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Cuben tarp/shelter for 1
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Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Cuben tarp/shelter for 1 on 09/04/2013 06:58:38 MDT Print View

Okay, i've just received my new CP3 trekking poles from Locus Gear, and they need something to be play with, so they won't get bored. Being carbon fiber, they only want to play with cuben fiber... ;-)

This is not for mountain use!

I've been thinking about:
- MLD Grace solo or Duo tarp
- MLD Patrol shelter
- Yama Mountaingear Cirriform Tarp
- Zpacks Hexamid Long
- HMG Echo 1 or 2 Tarp
- Or a regular flat tarp from one of the usual suspects
- Or other option??

I'm 185 cm tall (6'1"), sleep on a Large NeoAir Xlite use a down bag. I'll be using it with a bivybag, maybe the Katabatic gear Bristlecone (a water repellent upper)

I really want to push the total shelter weight down, so bringing just 1 trekking pole is an option.

What would you pick? Anybody have experience with several of the models?


James DeGraaf
(jdegraaf) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
Re: Cuben tarp/shelter for 1 on 09/04/2013 07:25:48 MDT Print View

I had a cuben Grace Duo and for its weight it's great for one person. Couple it with a bivy and I think you've got a winning combination.

I have a YMG Terraform and love its 360* protection and prefer the "roominess" of the bug shelter over a bivy.

I had a zpacks hexamid and it felt small for me, so a long version is probably the way to go. I'm also 6'1" and if you get just the tarp that will probably be the lightest of the options you've mentioned. Though the long version requires two more little poles to elevate the head and foot end,that makes the shelter more complicated than what im willing to deal with. Which leads me to...

Flat tarps are versatile and I keep my 8' x 10' but it requires some brains to pitch which is asking a lot of me after 15 or 20 miles. Otherwise that's a good option a lightweight too.

FWIW the simplest shelter I currently carry is a MLD Speedmid. 4 stakes and 1 trekking pole are all that's "necessary" but I like to carry 8 stakes to stake out the mid points along the edges. Plus the speedmid is really big for one person which I like.


Joe A
(dirtbaghiker) - M
cuben patrol shelter on 09/04/2013 08:05:50 MDT Print View

I just got myself the cuben patrol shelter and I love it. I have only set it up a dozen times or so in my yard, so I can not comment on useing it in the field. It sets up quickly and easy and I think it feels like a palace when pitched hi. I researched it plenty before buying it and the patrol shelter got glowing reviews from everyone who owned one. I also have a Bear Paw Designs bug bivy that I will use, when needed, with the patrol shelter. Together with guylines and stakes my set up weighs 17 ounces..I am very happy with this. I like that with the patrol shelter I can pitch it hi off the ground and if needed during the night, if the weather turns, I can lower it for more protection. I backpack in NY, NJ and PA area and it is usually very wet, damp, humid,muggy, raining, snowing and/or windy, so instead of useing my down quilt I just ordered myself a Enlightened Equipment Prodigy 40 degree synthetic quilt. It weighs only an ounce more then my GoLite 1 season quilt so I figured why not give it a shot for extra protection. Time will tell how this entire set up works, but I think I am gonna love it and use it for a long time to come. I can't comment on the other ideas you have but I am sure plenty of people will chime in on them. I can tell you that so far I am loving the MLD Patrol Shelter and my only regret is that I did not buy it sooner, its a keeper!!

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
Yama Cirraform vs. Hexamid Long on 09/04/2013 08:51:11 MDT Print View

I am 6 ft 5 and i have gone back and forth with Zpacks Hexamid Long and Yama Mountain Gear Cirraform SW. I finally sold the SW, as my Hexamid is the enclosed tent version and the two were just too similar. I ended up buying a new Cirraform Cuben tarp only and had John at Borah Gear custom make a Cuben/M90 X-Long and wide bivy. M90 because I spend a lot of time in the Sierra Nevada and I was overly concerned with condensation.

When I was faced with the choice as to what to bring on my JMT thru hike this year i grabbed the Yama/Borah system and did not give the Hexamid a thought. I like the flexibility of the tarp, tarp bivy or bivy (cowboy camp). I have the standard Cirraform and had no issues with rain, even in a major down pour on night 3, however I know that Gen can make them a little linger with a custom order.

If you choose to go with a shaped tarp/system you really can not go wrong with either the ZPacks or the YMG they are both top notch

If you have specific questions on the two, please shoot me a PM, i am happy to offer some insight


 photo IMG_1579.jpg

Edited by jeffreytsims on 09/04/2013 09:06:55 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Cuben Tarp/ Shelter for 1 on 09/04/2013 08:53:04 MDT Print View

Cuben Patrol Shelter

I am very happy with my choice too with Yama Mountain Gear (1.25 Bug Shelter) at Mineral King

Edited by Creachen on 09/05/2013 10:27:46 MDT.

whalen e
(whalen) - M

Locale: PNW
Cirriform tarp on 09/04/2013 10:29:15 MDT Print View

+1 on Yama's Ciiriform tarp. Like Jeff, I'm using the Cirriform and love its versatility. I had Gen add on 4 inches to the tarp and 1.25 bug shelter. I used this combo for 200+ miles of the WA PCT this year and it was perfect, especially since some of the camp sites are narrow or I had to share limited space at the end of a long day. This fall I'll use the Cirriform and MLD bivy.

