Rating: 5 / 5
As with my VersaStove review, I would like to start off by clarifying that I do not work for Seek Outside. I am a project engineer for a highway construction company. That being said, I hope you enjoy the review, and look forward to any comments about this item. Feel free to PM.
This is a review for a 6 person tipi style shelter. The shelter is made by Seek Outside, and can be purchased online at www.seekoutside.com. Seek Outside is an American company located in Ridgeway, CO. The company manufactures the tent under the trade name of VersaShelter. The VersaShelter currently comes in two, four and six person models. The company is currently working on larger prototypes with a capacity of 8 to 10 people that are not yet in production. For more information on these shelters or any other products by this company, visit www.seekoutside.com.
What sets these shelters apart from other company’s styles is that there are certain things that come standard on the VersaShelter, which may be options on other shelters. As when buying vehicles, adding options tacks on extra money. Standard features included are a sewn in integrated screen door, a sod skirt, and a carbon fiber center pole. The carbon fiber pole is adjustable in one inch increments. The shelter requires seam sealing.
Here is the tipi:
The 6 man VersaShelter is made from a 30 denier SilNylon material. It encompasses an approximate 13’6” diameter when pitched standard with an approximate height of 7’6”. The package that I received included the tipi, a carbon fiber single pole, tie in rear screen, stove jack, silnylon cover and screen for the stove jack hole, a set of plastic Durapeg stakes, and elastic tensioners. This entire package weighed in at 5 lbs. 10.2 ounces. The shelter was 3 pounds, 8.4 ounces, the single pole came in at 10.2 ounces, the stakes were 10.7 ounces, elastic tensioners were 1.5 ounces, rear bug screen was 7 ounces, stove jack was 3.5 ounces, and the sacks for the package came in at 1.4 ounces. You can save weight by replacing the Durapegs with aftermarket titanium or aluminum stakes or by leaving the bug net at home. The 6 person shelter comes standard with a full length zippered door with a zippered screen. There is also a zippered half door on the rear of the tent directly opposite the main door. This half door works well if it is snug inside of the tent. The rear screen can be used to aid in ventilation and keep the critters out at the same time. The elastic tensioners are an excellent addition that aid in keeping a taut pitch in a variety of conditions. The windy conditions that Mother Nature presented us on the trip did prevail over the tensioners, but they did not fail. I asked Seek Outside about this after the trip, and it was recommended that the tensioners should be used with discretion if high winds are expected. You can double the tensioners for more tension and pull them very taught in wind and it helps somewhat.
The version tested was an earlier model. After observing a blog update from Seek Outside, there have been a few changes. The newest model is 10 square feet larger and now comes standard with a heavy duty carbon fiber pole and peak loop, however it no longer includes the rear screen as part of the standard package. The weight of the new model comes in at 5 lbs. 3 ounces. The new weight includes the shelter, heavy duty carbon fiber pole, Durapegs, integrated screen door, sod skirt, and elastic tensioners. Adding a stove jack would add 3.5 ounces, and the Durable Water Repellant liner adds an additional 26 ounces.
Extra options for the 6 person VersaShelter include the rear screen, a tarp, a DWR liner, bathtub style floors, or ground sheets. The tarp is a good idea. It can be used as a stand-alone shelter, an awning for the tipi, or even added to the rear half door for some extra sleeping or storage area. All of these options can be seen on the aforementioned website.
Setting the tipi up was fairly simple. It took me 10 minutes to set up the VersaShelter along with the VersaStove, which I also reviewed. I will not get into exact set up for this review. If there would be any questions on the methods of set up, feel free to ask. Some tips that I will provide for the pitching of the tipi are: if you will be experiencing windy conditions, do not use the tensioners; when you do the final adjustment, begin at one point and continue the same direction until complete. I found that the one inch increments on the pole worked out well to get the shelter more taut. There are also exterior guy out points around the rear of the tent that allow extra room when used. These exterior guys out points were not necessary for the set up that we needed, but can be seen in this picture:
A group of 7 fishermen went on a trip in WV. We had all intentions of a hike, but it ended up that the trip was made easier with a guide that had been there before. Our gear arrived at camp in a fashion that only we could have wished for. We received roughly 30 mph winds on the Friday of our trip, and the tipi worked like a champ! This set up would have worked for a pack trip due to the light weight of the package. There were 3 cots, gear, 3 bodies, as well as the VersaStove in the shelter, and it was still roomy!! Here are a couple of pictures looking toward the inside of our set up:
The overall experience was pleasant with a shelter like the VersaShelter. I liked the ease of setup, the screen door, and the sod skirt. The placement of the peak vent was perfect for the placement of a stove jack and the VersaStove. The one inch increments on the carbon fiber pole made it slightly easier to achieve a tighter pitch. There were things that I feel could be done to the shelter to make it more versatile. The addition of a strong exterior loop at the peak to tie to an overhanging tree would open up floor space and allow for a weight decrease of 9-10 ounces by losing the pole. The idea of a durable peg is nice, but outweighs other types of stakes. Other lightweight stakes that I have seen are made out of either titanium or aluminum. After discussing these minor details with Seek Outside, it has been found that the new versions have the exterior top loop, and the stakes were Durapegs due to the ease of use for all areas. If you can utilize a different type of stake, there are other stake options out there. The pros of this shelter far outweigh the cons, and I would make this decision again if I had to.
Overall, I would recommend this shelter and company to anyone looking for a lightweight setup. Seek Outside was helpful and responsive with my questions and concerns prior to my trip. My experience with Seek Outside was pleasant to say the least, and I would highly recommend this company.
Seek Outside has received a full disclosure for this review, and may use it for the benefit of the company as they see fit.