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IR: Integral Designs SilDome Tent - Mike Curry

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  • Mike C.
    Andrew, Below is my IR on the SilDome. In the test I refer to it as a tarp shelter because it s not really a tent, but used tent in the subject line here
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 31, 2008
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      Andrew,

      Below is my IR on the SilDome. In the test I refer to it as a "tarp
      shelter" because it's not really a tent, but used tent in the subject
      line here 'cause that's what BridGeT is calling it.

      Looking forward to your edits. HTML can be found at
      http://tinyurl.com/6prcos

      Thanks!

      Mike C.


      INTEGRAL DESIGNS SILDOME TARP SHELTER
      TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
      IR
      July 31, 2008

      TESTER INFORMATION

      NAME: Mike Curry
      EMAIL: thefishguyAThotmailDOTcom
      AGE: 38
      LOCATION: Aberdeen, Washington
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
      WEIGHT: 235 lb (107.00 kg)

      I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and
      snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for
      the last 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind
      of guy, but these days (having small kids) most of my trips run on
      the shorter side of things, and tend to be in the temperate
      rainforest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in
      excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist
      I become.


      INITIAL REPORT

      PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

      Manufacturer: Integral Designs
      Year of Manufacture: 2008
      Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE -
      "http://www.integraldesigns.com" LINK TEXT
      = "www.integraldesigns.com">>
      MSRP: US $200.00
      Listed Weight: 1 lb 10 oz (740 g)
      Manufacturer's Note: "wt excludes 2.2 mil cord + 4 stakes (4oz)"
      Measured Weight: 1 lb 7.7 oz (670 g) (excluding cords and stakes)

      Component Weights:
      Tarp: 1 lb 1.2 oz (490 g) (before seam-sealing)
      Pole: 6 oz (170 g)
      Stakes: 0.4 oz (11 g) each (4 included)
      Cords: 0.4 oz (11 g) each (4 included)
      Stuff Sack: 0.5 oz (14 g)
      Stake/Cord Stuff Sack: 0.5 oz (14 g)</indent>

      Listed Dimensions: 8 ft x 5 ft (2.44 m x 1.52 m)
      Measured Dimensions: 8 ft 10 in x 6 ft 10 in (2.69 m x 2.08 m),
      approximately 3 ft (0.91 m) high at center
      (Listed Dimensions approximate usable space)

      Pole Details: Easton .340 (8.64 mm) shock-corded pole, 12 ft (3.66
      m) long extended, 20 in (0.51 m) collapsed.

      Stake Details: 4 nail-type Easton stakes provided, 5 ½ in (140 mm)
      length to head, 6 ¼ in (159 mm) overall length

      Cord Details: 4 cords (guylines) provided, 1/10 in (2.2 mm)
      diameter, 12 ft 3 ½ in (3.75 m) long

      Stuff Sack Details: Silnylon Stuff sack measures 3 in x 3 in x 20 in
      (76 mm x 76 mm x 508 mm), smaller Cordura-type material stuff sack
      provided for stakes and cords.

      Other Details:
      Color tested is Olive Green
      Advertised capacity is 2 person
      Also included is a 1.5 oz (42.5 g) tube of SilNet silicone
      seam sealer

      INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

      <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 1" IMAGE CAPTION = "Photo
      Courtesy of Manufacturer">>The SilDome arrived in it's stuff sack
      with a small information sheet and a tube of SilNet silicone seam
      sealer. The stuff sack was made of the same silnylon material as the
      tarp itself. My initial impression in looking at the stuff sack was
      that it was very small, and very light. A squeeze toggle and cinch
      cord held the open end of the stuff sack closed, and operated
      smoothly when I opened the stuff sack.

      Inside the stuff sack I found the tarp itself, the single pole, and a
      smaller stuff sack made of a Cordura-type material. The smaller
      stuff sack contained 4 Easton nail-type stakes (with white nylon cord
      loops attached to the tops) and 4 black nylon cords for use,
      presumably, as guylines. The smaller stuff sack closed by means of
      two strips of material sewn into the seam just below the open end,
      which are tied around the sack.

      In looking over the materials, I was very impressed with the
      quality. The stakes are well-made, and of a type useful in my area
      for lowland rainforest use, where I do much of my hiking. The pole
      was very lightweight, and the sections snapped together crisply,
      mating perfectly at each joint. The cords appeared very utilitarian,
      and had no noticeable stretch when I pulled on them. After looking
      over the ancillary components, I turned my attention to the tarp
      itself.

