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Thread: Event Shelter or a mess tent?

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    Event Shelter or a mess tent?

    Hi All
    Our group currently owns a couple of large event shelters which we use as a dining room on camp. Unfortunately they are coming to the end of their life and need replacing. The SL has in the past mentioned getting a proper mess tent instead of replacing the event shelters. However to me, the mess tents seem very heavy and hard to transport in comparison to the event shelters. Mess tents also look expensive. However I do accept that they may be a bit more robust than the event shelters. If you have camped with both I would appreciate your advice.

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    We have both and take both to camp.

    All you say is true about cost and weight.

    We have wrecked a Coleman shelter by being caught out by some moderately strong wind in August. We are considering buying a "de-luxe" version which is supposed to be stronger. I would expect to get a significantly longer life from a mess tent.


    We use the mess tents (we have 2) as a camp kitchen (gas stoves for breakfast / heavy rain cooking, food storage etc) and one as a general equipment store.

    We use the Coleman shelters (we have 2) as a sitting space out of any rain (we do camp in Scotland).


    Much easier to dry a Coleman shelter - put it on the clothes line for an hour.

    Coleman shelter is more likely to be used for ad-hoc events...

    I'd suggest having both and choosing whichever fits the bill for your event.

    G

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    Senior Member Matt Styles's Avatar
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    We've had trouble with a Coleman event shelter a couple of times now. The poles aren't strong enough to support the structure in very high winds.

    We did find that taking wooden stakes helped (the cheap tent pegs that come with it are naff for what it needs).

    Of course the advantage of them is that they're lighter and quicker to dry.

    A good mess tent will last you a lifetime, and if it's raining you're sheltered, which is far from guaranteed with an events shelter, especially if the wind direction changes!

    Swings and roundabouts though, and both have their uses. If I had to pick just one I'd go with a mess tent, but sometimes having both on camp is useful (we used the mess tent as a kitchen and the event shelter as a way of keeping personal kit dry while they did shelter building).
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    Our Group as two Coleman Deluxe event shelters and two BCT mess tents and I agree with the comments above.

    In round terms a mess tent is twice the price of the deluxe event shelter and 10 time stronger.

    The mess tents are not that much heavier and bulkier than the event shelters, but they are a different class when it comes to weather protection and longevity. They can be pitched just as quickly as an event shelter. They have steel poles, steel joints, canvas fabric and heavy-duty zips or lacing.

    Our previous mess tent lasted 25 years before the canvas wore thin and we replaced it. They are pretty much indestructible in high winds and rain and are reasonably draft proof (it survived a ten day camp on the Isle of Barra - the windiest beach campsite I've ever been on). It's also more suitable as a kitchen tent as the canvas is far more heat/fire resistant than nylon and it has mesh windows to let the steam out.

    Our event shelters are only a couple of years old and clearly quite delicate. They're nice for a bit of shade on a summer camp and shelter from a rain shower, but it's not equal to a mess tent. It has thinner steel poles, plastic joints, nylon fabric and lightweight zips/velcro. One good gust and it'll break.

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    We use the event shelters to replace our dining shelters not our mess tent, which we use for storage, leaders cooking and bad weather shelter.

    We find they are more suitable as replacements for dining shelters and gazebos than replacement mess tents.

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    Thanks for all the above Guys. We will be making a decision at our next meeting re what to buy. It will be great to enter the discussion with all this feedback. It seems that one of the other leaders in the group would like more event shelters whilst the other would like a mess tent, and I am the only other leader in the group who takes there unit camping so it is great to have a balanced view from you guys.
    Thanks to all...

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    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    If you go mess tent, I'd recommend the BCT plastic ones - http://www.bctdivisions.co.uk/page.php?id=823 - I was massively sceptical until I played with one - and we are now converts with 2 x 8 by 5 & 1 x 4 by 5 -

    Rich

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    Senior Member David Kendall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardnhunt View Post
    If you go mess tent, I'd recommend the BCT plastic ones - http://www.bctdivisions.co.uk/page.php?id=823 - I was massively sceptical until I played with one - and we are now converts with 2 x 8 by 5 & 1 x 4 by 5 -

    Rich
    These look similar to Gala Tents ? Our District has two of these (8m x 4m each) and we borrowed one for Chamboree last year. We have one of the traditional white heavy canvass mess tents but it is not as big as the Gala tent plus with the sloping side walls seems even smaller. The gala tent has a number of ratchet tie downs but comes with really flimsy wire pegs for the walls and doors which pull out in wind - I am sure it would not stand up to the elements like the canvass tent but for the numbers we were catering for it was ideal.

