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TED-Integral Designs SilDome shelter

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  • edwardripleyduggan
    Hi Andy, The above may be found at http://tinyurl.com/6dsmyk INTEGRAL DESIGNS SILDOME TARP SHELTER TEST SERIES BY EDWARD RIPLEY-DUGGAN INITIAL REPORT August 3,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2008
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      Hi Andy,

      The above may be found at


      August 3, 2008

      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.



      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 sack: 1 lb 10 oz (740 g)
      Measured weight in 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 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: 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

      The SilDome arrived in good condition, housed in the stuff sack (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 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 over 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, 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

      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 tensioners on cords. These
      fit through the external guy-out loops (bright glares in image, due to
      the reflective coating), much like a button. Once the tensioners are
      slid along their cords, the half-awning is pretty much out of the way
      (the swags of fabric hang down slightly, but I wasn't being terribly
      careful when I took the photo, and I'm suspect a better result can be
      achieved. I tied one of the supplied cords to the top guy-out loop to
      support the front. 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).

      So far, I find this unusual 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.
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