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New GoLite poncho tarp vs. MLD
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Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
New GoLite poncho tarp vs. MLD on 07/10/2011 09:34:59 MDT Print View

I'm a new member here. Hello!

So, I've been backpacking for a while and actually thought I used to carry lightweight gear until I found this site and realized that I carry kinda heavy gear compared to you gear junkies! Most of my stuff is at least 3 years old and all bought on REI, so, it is in no way light compared to most of your setups. So call me a ultralight novice!

So, I'm looking into a poncho/tarp. I read the review here for the GoLite poncho tarp, but it is for the old model. On GoLite's website now, their poncho tarp is listed at 7oz and is made of a new material compared to the review. I was wondering if anyone here has used the new version of it and what they think about it. It has come down to the GoLite or the MSD Pro. I know people love the MSD, but is it really worth double the price? $80 vs. $155 (and the MSD is 3oz heavier).

My setup consists of a heavy 2lb Outdoor Research bivy. I know it's wayyyy heavy compared to what most people here use, though I use it without any tarp at all. It's 100% waterproof, and with the netting, it's bug proof, too. I've slept in it in the open in a nightlong downpour and stayed 100% dry, many times. So, while I don't really need a tarp, I hate leaving my pack exposed next to my bivy, (currently with a Sea-to-Summit pack cover). I also hike with my dog. He actually usually crawls into my bivy with me, but I'm tired of getting my sleeping bag all dirty from him.

So, instead of bringing the raingear, the pack cover, and getting my bag/bivy dirty from my dog, I figure adding a nice poncho/tarp is the way to go. I figure my pup will be comfortable sleeping outside of my bivy, but secured under the tarp.

So the big question is: has anyone used the 'new' GoLite poncho, and how does it compare to the MSD? Also, I really like the pyramid setup as shown on the GoLite website, but I figure that's a non-issue since the MSD can be configured that way, too.

As a side note, I was thinking of just getting a tarp, and was leaning towards the Granite Gear White Lightnin 8X10 tarp, but I feel that the poncho/tarp is much more versatile and I'd be able to carry one less thing.

Thanks! I'm excited to be a part of the BPL community. I've learned a lot just in the last few days reading the site.

This is my pup.


Edited by jleeb on 07/10/2011 11:19:58 MDT.

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
MLD is intended as primary shelter and raingear, GoLite seems intended as backup for both. on 07/10/2011 10:43:36 MDT Print View

The main difference seems to be the ability to pitch the MLD with a catenary curve ridgeline. If you've been reading about tarps, you're well aware that cat curves are all the rage for their ability to pitch more taughtly and shed the elements better. The MLD is a solid solo tarp that happens to have a great hood, the GoLite seems like a decent poncho the can be rigged into a tarp in a pinch. The relative prices reflect this.

I was on the same fence, and I chose the MLD. On the downside, you won't be able to get your hands on a new MLD for 7 weeks (build time). Rather than wait 7 weeks and pay $155 I found a lightly used one on these forums and got it immediately for a Benjamin. You might be able to do the same.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
interesting on 07/10/2011 10:58:25 MDT Print View

Thanks Brad,

It does seem like the MLD is the better, more bombproof product, especially paired up with some chaps. Thanks for the recommendation to check out gear swap forum.

I'm all ears if anyone else wants to chime in.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: New GoLite poncho tarp vs. MLD on 07/10/2011 11:10:11 MDT Print View

I've used the old and new GoLite ponchos and either will work for a basic lean-to or a long skinny A-frame. With your waterproof bivy, you could sleep in a "tee" with the lean-to protecting your head and shoulders and your legs extending out. That would leave a good portion of the shelter for your dog and gear. If you have your pack at one end, you dog could nestle between you and the pack, giving her a little more protection. It looks like she has a light enough coat that some sort of fleece or windproof "jacket" might help her too. The "tee" lean-to arrangement is nice for cooking breakfast.

If you are going to use a poncho for a basic shelter, Golite and MLD are fine. Integral Design makes a good poncho shelter too. I would look at the dimensions and get the biggest one you can wear and afford.

I got rid of the poncho and replaced it with a Six Moon Design Gatewood Cape. That will give you completely enclosed shelter with room inside for your dog and gear. You don't need the bivy, but you could still use it for bugs or really nasty weather. The Serenity Net Tent bug insert for the Gatewood makes it a complete shelter.

As to protecting your pack, chuck the pack cover and use a trash compactor bag or large garbage bag as a pack liner. When camped, you can put the whole pack inside the trash bag, keeping it and the rest of your gear nice and dry. If you are using your poncho as rain gear on the trail, your pack will be covered too-- no soggy back panel or shoulder straps.

James Neal
(Laien) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Poncho on 07/10/2011 11:23:11 MDT Print View

I carry a MLD Superlight Bivy and a Zpacks 7x9 cuben fiber tarp. My dogs carry a Golite poncho that I use as my rain gear and their shelter. I don't have any problems getting a taut set up on either of these tarps. I have been tarp camping for over 20 years though and have several tried and true methods of setting them up. The cat cut tarps do make set up easier. I don't think you can got wrong with either of your choices.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
Re: Re: New GoLite poncho tarp vs. MLD on 07/10/2011 12:19:08 MDT Print View

Thanks for the input Dale,

I think the cape is very appealing, but I have some reservations. What do you think about Cape's form fittingness? Do you use a bungie-belt type thing? The aspect I really like about the MLD tarp is the built in waist bungee/head bungie and how it appears to be better form fitting around the arms. How does the cape compare, especially while using poles?

I'm basing this impression based solely on pictures on the respective product sites and the reviews here, I've never seen anyone wear either.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
Re: Poncho on 07/10/2011 12:22:53 MDT Print View


Australian Sheps huh? I got a short hair border collie. Those herders sure make great trail companions! Thanks for the input.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
poncho tarps on 07/10/2011 14:32:50 MDT Print View

Poncho tarps are great, versatile pieces of gear. It's good to have one in the quiver. I prefer the different pitches you can get with a flat poncho tarp.

To compare apples to apples you should look at the Golite and the MLD Simple poncho tarp. They're almost identical: similar dimensions, same snap design, almost identical hoods. The Golite is about 60 grams (210 v. 270) lighter. The Golite fabric seems to (per Richard N's data) have a higher hydrostatic head. The MLD has marginally better reinforcements on the tie outs, and comes with nice guyline. The Golite you can get soon, the MLD has a waiting period.

Both work well.

James Neal
(Laien) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Trail dogs on 07/10/2011 14:44:45 MDT Print View

Yes, Jon. Herding dogs make great trail dogs. I always take my Aussies with me. The nice thing about dogs is they are always ready to go. They help carry the load and I can rest easy at night knowing that they will alert me to anything that moves within a country mile. They most definitely enhance my enjoyment of the outdoors.