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fieldcraftsman
2006-02-11, 09:58
Hey all, really pleased to have joined this great forum. I've just posted something on one of the hammock camping threads as well.

Just wondering if anyone has had any experience using the Ecotat freedom shelter.

To me, it seems like the ulimate in multi-use. :adore: On another forum I'd heard a wag dub it the "Leak-o-tat"...anyone know if this is a fair moniker? :dontknow:

Seeker
2006-02-11, 14:12
not sure we're talking about the same thing, but:

when i was stationed at fort drum, ny, in the early 90s, we were issued some sort of Ecotat bivy... was made of camoflage goretex and had some sort of hoop thing the kept it up over your head. i don't know a single person who used it. not once in 4 years. the infantry preferred their poncho hootches, and the rest of us slept in tents, vehicles, or under op center tables when in the field.

i'm sure there have been major leaps forward in things like fabric science since then, but i've never understood the purpose of a bivy sack vs a tarp/poncho, regardless of material.

someone out there knows though... one suggestion if you don't know about it already is backpackgeartest.com. good site for the most part, with the testing done by unpaid backpackers and hikers.

oh, and welcome to this site...

fieldcraftsman
2006-02-11, 15:36
Thanks for the welcome to the site and for this reply, Seeker. Yep, pretty sure that we're talking about the same thing. I believe that the shelter was developed as a bivy for US Army, with the aim of being multi-functional. The idea being that you can use it as a poncho as well as a bivy (by sticking the hoops into the ends). What made me interested in it in the first place was very small pack size and the multi-functionality (i.e. the combo poncho bivy thing -- one other uses they claims is emergency litter...hope that it would never come to that!).

When I go out in the woods back home in Canada, I've tended to use the old poncho that I "forgot" to give back the Navy to make a hooch. It works OK, just that in Western Canada you get a lot of sideways rain! :bawling: Which is why I was wondering about the Ecotat system. Says a lot if nobody used them!


not sure we're talking about the same thing, but:

when i was stationed at fort drum, ny, in the early 90s, we were issued some sort of Ecotat bivy... was made of camoflage goretex and had some sort of hoop thing the kept it up over your head. i don't know a single person who used it. not once in 4 years. the infantry preferred their poncho hootches, and the rest of us slept in tents, vehicles, or under op center tables when in the field.

i'm sure there have been major leaps forward in things like fabric science since then, but i've never understood the purpose of a bivy sack vs a tarp/poncho, regardless of material.

someone out there knows though... one suggestion if you don't know about it already is backpackgeartest.com. good site for the most part, with the testing done by unpaid backpackers and hikers.

oh, and welcome to this site...

fieldcraftsman
2006-02-11, 15:38
Oh, and thx for the backpackgeartest site!

dropkick
2006-02-12, 02:19
I don't have any experience with the Ecotat, but I have used a bivy bag and liked it.
It gives me a freedom that a tent couldn't. It also keeps my bag dry when setting up camp no matter what the weather (I roll my bag in it).

I use mine quite often in conjunction with a small overhead tarp, as this allows me to keep the top open and also gives me a protected area outside the bag.
I also use a tarp under it when I have the time and inclination to do so, but it isn't needed -the same as using a footprint under a tent, just makes for less wear.

I built my own bivy from coated nylon, it isn't as fancy as the Ecotat, and it doesn't function as a poncho, but I've been very happy with it.

The only drawback with bivys, that I've heard of (haven't experienced though) is that you can get some condensation built up in it if you don't vent it well. I built mine with a top and bottom vent as I read of this and haven't had a problem (though I seldom open the bottom vent).

P.S. I wouldn't worry about the leakotat statement, anytime someone comes up with a product with a name you can change (especially in the military) some "clever" person is going to come up with a rhymm and people will start using it. Then others who haven't even seen the product will swear that they've used it and the name is deserved, just to build themselves up. Some very good products have been driven off the market due to undeserved reputations gained from this.

P.P.S. Did a search and eBay has some new for $45.00 + 15.00 shipping. Sounds like a pretty good deal if you want one.
http://stores.ebay.com/NPCINTERNATIONAL

dropkick
2006-02-12, 02:35
Just thought I should tell you though...
This spring I'm trying a move to a homemade camping hammock.
This is mainly a comfort thing though.
-I would sleep in a hammock in my house if I had room to set one up.

