HMG Echo I - Initial Impressions
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Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
HMG Echo Competitors on 09/16/2010 13:23:10 MDT Print View

"The closest thing I can think of is the Golite Shangri La 1, perhaps the MLD Patrol."

www.alpinlitegear.com

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: HMG Echo Competitors on 09/16/2010 13:27:21 MDT Print View

I think this depends on how you define a competitor. There are definitely shelters out there with similar weights and features. However, only the Echo is 100% waterproof.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
HMG on 09/16/2010 13:47:59 MDT Print View

I define it as overall design. In fact, I would argue that Alpinlite's beak that has a zippered entry point when you have to pitch low is better.

With respect to waterproofness, 1200mm is considered functionally waterproof by the US Army. Silnylon is just fine for a fly or tarp for most typical hard rains.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: HMG Echo I - Initial Impressions on 09/16/2010 14:52:43 MDT Print View

"it is heavier, smaller, and more expensive than my very similar Gossamer Gear SpinnShelter - Alpinlite Bug Tent 1.25 combo."

I was considering this combo as well. It's a very nice setup. However it does not seem like the SpinnShelter/Bug Tent 1.25 combo is significantly lighter or larger.

Regarding weight, Alpinlite claims 10.6oz for the 1.25 bug shelter and GG claims 10.3oz for the SpinnShelter with guylines. That's 20.9oz claimed vs. 21.8oz (claimed) or 23.7oz (measured) for the Echo I tarp/inner/beak. If you switched the Echo I to the same thinner 2mm line as the SpinnShelter uses (instead of 2.8mm) and went with thinner 1/16 bungie cordage for the inner, then I imagine the weight would be extremely close between these two, likely within an ounce. Stake needs are the same.

Regarding space, the length and height of the Bug Tent 1.25 are claimed as the same as the Echo I. The floor is wider but the walls also slope inward unlike the Echo 1 which slopes outward at first. I think this diagram below illustrates the comparison well. I created this scale diagram using the claimed specs for the Bug Tent 1.25 and my measured specs for the Echo I....and MS Paint of course! This diagram assumes the Bug Tent 1.25 fully meets the specs. Had I used the Echo I specs it would have appeared much larger. Overall I would say the usable space is a toss up. With the SpinnShelter you get a little more floor area but less arm/shoulder room when laying down.

Echo vs. Bug Tent

Regarding price and other factors, you're right that the SpinnShelter/BT 1.25 is a lot cheaper ($314 vs. $490). That's a big plus for sure. The other pertinent differences seem to be the textile choice and the modularity. I personally do not like Spinn for anything or silnylon for floors. I've made some stuff sacks from Spinn (from Thru-Hiker) and they didn't hold up well. They fabric failed at crease points and along seams after a few weekend trips. They seemed disposable. I disposed of them. Even my 0.33oz weight cuben stuff sacks have fared much better. Maybe GG Spinn is a lot better but I just don't have the same confidence with this fragile & noisy fabric as I do with 0.74oz cuben. Silnylon is fine for a lot of stuff but I don't like it as a shelter floor. I feel uneasy about it's borderline 1200mm hydrostatic head (I've had it fail) and it's slipperyness can be annoying. That's just my opinions. Lots of people love these two fabrics.

Edited by dandydan on 09/16/2010 15:03:55 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: HMG Echo I - Initial Impressions on 09/16/2010 14:58:46 MDT Print View

Dan, I absolutely love the 3-year-old toddler font you have there in your diagram! ;)

Edited by T.L. on 09/16/2010 14:59:16 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Font on 09/16/2010 15:01:08 MDT Print View

I was using a web based flash version of MS Paint and the darn thing wouldn't let me use the text function so I had to draw it out. I'm glad you like it.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Re: HMG Echo I - Initial Impressions on 09/16/2010 15:10:59 MDT Print View

I think it would be great if BPL did a comparison of these, and other double walled shelters. Of course, since a lot of these are interchangeable, you couldn't cover all of the combinations, but I would imagine that you could cover a bunch. You could also just ask various makers to recommend a few ideas and see how they compare. For example, ask Ron Bell for double walled tent ideas and see what he recommends.

