User Review: Kelty Noah's Tarp 12
Ease of Setup: Medium
Weight: <2 pounds
Price Paid: $70
I got the Noah's Tarp 12 to use as a dining fly/community shelter. I thought it would be useful and quick to pitch both car camping and on large group back country trips. It's certainly small and light compared to most other options we had.
My experience with it has been a little disappointing, sorry to say.
The unique and wonderful part of the Noah's Tarp design is that it's stable with only the four corners anchored, and portions of the tarp can be staked to the ground to create many sheltered configurations.
The downside is that it's huge relative to the area it shelters. To shelter a standard campground picnic table requires perhaps 20 feet from one corner stake to it's opposite corner stake, and many camp sites don't have that much open space to work with. Also the tarp has to be pitched really high (9-10 feet) at the top corners to accommodate the slope of the roof it creates, and even then it feels a little claustrophobic under there. Bottom line is we only pitch it when the chance of rain is pretty good, and we've been sorry a few times when we've been fooled and got rained on with the tarp packed up.
If I were carrying this as a primary shelter in the Sierras or somewhere else that doesn't have bug issues, I'm sure I'd be raving about how much I love it, but for my uses, it hasn't really been the right choice. I think I'd be happier with a rectangular tarp of similar weight fabric. A smaller conventional rectangular tarp could shelter a cooking and eating area without hogging the entire campsite.
All in all, I give it 3.5 out of 5. It's clearly a great product for some users, just not me.