Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review

These Cuben Fiber shelter systems are among the lightest out there, consisting of a tarp, mesh insert, and front beak and providing five useful shelter options!

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Echo modular shelter system is targeted to minimalist backpackers, and my rating is from that perspective. Minimalist campers will love their light weight, versatility, and excellent design and construction. Lightweight campers would likely be unhappy with the ergonomics and lack of convenience features. Their few drawbacks would not deter most minimalist backpackers, so I give the Echo shelter system our Recommended rating. If a little more headroom were added, the Echo shelters would merit our Highly Recommended rating.

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by Will Rietveld |

Introduction

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review - 1
The Echo I (left) and Echo II (right) are modular shelter systems consisting of a tarp, mesh insert, and front beak. The total weights are just 23.6 and 29.9 ounces (669 and 848 g), respectively.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear expanded a niche in the ultralight shelter category - they created an ultralight modular shelter system in which the components can be used separately or together. The components are: a catenary tarp, a mesh insert, and a front beak. The complete shelter adds up to a well-ventilated double-wall tent with full weather protection, or you can use the mesh insert or tarp separately when conditions allow. And HMG went to the extreme on the materials - Cuben Fiber - so these shelters are extremely light. The Echo I (one person) weighs just 23.6 ounces (669 g), and the Echo II (two people) weighs 29.9 ounces (848 g), with guylines but without stakes. An ultralight modular shelter system is a wonderful idea, as long as the components fit and function well together and separately; so how well do these shelters perform in the real world?

Specifications

Year/Manufacturer/Model 2010 Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo I and Echo II (hyperlitemountaingear.com)
Style Three-season, one- and two-person, non-freestanding shelter with floor, front entry with vestibule. Trekking pole support
Included Tarp, mesh insert, front beak, guylines, storage bag
Fabrics Tarp and beak are Cuben Fiber CF8 0.78 oz/yd2 (26.4 g/m2); insert side panels are CF8, floor is Cuben Fiber CF15 1.48 oz/yd2 (50.2 g/m2), canopy is no-see-um mesh
Poles and Stakes Adjustable trekking poles required, stakes not included
Floor Dimensions Echo I specified: 82 in (208 cm) long x 32 in (81 cm) wide at head end x 20 in (51 cm) wide at foot end, front height 38 in (97 cm)
Echo I measured: 82 in (208 cm) long x 32.5 in (83 cm) wide at head end x 19.5 (50 cm) wide at foot end, front height 36.5 in (93 cm)
Echo II specified:
84 in (213 cm) long x 52 in (132 cm) wide at head end x 45 in (cm) wide at foot end, front height 41 in (104 cm)
Echo II measured: 84 in (213 cm) long x 51 in (130 cm) wide at head end x 44.5 in (113 cm) wide at foot end, front height 36.5 in (93 cm)
Features Modular design, lightweight fabrics, catenary ridgeline and Spectra core guylines with line-locks on tarp, full-width zippered entry door on insert, full-height water-resistant zipper with two pulls on beak
Packed Size Echo I: 12 in x 10 in x 3 in (30 x 25 x 8 cm)
Echo II: 12 in x 10 in x 4 in (30 x 25 x 10 cm)
Total Weight Echo I measured weight 23.6 oz (669 g) manufacturer specification 23.7 oz (672 g)
Echo II measured weight 29.9 oz (848 g), manufacturer specification 29.5 oz (836 g), excludes stakes
Trail Weight Echo I 22.9 oz (649 g)
Echo II 29.4 oz (833 g), excludes stuff sack
Protected Area Echo I floor area 18 ft2 ( 1.67m2), vestibule area 6.1 ft2 (0.57 m2), total protected area 24.1 ft2 (2.24 m2)
Echo II floor area 24 ft2 (2.23 m2), vestibule area 9.2 ft2 (0.85 m2), total protected area 33.2 ft2 (3.08 m2)
Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio Echo I 16.85 ft2/lb (3.45 m2/kg)
Echo II 18.04 ft2/lb (3.69 m2/kg)
MSRP Echo I US$490
Echo II US$595
Options Components can be purchased separately, several stake packages available, carbon fiber tarp poles available