      The tarp itself is made of silnylon, and is an attractive olive green
      color, which I suspect will blend unobtrusively into most
      surroundings I will encounter during testing. The bottom edge is
      reinforced with a nylon binding tape, with stake loops at two
      corners. Connecting to the other two corners is a nylon webbing
      strap with 3 grommets and a pull tab near each end, and a sliding
      quick-release buckle near one end, to "optimize tension on the
      shelter once it has been set up" (taken from the manufacturer's
      informational insert). The pole runs through a sleeve that extends
      between the two grommeted ends of this strap, and the ends are
      inserted into the grommets, with tension (and thus height of the
      SilDome) adjusted by shortening or lengthening the strap.

      <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 4" IMAGE CAPTION = "Closeup of
      Waterproof Zipper">>A zipper opening runs vertically from the lower
      edge of the tarp between one pole-corner and an adjacent stake-
      corner. From this midpoint, it extends approximately ¾ of the way to
      the ridge created by the pole. The zipper is of a type commonly
      known as "water-resistant zipper tape" which I have used on sewing
      projects in the past, and has dual zipper pulls. It does not have a
      fabric flap that covers the zipper, but rather uses two flexible
      waterproof strips that when zipped shut meet very closely along the
      centerline of the zipper, and are designed to shed water. My
      experiences with this type of zipper in our heavy rains have been
      mixed, and I look forward to seeing how it does in this application.
      At the bottom of the zipper opening are two reflective tie-outs. On
      the other three sides there are tie-outs also located on the bottom
      center of each side. In addition, there are three reflective loops
      along the arc created by the pole, which can be used both for staking
      out the open side when it is set up as an awning, and for securing
      the unused side when set up in this configuration. Securing the
      unused fabric is done by means of short cords sewn into the inside of
      the tarp with squeeze toggles attached (the toggles can be slid
      through the webbing loops, and the cord pulled taut through the
      squeeze toggle).

      Overall, the quality of stitching was outstanding, with the sole
      exception of a wad of loose thread stitched down on the zipper seam.
      I cannot tell if this was a separate thread that got stitched down,
      or if it was a tension problem, but the seam appears secure, and I've
      decided not to mess with it for now.

      READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

      There were no instructions provided with the SilDome, but rather a
      small information sheet describing features, specifications, and set
      up configurations. It states:

      "The SilDome is a minimalist tarp shelter that utilizes a single 12
      ft shock corded Easton .340 pole to provide its parabolic shape and
      allow the catenery cut 1.1 oz Silicone impregnated nylon to be
      tightly set up in a variety of configurations. It can be set-up as
      an elevated dome day shelter, a ground level two-person sleep shelter
      with side ventilation or rolled back into an open-fronted awning wind
      shelter."

      Two photos on the card show the standard setup and alternative awning
      setup, and a few features already mentioned under "Initial
      Impressions" above.

      After listing the tarp's specifications, it concludes:

      "Set-up features include an adjustable webbing securing strap between
      the two pole ends to optimize tension on the shelter once it has been
      set up, there are also 6 grommets, which offer multiple set-up
      configurations. A lightweight waterproof zipper allows for easy
      entry into the shelter, and 8 reinforced tie-outs and nylon bound
      tarp edges ensure the shelter can withstand strong winds. Warning:
      Do not cook inside shelter or pitch it near a flame."

      TRYING IT OUT

      I took the SilDome out into my back yard for a setup test. I staked
      out one non-pole corner, and inserted the pole into the sleeve,
      selected the middle grommet to insert the pole ends into, and pulled
      the unstaked corner tight, and the SilDome popped up easily. After
      staking down the second corner, I noticed the door's zipper teeth
      were on the outside (with water-resistant zipper tape, the teeth
      should not be visible from the outside). After briefly entertaining
      the idea that the manufacturer had installed the zipper incorrectly,
      I came to the sudden and unpleasant realization I had just pitched
      the tarp upside down! While I had expected the pole sleeve to be on
      the outside of the tarp body, the sleeve actually goes on the
      inside. I made a mental note to remember this, as pitching this in
      the dark could be problematic if I forget the sleeve goes inside the
      tarp.

      I decided to start over from scratch, as I was curious how long it
      would take me to set the tarp up from start to finish. My second
      attempt went much smoother, and the tension strap was no longer
      twisted (as it had been when I set it up upside-down). I would say
      my total setup time was about one minute. If dealing with a small
      site or wind (where I needed to stake out additional points) I
      imagine it will take longer, which I will pay close attention to
      during testing.

