Gear Review–Five Man Military Surplus Arctic Tent

I spent the last few months looking for a tent for cold weather camping.  The criteria I had for the tent were a little vague in my mind, but basically it didn’t have to be something I had to carry, it had to be durable and it had to be warm, which got me thinking of the ten man tents we used when we were training in Minnesota and Norway.  Heavy as hell, but rugged and it had a hole for a  stove pipe.  We used to pull them around on sleds called ahkios and I recall that the tent kept us pretty warm with the stove running even when the temperature got down to about -40 F .

That’s cold, ya’ll.


So I found a five man arctic tent at a military surplus outlet and had it delivered last week.  It’s heavy – probably 40 or 50 pounds, and the liner weighs almost t as much as the tent.  There’s one center pole that’s about 8 1/2 feet high and the outside of the tent is staked down – and that’s it for hardware.

The liner is attached to the tent by small clips and it when I decide to hook it up it’ll be at least an hour’s work by myself, which is why I’ll probably get a few friends to help me out.

I couldn’t remember exactly how to set it up, but I remembered that in the military everything from tents to rocket launchers come with instructions, so I started looking on the tent and found them on the inside flap.   After reading them it was a breeze to set it up even by myself.  Of course my three-year old helper was there making sure things went smoothly.

After setting it up I found that the tent was in pretty decent shape.  It had been repaired a few times and there were a few pinholes that I’ll have to patch up, but over all I was pleased with it.


The military puts instructions on everything.


Here are a few things to look for if you ever decide to get a tent like this:

1.  Make sure the tent pole has the pins needed to set it up.

2.  Don’t bother with plastic stakes – get the metal kind.

3.  Make sure you stake the bottom down as well as the guy lines.   I didn’t and one day when it was windy I thought the tent was going to turn into a parachute.

4.  You can set this tent up by yourself, but it is designed for a team.  Three or more guys would be ideal for this size tent for a quick set up.


The white portion is the liner.

After it was set up I had a friend come over with his kids and I invited my nephew over and we all camped out in the back yard.  My buddy and I wound up sleeping in the tipi while the boys took the tent.  Man, I’d forgotten how much ten and twelve year old boys can talk!

I’ll write another post about this tent next winter after I’ve had a chance to sleep in it with the stove going.  Scroll down for a few more pictures.


The stake man trying to get ‘er done!


The tent starting to go up.


That white stuff in the picture is hail.



Chimney hole.



Anybody else out there have any experience with these types of tents?  The ten man tent we used for our cold weather training was like this – just bigger.  I’m looking forward to next winter already!

-Jarhead Survivor

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16 comments… add one
  • carl April 16, 2012, 8:27 am

    We used tents very simi;ar to this when I was in Boy Scouts. They were Korean War surplus. They took 3 men and a boy to put up, but were very substantial once they got up. The biggest problem we had was no floor and I see your doesn’t have one either. This is a major issue when it is below 0. you must sleep on a cot or you will frozen solid come morning. Also you do have your stake lines way too far out and at a bad angle. This is dangerous when nature calls at 2:00 am..LOL

    • Jarhead Survivor April 16, 2012, 9:37 am

      Hi Carl – you know, I never found the lack of a floor to be a major issue. Once you had all the guys laid out in there with their sleeping mats you couldn’t even see the floor (or lack thereof.) I’ve put my sleeping mat right on a frozen lake and was comfortable – just make sure your sleeping mat is up to the task!

    • Lumberjok April 16, 2012, 5:43 pm

      You brought back some memories. I am guessing you are referring to the 16×16 Army pyramidal tents…they looked just like the tents on the tv series MASH. Our Scout troop had 5 of these on permanent wooden platforms. They weighed in the hundreds of pounds and the center pole was the size of a tree. Even at 30 below you had to be careful to not overfeed the woodstove or the heat would quicly become unbearable.

  • Tim April 16, 2012, 8:54 am

    I have a GP small we use (Scouting also) but I am looking for this 5 man tent as well.

    • Jarhead Survivor April 16, 2012, 9:39 am

      The GP small is a good tent, but I like the arctic tent better for cold weather operations. See below for a link to where I found it. The staff there were pretty good and the tent arrived as advertised, although there were no stakes and the small pins were missing from the tent pole itself. No big deal, I just had to run around and buy a few things. Maybe ten or fifteen dollars worth of extra parts.

