User Review: Integral Designs Silshelter
Design: tarpaulin tent pole supported and staked
Ease of Setup: Simple after two practice pitches it became second nature, full shelter erected inside 5 minutes. Tarp shelter alone less than two minutes.
Weight: Tent 400 grams, Bug Shelter 545 grams, Poles 245 Grams, Pegs 200 Grams
Price Paid: CA $ 169.99 approx £ 90.00
I initially bought the Silshelter, as it fulfills three of my backcountry requirements.
1. Firstly I use it as a standalone shelter for my mountain bike and rucksack, and an all weather shelter for cooking in the inevitable downpour conditions that exist , when I am on one of my epic rides in the English Lake District, or Peak District, when I sleep in My Marmot EOS 1P tent.
2. When I am campsite based undertaking day walks the Silshelter is draped over my tent and staked out with one walking pole to provide an extended vestibule providing extra kit storage and cooking area.
3. When I venture off for a wild night camping the Silshelter is used in conjunction with the Bugliner or a bivvy bag depending on the Midge/Mosquito to rain ratio, to provide a well protected nights sleep.
I have only been using the shelter for two months now but I am reasonably impressed with the performance / weight / versatility ratio. The late spring and early summer weather so far has been quite mild but very wet, the Silshelter has coped with the conditions extremely well. It provides a surprising amount of internal space for such a light weight and is easily erected within 2 - 5 minutes. It can be a bit tricky in blowy conditions, but if you weight the bulk of the material down with your pack or a stone or log as you stake the shelter out it is easily manageable. Practice makes perfect.
When pitching, I stake the rear two loops of the tent out first leaving a little slack, as I then use a car engine valve grinding tool, (ie a wooden dowel approx 20 cm long with rubber cups at each end (cost approx 99p, weight 15 grams)), to support the rear of the tent by placing one end in the rear pole pocket and the other end on the ground. I aim to leave a 1 - 2 inch gap from the lower edge of the rear of the tent to the ground to aid ventilation.
I then adjust adjust the length of one of my walking poles to approximately 43 inches and secure the hand grip in the forward pole pocket, I then lift the apex of the tent up with the pole angled rearwards by approx 10 - 15 degrees and stake out the forward two corner loops so the tent sides form a perfect rectangular floor space shelter, I then use a further two pegs to stake out the door flaps and then adjust the six stakes so far to achieve a reasonable symmetrical structure.
I always carry a further six stakes and stake out the two mid point loops each side, or one mid point loop and using lightweight bungees one of the the flysheet loops. At the rear I use a second walking pole and the three loops with lightweight bungees attached (bungees supplied and retro fitted by myself), if required to help give clearance above my feet and improve stability in windier conditions.
The door system, with practice can be set up to be versatile, it can be staked in such a manner that it forms a tight weather seal, or it can be adjusted to allow a slight opening to aid ventilation, this takes a little practice but once mastered is second nature.
A further consideration, if you don't use trekking poles or are are reluctant to pay the hefty price for lightweight adjustable poles, consider using telescopic fishing rod bank support rods available from angling shops and screw top adapters at a fraction of the cost of trekking poles, aprox weight 250 grams, cost 5.99 to 14.99 depending on weight / material (IE steel, aluminum, carbon).
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