Old Morsan Tent Interview

Morsan Tent

Recently, we did a short interview with Charlie who is the proud owner of the tent you see above. This tent has seen quite a few adventures and we expect it has many more in it’s future with Charlie’s family.

1. Can you give us a bit of background on how old the tent is and what exactly it is?

My father bought the tent probably about 1965. I know it was after I joined the Navy in 1963. He bought it from the Morsan tent company which I believe was the origin of the Campmor company. The model of the tent was called the Tropical Cabin, I believe, but my father ordered it with a couple of non-standard features including the asbestos chimney stack hole and a cut-away section of the floor where the old “sheepherder” type stove is used. He also got a second ridgepole which we use to support a tarp in front as a kitchen/porch.

2. How and when did you come into possession of it?

My father gave me the tent in 2005. My parents used it for about 40 years taking camping and fishing trips all over the Northeast and eastern Canada. They carried it in their cars, boats and canoes. When they got into their late 80’s they stopped camping and gave my brothers and I various boats, tents, and equipments.

Morshan Tent Campsite

3. What is your favorite feature(s) of the tent?

I like many features of the tent:

  • It is a large (10’x12′) wall tent that is high enough to stand erect in – I’ve even used a bunk bed in it for more capacity.
  • The stove pipe allows it to be used in cold weather – I have used it at 12 degrees and with 4″ of snow on it.
  • It is very sturdy in windy conditions – we usually camp above 8,000′ in Utah and experience lots of severe electrical storms.
  • The windows on three sides and the screen door allow a good cross breeze in warm weather.
  • Although it is fairly heavy I can erect by myself when necessary.

My parents added Velcro to close the door flaps, but I am thinking of re-installing zippers. It has a couple of patches from errant sparks and we’ve replaced a number of the side poles.

4. What is your fondest memory of the tent? Is there one trip that sticks out to you?

Tent SiteI have used it for at least three camping trips every summer since 2005 as well as some late and early season trips. Every year I take my grandchildren on a camping, fishing, hiking, horse trip and they are all memorable. The first trip was with the oldest when she was nine years old and last summer I took four granddaughters and a grandson. Even as teenagers now the oldest still look forward to the trip and we are already planning for this summer. I also take one trip with a friend each summer that usually involves fishing. And then I sometimes go camping alone – it is very roomy for one/two persons.

We’ve had many adventures from lightning hitting a tree beside the tent to a visiting skunk. We’ve had many experiences with wildlife – coyotes howling nearby, a wolf sighting, swimming beavers, a charging moose, and lots of deer, elk, moose, etc. passing by and fishing, of course.

5. What is next for the tent? Any trips planned?

Tent StoveYes. We are already planning our camping trip next summer. I am planning on bringing along another adult, one of their parents, to help me keep up with the children (I am 71 years old) so we will use another tent, as well. The children and I like relatively primitive camping so we have plenty of elk venison to cook in our Dutch ovens. Last year I finally learned in my old age that a splitting mall is far superior to a standard axe for splitting firewood so I’ll give the older ones considerable experience with that! We teach them woodsman ship skills like fire making, cooking over a fire, wildlife observation, orienteering, etc. I’m not one of these “preppers” preparing for a Zombie invasion or a meteor strike, but we do want the kids to learn how to avoid getting lost or hurt in the wilderness and how to cope with being lost, bad weather, wild animals, etc.

I don’t have any plans to retire the tent – my wife thinks I shouldn’t be going camping alone (but what does she know..?). The tent is certainly good for many more years. I did buy a new wall tent for this year because we have more people going. It will be a good experience to compare it with a modern tent – I suspect this old tent will be better.

What piece of outdoor equipment do you have that has stood up to season after season of use?

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  • Amy Giddings

    We had the same tent, minus the chimney hole! We used ours all throughout the 70’s and 80’s (not sure when my parents got it, but probable before I was born, around ’67 maybe??). We even lived in it for a whole summer (’87) while my Mom was a campground host, and my Dad started working for the Park Service in Yosemite! Wonderful memories!

  • John D.

    morsan’s was a retail camping & outdoor store.I purchased many items from them in the 70’s.some items are still in use today! ( I’m 62 ) the store was in Orange Ct.

    • Roger

      Hi John. My memories of Morsans are wonderful! we were a camping family from long Island and my folks always went to morsans to get tents, sleeping bags and all sorts of other stuff, whic i still have, all in great condition. We now live in ireland and i hae two small boys, Connor 9 and Ronan 8 who love camping as well. I think the first time we went to morsans was in 1960! Really quality stuff, MADE IN AMERICA!!