      My first reaction, upon having it set up, was "wow, this thing is
      huge!" I climbed in an adjusted the length of the strap to optimize
      tension, and the center height was about 3 ft (.91 m), but the
      footprint was much larger than I anticipated.

      Also to my surprise was that the footprint is not a diamond, but
      rather a parallelogram. I asked my wife and two children (ages 7 and
      5) to come join me. The tarp appears capable of accommodating the
      four of us, and I look forward to trying that out soon. I did notice
      that with all four of us under the tarp one of us has to be
      positioned under the zipper opening for sleeping. I intend to
      evaluate the waterproofness of the zipper before taking my family out
      in questionable weather, just to be safe. Even with the rather low
      ceiling height, we were all able to sit and move around comfortably,
      so it could be a very lightweight shelter solution for our family.

      I will add that the tarp edges did not come completely to the ground,
      but rather arched between staking points about 3 in (75 mm) above the
      ground. Even with this ventilation, the inside of the SilDome was
      quite warm in the sun. While the temperature outside was mild, it
      was almost uncomfortably warm inside, something I will monitor during
      testing.

      <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 3" IMAGE CAPTION = "Alternate
      Configuration, Showing Tensioning Strap">>After herding my children
      and wife out, I guyed out the middle of the arch, disconnected the
      stake on the side I guyed from the tarp itself, and rolled the tarp
      back into the awning configuration. I can see where this might be
      very useful for me on nights along the coast in good weather, where a
      windbreak is nice, but rain protection isn't essential. I look
      forward to evaluating this along our coast strip.

      The SilDome did, despite my adjusting the tensioning strap, still
      have a fair amount of movement in the 10 mph (16 kph) wind in my back
      yard. I did not, however, use any stakes or guylines along the sides
      the poles connect at. During field testing I will watch closely to
      evaluate how much work is required to stake and guy the tarp taut
      under actual field conditions, especially in wind.

      SUMMARY

      Overall, I find the SilDome to be a well-designed and well-
      constructed shelter that appears quite roomy for two adults, albeit
      with a low ceiling height. It appears to set up very quickly and
      easily, though it is rather easy to accidentally set it up upside-
      down.

      I would like to thank Integral Designs and BackpackGearTest for the
      opportunity to test the SilDome tarp shelter. My Field Report will
      be appended to this report in approximately two months. This
      concludes my initial report.
    • a_henrichs
      Hi Mike, Good report. I only found one minor edit for you. When it s corrected feel free to upload. Remember to delete your test html file. I m looking
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 2, 2008
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        Hi Mike,

        Good report. I only found one minor edit for you. When it's
        corrected feel free to upload. Remember to delete your test html file.

        I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your reports!

        Andy



        The SilDome arrived in it's stuff sack...
        EDIT: its
      • edwardripleyduggan
        Some slight textual revisions. URL remains the same: http://tinyurl.com/6dsmyk INTEGRAL DESIGNS SILDOME TARP SHELTER TEST SERIES BY EDWARD RIPLEY-DUGGAN
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 4, 2008
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          Some slight textual revisions. URL remains the same:

          http://tinyurl.com/6dsmyk

          INTEGRAL DESIGNS SILDOME TARP SHELTER
          TEST SERIES BY EDWARD RIPLEY-DUGGAN
          INITIAL REPORT
          August 3, 2008

          TESTER INFORMATION
          NAME: Edward Ripley-Duggan
          EMAIL: erd@...
          AGE: 55
          LOCATION: Catskills, New York State
          GENDER: M
          HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
          WEIGHT: 215 lb (97.50 kg)
          I enjoy walking in all its forms, from a simple stroll in the woods to
          multi-day backpack excursions. Though by no means an extreme
          ultra-light enthusiast, from spring to fall my preference is to carry
          a pack weight (before food and water) of 12 lb (5.5 kg), more or less.
          In recent years, I've rapidly moved to a philosophy of "lighter is
          better," within the constraints of budget and common sense.

