What is a Pup Tent?
Pup tents, also called shelter half tents, are small tents normally for 1-2 persons. They are very simple in design with a triangle material draped over a pole in the front and one in the back. Generally it does not have a ground sheet and is the most rudimentary form of a tent design. Earlier pup tents had two halves (hence shelter half) that were connected with a row of buttons or clips in the middle.
Best Pup Tents
French Military Pup Tent
Durable, rugged military style tent for 2 persons.
US Military Pup Tent
The original pup tent that stood the test of time
SE Emergency Pup Tent
Extremely light tent that best as emergency tent
Texsport Pup Tent
The commercial version of the classic military pup tent.
History of Pup Tents:
The design of the tent originated during the American civil war. Solder’s mostly moved on foot and had to carry all their gear, so they needed light equipment. Shelter halves were normally shared by 2 soldiers and weighed about 10 pounds with its poles and pegs. The 2 solders could split the load in half and it allowed them to carry additional equipment.
These tents did not have any flap doors and was open to the elements. By World War 2 the design was improved with flaps and better water repellent materials were used and was the mainstay for most armies across the world. The individual halves could also be used as ponchos or to hide snipers.
Why is it called a Pup Pent?
There are different stories of the origin of the name. One is that civil war solders commonly used the word dog in military slang (think dog tags). Soldiers also said the tents were so small they felt like dogs crawling into a shelter. The tents where called dog tent and later morphed into pup tents.
Why use a Pup Tent?
Modern tent design has out passed the shelter half and these tents are not commonly used anymore. They are great as starter tent for kids or as an simple tent in the back yard. Funny enough, people now use them as actual dog tents for their pets when they go camping now.
Pup Tent Reviews
French Army Military Surplus Camping 2 Man Pup Tent
This is an original French military 2-man tent. It is made from waterproof nylon canvas with cotton trim. The tent also comes with and attachable waterproof ground sheet plus poles ropes and pegs. There are 4 screened air vents and all the zippers are YKK rustproof zippers.
The floor space is 60in x 80in and it stands about 40 in tall. It sleeps 2 people comfortably or a king bed for 1. The whole tent kit weighs about 6 pounds, however the tent pegs although very sturdy weighs almost a pound and it’s recommended to replace them with some better lighter tent pegs.
As far as half shelter tents go, this is a durable, good quality tent for a modest price and would be our choice.
US Military Half Shelter Pup Tent
It’s not possible to do a review on half shelter tents if you do not include the original.
The US Military pup tent is made from olive cotton duck fabric and comes in the 2 halves plus the poles, guidelines and pegs. It tips the scales at 9 pounds, but it’s got to be noted that it does not have a ground sheet so that will increase the weight a little bit.
These tents stood the test of time, are of durable quality and is a good choice. The only let down is the lack of waterproof ground sheet.
SE Emergency Outdoor Tube Tent
The SE emergency tent is best described as an emergency pup tent. It’s made from the same material as aluminum-coated, unwoven Mylar emergency blankets. Floor space is 82in x 36 in and stands 33.5 in tall. The tent is extremely light at 1.6 pounds and it comes with a ground sheet.
It’s not really designed as a camping tent, but because of its weight and size its ideal as a emergency tent that you can though in your backpack for when it might be needed.
Although this tent is very cheap, it’s a probable the best emergency tent out there.
Texsport 2 Person Camouflage Trail Tent
This tent is a modern day version of the classic half shelter tent. It’s made from polyurethane coated taffeta material that’s not only waterproof, but also flame retardant. At 38”h x4’6”w x 7’d it comfortably sleep 2 people. At 4 lbs it’s lightweight and easy to assemble with a meshed rear flap to help with ventilation.
This is a basic backpacking tent and if you are looking for a light, no-frills tent that will keep you dry, this will work fine.
The classic pup tent has a lot of nostalgia, but modern tent designs have moved on. As a cheap, durable tent there will always be a place for them.