    • Mark

      Morsan was a chain of outdoor and sporting goods stores. Their warehouse was in Mahwah, NJ. I used to unload trucks coming from manufacturers, and load trucks going to the various stores. That would have been around Summer of 1973. The current Campmor store in Paramus was a Morsan untill Morsan folded and Campmor moved from Bagota, NJ to Paramus. Other similar great old time stores were Curry’s on 17 in Mahwah and Ramsey Outdoor in both Ramsey and Paramus. The latter still exists in a new smaller location but mostly does fishing and guns. I love Campmor and have introduced many folks from Australia to the Netherlands to its catalog and website. Long live Campmor!

  • Kenny Walters

    very nice piece. Camping always makes for memorable experiences! Hope I will be doing it into my late 80’s like his parents did. Again, lovely article.

  • kapnkenny

    i have a coleman stove used when i was less than 8 yrs old. with my parents it is priceless to me

  • Dave

    I just finished reading the daily news before coming across this story sent via email to me from Campmor and I can’t tell you what a joy it is to read such a lighthearted / positive story . THANKS

  • Bob

    I have to echo the comments here about the old Morsan tents. My family has had a number of tents and screen houses from both the Paramus and Trenton (OK, Ewing Township) stores. I still have a light green poplin Morsan cabin tent from the late 60s / early 70s and, although the window screens are in bad shape and the zipper has been replaced a number of times, it is still used by my wife’s Girl Scouts. My 1972 9×12 nylon tarp is still a staple of my backpack … the only tent I use.

  • Joseph B.

    I have an old Morsan canvas tent, plus an old Coleman liquid fuel lantern and stove. I am 50 now and grew up using these products for 45 years.
    Nothing beats camping with some great quality equipment. I still use that stuff, well cared for, it will last forever. Now my kids are starting to use it when they go camping.

  • Donald Feinstein

    Purchased a Coleman Olympic Tent, Coleman two burner stove & lantern from Morsan’s in late 60s. I’m now 73 and living in California. Still use lantern but actually wore the other items out and had to replace them. Lots of fond memories — and new adventures yet to be had.

    • Bruce

      I also bought a Coleman Olympic, Coleman two burner propane stove and propane twin mantle lantern back then… am 74 and still have them in perfect working order. Camped in 46 of the contiguous 48 and all across Canada, from Victoria, B.C. to the Gaspé. I wouldn’t trade my memories for solid gold. Go Coleman!

  • its_just_dad

    We have lots of tents of every different type. We are in our late sixties and still camp every summer. Our favorite is still the 10 x 14 canvas cabin tent that looks very much like the one in the article that we bought from Morsan back when we were young. We kept it in mint condition despite four kids. Now we take our granddaughter camping and the others show up occasionally with their families or significant others.

    We loved the old Morsan store in Paramus as we do the Campmor store that stands in it’s place today. I remember that the place had canvas tents erected all over the main floor and the kids had fun walking inside them to “check them out”. We never left the store without buying something and we still have everything we bought there. Old camping equipment was built to last and with the love and care we have given it, it has.

  • Robert

    I remember we had a cabin tent when I was younger and all the trips we used it. At one point my Step Fauther went to work for Kieser Steel on Eagle Mountain, CA. (not there any more,) and we had to live in Co. Housing that didn’t have ebough room for every one so my Step Dad set up the tent and that was my bedroom. It was great!

  • Shawn D.

    Great story. I have fond memories of camping with my Dad in the 70s, in our old Camel Ponderosa canvas tent. Those things were well made.
    It was umbrella style in the center, with wings on each side, I think it slept 12 if need be… Great times. Now I have a grandson, and will be taking him camping with our modern REI double wall with garage. certainly lighter and easier to erect, but just not the same as the old school canvas..

  • Brian H

    I purchased my first Morsan ” 2 man “pup” tent when I was 12 years old in 1962 from the Paramus NJ store. It was the first major purchase made from money I earned and served me for many trips on the east coast and lasted a good 25 years. Morsan used to advertise in Popular Science which is how I ordered my first catalog…what a delight to still receive them!!!