One possible advantage of the Echo 1 is that the inner tent may have higher walls on the bottom. I'm not sure of this, but if so, then it would provide a little more protection from breezes. This is one of the advantages of a double walled tent (in that it doesn't need the ventilation down there). This could make it a bit more comfortable.

One thing I wonder about, is the setup of the inner tent on the Echo 1. The pictures on the HMG web site show the lower walls of the inner tent as being vertical. However, in your pictures, Dan, they seem to flair out a bit. This may, actually be an improvement (for the reasons you mentioned) but it might explain the difference in height. It doesn't explain the difference in width, though.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Waterproofness on 09/16/2010 15:48:32 MDT Print View

I know sil is "functionally" waterproof and for all intents and purposes in our world works fine as a shelter. I was only stating that Cuben is the only material in use that's 100% waterproof.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: Re: Re: HMG Echo I - Initial Impressions on 09/16/2010 16:19:42 MDT Print View

"One thing I wonder about, is the setup of the inner tent on the Echo 1. The pictures on the HMG web site show the lower walls of the inner tent as being vertical. However, in your pictures, Dan, they seem to flair out a bit. This may, actually be an improvement (for the reasons you mentioned) but it might explain the difference in height. It doesn't explain the difference in width, though."

Good observation. It does seem that there is a relationship between pulling the walls out wider and that reducing the height. If I had a bit less tension on the bungie cordage pulling the inner outwards, I may have found that missing 1" of height.

It could also be though that my sidewalls were only flared out because the pictures were taken with the door open. A lot of my observations I made after the fact when looking at the pictures. If I were to zip the door shut that may pull the walls vertical at the front of the inner. The pictures show the foot end of the inner not being flared out.

Rakesh Malik
(Tamerlin)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: HMG Echo I - Initial Impressions on 09/16/2010 16:20:47 MDT Print View

Great write-up, Dan!

I've been holding off on doing one of these until I get the pitch right -- I believe that I'm experiencing a loss in tension in the tarp when I put the beak on because I don't have the geometry right.

What ends up happening is that getting a taught pitch with the tarp is a piece of cake, but in order to get the corners of the beak to reach the corners of the tarp I have to loosen the tarp's corner tieouts a little bit.

I'm planning on a 2-night outing next weekend, and hopefully get the geometry right this time :)

I'd also echo (no pun intended) Dan in suggesting that putting up a PDF with some pitching advice would be helpful. The tarp itself and the insert aren't any trouble at all, but the beak isn't as flexible as the insert, probably because it's designed to seal off the front with enough overlap to ensure that it will keep water out of the vestibule.

BTW, to keep the beak door open when the insert was in place, I just slipped it into the gap between the tarp and the insert.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Beak on 09/16/2010 16:29:26 MDT Print View

Hmm...so if I understand correctly the corner snaps on your beak don't quite reach to the corner snaps of the tarp, so you need to slacken the tarp a bit to get the snaps done up.

If just one side doesn't quite reach then you could shift the whole beak to that side a smidge by repositioning the velcro. If both sides don't reach then that may be the distances are slightly off spec and there's not much you can do about it. It could also be that you are wrapping the velcro around the pole too tightly which makes the beak snaps not reach. Maybe try doing up the snaps first and then wrapping the velcro around.

Edited by dandydan on 09/16/2010 16:31:25 MDT.

Rakesh Malik
(Tamerlin)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Beak on 09/16/2010 17:23:31 MDT Print View

I had the same thought about doing the snaps first while I was writing up my post. :)

I'll see if I can get out to a park or something this weekend and try it out. Not having a back yard of my own can be inconvenient at times.