Design and Features

The design of the Echo I and Echo II shelter systems are identical; they only differ in size (see specifications above). Both consist of a catenary tarp with Spectra core guylines, a mesh insert, and a front beak. Adjustable trekking poles are required for setup; optional carbon fiber tarp poles available from HMG. I will briefly describe each component separately:

  • Tarp - This is a full-fledged Cuben Fiber catenary tarp with fully bonded and reinforced ridgeline and tieouts. HMG uses a stronger weight of Cuben Fiber (CF8), which is 0.78 oz/yd2 (26.4 g/m2). The Echo 1 Tarp provides 51 ft2 (4.74 m2) of protected area and weighs 8.1 ounces (230 g, measured weight) with guylines, and the Echo II Tarp provides 68 ft2 (6.32 m2) of protection and weighs 9.3 ounces (264 g). The Echo II tarp can be used with the Echo I Mesh Insert (but not the reverse).
  • Mesh Insert - The mesh insert has elastic cords (three at each end) that connect to rings on the tarp. It’s easy to install after the tarp is set up, or it can be left connected and set up as a unit. The lower sidewalls are Cuben Fiber CF8 and the bathtub floor is heavier Cuben Fiber CF15 (1.48 oz/yd2/50.2 g/m2) for extra durability. The Echo I insert weighs 11 ounces (312 g, measured) and provides 18 ft2 (1.67 m2) of floor area, and the Echo II weighs 15.4 ounces (437 g) and provides 24 ft2 (2.23 m2) of floor area.
  • Front Beak - The front beak provides a vestibule-protected entry for the shelter. It’s also made of Cuben Fiber CF8 and has a full-height water-resistant zipper with two pulls. The weight is 3.9 ounces (111 g, measured) for the Echo I, and 4.7 ounces (133 g) for the Echo II.

There are five useful configurations possible with the Echo shelter system:

  1. Tarp only
  2. Tarp plus Front Beak
  3. Tarp plus Mesh Insert
  4. Tarp plus Mesh Insert plus Front Beak
  5. Mesh Insert only

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review - 2
Views of the Echo II: The front entry (top left) is protected by a beak that also provides vestibule space for gear storage. The foot end (top right) is lower; note that the shelter has lots of ventilation space between the insert and the tarp, and the end of the mesh insert is Cuben Fiber for rain protection. The side view (bottom left) shows the shelter’s long length and Cuben Fiber bathtub sidewalls of the insert. The top view shows the shelter’s overall shape and proportions.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review - 3
Inside view of the Echo I (left) and Echo II (right) with standard 20-inch (51-cm) wide sleeping pad(s). Each shelter has about 5 inches (12.7 cm) of space between the pad and outside wall of the mesh insert.

Video tour of the Echo II.

Performance

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review - 4
As a solo tent (left), the Echo II provides loads of room. The Echo II Tarp used as a solo shelter (right) at 12,450 feet (3,795 m) at a beautiful alpine lake.

Set-up is fairly fast, but not as fast and easy as some single-wall shelters. I set up the Echo I in the rain one time and it required a long five minutes! The mesh insert and beak can be left attached to the tarp and set up as a unit. Simply spread the shelter on the ground, loosely stake the four corners of the tarp, set trekking poles to 45 inches (114 cm) for the front end and 36 inches (91 cm) for the rear end, insert tips of the poles into rings on the tarp ridgeline, tighten the guylines, and stake down the corners of the mesh insert. The beak is the hardest part to set up because the geometry needs to be just right for it to fit properly. The process becomes easier after you have done it a few times.

The livability of the Echo I and Echo II is very good as far as floor space. I used the Echo II both solo and with my wife and had adequate room for people plus gear. As expected, the Echo II is heaven for one person, with loads of room inside.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review - 5
I found headroom to be an issue with both the Echo I and Echo II. I’m 6 feet (1.83 m) tall and did not find either tent tall enough for me at the head end; my head pressed against the mesh ceiling as shown in the photos. I measured the height at the front peak at 36.5 inches (93 cm) for both tents. And that’s the maximum headroom; it diminishes to 32-33 inches (81-84 cm) just 12 inches inside the tent.

