On my trip to Helsinki last week I had some spare time between meetings, and had a look in Partioaitta for a Buff. We have only a limited selection of Buffs here in Tampere, so it was nice to see some more options available. Among others they had a new Merino Buff, which was slightly more expensive than the synthetic one, but I was immediately sold on it. I like the colour - it goes well with my Smartwool Zip T - and the advantages of merino wool speak for themselves - non smelly, water repellant, good moisture management and UV protection. I have been wearing it since I got it, and its mighty comfortable. It weights 51 g which is a bit more than a synthetic one, and at 25€ its also about 10€ more than a synthetic Buff, but the above advantages + that 1% of my purchase goes to a NGO that works for the environment convinced me. My girlfriend, who used mine on her bicycle trips to work, also wants one now, as she really likes the versatility which is possible with it =)
Looking for further ways to decrease my load, I started to look at tarps. I really like my Scarp 1, but I believe that weight savings can and should be made. Initially planned for the next summer, I am looking for a tarp (and a bivy bag, which will be discussed in a future post). It should be light, flexible in its use, have plenty of room, and if possible be useable without trekking poles (I don't have any and am not convinced of their usefulness). It also should withstand high wind speeds and be able to carry some snow. Finally, it should be under 300 g excluding guylines, line locks, stakes and poles.
There's plenty of companies out there who make tarps, but only a few made it into my list. Besides the option of buying one, I like the idea of making my own. But as I want to go as light as possible with a tarp, that would mean I need to sew cuben fibre, which, I read, isn't the easiest material to work with if you're a beginner. So while the idea is certainly in the back of my head, I think for the first tarp I will trust a company's sewing skills over my own and buy one. In case you're wondering, for me tarps and shelters are the same - floorless, without bug protection, with lots of views.
So, here the options I have had a look at:
MLD Grace Solo Spectralite .60 - 168 g in Spectralite .60 - no beak or rear end, which could mean some rain or snow, but certainly wind, can come "in" - lots of view - 260$
That's it already. Four companies, five options in total. The DuoMid, while an interesting shelter, didn't make it in there as its "too heavy" even in cuben, and I am not ready to pay over 400$ for a shelter. The GG Spinnshelter looks good and is cheap, and the video on the GG side is awesome and gives a good idea how it functions. Maybe Ron from MLD or one of the fans out there are able to produce something similar. The LAUFBURSCHE shelter is excellent, and I would be supporting a European SUL manufacturer, which is always nice. Integral Design's Sil Poncho is a classic, and I could drop the rain jacket from the pack, further walking lighter. Multipurpose items are one facet of UL backpacking, and the ID Sil Poncho is a excellent choice for that reason.
I now just need to assess my financial situation and then make a decision. The dollar is currently approaching the 1,50€ mark, which makes the US shelters quite affordable. Anyhow, I am looking forward to your comments and recommendations, and hear which tarp you are using or considering.
You most likely already saw the photos of the new Tarptent Scarp 1 on Martin Rye's blog. I contacted Henry Shires to get a few more information, as I am very excited about the improved tent.
First off, a bit of information for existing Scarp 1 owners: Henry plans to contact all Scarp 1 owners once the production for the new fly is up and running and offer them the new fly. As he doesn't yet know what the sewing price will be he can't say anything yet how much it will be, though he mentioned to sell them at "non profit". I already have very high regards for Henry Shires and his company, but this is certainly a completely new way to reward your existing customer base. Its fantastic news for people like Martin and me, who already have the inner and poles and do not need a 2nd complete tent.
Henry couldn't give too much information yet on the weight of the new tent, though he reckons weight will go up about 50 g, but its just a guess at the moment as its pre-production. Some places lost a bit of weight, others gained a bit. All within limits.
The inner gained two small pockets. Looks like they're down by the door zip at the end, which is out of the way but easy to reach also from the outside. Will hold glasses and small stuff, and helps you to keep your tent tidy.
I was curious on how one regulates the fly, and here you see it. Photos show the vestibule area.
Fly fully down, so the cord fully pulled down.
Fly up, cord tension released and fly edge tensioned up to interior clip.
The fly now tensions to the grommeted arch strap with a cord and a quick release tension adjuster.
With these new added features I believe Henry Shires created a winning tent, that even should do well in the mass market. Rewarding your existing customer base with a possibility to get the new fly for low cost is the best customer service one can get, something I am very positive about. The new design should do extremely well in winter, and its good that for the one week winter tour in next January/ February I will have this tent with me!
The new Tarptent Scarp 1 will be available in November, and you can order it from the Tarptent website.