You can find an very simple hammock design (no sewing if you don't want to) that works at Risk's site (below). (QuarterWeight Hammock)

www.imrisk.com/

Seeker
2006-02-12, 15:01
i don't remember ours being multi-use as a poncho... i just remember it was heavier than a poncho... that alone might be enough cause for the infantry bubbas to not use it... and i don't remember it being very cheap... seemed like the replacement cost was in the hundred dollar plus range... that also has a tendancy to reduce a troop's motivation to use a piece of gear... same with the gortex bag covers... i think when we went to somalia though, troops were told to bring their poncho liners and the bag cover, and leave the bag itself at home, due to the warm nights.

i've used a tarp alone, and it's ok... it's not really all that comfortable sleeping on the ground, but if you're on some sort of knoll/high spot, you can pitch the tarp low enough to block just about any wind or rain... it's the mosquitos i can't deal with... and by the time i added up the thermarest, tarp, and bug netting, i'd come up to the same weight as a hammock... after that, comfort tipped the balance. so i hammock now.

fieldcraftsman
2006-02-13, 03:02
That combat reform fellow, Sparks, has a pretty big write up about them on one of his pages. Ecotat description (http://www.geocities.com/ecotat/ecotatTMP.htm ) The civvie version that you noted on ebay is a hell of a lot cheaper than the camo one, the latter of which is listed on some sites as going for $200! Well, I think that I'll order to civvie one and see how it is! The civvie one comes in brown, so, while not camo, depending upon how dark it is, might still be OK for stealth camping.

I believe that the entire ecotat system weighs in at about 4 pounds. So, weightwise, I'd be inclined towards the hammock too, except in so far as the shelter could double as a poncho. It certainly would be heavier than even two ponchos. Guess I'll try a comparative experiment with the Hennessy and see which works better!


i don't remember ours being multi-use as a poncho... i just remember it was heavier than a poncho... that alone might be enough cause for the infantry bubbas to not use it... and i don't remember it being very cheap... seemed like the replacement cost was in the hundred dollar plus range... that also has a tendancy to reduce a troop's motivation to use a piece of gear... same with the gortex bag covers... i think when we went to somalia though, troops were told to bring their poncho liners and the bag cover, and leave the bag itself at home, due to the warm nights.

i've used a tarp alone, and it's ok... it's not really all that comfortable sleeping on the ground, but if you're on some sort of knoll/high spot, you can pitch the tarp low enough to block just about any wind or rain... it's the mosquitos i can't deal with... and by the time i added up the thermarest, tarp, and bug netting, i'd come up to the same weight as a hammock... after that, comfort tipped the balance. so i hammock now.

scarecrow
2006-02-13, 05:13
If cost and colour is the issue, US Cav sells a variant for USD $136 in Woodland cam, and it weighs in at 3lbs (1.36kg): US Cav Stealth Bivy Shelter (http://www.uscav.com/Productinfo.aspx?productID=5485&TabID=1). Then again, a civvy one in brown, its ability to be used as a poncho and its cost really does have the upper hand in my opinion.

http://www.uscav.com/prodinfo/enlarged/17254L.jpg
http://www.uscav.com/prodinfo/enlargedinsets/17254aL.jpg

Cheers,

fieldcraftsman
2006-02-14, 18:42
Thanks scarecrow. Looks more spacious than I would have thought (though "spacious" is a relative term in this regard). Well I've ordered on the civvie ones off of e-bay, which was nice and cheap -- I've asked for the brown colour as well. I'll let you know when it arrives and I can give it a test run!

scarecrow
2006-02-16, 08:27
Looking foward to it Fieldcraftsman! A mate of mine is considering buying one and wants to have someone's opinion on how worthy they are.

Cheers,

fieldcraftsman
2006-02-16, 12:47
Will do, Scarecrow. Not shore how long it'll take to get to this side of the pond. At the very least, the poncho application will be handy. It was pouring rain this AM in the London area...even wore my existing OD poncho to the train today. Couldn't believe it when my mother in law of all people (who is staying with us from North America and normally drives me crazy) even said that a poncho would be good over a business suit in this kind of weather! :top: Heh, we'll see about a freedom shelter.

weekender
2006-02-16, 16:22
Fieldcraftsman i dont know if it helps but i found a mag that was testing some hooped bivvies and came across two that look similer to the one shown by scarecrow that would be available in this country, the two are, 1: force ten solo bivvy 2: vaude bivvy tent both have web sites www.forcetentents.com
www.vaude-uk.com

fieldcraftsman
2006-02-16, 18:23
Thanks weekender. Funny you should post that, as I've got the Force 10 solo hooped bivy. Not a bad piece of kit really. Only complaint really is a bit of condensation if you don't open the flap at the back. The pack size isn't great with respect to the bag that it comes in, but I've just taken bag itself and squashed it down into a compression sack and then just stuffed the poles down the sides of the pack. Obviously, the room inside isn't really all that much, but must be said, that's life with a bivy...

fieldcraftsman
2006-03-01, 09:45
Well, it arrived. I'm not sure that I would recommend the civvie version, primarily b/c it is nylon of the most definitely not rip-stop and non-breathable kind. Can't expect much for sixty odd bucks, I guess. Might give it a try in the yard sometime, but I won't hold my breath (or maybe, with the likely condensation, I will need to! :)). By comparison, I would definitely go with the Force 10 hooped bivy.

I should hasten to add that this does not reflect any comment on the real Ecotat system, since I haven't actually seen one yet (this is made in China, for starters -- I doubt that Ecotat has their stuff made there)!

One consolation -- while not coyote brown, it is quite a dark brown.