          INITIAL REPORT

          PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

          Manufacturer: Integral Designs
          Year of manufacture: 2008
          Manufacturer's Website: www.integraldesigns.com
          MSRP: US$200.00
          Shelter color: Grey (Olive green and yellow are also offered)
          Shelter fabric: 1.1 oz silicone impregnated nylon ("silnylon")
          Listed weight: 1 lb 10 oz (740 g); this "excludes 2.2 mil cord + 4
          stakes (4 oz)" (quoted from website)
          Measured weight, all components (including tube of silicone sealant)
          in main stuff sack: 1 lb 10 oz (740 g)
          Measured weight in main stuff sack, excluding sealant, cords, stakes:
          1 lb 7 oz (650 g)
          N.B. This is 3 oz (85 g) lighter than the website measurement
          Measured weight of stakes and cords in small sack: 3 oz (85 g)
          Measured weight of pole: 6 oz (170 g)
          Measured weight of shelter body: 17 oz (480 g)
          Manufacturer's stated interior length and width*: 8 x 5 ft (2.4 x 1.5 m)
          Packed size (stated and measured): 3 x 3 x 20 in (8 x 8 x 51 cm)
          Length of pole, folded, measured: 20 in (51 cm)
          Type of pole: Easton aluminum (black) .340
          Number and type of stakes: 4, Easton aluminum nail-type stakes with
          cord loop through head
          Number of cords supplied: 4

          *As the dimensions of the shelter vary according to how it is pitched,
          and apparently exceed the stated measurements, no attempt has been
          made to provide confirmatory measurements.


          Bits and pieces
          All parts of the shelter, as supplied

          INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
          The SilDome arrived in good condition, housed in a silnylon stuff sack
          with cord lock (below the tarp body in the image above). The contents
          and appearance were much as I expected from the website. The only
          literature is a card describing the shelter and its features. I quote
          a portion of the text here, as it succinctly states what the SilDome
          is intended to be. "The SilDome is a minimalist tarp shelter that
          utilizes a single 12 ft shock-corded Easton .340 pole to provide its
          parabolic shape and allow the catenary cut 1.1. oz Silicone
          impregnated nylon to be tightly set up in a variety of configurations.
          It can be set up as an elevated dome day shelter, a ground level
          two-person sleep shelter with side ventilation or rolled back into an
          open-fronted awning wind shelter."

          No warranty is stated on the card, but the website states "All
          Integral products are warrantied to the original owner against defects
          and workmanship. If a product fails due to manufacturing defect,
          Integral will repair or replace it at its option. Repairs due to
          accident, improper use, or wear and tear will be charged on a time and
          material basis."

          Design and materials

          The SilDome is quite unusual among true tarps in that it uses a
          folding tent pole housed in a sleeve for its main structural element,
          in conjunction with a webbing strap system, designed to maintain
          tension in the pole (described further on). This adds some weight
          compared to a pole-less tarp, but creates a structure that is closer
          to a minimalist tarptent. Since part of the tension in the tarp is
          provided by the pole/webbing system, this should make for quicker
          setup than a standard tarp. From preliminary pitching attempts, this
          conjecture seems accurate. I was able to erect the structure within a
          couple of minutes, both as a closed shelter and as an awning.

          The silnylon body is carefully sewn and constructed. All of the edges
          of the tarp are sheathed in nylon. This should not only prevent any
          damage to the silnylon, but the heavier nylon will likely allow
          greater tension to be applied if all the edges of the tarp are pegged
          out. Though only four pegs are supplied, there are nine nylon loops
          along the ground edge of the tarp for pegging out (this includes two
          loops at the foot of the door, so it can be pegged open).
          Additionally, there are three tie-out loops (made of a reflective
          fabric, which is handy) around the radius of the pole sleeve,
          presumably so that the supplied guy-lines can be used in high wind
          conditions. Given all this, it's rather surprising that only four pegs
          should be supplied. My preliminary pitches of the tarp show that this
          suffices to hold the structure erect and moderately taut, but allows a
          good deal of flap at the midpoints of the sides, where these auxiliary
          loops are situated. Until I am confident that the shelter will work
          well under windy conditions with only the supplied pegs, I will be
          carrying a minimum of four additional pegs for further staking. There
          is plenty of room in the peg bag for these.


