What's the best excuse to keep my wife from borrowing my expensive backpacking tent when she takes a group of teenagers to a four-day music festival this summer? Nick Maryville, Missouri
"Honey, please don't take my good tent! It just had a litter of tentlets."
"I haven't finished its second-story addition yet."
"I wouldn't recommend it until the exorcist is through with it."
"That tent won't work—it's out of gas."
"Sorry, the tent got called for jury duty."
Or... "Oh, darn, you know that Mr. Chuckles and I are having a camp-out this weekend!"
Seriously, a group of teenagers and your tent at a four-day rock festival does not sound like a sequence that will end happily for the tent. You might consider buying them a backup. That way you'll look like a real "participant" in this event, and a helluva guy. Think of it as insurance...for your tent.
It needn't cost you a lot. You could just go to Target or Wal-Mart and purchase a very inexpensive tent. Or, you can spend a little and get a tent that can stick around for a few years and serve this purpose again. Kelty's Yellowstone 4, for instance, offers good-quality construction and a roomy, sturdy design for only $120 (www.kelty.com). And it's compact enough so that it won't take up much room in storage or in the car. Eureka!'s Tetragon 8 is an even better buy—a roomy tent for four that's only $110 (www.eurekatent.com). And the best buy of all: Campmor is blowing out overstocks of the Wenzel 9X9 Dome Tent for only $49. Such a deal!
So good luck—and I hope your tent survives the summer.
Read "Who's Your Daddy?" from Outside's April 2004 issue for a cautionary tale from the frontiers of father-son bonding.