuate the disaster area, and your home may be a pile of rubble. A couple of Tube Tents can shelter your whole family while recovery gets started. They are sized to shelter two, plus a little gear, but you can also put a couple of them end to end to shelter a family of four.
I wouldn’t want to take an artic expedition with one of these, but to use for a short period within the continental US, or on an island like Puerto Rico, a Tube Tent will be adequate. I’ve spent a couple nights in a Tube Tent, with some rain coming down, and been surprisingly dry and comfortable.
Folded, just out of the package
The tube tent typically comes with a cheap piece of cord, but no pegs or poles, because they aren’t needed. The user simply runs the line through the tube, and ties it off to a couple trees, or whatever is convenient. This will leave the tube hanging from the line. To get a nice triangular tent shape, use a few rocks, pieces of gear, or whatever is handy, to weight the edges of the tent from the inside. You now have a triangular shaped tunnel that is floored and waterproof. If you orient it sideways to the wind, it will be surprisingly wind resistant as well.
Most folks want to close off one end to get more of a traditional tent feel, and to provide shelter from one more side. To do this you can use a piece of duct tape, or simply pile your gear at one end. You will generally not want to close the end off completely in order to maintain some circulation.
If you have a spare, you can slit it lengthwise to create a cheap tarp and use that as a fly. Many decide to toss the cheap cord in favor of paracord, but the cheap cord works, and leaves your paracord for other needs.
Not a Tube Tent 😊
There are so many things we need to purchase as preppers, many of which we hope to never need, that cost is always a factor in our thinking. A traditional tent will likely run you $100 or even several hundred. If you go to the absolute cheapest pup tent you can find, you’ll still see prices like $30 per tent. I’ve seen Tube Tents priced at $15 for a package of five. I have seen them as high as $20, but why overpay?
Taking my family of four, I can toss a Tube Tent in each BOB for a total cost of $15, with one spare vs. spending $400 for tents that will ride around in the trunks of the various family cars. The savings can then be used for other preps.
On the other hand, if you are a regular camper and already have adequate tents you use regularly, why buy anything else? Use your regular camping gear.
The cost of Tube Tents is so low, you can toss them into Cheap BOBs or use them in caches, or give them away as cheap gifts.
Tube tent made from space blanket material
Tube Tents are cheap, light and compact, and will do the job in an emergency. Buy some spares! You’ll be glad to have them when the need arises. They don’t spoil, or need temperature controlled storage, cost little, and if you need them will be immensely useful.