If it turns out that the beak is off-spec, I might have to put HMG's customer service to the test, but hopefully it's just a procedural error on my part.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Shockcord on 09/16/2010 17:39:47 MDT Print View

I measured the shock cord used with the inner at 1/8" or 3.16mm. I imagine one could switch to 3/32" shockcord (2.4mm) and it would still work with the existing LineLoc3's (supposed to work with 2.5-3.0mm) or you could switch to lighter 1/16" shockcord and snip the LineLoc3's and use nothing or Micro LineLoc's. I'm going to order some of each (Zpacks) and give it a shot.

EDIT: Here's the plan:

TARP:
- Retain LineLoc3's on the Ridgeline but use 2.5mm pure spectra cord which is probably 1/2 the weight of HMG 2.8mm line.
- Use 1.25mm line on side guyouts with Micro LineLoc's
- Not sure about the corners yet, I'll do one of the above.

BEAK:
- Try 1/16" or 3/32" shockcord on the side guyouts with no adjuster. If that doesn't work I'll use 1.25mm line with a Micro LineLoc.
- Use 2.5mm pure spectra line with existing LineLoc3 on the front guyout.

INNER:
- Use 3/32" shockcord (instead of 1/8") on the rear ridgeline attachment with existing LineLoc3
- Replace all 6 side bungies with 1/16 line and no tensioner. I'll add back a micro tensioner if I need to.

I hope to drop the 2.6oz of guylines and 1.4oz of bungie down to about 1.5oz combined plus save a bit more weight by eliminating some LineLoc3's. Potentially up to 3oz could be saved.

Edited by dandydan on 09/17/2010 13:25:30 MDT.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
HMG Echo I on 09/17/2010 21:26:54 MDT Print View

Dan,
Thanks for another one of your excellent posts. Don't know where you and some others find the patience to take photos of your works in progress. Really outstanding.
Sam F.

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Video on 09/19/2010 12:31:43 MDT Print View

Have this shelter since a couple of weeks already, here is a video with my thoughts on it. A review will follow after my two week expedition to Russia.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"HMG Echo I - Initial Impressions" on 09/19/2010 12:53:58 MDT Print View

Excellent video tutorial on the HMG Echo I Hendrik, this was a nice compliment to Dan's detailed writeup. It sounds like a large winged critter buzzed by your camera as you clipped on the inner at minute 8:15 in the video...nice touch. ;)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Echo I on 09/19/2010 14:11:20 MDT Print View

Nice work on the video. That trip to Russia should be an awesome opportunity to really test this shelter out. I'm looking forward to your review. I'm getting mine out in the wild for the first time Tues - Thur this week.

I personally prefer staking down the inner to get a bit more space inside and to prevent it from sliding around if you are camping on slightly sloped ground. I use 2g Terra Nova stakes for the inner, so it's just 0.3oz for all 4. I also like staking down the sides of the tarp, especially if you are going to attach the beak, as it will prevent the sides of the tarp from being pulled up by the beak guylines as you observe. I use 2g stakes for this as well. I haven't had any troubles using the same stake for the tarp's front ridgeline and the beak guy out.

An idea to save a bit of time is to leave the inner connected to the tarp via the shockcords if you know you're going to be using it every night. As long as things are reasonably dry, one could leave these two components attached and save quite a bit of setup time.

Kudo's to HMG for updating the weight and dimensions spec's on their website to reflect the production models more accurately. It's good to see them getting the details sorted out. The website specs now closely match my observed specs.

Edited by dandydan on 09/19/2010 17:35:53 MDT.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Locale: LawsonEquipment.com
Nice Job! on 09/19/2010 17:22:12 MDT Print View

Hey Hendrick,

Nice job on the video and review. Keep them up..

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Echo I on 09/23/2010 15:37:27 MDT Print View

I got to use the Echo I last night for the first time in the wild. It's lot of fun to experiment with a new shelter...especially one that has so much potential for an amazing pitch if you dial in the variables.

