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FR - Tarptent Sublite Sil - Ray Estrella

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  • Ray
    Hi Jerry, I know this is a couple days early but I am going to be in Yosemite NP for a week and want to get it posted in case I am eaten by a marmot or
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2010
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      Hi Jerry,

      I know this is a couple days early but I am going to be in Yosemite NP for a week and want to get it posted in case I am eaten by a marmot or something...

      The HTML may be found here:


      I leave at 3:30 am Tuesday, so if you find time by Monday I will get it in the folder. Otherwise it shall be when I return.



      Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty

      Even having owned a lot of Henry's Tarptents over the years the Sublite Sil jumped to the top of my favorite TT list with its tiny packed size, decent room, great ventilation, and weather-worthiness. I have yet to find anything about it to complain about.

      Field Data

      My first use of the Sil was for an overnighter in Minnesota at Itasca State Park. I did a total of 27 mi (43 km), most of it on the North Country Trail. This trip saw a lot of rain. The temps ran from 66 to 43 F (19 to 6 C).

      Next was an overnighter to a campground called Upper Shake in the Angeles National Forest at 5000 ft (1524 m) elevation.

      Then I did an overnighter in Cleveland National Forest at Fisherman's Camp starting from the Ortega Candy Store. I was next to the almost dry creek in temps to 85 F (29 C). The picture above was taken there in what I consider the prettiest campsite in Cleveland National Forest's upper section.

      Lastly I went to the Upper Kern River area for three days trying to get down to the Durwood Creek/Kern River cable crossing, and to find and take pictures of waterfalls on feeder creeks. Temps ran from a low of 48 to over 90 F (9 to 32 C). Here is a shot set up at a wide spot in a side trail heading from the Kern up to the Rincon Trail. I looked to see if there were bears in the old mine shaft first…


      People that know me (or have read many of my reviews and reports) know that I like to jump right into the deep end, usually without looking first. I certainly took this approach with the Sublite Sil. Northern Minnesota is a very stormy area in late spring and early summer. (Who am I kidding? ALL summer…) When it came time for my planned solo in May I was asked at the permit desk, "you do know they are expecting storms?" Yep.

      I hiked to DeSoto Lake and set the Sil up. I inflated my pad and put it and my quilt inside as I was going to do more hiking and this site was the farthest away they have in the park. The ground was soaked as it had rained the entire time I hiked in, plus I was only a matter of weeks past the last snows melting. I left it sitting as I continued hiking along the North Country Trail to the western border of Itasca.

      Upon returning I was happy to see that the tent had not picked up any residual condensation from the moist ground. As the rain had stopped I opened everything up to keep air moving. I went to bed when the first rain from the next system (the anticipated biggie) started falling. The wind picked up so I shut the vestibule and only had the foot window opened up. At midnight I was blasted awake by a close lightning strike. It was pouring and blowing very hard. I quickly closed the foot window. Water had blown in already but it was not bad. I wiped the foot of my quilt with a PackTowl. I was again surprised to see that there was no condensation on the walls.

      There was a little bit on them an hour later that I got to see up close. Mainly because a huge gust of wind hit the Sublite SIl at an angle, catching the door side but coming from the foot corner first. The blast ripped the foot end stakes out of the ground and I woke to find myself being eaten by a giant silnylon amoeba. By the time I could find my rain gear and get out the brunt of the storm had gone by. The trekking poles had never collapsed and the head stakes were still fine. I figured I had been hit by a micro-burst or straight-line wind, something common to that part of the country and sometimes as destructive as a tornado. My guess was borne out as I left the park the next day and saw a poor family that had four of their seven pine trees either uprooted or snapped in half, two of which landed on their house. Go Sublite Sil! I did have a little condensation on the walls of the Sil in the morning, but it was quite light, just enough to feel, not enough to bead up or run. Here is a shot after the first system passed, before the biggie arrived.

      The other trips were pieces of cake for the SIl. Two of the others were right next to creeks but I did not get a bit of condensation on those ones. At Upper Shake the area collects the clouds in the morning but it also has a wind blowing every night so I felt some build up which would fluctuate with the strength of the wind. The upper vent, even though small has a lot to do with this in my opinion. Hot air has an immediate exit point, instead of swirling around in the tent. I love this feature.

      I just got a large pad this summer and was happy to find that it fits in the Sil. Just, though. Which is why I am very thankful for the vestibule. I own an original version Sublite (not Sil, made of Tyvek instead) which is vestibule-less and really like the extra protected space to keep my shoes and pack in. The pack does need to be a small one to fit, but because the Sublit Sil itself is so small it has let me use a daypack I am testing as a two and three day backpacking pack. It fits just fine in the small vestibule. If a pack is tippy, like the Black Diamond Octane I am testing, I make sure to turn it so the pack leans against the outer silnylon not the mesh inner wall.

      I don't like using my Tarptents on the ground without some protection. On my first trips I took a small piece of Tyvek that I use with any small 1P tent, or that Dave can take if he wants for his TT Contrail. Then I decided to make one just for the SIl to allow me to keep my pack and shoes out of the mud. (The storm in MN saw it get very wet from water flowing under the vestibule.) So I made a Tyvek footprint that follows the angle of the back wall and trimmed what was left to sit inside the vestibule a little bit. I like it. It gives me a clean spot for the pack and a clean spot to place my knee when I am entering the tent. (Yes, we old guys need to stabilize when going in…) Here is a shot of my home made extended footprint.

      Not a lot to say about durability yet. I have only had it out for five nights. And seeing as I have had their tents go years without any problems I can't say I am surprised. But who knows what the future holds in store for the Sublite Sil? Nobody actually. But you can read about the future once it's past if you come back in two months when I post the last report covering the final segment of testing. As this concludes the Field Report I look forward to seeing you then. When it will be now. But will be past once you read it… Oh never mind. See you in two and thank you Henry Shires and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me time travel, I mean test this sweet little solo shelter.
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