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Campmor (Equinox) Silnylon Poncho-Tarp


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

Campmor's "Ultralite Poncho/Tarps" and Equinox's "Ultralite Poncho" are one in the same. Order an "Ultralite Poncho/Shelter" from Campmor and you'll get an Equinox "Regular Ultralite Poncho" with a small Campmor barcode stuck to the Equinox label.

Campmor/Equinox Ultralite Poncho/Tarps make fine ponchos and are a good value in an ultralight rainwear. Unfortunately, their lack of ridgeline tie-outs compromises their shelter performance. Our review reflects this deficiency. (Note: It is not difficult for the purchaser to sew a couple of ridgeline tie-out loops to a Campmor/Equinox Ultralite Poncho/Tarp. This modification solves the problem and significantly increases the performance of the shelter.)

These poncho/tarps use 1.3 oz/sq yd (36.9 g/sq m) silnylon ripstop fabric [most likely the same 1.4 oz/sq yd (47.5 g/ sq m) that other manufacturers use]. Edge seams are rolled and sewn. The center seam is rolled and sewn with a double top stitch (similar to a flat felled seam). Perimeter tie-outs are webbing loops are single bar tacked into the rolled edge seam.

Campmor/Equinox Poncho Tarps have some nice features. The extension version includes an excellent 28 inch (71 cm) rear flap to protect your pack. It neatly snaps and Velcos out of the way if you don't need the additional length. The extension also gives you additional coverage and precipitation protection when under the shelter. At 8.8 ft (2.7 m), it is the longest of the poncho/tarps reviewed. We also applaud the webbing tie-out loops. They are an improvement over the brass grommets used on their tarps

Campmor and Equinox cut a few corners to reduce cost and their construction/design is not at the same level as the higher priced Integral Design Sil Poncho. The Campmor/Equinox poncho's hood uses a simple, non-elastic drawcord, and no cord ties. The non-elastic cord makes it harder to close off the hood in "shelter" mode. (The ID poncho has an elastic drawcord with cord ties.) The Campmor/Equinox poncho has only 6 tie-outs and no ridgeline tie-outs. Tie-out are attached with a single bar tack. The limited tie-outs significantly reduce shelter performance and pitching options. (The ID poncho has 10 tie-outs, two of which are critical ridgeline tie-outs. Tie-outs are attached with a double bar tack.)

We are at a bit of a loss as to why Campmor/Equinox poncho/tarps do not have ridgeline tie-outs. Especially, since they already have 6 nice tie-out loops along the perimeter. It would add an insignificant amount of cost to include these critical ridgeline tie-outs without which it's difficult to get a decent pitch. The shelter bunches up between the downward curved ridgeline cord spilling a lot of tension. This causes a baggy, floppy and unstable pitch.

Photo: Problems with the Campmor/Equinox Poncho/Shelter in "shelter" mode: Without ridgeline tie-outs at each end of the shelter it's difficult to get a decent pitch. As you can see in the photo, the shelter bunches up between the downward curved ridgeline cord spilling a lot of tension. The end result -a baggy, floppy and unstable pitch.

There is another problem with missing ridgeline tie-outs. When you use free standing supports, trekking poles or sticks (i.e. not using a fixed support like a tree or bush), there is nothing to hold the supports in place horizontally. Therefore, the ridgeline cord, which is in no way anchored to the poncho/tarp, slips sideways against the slick silnylon of the shelter. Eventually, the support poles fall sideways and the whole shelter collapses.

One could put two cords in a Y off of each support pole/stick to keep them from falling sideways. This is a time consuming endeavor and it would still not solve the pitch tension problems. The best solution, if you have the skill, is to sew your own ridgeline tie-outs loops at each end of the shelter. With this modification the Poncho/Tarp becomes a reasonable shelter.

Campmor/Equinox tarps offer a good value for rainwear and their construction and design flaws are minor when used in "poncho" mode. As shipped (without ridgeline tie-outs), we find it difficult to recommend them as a shelter. Fortunately, this is easily correctable by the purchaser sewing in two ridgeline tie-outs. With the ridgeline tie-outs added, they work well in "shelter" mode. We particularly like the additional length and precipitation protection of the extension model. When used with a light bivy it would make an excellent ultralight shelter system. If you want to see if poncho/tarping might be your thing, and you are willing to do a little sewing, a Campmor/Equinox tarp is a great and inexpensive way to get started.

Photo: An example of a poncho pitch with ridgeline tie-outs: In this case Integral Design's Sil Poncho. The ridgeline tie-outs make all the difference and allow for taut and stable, "hummer" of a pitch.


"Campmor (Equinox) Silnylon Poncho-Tarp," by the Product Review Staff. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2003-09-29 03:00:00-06.