Mark III

Mark III

1-3 person

"Stuffed" MARK III

Stuff Sack

Mark V

Mark II

3-5 person

Tarp Tent

ultra light backpacking tent

1 person


About Us

Appy Trails is new to the camping business, but not new to camping and backpacking.  Years of experience… all used to create the new line of products found here…. Whoa… Stop!!  Let’s start over!! About us… all websites have this little section to let a visitor know more about the people that you are dealing with. But I am finding it the hardest section to complete.

Because basically, it’s who am I, and why should you feel comfortable dealing with ME?   What is it about me that I can tell you?  Because this company is me; the designs are mine; the manufacturing is my responsibility; I will be the one that handles any issues that come up.  The warranty offered to you is mine; the shipping to you is mine; and yes, I will sweep the floors when needed.

Out With The Guys

So, to start out I was and still am a Boy Scout.  I earned my Eagle and my God and Country as a boy in Troop 8, Bristol, Va.   I was always there on the camping trips (in the early 60’s).  I guess I was most proud of my Vigil honor from the Order of the Arrow.  Philmont was great!  And the National Jamboree was pretty good, too.  By 1967 I must have camped 150 plus nights with these guys.

College, starting a family, working at a communications systems business… these all kept me away.  But finally I got re-involved with Scouting, and started serious hiking and camping again.  It’s been great.  For the last thirty plus years I have been a Scoutmaster  (check out  And I’ve accumulated about 450 more camping nights…

I was almost surprised to find that the tents we were using in 1985 weighed just as much or even more than the ones we hauled around in 1965.  Modern materials were being used, but now a tent had a thick floor, double walls, five different poles, zippered windows with screens, a detachable vestibule and just as many stakes as we used to have.  And you still had to add a ground cloth to go under the tent.

Now, that’s fine for tailgating and Camporees, but when you have to carry the things, you sometimes have time to contemplate the alternatives.  And our Troop does like to backpack.

Shouldn’t there be a better way?  Of course there should.  So for years I experimented with shelter tarps, and rain flys mounted without the tent, and whatever else I could think of to get the weight out of my pack.  I got it down to 17 pounds for a typical 4 day summer adventure. In so doing I realized that what we needed were tents like we used in the ‘60s simply updated with modern materials.  The weight isn’t in the important parts of the tent, the part that keeps you dry and warm.  The weight is in the accessories.

So I began to experiment with plastic tents.  Actual tents created with strapping tape and clear plastic.  I learned a lot about what would work, especially if you are innovative.  However, plastic is stuffy and actually pretty darn heavy by modern standards. (And don’t try to sleep under clear plastic with a full moon…)

Next I started working with rip-stop nylon.  One bad lesson was that silicon waterproofing might sound great; it’s light and will stop a light rain.  But a heavy rain “bombs” right thru the fabric, creating a fine spray on the inside.  Miserable.  The cloth had to be coated fabric.

But again there is a problem.  Coated fabric doesn’t breathe. If you want to build a solar still, plastic and coated nylon are good materials.   On a sunny day, you must have a way to vent out the moisture.  So vents (with screening) are a must to prevent moisture buildup inside the fabric.

So this is where the designs came from.  I realized that you can have light weight without having to use expensive and fragile materials, and you can afford to have enough room to sit up or even kneel, to get dressed without elbowing your tent mate… shute, light enough to carry a tent and not have a tent mate!  Great if you tend to snore.

At one pound and three point five ounces, you would still be carrying less tent weight than ever before!

Sam Belew


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