Lighten Your BOB: Pack The Alpha Tent

I spotted this while visiting Paratus Familia Blog. Here’s Enola Gay’s full post on their experiment with the Alpha Tent.

The Awesome Alpha Tent

When we posted our adventures with the Survival Net, one of our readers sent a link that he thought Sir Knight might enjoy.  The link was for the Alpha tent, fashioned from nothing more than a USGI Military Issue Poncho, tent poles and 4 wire nuts.  Thats it!  The wonderful thing about this tent is that is consists mainly of things you already carry in your gear so you are not adding unnecessary weight and bulk.  And, did I mention this was really cool?  To get the real skinny on this tent, and the gentlemen who came up with the idea, you must go to his site, Alpharubicon.  He has dimensions, specifics on the components and explanations for the uses of the Alpha tent.

Knowing a good thing when he sees it, Sir Knight began compiling the necessary articles to put together his own Alpha tent.  He already had a USGI poncho, so he laid it on the ground and measured it to be sure it was the same size as the one used on the Alpha tent site.  Next, he dug up some tent poles that we had saved from a long-ago defunct tent, measured them and proceeded to cut them down to the correct size for the tent.  Sir Knight cut each pole to the same size, rather than just cutting down the one pole that was too long, so that the tent poles bent in the correct manner when inserted into the poncho.  After cutting the poles, he strung the shock cord through the modified poles, tied it off at the end and fitted RED wire nuts to each end of the poles.  The wire nuts keep the poles from going through the grommets on the corners of the poncho and red wire nuts are the perfect size.  The directions on the Alpha tent website instruct you to drill a hole through the wire nuts and run the shock cord through the holes and tie them off.  Because of technical difficulties with our poles, we glued the wire nuts on instead.  The shock cord through the nuts would have been a better option, however, we made do with the materials that were available to us.

Wire nuts through the grommets

Once the tent poles were inserted into the grommets, we tied them down with cording that was already in the poncho.  It was almost like they were designed with the Alpha tent in mind!  Within a matter of minutes we had put together a lightweight one man tent, camouflaged and with a reduced IR signature, with nothing but a poncho, 4 wire nuts and some cast-off tent poles.  The folks at Alpharubicon really know their stuff!

Poles tied to the cording
The Alpha tent can even float your gear across creeks!
Very roomy

It makes perfect sense to fill your 1st and 2nd line kits with a few articles that have multiple purposes.  Rather than carrying a poncho and survival net and a hammock and a tent, you can carry a poncho, a net and a few odds and ends and still have all your bases covered.

USGI Poncho’s can be challenging to find, but really, you can use any poncho.  The difference is that you will have to measure your poncho and customize your tent poles accordingly.

Thank you for coming along for the ride as Sir Knight and I pare down our kits to the bare essentials and find out what works and what doesn’t.  Try an Alpha tent of your own and let us know what you think.


Categories: Bushcrafting, Camping, DIY Preparedness, DIY Preparedness Projects, Equipment, Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Lighten Your BOB: Pack The Alpha Tent

  1. Yes. Very nice. I have spent more than one night under that type of poncho, but I had to rig mine up with 550 cord.


    • Yep, I never tried it with tent poles. Yet another ‘project’ for me…


    • Mark

      I’ll share a tip or two…use (2) rubber grommets instead of the wire nuts. Size the inner diameter to your poles. They are adjustable so pole length won’t matter. Just slide one at a time and then use the second as a “locking” nut. They hold amazingly well. Bury extra pole length if you need to.
      Also if you attach a US issue individual sniper veil on top, they fit perfectly btw, you might even lose your alpha tent if you aren’t careful, seriously.
      Layer a space blanket on the underside of the poncho in alpha tent mode and you retain warmth and help eliminate your IR signature. You can wet parts of the attached veil for even better IR camouflage.
      A poncho liner is the last perfect item for your BOB. Cut a head slit in the center of a poncho liner and you can use it in poncho mode as a coat or use the combo as an emergency sleeping bag. Velcro strips can be used to close the head slit. A balaclava will provide extra warmth and reduce thermal radiation. Again, your space blanket sandwiched between the poncho liner and poncho will help to mask your IR.
      So get prepared with a poncho, poncho liner, veil, space blanket and poles. Most items have at least triple uses.
      Good luck and Godspeed.


  2. sbtactical

    Reblogged this on sbtactical and commented:
    this is an excellent use of an USGI poncho and defunct tent poles; and would lighten ones load by quite a bit by ditching a normal tent for this…


  3. Mark

    I am set up with the alpha tent and hammock. I also carry a sleeping bag, bivey and mat. When I want to sleep above ground, I use the poncho as an asymetrical tarp over a ridgeline with tie downs. The pad goes in the hammock and keeps me warm. In cold weather, it’s time to hit the ground. I use the hammock as another layer inside my bivey. With a sniper veil on the outside of your alpha tent or hammock, you are virtually invisible. If you wet the sniper veil in a few areas your IR signature is further masked.


    • Sounds like a great set up, Mark. I like use my hammock and tarp too. Good tips on your set up! Thanks for sharing how you do the stuff!



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  11. wow this is the most amazing thing I have seen in a long time. good job keep it up.


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