MLD's patrol shelter is similar but the zipper on the Cirriform allows you to open it up for full view in good weather.

In addition to making a great tarp, Gen was awesome to work with. Emails answered quickly and the tarp made it to my door in little over a week.Yama

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Cuben tarp/shelter for 1 on 09/04/2013 11:05:58 MDT Print View

I have used a lot of UL shelters.

If I were going to only own one it would probably be of the two pole beaked A-frame style that others have mentioned.

I have had a Golite Shagri-la, GG Spinnshelter and the MLD Patrol in cuben.

They are all good for hard weather.

I do tend to rely on the cuben Patrol most of the time anymore. No zippers, or Velcro to wear out/fail.
It's great to pitch high on hot summer nights and then be able to drop it tight to the ground with out much running around when the wind and rain come in the middle of the night.

I do like 8x10 or 9x9 flat tarps because of their flexibility, but I like how quick and easy it is to get a nice taught wind-shedding pitch with the Patrol.

You can't beat the simplicity of a 9x9 in flying diamond pitch, but it isn't the best pitch for whipping windblown rain and so I have had to re-pitch to a modified A-frame at times.

I live in NY where it tends to rain a lot, but if I were back living in Utah, I'd probably be cowboy camping more and would be perfectly happy with a flat tarp.

Jacob Hammond

Locale: Central New York
cirriform on 09/04/2013 13:58:31 MDT Print View

I've never seen so much written about the cirriform on this site. I have a silnylon version that has worked very well for me and I am about 6 feet tall. I use it with the bug shelter 1.25, although a bivy would work very well too (i've used it with an oware summer bivy). I plan to make a meteor bivy soon that I think would be a perfect match.

Steven Davis

Locale: SF Bay Area
zpacks hexamid solo plus on 09/04/2013 14:58:00 MDT Print View

i have the zpacks hexamid solo and love it, but i'm only 5'8 and it's pretty small, so for you i'd get the plus model. get the extended beak on it for sure. i've only used it for one weekender so far, but the owner of zpacks has used his on numerous through hikes and they hold up well.

Erik G
(fox212) - F

Locale: THE Bay Area :)
HMG Echo on 09/04/2013 16:22:16 MDT Print View

Just to make your decision a little harder, I'd recommend an Echo tarp from HMG. :) They are not the lightest for their size, but they are extremely robust and well built. I really like the modular beak, it just adds another level to the versatility of the tarp/bivy combo (OP mentioned he'd be using it with a bivy). Since I could only get one shelter for solo trips and 2-person camping with my wife, I opted for the Echo II (with beak). It is spacious for two (with a MYOG 2-person bug shelter) and a palace for just me. IMO, well worth the few ounces for the robustness and extra space.

Edited by fox212 on 09/04/2013 16:24:49 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
cirriform on 09/04/2013 16:31:11 MDT Print View


I do find the Meteor bivy to be a good combination with these type of shelters.

I usually use a Meteor bivy during the cooler months. It adds warmth and splash/spray/spindrift protection.

I do find that a full mesh bug net is my choice for hot weather for the obvious ventilation aspect.

I am surprised that SMD quit making the Meteor. I always found it a great piece of kit for under a tarp, in a cave, tent platform or AT shelter.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
My thoughts for now on 09/05/2013 04:33:03 MDT Print View

First, thank you all - really good info from you, and great with the pictures (say a lot).

I'll start this the easy way, and delete some options i now know i wouldn't like.

In the heavy end lies PYRAMIDS. Because none of the current options have a design i really like, and i believe there's some better designs coming sometime in the future(maybe!), i won't buy something i know i won't be totally satisfied with.
(I'm referring to a TrioMid from MLD, a smaller Traverse shelter from HMG and the Lavvu from Laufbursche).

The reason i wont buy an ECHO TARP from HMG, is because of the similar shaped Grace Tarp(s) from MLD, and buying from MLD, i'll be able to pick up some other stuff from them i'm interested in and save some shipping cost to Denmark.

The ECHO SYSTEM WITH ADD-ON BEAK is a nice option though, but i agree with James, that by the end of a hard, long days hike, i like an easy/fast pitch option. so if i were to go with a beak protection, i'd want something that would have this build in the tarp to save time.

For the same reason, i can just see myself being annoyed by the extra time it takes to set up the ZPACKS HEXAMID LONG.

The same goes for a STANDARD FLAT TARP.


This leaves me with:

-MLD Grace Tarp Solo or Duo
-MLD Patrol Shelter
-Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform Tarp

So first thing to do is to break the decision down to:

-Do i want an open shaped tarp (Grace) or do i want a more close shaped tarp (Patrol or Cirriform)...hmmm...not easy.