  • Joe Knight April 16, 2012, 9:15 am

    These are the types of tents we used when I was in the artic infantry in Alaska. They’d keep you toasty-warm (even at 50 below) as long as the Yuke (the Yukon stove) was running. If it flamed-out…..ehhh, not good.

  • Joe Knight April 16, 2012, 9:17 am

    BTW, I’d be interested in knowing where you bought it and how much they charged for it. I just moved to Idaho and would like to have one to include in my bug-out gear.

  • Jarhead Survivor April 16, 2012, 9:35 am

    Hi Joe,

    I found the tent here:

    It was $325 and I think I paid $33 for the shipping.

    The Yukon stove was great. If the little wood stove I have doesn’t keep it warm that will be my next big purchase.

  • Ranger Man April 16, 2012, 10:10 am

    Let’s take this thing deer hunting up north in November.

    • Jarhead Survivor April 16, 2012, 10:32 am

      I’ve thought about that. It would make an awesome temporary deer camp.

  • arizona April 16, 2012, 11:50 am

    We used them in Korea. They are warm but heavy and bulky.
    I wonder what Uncle Sam uses now?

  • Joe Knight April 18, 2012, 8:49 pm

    Thanks, Jarhead!


  • T.R. April 19, 2012, 9:26 pm

    Kind of interesting that it being an arctic tent , they didnt think it important to put a floor in it ……….DOH !!!!!!

  • Dale June 15, 2015, 1:56 pm

    Been using this tent for 24 years. My original, despite meticulous care and maintenance, has decomposed to the point of swiss cheese and 100 patches. I cut out the door and stove jack for parts and then burned it—and cried.

    Bought 2 more on line for $340 each with liners. Used. Great condition. No poles. Treated them with a special canvas treatment. It works well. I spayed it on with a weed sprayer then back-brushed it in on a really hot day. It’s worth it.

    I have spent countless subfreezing nights in this tent. Several Sub 0. I use a a Yukon -3 legged stove. I have used a small propane heater in there too. It dries out your gear and takes all of the moisture out of your sleeping bag. It will be 90-100 degrees inside on a sub zero night with the wood stove. Seriously. But my stove is not air tight so we feed it, damper it down and get to sleep as fast as we can. On brutal nights we may get up and start another fire. Depends on your sleeping system. Mornings are cold. Best to have your wood split and ready to go for morning. Within 15 minutes you are too hot again. That is my experience.

    When selecting a site, pick high ground or soil that you can trench. That sounds obvious but sometimes I have have succumb to convenience in the past and I paid for it.

    I use an 8’6″ dead standing pole cut from my destination. It allows me to leave a twig or two on it to hang a hat. I stash my poles at sites and reuse them for years. If I’m coming in really late to a new location I will pack a 3 pc radar net frame pole that I have custom cut to 8’6″ so I don’t have to forage when I get there.

    When using a stove I leave the door open except for the last stoking. It will cook you out of there so it’s not an issue. Make sure your vent holes (two towards top) are flared and open. ALWAYS ERROR WITH TOO MUCH VENTILATION!

    I’m a space pig. I consider this a 2 man tent. Me +1, gear, stove, split wood, two dogs, clothes hanging all over drying out—- and it’s full.

    Pitching it is not as hard as I have read in previous posts. Do as directed on the directions and its about a 20 minute job for one guy—all guyed out to spec. There are a couple tricks but too long to elaborate on here.

    Conclusion:–For $400 + or – it is the best shelter I have found. I have very high-end mountaineering tents, several wall tents, cabin tents, Tent-hammocks, and some custom made tarps for 3 season bivys. But these arctic 5-man tents are my go to.

    Biggest drawback IMO: Ventilation—On warmer days (outside of designed use) it is an stuffy, sweat box.

    When I grow up I would like to procure a Tentipi Zaphir 9 and a Kifaru 12 man. But you have to sell your organs for both. I have no doubts that both are worth every penny.

    I hope this helped someone that is considering this tent. It is a very personal decision and my observations may not apply to your way of doing things.

  • Kevin Miller October 16, 2015, 3:43 pm

    I’ve had this tent and Yukon stove for around five years and camped in it several times. The price is right if you can still find them but as already noted it is quite heavy. Sort of depressing in the daylight hours as it feels like you’re in a cave, very dark and a headlamp or lantern is required. Thanks for the review.


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