          Erected SilDome
          The erected SilDome, showing water resistant access zipper

          Erected in the shelter configuration (as opposed to an awning), with
          each end pegged out (see image above), the footprint is a
          parallelogram. A surprising amount of the space within seems usable.
          Although I will probably be testing this (except perhaps in awning
          mode) as a solo shelter, there is more than enough space for two,
          though for use in this manner I suspect 8 staking points would be a
          minimum to ensure a dry interior if rain was even remotely a
          possibility. The height at the midpoint of the tent is determined by
          the tension in the webbing that connects the pole ends at ground
          level, but I was able to achieve 3.5 ft (1 m, approx.) without overly
          aggressive cinching of the buckle that controls the tension, and I
          found this height very comfortable. Access to the erected tarp is via
          a water resistant three-quarters height zipper. There is no drip-guard
          on the interior below this, but the outer surface has two flaps of
          urethanized fabric (integral to the zip) that meet snugly over the
          zipper teeth. I hope this is sufficient, as I have mixed experiences
          with such zips. This is one aspect I will be testing especially
          thoroughly.

          The pole is secured by means of an internal sleeve made from the same
          silnylon fabric as the tent body. Each end of the pole has a
          projecting peg that fits into a grommet on the webbing strap, which is
          attached to the sides of the structure directly below the axis of the
          pole sleeve. As already noted, this maintains the pole tension. There
          are six grommets, three on either end of the strap, to allow a variety
          of pole positions relative to the wall of the tarp. A buckle can be
          used to fine tune the strap tension. On all four corners of the tarp,
          the silnylon is sewn to double-thickness, for additional strength.

          As noted in the product specifications, a tube of silicone sealant is
          provided. Initially I will not seal the tent, as I like to be able to
          determine where the worst leaks (if, indeed, the tarp does leak)
          occur, and to pay especial attention to those areas. I will report on
          this in the field or long-term reports. None of the four supplied
          cords is pre-knotted. Depending on preference, they could be used with
          cord-tensioners, or (as I generally do), secured to the loop on the
          body of the tarp with a bowline, and tensioned at the peg end with a
          quick-release tautline hitch or a zee-line tied off with a couple of
          half-hitches. In brief, while massive knot-tying expertise is not
          required to use the shelter, to use it to maximum advantage, some
          knowledge of a few basic knots is necessary.


          Wind awning
          The SilDome as a wind awning

          Above is a photograph of the SilDome erected as a wind awning. To this
          end, on the interior there are three nylon cord locks on nylon cords.
          These fit through the external guy-out loops (the bright glares in the
          image, due to their reflective coating), much in the manner of a
          button through a buttonhole. The tensioners are then slid along the
          cords to tauten the loop that's now wrapped around the half-awning.
          Once completed, the fabric is pretty much out of the way. Some swags
          hang down slightly, but I wasn't being terribly fussy when I did the
          setup in the photo, and I think that with more care a better result
          can be achieved, not that this is in any way crucial. I tied one of
          the supplied cords to the top guy-out loop to support the front of the
          SilDome. This arrangement handled some light morning breezes with
          aplomb, and I can foresee, come the cooler months ahead, first setting
          up my shelter in this manner while I relax, and perhaps eat. The
          SilDome does carry a warning not to cook inside, or pitch near a
          flame, so I probably won't want to use it as a kitchen shelter
          (besides, there will still be bears around over the test period, and I
          keep my cooking area away from my shelter for that reason).

          SUMMARY
          So far, I find this tarp shelter very appealing. Despite being
          somewhat heavier than a simple pole-less tarp, the ease with which it
          can be erected, and the ability to use it in several modes, show great
          potential. My testing will evaluate durability, various other methods
          of use, how weatherproof the interior is, and any other issues that
          arise. It is 3 oz (85 g) lighter than the website would indicate,
          which is a pleasant surprise. My field report will be due two months
          from this initial report, and a final long-term report will be posted
          after four months. My thanks to Integral Designs and BackpackGearTest
          for the opportunity to test the SilDome tarp shelter.

          This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer
          Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
        • a_henrichs
          Hi Ted, Great report. I couldn t find any edits, so feel free to upload at any time. Also be sure to delete your html from the test folder. Thanks! Andy
          Message 4 of 5 , Aug 6, 2008
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            Hi Ted,

            Great report. I couldn't find any edits, so feel free to upload at
            any time. Also be sure to delete your html from the test folder. Thanks!

            Andy
          • edwardripleyduggan
            Thanks, Andy. Uploaded yesterday PM. Ted ... Thanks!
            Message 5 of 5 , Aug 8, 2008
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              Thanks, Andy. Uploaded yesterday PM.

              Ted

              --- In backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com, "a_henrichs"
              <a_henrichs@...> wrote:
              >
              > Hi Ted,
              >
              > Great report. I couldn't find any edits, so feel free to upload at
              > any time. Also be sure to delete your html from the test folder.
              Thanks!
              >
              > Andy
              >
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