According to manufacturer specifications, the Echo II provides 3 inches (7.6 cm) more headroom, but I measured it to be the same as the Echo I. The actual headroom will vary a bit depending on how the tent is pitched, but nevertheless it’s inadequate for a taller person. The mesh inner tent stretches when you press against it with your head, so that’s basically the situation for taller people. My wife commented: “It looks like there is more headroom than there really is, because you see the underside of the tarp”.

The vestibule (front beak) provides some space for wet gear or a canine friend. Although the shelter floor is a heavier weight of Cuben Fiber, I would be reluctant to allow a dog with sharp claws inside. The floor is durable enough to lay directly on many surfaces without a groundsheet, but it is vulnerable to punctures from sharp objects. Cuben Fiber has very high tear strength, but it’s vulnerable to punctures. I would say the risk is about the same as a tent with a silnylon floor.

I encountered rain, heavy at times, on nearly every one of the six backpacking trips I took with the Echo shelters. I found both the Echo I and Echo II, with the front beak, to be very storm worthy in heavy rains, not a drop came inside. One nighttime thunderstorm while camping at 12,000 feet (3,658 m) produced heavy rain and strong winds hitting the rear of the shelter. The tarp flapped quite a bit but it stayed completely dry inside. The mesh insert has tall bathtub walls and foot end, which really helps to intercept any splash or spindrift. However, the Echo tarp and mesh inner tent combination (without the front beak) is vulnerable to wind-driven rain from the front. I used the front beak on trips where I expected rain because the mesh entry door is not as well protected from wind-driven rain as the rear of the tent.

Inside the HMG Echo I during a heavy thunderstorm.

I used the Echo II Tarp by itself on one trip (photo above, under "Performance" heading). A larger tarp like this provides lots of sheltered area for one person plus gear, eliminating the need to carry a sleeping bag cover. It was breezy most of the night, causing the tarp to flap a bit and overall making it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep compared to sleeping in a tent. In contrast, using the tarp plus the mesh insert provides much better protection from wind and nighttime breezes.

Comparisons

Other modular shelter systems similar to the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo I and Echo II are the Alpinlite Gear (www.alpinlitegear.com) Bug Shelter and tarp system and the Mountain Laurel Designs (www.mountainlaureldesigns.com) Serenity Shelter plus a tarp, and their pyramid-type shelters plus a mesh InnerNet.

The Alpinlite Bug Shelter is available in several sizes. It’s made of silnylon and mesh; for example, the two-person version weighs 32.1 ounces (910 g), costs US$455, and has more floor area and headroom. The Bug Shelter does not have a bathtub floor for end and side protection, but one is being developed. An alternative system is to pair the Alpinlite Bug Shelter with the Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn spinnaker tarp; that system for two people weighs about 23.8 ounces (675 g) and costs US$330, significantly less than the Echo II but it does not have a front beak.

The MLD Serenity Shelter plus a Cuben Solo Pro Tarp weighs 11.8 ounces (335 g) and costs US$294. The MLD Grace Duo Spinntex tarp plus Duo InnerNet mesh interior weighs 24.7 ounces (700 g) and costs US$350. The DuoMid plus the Duo InnerNet weighs 26.5 ounces (751 g) and costs US$370. These combinations weigh less than the HMG Echo Shelters, but they lack a beak to protect the front entry. The headroom in the Serenity Shelter is about the same as the Echo Shelters, but the mid-type shelters have a lot more headroom.

My thanks to reader Dan Durston for information used in this section; for more details, read his full reader review of the HMG Echo I Shelter in the Backpacking Light forums.

The systems described above have their pros and cons. They cost less than the HMG Echo Modular Shelter System, have a bit more floor area (and headroom in some cases), but the lack of a bathtub floor in the Alpinlite shelters is a serious drawback, and there is no beak/front vestibule to protect the entry (except for the MLD Mids).

