Last year I made the decision to dump the tent and go exclusively with a tarp for shelter when going off in the woods for a night, weekend or longer. The decision was made because I was interested in reducing weight in my pack and a light-weight tarp sounded like it would do the trick. In the running for purchase was the Kelty Noah’s Tarp 12 x 12, Bushcraft Outfitters 10×10, and the SnugPak All Weather Shelter all of which have fantastic reviews. After much deliberation, I opted to not go with the Kelty mainly due to color, I wanted the tarp to be green so it would blend in a bit better in the woods. I ended up going with the SnugPak mainly because I have Amazon Prime and could get it in two days with free shipping. This certainly could be a poor way of making such a decision, but I know Amazon has an excellent return policy as well so figured worst case, it would simply be returned.
The SnugPak All Weather Shelter measures 10′ x 10′ with snaps down two sides providing the ability to make it a 5 x 10 easily which would simply need a ridge line to form a tube tent. It is made of 210T Nylon Rip-Stop, PU Coated and is UV Resistant. All of the seams are sealed and taped and has reinforced webbing tabs along the sides (7 each side) and additional webbing straps (5) down the center from one corner to the other. Grommets are also present at each corner. The color is an olive green which has a slight sheen to it. Overall the tarp with stuff sack, cordage, and stakes weighs 35 ounces which is just over 2 lbs and packs down quite nicely into its stuff sack and takes up little space in the pack.
The shelter comes packed into a nice rectangular case with mesh on one side, which would work very well to pack up when wet and let it get some air to dry out, however this also means water would leak out into the rest of your gear. Also inside the case is a stuff sack for the tarp and an additional bag containing aluminum stakes and some cordage with tighteners.
To give you an idea of scale, here is the SnugPak Shelter in it’s stuff sack with stakes and cordage compared to a water bottle, 100ft of paracord, and a straw water filter.
On another trip out with the tarp I had to think fast because the site we were using did not have any trees. I had never even thought about the possibility of setting up any tarp without trees! Fortunately, I had just purchased an adjustable trekking pole which ended up being my saving grace. The tarp was staked down to the ground almost all the way around but with a flap folded under for ground cover and then the pole set in the center to raise it up and provide me with some room. Again, I had plenty of space for gear and myself, but fitting in another person in this particular configuration would not have worked too well. The second night, I adjusted the configuration to do without the ground cover since I had a bivy. This certainly created additional space and also gave me a flap which I could close and stake down at night to be completely sealed in. The second night, was much warmer as a result. During this trip no foul weather was encountered.
This past weekend, I took the tarp out again this time during the winter with expected snow, ice and rain. This was to be the true test of the SnugPak All Weather Shelter to see if it could hold up to its name. I can honestly say that I didn’t have a single doubt in my mind that it would perform well. Since a buddy of mine was joining me and it was going to be cold, we decided to go with a lean-to style for the additional space and benefit of being able to capture some heat from a nearby fire. A very critical piece to this particular shelter given the condition was the ground cover which was the SOL Sport Utility Blanket. The only flaw was our own error in how we secured the outrigged flap which provided additional space to sit out of the rain. Water ended up collecting in the two front corners and needed to be drained from time to time. This actually helps the SnugPak All Weather Shelter out however because I’d say we had a gallon and a half of water on each corner and neither leaked one bit. Through the day and night we experienced an inch or so of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and in the middle of the night and following morning, very heavy rains. The tarp held up, snow slid right off, it didn’t ice up, and most importantly kept us completely dry when we were in it. Some pine boughs were cut and placed on the sides to give us a bit more protection from the elements, mainly to prevent snow from blowing in and building up.
In conclusion, I would absolutely recommend the SnugPak All Weather Shelter to anyone looking to dump the tent and go the tarp route. Tarps in general are quite versatile in how you can use them. The SnugPak had held up very well over the last year through several outings and plenty of rough weather. This was absolutely worth the $60 spent on Amazon in fact this purchase has gotten me quite interested in the rest of the SnugPak product line. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of their gear to put to the test.