    One thing I don't like about the gala tent, which seems to be a design fault, is that at each pole there is a strip of plastic material that clips to the bottom of the leg to cover the leg (looks like the BCT has these too). When you use the side wall/windows this become surplus and does not stay attached to anything but flaps about and can lift the up sufficiently to allow water to blow in at the top of the wall.
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    Sea Scout Leader richardnhunt's Avatar
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    Don't know - I've never used Gala tents. The BCT ones are heavy duty and we have had them up in huge winds. They have stood up as well as our canvas ones, but have not shrunk! The bit I like is the flexability of using windows, doors, plain wall or just a gap

    Rich

    - - - Updated - - -

    Don't know - I've never used Gala tents. The BCT ones are heavy duty and we have had them up in huge winds. They have stood up as well as our canvas ones, but have not shrunk! The bit I like is the flexability of using windows, doors, plain wall or just a gap

    Rich

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    gala tents can be much bigger than a typical mess tent, and can be difficult to tie down in really strong winds - and the large diameter poles take up more room to transport...
    A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room. Baden-Powell

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    Senior Member Mallah's Avatar
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    I've used thje Shelters, Mess Tents and Marquees. I prefer the marquee even for weekends as they are in my view much stronger than Mess Tents and easier to put up - if done properly! (Walls up first then centre pole). We had two mess tents which ended up with seriously bent side wall poles in high winds - not a cheap replacement. Didn't have the event shelters up during those occasions but suspect they would have completely blown away. The marquee however sustained no damage. It's a BCT product from pre 1970s? no one knows when it was new but is still going strong which tells it own story.
    My advice would be to keep the existing shelters for occasional use and 'upgrade' to something more robust then decide on the weather whether to take one or the other.

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    We had our BCT 14'6" x 19'8" Mess Tent up at the weekend at our Spring Fayre in a very high winds and it was fine. Used it rather than our marquee for ease of handling and drying. If your pegs are holding it shouldn't move.

    A so called 'party tent' would have been destroyed in the high winds we faced last weekend.

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    I suspect you may have answered your own question if the event shelters (which are a fairly recent product) are already coming to the end of their lives.

    We have a canvas mess tent (on long term loan to us from district... no-one knows how old it is) which has seen much abuse and still going strong.

    We have a plastic "Party tent" style tent (heavier duty than the gala ones... i always find the poles on the gala ones a bit flimsy, but this one has very hefty poles and was built for the "hire" market so designed to be put up and taken down many times in its life. Needs a bit of TLC at the moment due to being put away wet a few years ago before we bought it (we got it cheap because of the mildew). Agree with what others say about the pegs but the ratchet straps work well (A rope or strap over the top of the whole thing is worthwhile if really windy - same goes for the canvas mess tents)

    Ideally i'd go for a military mess tent... they're very heavy, but virtually indestructible (district have one which we borrow for big events). They are waxed canvas so cope well even if not put away perfectly dry.

    I have an event shelter... its a good bit of kit but really only designed for fair weather use. We took the canvas mess tent to devon last weekend and (with a rope over the top) it coped well with the strong winds. I suspect an event shelter would have been destroyed or taken off, and the party tent with its vertical sides would probably have been damaged.

    The coleman deluxe event shelters... i would avoid like the plague... once they're up they seem pretty solid but they are difficult to erect and strike - took a team of experienced scouters and guiders quite a while to pitch and strike one a few weeks ago while the normal coleman shelter took us 5 minutes. Probably fine for summer camp but a pain if you're going to be putting it up every weekend!

    Finally if you want to cook in it go for canvas (the plastic party tents are fine as long as you keep stoves away from the walls, but event shelters with low ceilings and flappy walls, and a nylon material, are just a fire waiting to happen.

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    Mess Tent vote from me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scarlet pimp View Post
    Mess Tent vote from me.
    We have a mess tent but barely use it because it takes a small car on its own for transport. More often we use the slightly sub-optimal solution of a combination of a gazebo with sides (rubbish in the wind) and a traditional dining shelter.

    Neil

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