Assessment

This HMG Echo Modular Shelter System really makes a lot of sense because it has five useful combinations. And it’s very lightweight, equivalent to the weight of many lightweight single-wall solo tents.

It’s important to note that the Echo shelters are intended for the experienced ultralight backpacker. These shelters do not have the convenience features that most lightweight backpackers prefer, like a dedicated pole set, two doors with vestibules, storage pockets, and extra interior space. They will be best liked by the minimalist backpacker, one who wants things simplest and lightest.

Thru-hikers should especially like this shelter system. It keeps weight to a minimum and offers shelter options, depending on the conditions. A solo backpacker can carry a shelter system that weighs less than 1.5 pounds (680 g) and have the choice of sleeping under a tarp, in a mesh tent, in an open-ended double-wall shelter, or in a fully protected double-wall shelter with vestibule. That’s a lot of options for the weight! A thru-hiker is less concerned about convenience features because they typically hike late into the day, then set-up their shelter and go to sleep.

For hikers who appreciate a little more room and comfort, the Echo II is probably the best choice. For 6.3 ounces (179 g) more, one gets a whole lot more floor space, and the shelter can be used solo or with a partner. Also the Echo II Tarp provides a lot more protected area when tarp camping.

The only significant drawback of the Echo shelters is their low headroom for taller hikers. By the numbers, the Echo II has 3 more inches (7.6 cm) of headroom, but the difference is moot because the inner mesh tent tapers down to only 32-33 inches (81-84 cm) of headroom only 12 inches (30 cm) inside the tent. For shorter hikers, the shelters’ headroom is likely to be less of an issue.

Overall, the Echo modular shelter system is one of the nicest shelters I have tested. Its choice of materials balances lightweight and durability, it's well designed and constructed, the components are designed to work together, it’s wonderfully versatile, it’s very storm worthy, and it will last a long time.

What’s Good

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Highly versatile
  • Quite durable
  • Excellent construction
  • Plenty of floor space for one or two people
  • Excellent ventilation and condensation resistance
  • Mesh insert provides full bug protection
  • Very storm worthy
  • Gear in the entry vestibule can easily be reached from inside the tent

What’s Not So Good

  • Limited headroom
  • Requires a fairly large area to set up
  • Full system takes longer to set up compared to many tents
  • Does not provide as much wind protection as a tent
  • Front trekking pole support blocks entry
  • Expensive

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Increase headroom


Citation

"Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hyperlite_mountain_gear_echo_shelters_review.html, 2011-01-11 00:05:00-07.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review on 01/11/2011 14:23:53 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review

Nick Klockenga
(newtonick)

Locale: Chicago Area
heavy thunderstorm ... maybe not on 01/11/2011 16:59:38 MST Print View

I don't think that video qualifies as a "heavy thunderstorm", but I wish more reviews included videos like the above. I love the sound of rain on a tarp. I want to loop that sound and use it as sweet white noise to sleep to :-)

I like the modular system, but doesn't seem worth the price in this case. For $600 I could get a few different just as light, or lighter options.

Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
URL on 01/11/2011 18:06:29 MST Print View

The URL you guys have posted for Alpinelite Gear is missing the 'lite' part!

Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
apples and oranges on 01/11/2011 20:36:01 MST Print View

It's interesting to me that this is getting a recommended rating in comparison to tents. I've had the opportunity to set up this shelter (prototype echo1) and while I agree with some of the cons listed, particularly that the headroom is not extremely spacious, and that the price is a shocker; I have to ask, why are we comparing a tarps set up time to a tent? While I may on the minimalist side of the spectrum (sure hope so) I think this is the ideal shelter for ultralight backpacking. It should have phenomenal weather resistance given it's shape, the modular design allows adaptability for various trips, the guy system is one of the best I have used (I generally prefer a truckers hitch, but this works really well) and its bug net and the high bathtub floor "walls" eliminate the need for a bivy, somewhat compensating for the added weight of the bug net. Having spent a lot of nights with two adult fellas in a Golite hut 1, this seems like the obvious evolution of that design.