Beginning to set it up. I forgot my hiking poles so I found two sticks:
Echo 1 a

Two deer snuck up behind me to check out the Echo 1. They were maybe 10 feet behind me when one of the made a noise. I'll admit I was pretty startled.
Deer

The main thing I learned during this setup is that you need the front pole to be tall enough if you want the inner to set up nicely. My stick was about 43" and that was borderline too short. Mike from HMG uses 46". The front of the inner clips directly to the underside of the tarp, so if the tarp is too low then the inner will be saggy. You can move the whole inner back away from the front to tighten it up a bit but you can only do this so much and doing so makes you more vulnerable to getting rain in the foot end (since the inner is closer to the edge of the tarp). It's better to just have the front pole taller. At the foot end of the tarp, the height doesn't matter as much because the inner attaches via an adjustable bungie cord. 34" is a good height but you can go several inches either way without ill effects it seems. As you can see in the picture below, with my 43" stick my mesh walls were a bit saggy even though I moved the tarp back a few inches to tighten it up at the attachment above the door. This would have been easy to fix with adjustable trekking poles but there wasn't a lot of nice sticks were I was camping so I just left it. This isn't a problem with the shelter, just a setup tip that I'll keep in mind in the future. I would say 46" (or even 47-48") is ideal for the front pole. Around 44-45" and you're going to have to shimmy the inner back a bit to tighten it up (which you don't want to do if a storm is rolling in). Less than this (42-43") and it's just going to be saggy. Less than 41" and it's going to be a mess.
Echo 1 b
Vestibule space is great as long as you aren't getting sideways rain.


A few pictures of it setup:
Echo 1 c

Echo 1 d

I got rain for the second half of the night. Obviously I stayed totally dry. The rain was nice enough to hold off for 45min in the morning while I cooked breakfast and packed up.

The other setup variable that I experimented with was the beak's front guyout. I was using the same stake as I was for the tarps ridgeline. If you have this stake too close to the beak then the beak zipper will be tight but the bottom edges of the beak won't be taut. If you have the stake really far out from the shelter then it pulls on the beak from a different angle and the bottom edges are taut but the zipper is loose. Somewhere in between is the sweet spot where everything is taut. For me, this has always been about where I have the tarp ridgeline staked anyways so I just clip the beak guyline to the same stake and tighten it up. If you do find that your beak needs to be staked closer or further then you can either move the tarp ridgeline stake, or use a separate stake to avoid the risk of messing up your tarp pitch. This is all minor stuff...it's just fun to figure out all the variables and eventually be able to nail down a perfect pitch quickly. Everytime I've set it up I've just clipped it to the tarp ridgeline stake and it's been pretty reasonable. I've never needed to change it. I just found last night that if it was staked out a few inches further it would have been perfect. The other variable with the beak setup is the slope of your tarp walls as previously discussed. To a certain degree, you can make up for too steep/too flat of tarp walls by moving the stake.

It's possible in Rakesh's earlier photo that the beak was staked out to far which was pulling the bottom edges taut but letting the zipper sag down. Just an idea...hard to say for sure without seeing it in person.

The only new design suggestion that arose during my trip was that it would be nice to have a small fabric loop inside the net tent to hang stuff from. I specifically like to hang my glasses (so they're safe) and watch (so I can for sure hear the alarm).

Edited by dandydan on 09/23/2010 18:57:27 MDT.

Rakesh Malik
(Tamerlin)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Echo I on 09/25/2010 19:23:26 MDT Print View

Your timing was perfect... I read your post right before I headed out yesterday. I'll see if I can get my pictures edited and upload an Echo II version tonight :)

Some of your comments helped when I was setting mine up last night, but I still haven't quite gotten the geometry for the beak nailed down. The rest is cake, but I'll put up pics and such and write at more length later.