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Thread: ORC Industries Improved Combat Shelter (tent) Review

  1. #1
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    Post ORC Industries Improved Combat Shelter (tent) Review

    Product: ICS (Improved Combat Shelter)
    Manufacturer: ORC Industries (Also: Eureka and Diamond manufacture the TCOP I believe, which is a similar tent.)
    Date Purchased: 5/20/2010
    Condition Purchased: New
    Cost: 100 (used) – 300 (new) Seems to be the range.



    Set Included Components:
    Tent Main Body
    Tent Vestibule / Rain Cover
    3 Tent Poles (2 for main body forming an X shape, 1 for vestibule)
    2 sets of 7 Tent Stakes (14 total)
    2 packages Seam Grip


    Let’s look at the positive things this tent has going for it:

    First I should mention the floor on this tent is similar to a bathtub shape. The tent was designed in such a way that the seams of the tent never touch the ground. The material is stretched upward on the sides so the seams appear to be about 3 inches off the ground. This is beneficial as the seams of a tent are generally the areas which water tends to find its way inside.

    Another great feature is the black material that is on the inside of the vestibule and the tent main body. This black material is said to suppress IR signatures and allows one to exercise “light discipline”. I can say that with the vestibule put on this tent is almost pitch black inside. With some adjusting of the vestibule it is possible to get the tent pitch black with no light leakage coming in or going out. Using a flash light in the tent equally does not show any light outside of the tent at night.

    This tent is more than enough room for one individual and gear. The gear will have to be kept outside of the main tent body under the vestibule, but I do not see this as a problem. It is by no means large, twenty-six square feet of space or so, but it is possible to fit a couple people in a tight squeeze. This tent was designed to be slept in. I don’t see a person wanting to spend a lot of time in the confined space unless they are about to doze off. That said I think the small size is a benefit as well for hiding purposes. Put this tent in the middle of the woods in the right light, or lack of, and it is hard to spot.

    The colors that this tent is offered in (ACU, Woodland (I believe?), etc.) give it a sort of stealthy appearance in the woods. This is where I have problems with a lot of the upper end four season tents I looked at before purchasing the ICS. Sure, they had quality and durability but they were mainly made out of brightly colored fabric. When I go camping I don’t necessarily want camouflage, but I do not like sticking out in a bright yellow or orange tent. It just doesn’t seem right to me for the location. That said it is possible a camouflage tent may make people suspicious if they do see it. That is if they do see it. I can almost guarantee those high quality bright red tents can be spotted from space.

    Although I have a lot of great things to say about this tent package there were some drawbacks:

    For one, my set did not include a footprint for the tent. I like using footprints that are matched with a tent for a couple reasons. First, they don’t extend beyond the tent body and do not require folding that a tarp would. Second, the ones that I have purchased appear to be thicker than a lot of the generic tarps one would buy, and often times made out of better material. Also, because of the way they are fitted they usually cut down on some of the weight. I do not know a lot of people that cut up tarps to size but I do know a few that go to those lengths. I figure a footprint is generally a better solution, however, “after market” footprints are relatively expensive for what they are ($30 or so).

    Another downside is that this is not rated as a four season tent. I have no doubt that it would stand up to some snow, but honestly I haven’t winter camped with it in the conditions necessary to really test it. If I had to guess the tent would probably hold up an inch or so, but doubtful of anything over that. Also it doesn’t have the heavy sloping sides that a four season tent does that allow snow to shift off the top. This is coupled with the fact the tent poles are positioned differently in both setups. I plan on staying in the southern ½ of the US if the SHTF (if possible). Snowfall is generally not that heavy with some exceptions for my area, and this isn’t my long term shelter solution so I find the tent works for my needs.

    The version I purchased does not have a free standing vestibule. It must be used in conjunction with the tent body. I have seen in other variants or similar tents (TCOP) that the vestibule can be used standalone. This is not the case with the ORC Industries ICS. I consider this a downside as it would be nice to be able to split up the setup for nights that no more than a vestibule is required for comfort. Another downside to the version I purchased is that there is no internal overhead storage rack that many tents have. This is probably necessary to the design as my head lightly touches the roof of the tent when sitting down and I am 5’11”. As I said, this tent is for either sleeping or shelter from weather and not much beyond that. Certainly not a tent you would be okay with spending hours in unless necessary given the limited movement available. Another thing I didn’t care for is that my set didn’t include any extra poles. This could me just being picky, but as a general rule I like having spares of everything.

    This is my review of the ORC Industries ICS. Overall I think it is the best one man three seasons tent that I have ever owned, and I would rate it high against any other tent in its class. If you are a looking for a non-military tent you can look at the Eureka Backcountry (if I recall correctly). The ICS and Backcountry size/shape are pretty much identical. I hope my review helped any of those on the fence, if you have any questions or comments feel free to post and I will try to answer them. As of late I am trying to post more reviews on the gear I own. I am starting with the gear I am generally happy with and working my way back to some I am not.
    Last edited by captainhippy; 09-18-2011 at 11:04 AM.

  2. #2
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    I have the Eureka USMC Combat Tent and it has the same "bathtub" type of floor you describe and it works great! I love that tent but I really need a couple like this one as well. I want something I can get back in a thicket where there is very little chance of people finding me. 8-)

  3. #3
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    Eureka makes great tents, I used them for many years growing up in scouting up until I had to purchase a tent on my own when my old eureka finally bit the dust. When I initially purchased the ICS I did not know the tent was ORC Industries until after I purchased it, the people that offered it labeled it as the "Eureka ICS". So be careful about that as well if you decide to purchase one.