As mentioned in the review, the stormproofness offered by the beak of the HMG shelter is a distinct advantage over comparable tarp shelters, and for the devout minimalist can be left off. Of course it won't have the head room of a mid style shelter, because it's not one. The use of trekking poles to set it up supports it's categorization as a minimalist shelter, so why compare it to less minimalist shelters that require a separate pole (and I generally don't even hike with poles)? Just seems like it is comparing apples to oranges.

For what it is, a minimalist adaptable shelter I would highly recommend this shelter.

I just wish I could afford one!

Dan Durston
(dandydan)

Locale: Cascadia
Good on 01/12/2011 03:40:26 MST Print View

Good job on the review Will. As an Echo I owner, I agree with everything. A bit more headroom would be nice, but the most important thing to me is that I'm crawling into a durable, well made shelter that provides worry-free protection from heavy rains, condensation and bugs for a very low weight.

FWIW, I have shaved several ounces off my Echo using lighter guyline, tensioners and shockcord as discussed at the link below. The main 3 components now weigh 21.2oz.
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=37100

Edited by dandydan on 01/13/2011 13:40:58 MST.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Good on 01/12/2011 08:28:24 MST Print View

very nice review. good job.

Johnathan White
(johnatha1) - F

Locale: PNW
Review of the review on 01/12/2011 09:35:14 MST Print View

Even though I don't care for this shelter, I have to at least note that Will's reviews are top notch! Thanks again Will, and a special thanks for the videos. Love the rain on the Cuban.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review on 01/12/2011 16:03:36 MST Print View

Thanks for the excellent review. I appreciate the information. I hope you are able to review some of the gear that you put down as comparisons.

Mgm Heck
(Metck) - F

Locale: Netherlands
Rain on 01/12/2011 16:06:11 MST Print View

Indeed a very insightful review.

By the way, the sound of the rain on the shelter actually makes me long for a hiking trip.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
re on 01/12/2011 17:21:07 MST Print View

Hello Everybody,

I have been using the HMG Echo 1 (full production, non prototype) for a couple of months now. It has been used for about 45 nights here in the Redwood region of Northern California. The longest I have had it setup 24/7 was 11 days, in which it rained for all eleven days non-stop. On day 9 the tarp finally began to saturate. For comparison, a Zpacks cf tarp setup along side of it saturated on day 10 and a SpinnUL tarp saturated on day four.

As was mentioned by the reviewer, the head-height of the insert is an issue. I am 6'1 and my head hits the net just sitting up in it. After I inflate my NeoAir pad I am totally unable to sit up and am forced to crawl into/outof it. This will be the #1 reason (and only reason) why I will sell it once it gets back from a buddy who is trying it out. There is a point where I am willing to accept "cons" on the good/bad list and than there is a point where no matter how light or nice the rest of a product is, that one thing makes it unacceptable for thru-hikers or just those going out for a week or two. Most of you understand what I mean by this. Hitting your head every time you try to sit up, for me, is one of those things that makes me never want to use it.

I also had a serious issue with the zipper. The first day out it got stuck in one spot. I was able to get it loose but a few days later it got stuck again. To be clear: there was no pressure on the zipper the first time it got stuck. The insert was not staked down and it was not compressed in any way. However, there is an angle on the zipper path right where it makes the turn down/up and that is right where it got stuck the first time. The second time around I was in the insert and was totally stuck. I really was about five seconds away from ripping the insert in order to get out (had to water a tree, bad). Finally, I thought to myself "Ok, give it one really hard tug, it will either unzip or rip". Thankfully, it pushed past the stuck part and unzipped. It was the last night on-trail so once I got back home I started working with the zipper and after awhile I have gotten it almost working, but it still does gets stuck at times. Sadly, a small bit of the bug netting right where the original zipper-stuck area was, has split and now I have a couple of small holes in the insert. That really sucks. Clearly was an issue with either the development at that one spot (HMG has indicated to me they have not had any other zipper failures) or it was just plan bad luck on my part.