  • Swamp Yankee

    I loved going to the Morsan store on the Boston Post Rd in Orange CT as a
    kid, it was an adventure in itself. All the tents were on the second
    floor, wall to wall, packed solid. Broke my heart when they shut down that store. Campmor is still one of my favorite
    places though.

  • Lou the Camper

    Have the same tent, & a 1963 Morsan 2 Man “Mountain” tent. The Morsan Frabric IS the *BEST* in the business!!! First went to Morsan’s when they were located in Long Island City, NY. The display area was on the Roof of the Factory/ShowRoom!?!

  • cbeetlelady

    I would not doubt one day one of those grandkids will own a grand old tent from thier grandparents. Some things are worth the grand tales spoken they are a part of.

  • pfjaco

    Morsan was a camping and outdoor store on route 110 in Famrmingdale N Y in the sixties and early 70’S they had all types of gear my favorite piece of vear is the old Coleman catalytic heater both fixed btu and the adjustable

  • John

    In 1969 I bought a Svea 123 backpacking white gas stove. This little single burner still works perfect, not one problem ever. It has been used in snow, below zero temps, rain, in the dirt and winds…it keeps on trucking. I also have a coleman lantern and a stove. I have used both every year since 1969 also with out any problems.

  • Zeke

    I’m in my 60’s and have used my Morsan tents and sleeping bags continuously for over 40 years. My 29-10 and 29-252 model tents are still the envy of any campground they are set up in. I’m an active Boy Scout leader who uses his equipment. I also have a variety of backpacks, stoves, lanterns and other gear from Morsan that are still in use and function as they should.

  • Richard

    I have a Morsan 9 x 9 ft. umbrella tent I purchased from Morsan circa 1975. It is made with pale green canvas type fabric. I used it a few times back then and then I dried it and stored it in it’s canvas bag with all the stakes and hardware. I didn’t use it since then (1970s) and I decided to look at it since it was in my garage attic for about 30 years. I thought it would be completely rotted and moldy, etc.

    Well, I must have done something right when packing it up the last time I set it up. I took it out today and set it up and was blown away! The tent was in absolute mint condition. I actually damaged the front door screening when unzipping the door. The zipper snagged the screening and put a hole in the screen. I am so upset by it. I want to sell the tent since I don’t plan on ever using it. this tent must be well made since it survived the storage for over 28 years unused. Amazing!

  • Kathy

    I worked at the Morsan store in Paramus at the end of the 70’s and early 80’s when they closed. I still have my Coleman stove and 4 man tent. I remember all those canvas tents that Jack used to fix for everyone. He was great.

    • Richard

      I just did foreclosure cleanup and found a Morsan sleeping bag in perfect condition! Never knew about the company!

  • Bob Dobbins

    The Coleman Stove…regular family use for 50 years.


    I also have a Morsan tent still in great shape mine is a 8×8 cabin tent in green canvas .We live in Long Island it was purchase in the Ocean Side Morsan,s store about 1970 . All that was done was to respray once or twice for it,s water repellency and the most important put it away dry .

  • Rich

    I’ve got a Morsan pup tent that my parents bought for me from the Paramus store around 1965. It’s still in great shape. The canvas smell brings back great memories!

  • Frank

    I own a Morsan tent that I bought when I was about seventeen and I still have it at sixty two years old. The last time I used it was about two years ago. It is a 12 x 16 with zipper triangle windows in the rear and large screen window in the front of the tent with roll up covers. Many years ago I must have had a wet spot when I put it away. I took it on a camping trip and a section of the front flap had rotten along with a hole a few inches in diameter in the front of the tent. Ran to a store and bought some rubber cement and cut up patches from the tent pole bag and that was about twenty years ago and it still is holding up. Great tent but the only bad thing about it is it is big and heavy.
    I was in a storm in Virginia. It rained so hard that the floor was floating but only had a few puddles in the tent. My wife and I stayed dry all night sleeping on our air mattress. I never would have believed that a tent could last so many years. Maybe it is time for a road trip.

  • Holly J Van Ostrand

    inherited a morsan a-frame tent but no poles. can anyone direct me to a site to purchase same?

  • Milwood123

    I have had and still have lots of tents purchased through the years. However my favorite was my blue Coleman Olympic purchased in 1969 at Morsan’s in NJ. Used for many years but put it away wet and it got ruined. Still trying to find it’s perfect replacement after all these years. Still have my Coleman 2 burner and Coleman 2 mantle lantern from 1969. Both work just fine although they have been replaced with more modern versions.