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Application – Integral Designs Sildome - Mark McLauchlin

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  • Mark McLauchlin
    Please accept my application to test the Integral Designs Sildome tarp shelter. I have read Chapter 5 of the BackpackGearTest Survival Guide version 0609, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2008
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      Please accept my application to test the Integral Designs Sildome tarp
      shelter. I have read Chapter 5 of the BackpackGearTest Survival Guide
      version 0609, and will follow all instructions and fulfill all
      requirements. As a non-US based tester I am also accepting the need to
      pay for freight.

      This will be an ideal item for me to test as I am in the process of
      investigating many different shelters for purchase to fulfill my light
      hiking requirements.

      Although the test call states newbie limit applies I feel that I have
      submitted and are working on sufficient reports to satisfy the
      requirements. I will also have some of my tests completed before this
      one is due for completion, so that will change my tester status to

      Reviewer Information
      Name: Mark McLauchlin
      Age: 29
      Gender: Male
      Height: 1.76 m (5' 9")
      Weight: 80 kg (176 lb)
      Email: mark at swanvalleyit.com.au
      City: Perth, Western Australia

      Backpacking Background
      I have been hiking since 2006 with most of my hiking
      consisting of day walks averaging 16 – 22 km (10 – 14 mi) and
      short overnight trips where possible.

      I consider myself to be a light hiker with an average pack weight of
      13 kg (29 lbs).

      My preference is for hot dinners, breakfasts of cereals with fresh
      fruit, and lunches usually of bars and sandwiches.

      Field Information

      I intend to test the Sildome on a few planned hiking trips. The hiking
      trips will include single over night and multi day/night in the Hills
      area of Perth Western Australia and the Southern regions of the state.
      Average temperatures that can be expected this time of the year range
      from a mean maximum temperature of 25.5 C (77 F) to mean minimum
      temperature of 8 C(46 F), with an average elevation of 30 Meters (115
      ft), however I will be attempting to camp at 580 Meters (1903 ft).

      Average rainfall expected during the initial few months of testing is
      134mm or 5.28 in. (May to June).

      The first weeks of testing I plan to camp over night at some of the
      northern end campsites along the Bibbulumn track
      <http://www.bibbulmuntrack.org/> <http://tinyurl.com/3cw23v
      <http://tinyurl.com/3cw23v> >. These campsites all host a three sided
      hut, water tanks, bush style toilet and a cleared space for tents
      (although quite small).

      My other testing area will be the Coastal Plains Walk Trail which runs
      for approximately 55 kms or 34.16 miles. This area of track is
      relatively new to me as I have only stayed at one of the four huts.

      Test Plan

      From checking out the manufacturer's website the Integral Designs
      Sildome is a minimalist tarp shelter which uses only a single shock
      corded Easton nanolite pole. The tarp shelter is made from a 1.1 oz
      Silicone impregnated nylon and can be setup in a variety of
      configurations to house two people.

      The Sildome has a total weight of 740g or 1 lb 10 oz, excluding stakes,
      which will compliment my attempts at becoming an ultralite hiker. My
      current tent is a Henry Shires Double Rainbow which I am still working
      on an OR for. I purchased this tent so that I would be able to take my
      son out with when he is a little older, the Sildome will make a great
      shelter for my solo or other non-children hikes.

      I plan to weigh all the items including the tarp, nanolite pole and pegs
      (Easton nano stakes) to form a packed weight.

      Some of the areas I will focus my testing on are;

      Set Up:

      The Sildome tarp shelter uses a single pole to form the main arch. From
      looking at the diagrams on the manufacturer's website it appears as
      though the shock corded Easton pole slides through the tarp material and
      is secured at each end by an eyelet system. There would appear to be a
      webbing strap setup between the two ends of the pole, running across the
      ground that provides the support so that there is not too much pressure
      on the silicone material. There are also some adjustments that can be
      made with the webbing strap to alter the height of the tarp.

      How long will it take for me to assemble?

      Will the poles stay in the eyelet grommets when setting up the shelter
      or will they pop out?

      How do the poles lock into the eyelet grommets, is there a mechanism on
      the end of the pole, and how easy is the pole to insert and remove from
      the grommet.