I did contact HMG about this and they agreed to do a swap for my broken insert for a brand new one. I also contacted HMG about a missing tie-out that was not included for the beak, which they sent out the next day.


My thoughts on the tarp:

Very nice. I do not understand why the reviewer said he had "flapping" issues. I have been able to get this tarp setup amazing tight so that there is zero flapping and zero material that is loose. Yes, it can consume a bit more ground-space than what one might expect, but after a few times you come to realize you do not need (and I have found it is actually better) to put your tie-out stakes far away from the tarp. I end up putting my stakes almost directly where the tie-outs connect to the tarp, maybe an inch or two away. Remember though that I live in the middle of a rain forest. Overall, this is one of the nicest tarps I have encountered.


My thoughts on the beak:

I like the beak. I wonder if the snap-buttons are really all that necessary. Could use clips instead and save a bit of weight. Been doing it that way on tarp beaks for a long time, so not sure why the snap-buttons are there. As many others (including myself) have said in the past, we/I do not care how much HMG says water will not get into the foot-end of the setup, this setup *needs* to be designed with a foot-beak. For the record, yes, I have got horizontal rain into the foot of the insert. Just once, and just a handful of drops. That was even when it was setup in the direction the wind was coming from at time of setup (hellish storm caused the weather to go back the direction it came from - oh boy, more rain, sigh). Other thing with the beak, it's a wee-bit hard to reach all the way out to the end of the zipper. That said, it does provide a great deal of room for storage. I can easily get my HMG Windrider, my shoes, and a few other small things within the vestibule area. Not an issue for myself, but the lack of a foot-beak also makes some be concerned about privacy. Totally understandable.


My thoughts on the insert:

As indicated above, and by the author of this review, it is just too low in head-height. That said - the #1 reason I bought this was because of the bathtub side-wall height. I wanted (actually, needed) something with 8-12 inch sidewalls (rain, rain, rain = always soaked and muddy soil). The HMG Echo 1 Insert has the highest bathtub sidewalls I have found of any insert. I beyond love this aspect of this setup!! But because of the lack of head-room I just cannot see me keeping this for any of my thru-hikes over the next few years (~3500 miles). As for the durability of the bathtub, it is very very tough. Unless I was somewhere that the ground was nothing but a bunch of very sharp rocks I would have no issue with setting up this system anywhere. Suppose if you really were worried the GG Polycryo ground cloth could be an option (and HMG has indicating they are planning on releasing their own CF ground cloth for the Echo 1) but I just do not see a need for it. I have also used the insert as a stand-alone. You do have to take something off the tarp and slap it onto the insert, but it is easy enough to do. Would make sense if they just put a grommet for your pole right onto the insert cord though.


My thoughts on setup time:

My first time setting it up took about three minutes. My time now for setting it up takes around 45-60 seconds depending on soil/stake issues and learning its tricks - no different than any other setup.

If you know you will be in an area where there will be a need for the insert day-after-day you can leave your insert attached to the tarp (and your beaks for that fact) and that saves about 30-45 seconds on setup time and makes packing it up all the much easier.


My thoughts on quality:

The decisions they made to use different weight cuben fibers in all of the different places are dead-on perfect. The seams are done the right way and not the wrong way when it comes to working with cf. HMG is one of the few that do it the right way and it shows in their quality and durability. Except for the small tear in my bug-net due to the zipper-getting-stuck-issue the bug netting is perfect.


So to summarize my own thoughts on this setup:

If you are under 5'9 and do not use an inflatable air pad this is one of the finest sub-2 pound setups I have encountered (and I have tried my share of them over the last few years, including the ones mentioned by the reviewer) and very likely is the finest. Yes, there are things you can do to shave a couple of ounces off of it, but I understand why it is shipped the way it is with those extra few ounces. Additionally, if you value your privacy or encounter horizontal rain the lack of a footer beak will be an issue. Setup time on this is very quick - especially if you leave everything attached to the tarp.


