by the Product Review Staff | 2003-06-27 03:00:00-06
See how this shelter rates with others in our Comparison Review of Tarps and Other Floorless Shelters
The Integral Designs George Tarp applies economies of scale to a silnylon shelter for shared camping. The George Tarp is a reincarnation of the Sil Shelter for 2 to 4 persons.
The George Tarp is designed to provide stormworthy protection from the elements for two, three, or four hikers. It is made with 1.4 oz silicone coated nylon and has 11 perimeter tie-out points, with an additional two in the sides of the body for added stability. The tarp uses a pole (purchased separately) or two coupled trekking poles for support, and requires a minimum of six stakes for a reasonably taut pitch. The George reflects Integral Designs usual attention to detail and quality of craftsmanship. A noseeum mesh bugnet panel is available for complete side enclosure while maintaining ventilation.
In addition to our normal reviewer backpacking field trips, we left the George set up for sixteen weeks straight during Montana's foul-weather transition season between winter and spring, exposing it to high winds, snow, and rain.
Ease of Setup. The George is a trick to set up properly, and takes some practice. Part of the fault lies in the design. The George could benefit from some CAD work with the addition of catenary curve seamlines and edges to increase the tautness of the pitch. Consequently, we were constantly fiddling with pole height and side guy tensions to tweak the pitch. There does, however, seem to be a magic combination of pole height (somewhere between five and a half and six and a half feet) that seemed to provide and ideal balance between storm resistance, headroom, and interior living space.
Interior Living Space. The important thing to remember with the George tarp, is that the higher you pitch it, the less interior living space it provides, but the better you are able to seal off the door from rain spray. At a five foot pole height, the tarp was tight for four people, and the doors remained wide open. At a seven foot pole height, there was sufficient living space for two and the doors could be sealed. We liked a pole height of six feet, which provided roomy accomodations for three.
Performance with a Five Foot Pole. Again, storm resistance depends on the pole height. At a pole height of five feet, there was so much surface area of fabric that was nearly parallel to the ground that excess rain resulted in a lot of pooling. In addition, condensation was worst in this configuration, due to the limited headroom between the sleepers and the ceiling. In high winds the fabric flapped loudly and during big gusts, flattened all the way to our faces. In snowy conditions, the pitch was miserable. We constantly had to remove snow from the tarp to avoid its collapse.
Performance with a Seven Foot Pole. For seriously wet or snowy conditions, this was our favorite pitch. It allowed us to fully close the door and the walls were steep enough not to touch our sleeping bags when the tarp sagged in cool conditions. In addition, excess rain and snow shed easily with no pooling. However, in windy conditions, it is very important to properly tension the side guylines, due to the large wall surface area exposed to the direction of the wind.
Durability. Most silnylon is strong. The silnylon used by Integral Designs is no exception. We've always been impressed with its quality and cosmetic appearance. The fabric pole cup that holds the pole is sewn into the silnylon at a point that receives a lot of stress. Surprisingly, even after months of intensive use, we didn't rip out the cup when cinching guylines. With a little attention and a firm but not neanderthalic tug on the main guyline, the cup and its stitching should last for a long time.
For two people, the George tarp provides stormworthy and roomy conditions for hardcare lightweights at a cost of less than 13 ounces per person (including stakes and guylines). For three people, it provides a tighter squeeze but allows each person to bear a burden of less than 9 ounces apiece. There may not be a lighter solution to foul-conditions camping than the George.
Our only improvements? Catenary cuts and a redesign to allow for a perfectly taut pitch at its most versatile height of six feet.
Final Grade: B+
"Integral Designs George Tarp," by the Product Review Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00090.html, 2003-06-27 03:00:00-06.