      Does the pole have sufficient strength and flexibility not to cause any
      breaks when erecting, is this going to cause a few tense moments?

      When inserting the pole through the tarp material will any of the joins
      catch on the material causing tears or holes? This will also go for when
      the tarp is being dismantled.

      Will I be able to erect the tarp by myself or will help be needed, this
      is important for solo hiking and fast setup when needing to get out of
      the elements.

      What is the minimum number of stakes needed to setup the tarp, by
      looking at the image on the manufacturers website it would appear as
      though there are eight tie-outs, however this is only for the
      configuration displayed, perhaps less are needed for other setups. The
      manufacturer lists that four Easton nano stakes are supplied.

      Are the stakes supplied strong enough so as they do not bend when pushed
      into the ground? The places I plan to test this tarp generally have a
      very hard surface, however I will try as many different areas with
      varying soils as I can.

      Will there always be a need to use stakes, can I use tie outs onto rocks
      or trees when needed?

      Are any tie outs supplied?

      Are there instructions on how to erect the tarp? If so are they easy to

      Under Tarp Space:

      As I want to use this tarp as a single person tarp I will test to see
      how much available space there is once I have my pack, shoes and
      sleeping gear in there.

      The tarp is measured at 8ft long by 5ft wide so there should be plenty
      of room for one person.

      With the angle of the tarp will my sleeping bag touch the roof when
      lying down and how close will my face also be to the roof?

      Can I sit up comfortably? There is no mention on the pitch height. I
      will record this.

      Is there enough room to change clothes? If so, is it easy or difficult?

      I am unable to work out from the website if there are two doors or one,
      I will assume two at this stage until I have seen the tarp. Are these
      zippered doors easy to open, will the material get caught in the zipper?

      Is the door wide enough for an easy entry and exit?


      Basically how easy is it to pull down; is this a one person job?

      Are there instructions on how to dismantle the tarp? If so are they easy
      to understand?


      Once dismantled how easy is it to pack the tarp up for stowage into its

      There is actually no mention of a stuff sack or bag so is one included?

      Does the tarp, stakes and pole all fit in the one bag?

      Is the packed size that is listed on the website an easily achievable
      one? Integral Designs list 3 x 3 x 20 inches.

      How long will it take for me to pack down?

      Will this fit on the outside of my pack? Currently I am using a ULA

      UV Damage:

      Some materials used for tents and tarps can be damaged with prolonged
      exposure to the sun, is this the case with the Silicone impregnated
      nylon? I will not leave this setup with the intention for it to be
      damaged. I will simply do some further research on the fabric and its UV


      I will examine the overall stability against wind side forces by
      the attachments of the tarp.

      We have been experiencing some rather strong winds so I will be able to
      put it to the test.

      Does the Silicone nylon sag and/or stretch when wet, causing the shelter
      to become unstable?


      Will I need to seam seal the Sildome or will be done from the factory?

      How well will I be protected from the rain when inside the Sildome? As
      we are experiencing high volumes of precipitation at the moment this is
      an ideal testing time.


      Being a single wall tarp will there be sufficient ventilation as to
      assist with preventing condensation buildup?

      Will I be able to open the side ventilation and sleep with it open at
      nighttime to help with airflow?

      Will I feel confined within the tarp with it fully closed as there
      appears to be no other form of ventilation besides the side door?


      As there is no floor with this tarp, will my Tyvex ground sheet be a
      good match with this tarp?

      Cleaning the Tarp:

      There is no mention of cleaning on the manufactures website so I will do
      some further research on this to see how it best performed. If I am
      unable to find anything I will treat it much like my other tent and that
      is to wash it in the bath tub with warm water then hang outside under
      the shade to dry.


      I feel this is a good item for me to be testing and will note all of the
      above and anything else that appears relevant during the duration of the

      Previously Written Reports

      My reports and reviews can be found at;


      I am currently testing the following;

      DeFeet Cloud 9 socks

      Adventure Medical Kits

      FLEJ Solo Cup

      Carhartt Work Dry T-Shirt

      Thank you for your consideration Kenny B,

      Mark McLauchlin

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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