I would 100% recommend this tent setup for anybody in a 3-season situation, provided you are under 6-feet and do not use an inflatable sleeping bad. The price might seem a bit high but with the exception of a foot beak you are getting a whole lot of high quality cuben fiber for that price tag.

John,
Eureka, California

(Jan 16, 2011: I have updated this post to reflect updated details and fix typos)

Edited by JohnAbela on 01/16/2011 06:20:37 MST.

John Giesemann
(johngiesemann) - MLife
Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review on 01/12/2011 17:54:58 MST Print View

In the Comparisons section, you note that neither the Gossamer Gear SpinnTwin tarp or the MLD Grace Solo or Grace Duo tarps have a beak. However, they are significantly longer than the HMG tarps. This should definitely have an effect at reducing the amount of rain that enters.

I currently hike with a Granite Gear White Lightning tarp (and really want to buy a lighter system such as the HMG, Gossasmer Gear Spinn Twin, or MLD Grace trap) that approximates the Gossamer Gear SpinnTwin tarp in size. When I pitch it in storm mode and get it oriented correctly to the wind, I have very little problems with rain.

Thanks for the always insightful reviews!

Edited by johngiesemann on 01/12/2011 18:01:05 MST.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Similarity on 01/12/2011 18:10:53 MST Print View

Looks a little like my Bilgy which is very similar in shape but not modular. The price of modularity would appear to be weight. The net in the Bilgy is fixed to the walls making the roof netting unnecessary. What this tent shows us most of all is that if some of its ultralight competitors were made of cuben instead of silnylon or spin,they'd weigh about half what the echo weighs.

Mark Hurd
(markhurd) - M

Locale: South Texas
Echo vs Contrail on 01/12/2011 18:42:51 MST Print View

Am I missing something here? The Echo I appears to be a nice piece of kit with high tech cuben and modularity, but for $300 less you can get a TarpTent Contrail which is a similarly shaped more spacious tent with room to sit up, even for tall people, and a weight penalty of only about an ounce, maybe two. (Remember the Echo I wt. is without stakes). I concede the Contrail is not modular, but I would bet most folks will end up taking all the Echo pieces along when they go out anyway, you never know when it's going to rain or how bad the bugs will be. Still the Echo is an interesting, albeit expensive, alternative.

Happy Trails,
-Mark

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review on 01/12/2011 18:48:11 MST Print View

Good review.

IMO the price is too high (unless that is a typo)

Dan Durston
(dandydan)

Locale: Cascadia
Contrail on 01/13/2011 13:51:37 MST Print View

Mark, the key difference is that the Contrail is a single wall shelter whereas the Echo I is almost entirely double wall (just the small area on the foot end is single wall).

Edited by dandydan on 01/13/2011 13:52:13 MST.

Mark Hurd
(markhurd) - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Contrail- I should have said Gatewood on 01/13/2011 16:47:46 MST Print View

Dan,

Yeah, I know there is a little of comparing Apples to Oranges. So I probably should have compared it to SMD's Gatewood Cape + SMD Serenity NetTent which is even lighter (18 oz w/o stakes), double walled, arguably modular, has more coverage than even the Echo II, more headroom, is half the price, and is dual use to boot. But you are right, it was not fair to compare it with a single wall Contrail. :-)

-Mark

P.S. Dan, I am not knocking your choice. I'm sure the Echo is a great set up. It is just that, at the price, it is good to comparison shop. I love cuban and have a Z-pack to prove it. I really do appreciate the BPL reviews of all the new gear, but there is some old gear out there that compares favorably, and for some reason Will didn't mention the Gatewood combo.

Edited by markhurd on 01/13/2011 17:03:25 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: re on 01/13/2011 21:38:24 MST Print View

Mark,

You're right that the SMD Gatewood Cap + Serenity net tent is a really nice combo. I think this whole design is brilliant. It's true that it's far cheaper, several ounces lighter, fully double walled and has more headroom. I personally dislike silnylon, but a cuben version of this combo would be really appealing to me.

