Friday, 2 January 2009

Above the Arctic Circle in Sweden in summer, shelter thoughts

The process of selecting a shelter for an extended trip requires consideration of the anticipated route, weather, level of exposure to the elements, the resulting criteria for shelter selection for this trip are;

-lightweight
-wind and rain protection
-space to cook (with appropriate ventilation)
-space for wet gear


The shelters that I currently have access to which are most likely to meet the criteria are;

-Integral Designs Silshelter
-GoLite Shangria La 3
-Hilleberg Atko

Integral Designs Silshelter




The Silshelter is a shaped tarp weighing (350 gms on my scales) that has been available for a while and is recognised for its wind protection and its suitability for lightweight hiking. The latest version of the shelter appears to have overcome some of the design issues of the rear end of the shelter by moving the neoprene cup to the rear wall as shown in the accompanying photograph. This enables either the use of a pole inside the shelter or as shown a section of a Carbon Fiber trekking pole to be used as a support at the rear allowing improved tensioning of the ridge line, as well, this arrangement allows the rear of the shelter to raised providing airflow helping to reduce condensation inside the shelter.


The front of the shelter retains its simple cross over closure system which allows air flow as well as closure in inclement weather but the centre pole at the front has always restricted access. However,a suggestion on a forum at BPL.com has helped to change the way thinking about the front of the shelter. Two pacer poles, can be placed to form a triangle which is used to support the apex of the shelter as well providing a pole free entry as pictured. A similar system has been adopted by Henry Shires with his Tarptent Sublite tent.


These changes make this a shelter one of my options for the planned summer trip above the Arctic Circle in Sweden.

GoLite Shangri La 3

I have used the Shangri La 3 in Skåne and the benefits of the shelter is the internal space within the shelter (especially if you are solo) and the pyramid shape provides an ideal wind shedding design making it ideal for exposed tree less environments. My observations about the shelter are that it provides a number of choices regarding set up which include;

-Can be staked close to the ground or raised for for more ventilation,
-Can be raised on one side one staked to the ground on the other,
-Can be pitched such that the door are left open for viewing the surrounds,
-A bugnet can be used to protect from bugs this can be the heavy Golite inner, a Six Moon Designs Serenity shelter or a home made bug net.

However, it is heavy (710 gms without the centre pole and stakes) and requires a circular space of a approximately 3 metres in diameter, which can be difficult in forested areas but will be easier in open spaces.



Hilleberg Atko

The Hilleberg Atko provides a secure haven for sleeping as well as a vestibule for wet gear and cooking. The benefits of such a shelter is stability in windy damp exposed areas which are the most likely conditions in Lapland. The disadvantages of the shelter apart from the weight (1380 gm) there is a limit to the visibility from the entry when compared to a tarp and bivy, there can be condensation issues in the shelter (site location can reduce this of course)

Comparisons
Silshelter
350 gms + 6 stakes (2 Easton Alloy 22.5 cm + 4 16 cm Easton Alloy + 6 Ti skewers) Requires Walking poles + CF Pole (for rear) + Poly Cro ground sheet (100 gms) Total weight range between 833 & 1298 grams, depending on bivy used.
Shangri La 3
710 gms + 6 stakes (3 Easton Alloy 22.5 cm + 3 16 cm Easton Alloy + 6 Ti skewers) Requires Walking poles (stability in high winds may be an issue) Poly Cro sheet (100 gms). Total weight range between 1191 & 1656 grams, depending on bivy used.
Atko
1380 gms + 6 stakes (4 Easton Alloy 22.5 cm + 2 16 cm Easton Alloy + 4 Ti skewers) Total weight 1467 gms

Decision

At this stage I have not made a final decision, however, I am inclined towards the silshelter combined with a bivy, possible combinations and weights are given below

Sil Shelter and BPL.com Vapor Bivy: 635 gms (lightweight bivy with bug protection)
Sil Shelter and Integral Designs Micro Bivy: 860 gms (weather resistant bivy no bug protection)
Sil Shelter and Integral Designs Event Crysallis Bivy: 1100 gms (bivy provides full weather protection with bug protection and could be used without shelter)

All of which are lighter than the Atko.