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GoLite Lair 1 Shelter REVIEW

The GoLite Lair 1 Shelter offers more weather protection than a tarp without a dramatic weight penalty. At less than 12 oz, the Lair 1 is ideally suited for solo travel in areas where ventilation is important but the chance for rain is very real.


by the Product Review Staff | 2003-09-29 03:00:00-06

See how this shelter rates with others in our Comparison Review of Tarps and Other Floorless Shelters

GoLite Lair Overview

The unique feature of the GoLite Lair is its tapered design that terminates in a rear beak staked to the ground to block wind and rain from coming into the rear of the tarp.

With an open front and seven guyline tie-outs, the GoLite Lair can be pitched with the perimeter to the ground or via guylines as with conventional tarps.

As a result, the GoLite Lair is a flexible-pitching shelter that provides excellent storm protection with the rear end pitched into the wind,

Ease of Setup (4.5)

The GoLite Lair 1 deserves an honorable mention as one of the easiest tarp-shelters we've ever pitched when staking the perimeter directly to the ground. Yet it offers the flexibility of more versatile configurations as well. The easiest method of pitching the shelter follows:

  1. Stake the rear edge to the ground (two stakes required).
  2. Stake out the front corners (two stakes required).
  3. Stake out rear and front guylines via trekking poles, sticks, etc. (two stakes required)
  4. (Optional) For additional tension, stake out mid points on sides and rear (three stakes).

In total, the GoLite Lair requires only six stakes, one six-foot guyline, and one three-foot guyline. For additional flexibility, take three additional stakes and a few extra guylines.

Construction Quality (4.0)

The Lair is built to GoLite's usual standard of quality, and we observed no major issues upon inspection or after field use that would indicate that the Lair is unable to withstand high winds or significant snow loading.


We weighed the Lair on our scales at 11.0 ounces (no stakes or guylines). Adding about 30 feet of light Spectra guylines and nine titanium stakes, a package weight of less than 14 ounces can easily be achieved.

Stability (3.0)

The GoLite Lair is able to shed wind well; however, it's large side panels and presence of only one mid-perimeter guyline attachment point, it is difficult to distribute panel tension evenly over the entire panel. Consequently, the Lair 1 is not our first choice for tarp camping in very high winds.

Storm Protection (4.0)

The ability to pitch the Lair 1 with three sides down to the ground (with the rear into the wind) makes for a stormworthy shelter. Unfortunately, it's short length exposes the front area to rain spray and blowing snow and therefore, for stormy conditions, we recommend using a breathable bivy sack in conjunction with the Lair. We would like to see the next generation of the GoLite Lair include front door(s), with the ability to zip the front shut or stake them out for added ventilation or room. Using some combination of design features from Oware's Alphamid and Integral Designs' Sil Shelter, the Lair could grow into a very stormworthy shelter entirely suitable for mountain camping.

Ventilation / Condensation Resistance (4.0)

Even when the GoLite Lair is pitched down to the ground, the large open front area provides ample ventilation. Even so, ventilation can be improved by staking the rear corners closer together and staking the mid-point rear guyline attachment, via a guyline, to an additional stake to lift the rear of the shelter and increase airflow. Of course, when pitched more like a flat tarp, the Lair offers excellent ventilation.

Flexibility of Pitching (4.0)

The Lair provides enough simplicity for a successful pitch by novice tarp campers, but the flexibility for pitching off the ground to improve ventilation and living space.

Insect Protection (1.0)

The Lair is an open design and thus inappropriate for buggy climates without additional protection.

GoLite Lair 1 Specifications

  • Weight: 11.0 ounces
  • Width: 8.0 feet (front) tapering to 4.0 feet (rear) while flat
  • Length: 8.0 feet
  • Height: typical, 3.5 feet (adjustable)
  • Surface Area: 50 sq. ft. (manufacturer's claim)
  • Square Feet / Ounce: 4.5
  • Price: $99 (price includes tarp, cord, nine aluminum Y-stakes, and stow sack)

Value (4.5)

At $99, the Lair is a steal. It is one of the simplest and most effective tarp shelters on the market. It is ideal for the beginning lightweight backpacker wanting to learn how to tarp camp with a minimum of fuss, while providing the flexibility for more advanced configurations as the user's skill grows.



"GoLite Lair 1 Shelter REVIEW," by the Product Review Staff. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2003-09-29 03:00:00-06.