HMG has a great product on their hands as well. IMO, they just need to add a bit of headroom and shave a little weight off since it would be easy to do. Several ounces could be saved with lighter guyline, lighter shockcord and 1.26oz cuben (instead of 1.48oz) for the floor. The price is par for the course for cuben and IMO cuben is worth the extra money over silnylon for several reasons (total waterproofness, weight, durability and non-stretch).

"The longest I have had it setup 24/7 was 11 days, in which it rained for all eleven days non-stop. On day 9 the tarp finally began to saturate."

John, can you explain this in more detail? Cuben is essentially plastic, so I don't see how it could saturate. Are you sure it wasn't just wet inside from condensation?

"this setup *needs* to be designed with a foot-beak."

I personally don't think it needs a foot beak, but if one was to be added I'd prefer it was just a flat wall that attached (like the GG SpinnShelter) rather than a beak design.

Edited by dandydan on 01/14/2011 10:50:59 MST.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
re on 01/16/2011 06:33:29 MST Print View

@Dan,

That is very hard to say... I am not sure. I am far from an expert on materials.

What I do know is this:

I've been around long enough to know what "saturation" is when it comes to most materials. CF is relatively knew to me (about a years experience with it) and while I understand that CF is not 'suppose' to saturate, there are times when it sure does seem like it does/is.

Here is the thing (and this is just 100% pure observation on my part)...

I have three different tarp material setup next to each other, say (a) silnylon, (b) SpinnUL, and (c) cuben fiber.

Eventually they all acquire that "saturation" appearance. Typically for me SpinnUL gets it first, than silnylon than eventually (as in many days later) the CF gets it.

All three are setup in the same exact spot (give or take a few feet for having 3 setup at once). Be it on dry ground, on grass, next to a creek, under a redwood tree, whatever.

The same exact characteristics that I have always known as "saturation" with Silnylon/SpinnUL is present on CF. Again, usually takes twice as long.

So, if you want to call this "saturation" of the Silnylon/SpinnUL and not call it "saturation" of the CF... hey, honestly, I got no grounds to stand on to argue the point, I just really don't. I have zero idea of the dynamics of material. I've just got the experience of living in a rain forest to know what happens to what material and how long it takes. Typically accounts for not a darn thing when you want to get technical, but as we all know, when your on-trail being technically right doesn't usually mean a darn thing, eh. The trail is what it is - reality. x-material saturates in x-days, y-material saturates in y-days, and z-material saturates in z-days... that's just how we have to approach living on the trail as I see it. shrugs.

Again, Dan, not a freaking clue as to whether CF actually saturates. Everything I have read about it indicates it takes one hell of a lot of water to permeate CF. Whether saturation of CF is different than what we know of as saturation of Silnylon/SpinnUL is just not one of those things I can call.

John

Dan Durston
(dandydan)

Locale: Cascadia
Thanks on 01/16/2011 14:06:22 MST Print View

Thanks John. I appreciate hearing your experiences. You must really learn a lot living in such a wet climate.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo Ultralight Modular Shelter System Review on 01/26/2011 11:23:30 MST Print View

To me this appears very similar to a RayWay tarp plus net tent plus "bat wing" done in Cuben instead of silnylon, with a catenary ridge instead of a straight one, and maybe a taller bathtub floor and zippered access to the net tent.

Does it differ any significant way?

BERNARD SHAW
(Tideplay) - F

Locale: Upper new York state
Hyoerlite vs Gossamer SpinTwin with beak on 04/17/2011 16:43:59 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for review and comments.

As an old timer Sierra guide I decided to take matter into my own hands and added a beak to the Gossamer Spin Twin.

Because it has such a large footprint I can use it high off the ground in non wind driven rain or down to the ground or near it

for total protection and enough ventilation.


I do not have bug protection, unless I use a mini bug system. However, I find no rain problems whatsoever in multi seasons in the
Sierras and huge thunderstorms.


Just thought I should add this, as the very large footprint with beak is so so light and versatile.

Evan