The easy choice would be a Grace Duo, because i'll be able to use it with a hiking partner too. I'll have to ponder some more...i'll be back :-)

And thank you for all the feedback, i can't wait to get out of the enclosed tent!! :-)

Edited by prse on 09/05/2013 05:40:56 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Cuben tarp/shelter for 1 on 09/05/2013 04:39:27 MDT Print View

If you think you may want to shelter two people from time to time the BearPaw Canopy 2 may be something to consider as well.

It's light enough for solo, but has the extra room for another person.

Jacob Hammond

Locale: Central New York
Meteor and Patrol on 09/05/2013 05:04:14 MDT Print View


I also wish that SMD still made the meteor, because then I wouldn't have to find the time to make it myself. I've had all the materials sitting in my closet for two months. Any free time goes to hiking rather than sitting at the sewing machine right now. Based on my experience with bivies and with net tents, it seems like the perfect combination. A little elbow room to read plus the ability to have bare feet that won't get bitten up on the relatively warm nights before things cool down.

Ok, as far as the shelter decision goes, I had a difficult time choosing between the patrol shelter and the cirriform. There are extensive reviews of the cuben patrol shelter and how well it works (I think someone named iceaxe has used it a lot). I think it is a little larger feeling that the cirriform and I liked this. The lack of zipper can also be a positive. However, based on lots of experience with flat tarps of silnylon, I knew that without much of a cat cut, it would sag quite a bit if I got the sil version. I couldn't afford the cuben. I have two backpacks from MLD however, and I love them.

Gen seems like a really, really nice person and that keeps me returning to Yama. I love the net tent and the silnylon cirriform. Even in silnylon, they do have that ultralight feel to them. You wouldn't be able to fit another person under there, however, you don't feel cramped at all when you're alone. The quality is excellent. The cirriform looks amazing and is VERY easy to set up, requiring very little adjustment. It can easily be set up higher or lower depending on the weather. If you have time, as well, you can explore ways to get the front pole out of the way of the door a little bit. One very rainy night on the NPT a few weeks ago, I didn't bother to do this and it was a little annoying to try to get past it during a downpour. Still, I imagine this is the same with a mid, where your sleeping area is somewhat exposed with the door open.

A longer cirriform in cuben just might be perfect. I still wish I could grab a patrol shelter in cuben however. There are simply so many good things written about it.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Cuben tarp/shelter for 1 on 09/05/2013 06:23:14 MDT Print View


No doubt that the Cirriform is a great backpacking shelter. I would be perfectly happy with one.

I had been wanting a Patrol Shelter for quite some time and had actually been saving up for the day that I could justify the cuben version.
Others make a similar shelter, but the Patrol was the first one I'd seen made of cuben.

But, I personally don't think cuben is that much better, silnylon is fine.

I just liked the fact that cuben didn't sag on cold wet nights, but that is easy to fix on silnylon shelters by making sure all all panels are stretched tight before you go to sleep.

Another thing that sold me on cuben was that water didn't seem to cling to the surface as much as on silnylon. I was amazed when a friend was able to shake off almost all the dampness from morning dew, but my silnylon tarp stayed damp no matter how much I tried.

In hindsight, I think these are silly reasons to go cuben and although I don't regret the decision, I would have been just as happy with silnylon.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Re: My thoughts for now on 09/05/2013 08:18:43 MDT Print View

Peter, regarding the extra time taken to set up the Hexamid Long. If you're looking for a shelter for solo use, I assume you would be using dedicated tent poles for the end poles. In that case, it only adds a total of about 30 seconds to add poles and peg them out. The poles fit into a sleeve attached with elastic to the fly at the bottom so you don't have to worry too much about positioning them before pegging out. We use lineloks, though, it might add more time if you're using fixed line lengths.
We have owned the Hexamid Solo+ and we still own the Twin and the Long. I find the Long easier to set up than the Twin. On the Long, only the height and positioning of the center pole take care to get right. Some of the two pole shelters you are considering might be no quicker to set up.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Cuben Tarp/ Shelter for 1 on 09/05/2013 10:26:27 MDT Print View


MLD Patrol Shelter w/ Yama Mountain Gear (1.25) Bug Shelter. I am very happy with this combo at Henry Coe St Park. "Keep it Simple Stupid"

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
question for Jay... on 09/05/2013 10:40:01 MDT Print View


How many poles does it take in that set up in your photo?

Does it take two poles total for both the Patrol and the Bug Shelter?

And how many tie-out/stake points?


Bill D.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Stratiform 1P+ on 09/05/2013 10:49:22 MDT Print View

If you want lots of room under a shaped tarp, maybe check out this:

Its unfortunately been discontinued, but if you like the design, shoot Gen an email and see if he'd make one in cuben.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Cuben Tarp/ Shelter for 1 on 09/05/2013 10:55:41 MDT Print View

hey! It takes two poles front and rear. The front pole is a Gossamer Gear(fixed length) 120cm and the rear pole is CF Ruta Locura two-piece pole at 1.7oz plus 6 stake outs and 2 on the sides in bad weather. The MLD Patrol Shelter has clips front and rear in the tent to connect the YMG 1.25 bug shelter too.