    Yeah that bathtub floor really makes a difference with leaks (not one problem with any water so far). Like any tent when I purchase them I put seam grip over everything and it has held up perfectly for over a year now. No leaking or otherwise.

    The only thing I will say is also look at the Eureka TCOP. I believe it has a double vestibule vs the ORC ICS which only has a one-sided vestibule. I also believe this is the model that the vestibule can be free standing without the need for the main tent body, and also it comes with a footprint (may need to double check). The main problem I have run into with ORC Industries so far is that I contacted them a week ago about tent poles and if they manufactured a foot print that I could purchase and no one seems interested in getting back to me. Eureka customer service is far better than this, and truth be told I never found their CS to be particularly great.

    Really it would be hard to go wrong with the ICS, TCOP, or the USMC Combat Tent that you mentioned. From what I can tell they all are very similar in durability. I imagine the USMC Combat Tent is much more spacey than the ICS from what I have seen.

  4. #4
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    Well yeah, the Marines are a tad larger than a Boy Scout...
    "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." Patrick Henry

    Any Man Who thinks He Can Be Prosperous By Letting The Government Take Care Of Him, Better Take A Closer Look At The American Indian


  5. #5
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    Not by much

    Just kidding all you marines out there.

    <exits stage left

  6. #6
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    I read the whole thread, great review and it makes me want one. But I've had some horrible experiences in tents over the years. With that said, what's your take on hammocks?
    "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." Patrick Henry

    Any Man Who thinks He Can Be Prosperous By Letting The Government Take Care Of Him, Better Take A Closer Look At The American Indian


  7. #7
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    Default Hammocks

    It’s funny that you should mention hammocks because I was reading reviews earlier today on them. I have used a variety of hammocks over the years, some for lounging and some for camping. Regarding the camping Hammocks I can mention some general information that may help.

    Pros:

    1) Generally more light weight than a regular tent (Often no more than 3 lbs, comparable to light or ultra-light tents)
    2) No need for sleeping pad.
    3) No need for a ground cloth, tarp, or footprint.
    4) Gear can be stored directly under a hammock to avoid getting water on your gear if it rains. This will protect it the majority of the time except if the rain is coming in sideways.
    5) You could camp in an area that was flooded (or going to be flooded) if you had your gear off the ground you would be fine. I am not suggesting you would want to do this or that it would be ideal, but you could.


    Cons:

    1) Tall people or heavy people will need to be careful selecting a hammock. Tall people may find certain hammocks very uncomfortable and binding. Heavy people may break them.
    2) Trees or other objects are required to attach the hammock.
    3) Rain protection is good but in a severe storm they do not perform as well as a tent in keeping you dry.
    4) Repair is more difficult with a Hammock than a tent.


    If you are looking for a hammock I recommend Hennessey Hammock’s. Those are comfortable hammocks that I spent a few weekends on. It is hard to go back to tent camping after using a good hammock for a while. Tents have a place as well especially in severe weather. I have not winter camped with a hammock so I couldn’t tell you about snow and hammocks.

    I cannot stress enough about being careful with hammocks regarding weight. Many hammocks are only rated to 200lbs or so. Say for instance a person is 190 and they include a thick sleeping bag on top of it. That's another 10 or so pounds. If I was purchasing a hammock new, even if I didn't think I would need it, I would try to find one that would support more weight. The heavier duty ones usually list around 300lb support.

    The durability of a the newer hammocks is surprising. I would rank some hammock's durability equal to that of a good quality tent. If you want to talk comfort then there is no comparison. Hammocks will win almost every time if you get the right size one for you.

  8. #8
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    Thanks, after you posted this I googled your tent and a hammock forum came up in the search...man are those fellers serious about their hammocks...LOL
    "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." Patrick Henry

    Any Man Who thinks He Can Be Prosperous By Letting The Government Take Care Of Him, Better Take A Closer Look At The American Indian


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainhippy View Post
    3) Rain protection is good but in a severe storm they do not perform as well as a tent in keeping you dry.
    this is the only one I disagree with after hammock backpacking for the last 5 years.
    the minimalist rainfly that comes with the hennesey hammock does have limited protection. however with the correct rainfly you can not beat the wet weather protection of a hammock.

    I've had 2" of water running under my hammock while camping overtop of a brier patch and never got wet with the wind blowing the rain sideways. This was because my rain fly came down below the level of my hammock.

    there are setups available that put "doors" on the ends of the rainfly that the hammock support lines go through allowing it to be completely closed off like a tent but with the hammock haning in the middle. Some have even used backpacking wood stoves inside such a setup in the winter.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Choctaw View Post
    Thanks, after you posted this I googled your tent and a hammock forum came up in the search...man are those fellers serious about their hammocks...LOL
    the hammock forums are a great resource, I haven't been active in a few years there.

    imo the top 3 hammocks are

    Hennesey
    warbonnet blackbird
    jacks-r-better bear mountain bridge hammock

    I own 2 different hennesey hammocks and a bridge hammock. in the bridge you lay so flat you need a pillow - I actually can stomach sleep in the bridge.

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