View Full Version : Sil Shelter or Tarptent

2007-08-25, 12:07
Greetings from Michigan! Has anyone had any experience with either of these shelters? Tarptent is 25 oz, and the Sil Shelter (with the bug netting) is 34 oz. I have an MSR Hubba, which is fantastic, but without the footprint is 54 oz, add 8 more for footprint....and I wouldn't mind lightening up. My hiking is mostly limited to the AT, so would only use tent as back up if shelters full...so more incentive to go light as possible. Still, I am sure one cold, wet night and I would not mind lugging the extra ozs to stay dry and warm. Any thoughts? Thanks.

2007-08-25, 13:08
I have a similiar Tarptent to the Contrail and love it. Doesnt work for me here, but I have used it in the climes of the AT and had great experiences with it. If you plan on using it as a backup, that's the way I would go.
Shelters are only full when it storms and the Contrail is far more storm ready than the Sil. Not that it is all that great in a storm, but for the weight, it's not bad.

2007-08-25, 13:10
Henry Shires has a great product with his Tarptent series. Can't go wrong there. Very efficient
weight to space ratio, and all the newer models have very taunt pitches for wind.

Personally, I would steer you in a whole other direction entirely. Lots of us
here are Hammock users. If you are remotely interested in that check out
http://hennessyhammock.com/ This is a very popular series of hammocks
that lots of people start with as it offers a complete package. You can get
a good system for 1.5 - 2.3 lbs depending on how much you are willing to spend.

Also many of us here are regulars at www.hammockforums.net your one-stop online source for
all hammock camping info.
www.jacksrbetter.com - A great place to refine a hammock setup with an underquilt.
http://www.outdoorequipmentsupplier.com/ - A great place for aftermarket cat-cut hammock tarps.

Frolicking Dino
2007-08-25, 20:03
Don't forget about the Speer Hammocks (http://www.speerhammocks.com/) while you're trying to convert newcomers :D The new snug-underquilt is wonderful.

Jack R Better makes a new system called down-to-earth (http://www.jacksrbetter.com/index_files/Pad.htm)that is designed to make a hammock quilt both insulation for a hammock and a sleeping system similar to Big Agnes on the ground (like in a shelter). They sell this quilt called a No Snivler (http://www.jacksrbetter.com/index_files/Products%20List_files/No%20Snivelling%20Quilt.htm) that can be worn around camp as a poncho.

Now about tents :D Henry Shires Tarptents are excellent. They have enough bugnet that most people do not have any problems with condensation inside - the bane of the sil-nylon single wall tent. Another brand you may want to consider is Six Moon Designs (http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/). Ron Moak's tents are also excellent. He sells an item called the Gatewood cape - it is raingear and a very basic shaped floorless tarp and weighs only 11 ozs. It isn't for the very tall, but works great for those under about 5' 11". The Lunar Solo is a tent - very nice design at 23 ozs.

2007-08-26, 01:34
I'm another delighted owner of a Henry Shires tarptent, two of them actually.
They've served me well, including in heavy weather.

But I'm also a recent convert to hammocking. It's a comfort thing for me. And as much as I'd encourage you to try this yourself, if the objective is a backup system, I don't think you'll find a complete hammocking solution that is within the 25 oz weight budget of the tarptent. Assuming that you can use the same pad with the hammock as you do on the ground, there's still the hammock, bug netting, and the tarp that you have to carry----and you want enough tarp to huddle under and cook if needed. Get fancy and add an underquilt, and your "back-up system" is now taking up a signficant bit of your pack's space.

I'm not a fan of the shelters myself, using a hammock gives me a lot more freedom in where I camp, and when I stop to camp.

2007-08-26, 02:17
I don't know how this will help other than giving you another view on ways to camp, but..

I was happy for quite a few years with just an overhead tarp and a homemade bivy bag. (I hammock now - much more comfortable).

As far as I'm concerned the only real reasons that you need a tent from spring to fall is if you have bug problems, want to leave gear in a "secure" place, need privacy, or don't like sleeping outdoors.

The tarp/bivy combination kept me warm and dry, and if the bugs were out and I didn't mind lying down I had a bug net as part of my bivy bag.

--I do use a tent for my base camps that I hike from, in public campgrounds, and when I'm car or boat camping, but then I don't worry about weight and often I use a canvas wall tent (you can stand up in it).

2007-08-30, 16:03
Just a note, you might consider waiting out the new Integral Designs Sildome (http://www.spadout.com/video_external.php?vide_video_id_single=32&vide_backurl=%2Fwiki%2Findex.php%2For_show_summer_ 2007)... (link goes to a video)

2007-09-01, 11:51
Here is the link to the Shires tarptent site. I have one of the older Squall 2.
it sleeps 2 guy's (My son and I), a large (Bearnese mountain) dog and our gear.


You guys have convinced my boy to try hammocking next year.

2007-09-05, 12:32
Hey, if I wanted to buy sil-nylon (so I can make my own like on the tarptent website) can you get that from fabric stores (special order?)? Or would that be considered "specialty" that I would have to order online.

2007-09-05, 13:16
If you go to most fabric stores and ask for sil nylon, the grumpy old-lady working there will look at you like you have a penis growing from the middle of your forehead.

2007-09-05, 14:06
Thanks TAK. From what I've observed its because you probably do. :aetsch:

2007-09-05, 14:26
Yes Big John, I've been accused and accursed in a much more vile manner, thanks for taking my feeble attempt at humor good heartedly!?

Sil nylon was originally designed for parachutes, they call Z-P (zero porosity), and only a small amount of hiking equipment is made from it, most is still coated nylon. As such, it can be difficult to find, especially if you want something other than a bright color, gray being about the only option, coyote brown is quite rare of late. I'll see if I can find a couple of links to post later.

There are tales of silnylon turning up in the dollar/yd bin at Walmart fabric sections, I have yet to find any but I have found DWR (durable water repellent) which is excellent to make insulated clothing or a quilt from. These two fabrics are kind of hard to tell apart.

2007-09-05, 14:36
A couple of silnylon sources:



2007-09-06, 02:13
Another silnylon source:

I've heard good things about store in the link above from other DIY hikers, but can't say first hand as I haven't shopped from them.

I'm cheap so I usually just get my material at Walmart and treat it myself.

I often paint a water repellent wood treatment on the cloth (Thompsons or a similar brand). This swells the material sealing off the space between the threads and it also makes the cloth so it doesn't absorb water.

Though this works well for most uses, it is a good idea to retreat the material every year or so, depending on the amount of use. Also it is a water repellent not a waterproofer, so it can leak in some cases.
-It works very well for tents and overhead tarps.

For waterproofing I use a mix of silicone caulk and mineral spirits (I learned about this from the link below). - I do a lighter coating than than they recommend though - less silicone more spirits.


I wouldn't use this on anything I wanted to breath, like the walls of a tent. -You'd ruin the tent.

2007-09-07, 22:00
I use either a hammock or a Henry Shires Tarptent (the Squall), depending on circumstances. Last week I finished the Vermont section of the AT carrying my hammock, but TarpTents were everywhere! Everyone I talked to loved their TarpTent, and I love mine. Light, easy to use, roomy, weather-worthy. Can't go wrong.

2007-09-10, 21:32
I considered a tarp/Bivy combination for awhile, but after using the Contrail for a few months so no reason to change. I recently returned from a thru hike of the Long Trail and found the Contrail to be excellent in varied conditions. Rain, humidity, wind all made little difference in the excellent performance of the Contrail. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting a shelter that is light (25oz.), compact, fast to put up (90 seconds), and reliable.