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Just because you enjoy camping doesn’t mean you have to sleep in a tent every night. Tarp shelters are becoming more popular as minimalist camping and hammock camping gain popularity. While it isn’t traditional, using a tarp as a shelter has quite a few benefits over using a tent.
There aren’t a whole lot of brands producing tarps specifically as shelters. In fact, many outdoorsmen go the DIY route and use a store-bought tarp with their own guy lines or poles.
There is nothing wrong with that but the fact of the matter is that store-bought tarps, especially the general purpose types, degrade over time from constant use combined with UV and weather exposure. They tend to be noisy, bulky and heavy as well.
These problems can all be avoided by investing in a trap specifically designed to function as an overhead shelter. Sea to Summit produces one such model called the Escapist. This Escapist is quite popular and highly recommended as a tarp shelter for a few reasons. It is definitely worth considering if you plan to go tent-less or switch to hammock camping.
Here is a quick rundown of the basic details of the Escapist:
Having two sizes to choose from it very useful but their Large tends to be the most popular since it does give extra space for a second camper. Overall the above features make this tent fun to use and user-friendly, with some set up practice.
There are 3 main drawbacks to the Escapist Shelter:
Unlike a Tent: Even though the Escapist tarp isn’t hard to set up, it is different from a tent. It takes some practice to be able to set up and it definitely easier if you have a buddy helping you.
Pitching it alone can be frustrating at first since getting the tarp taut requires a lot of back and forth adjustments. Two people will make it quicker but either way, after setting it up a couple times you should be able to get it up within 10 or so minutes.
Takes A bit Extra Time to Pack: The stuff sack for the tarp is quite compact which is great for storage but not so great for getting the tarp back in it. This is typical of most minimalist shelter bags and isn’t really a downside. It just means it will take a little extra effort packing it away in return for having your shelter compressed to the size of a water bottle.
Limited Footprint: One other drawback of the Escapist shelter is the size. Although it comes in two sizes, even the largest size still isn’t that large. Although 10’ x 10’ sounds big, remember that the area covered area is going to be much smaller when setup. If you set it up as an A-frame with a comfortable height peak, you can easily shelter a couple along with their gear.
If you aren’t expecting rain and can fiddle with the configuration, you could squeeze in another person or possibly two more but it’s going to be a very tight fit. Plus their gear may take up to much room.
These drawbacks alone aren’t really serious enough to warrant passing up this awesome shelter. Just keep them in mind when doing comparison shopping.
If a rating had to be given for the performance of the tarp, it would easily score a 4.5 out of 5. The Escapist Tarp Shelter has a couple drawbacks but its advantages far outweigh them. There are a lot of tarps out there but few companies have been able to create one that is equally lightweight as it is durable like Sea to Summit has.
For those wanting to ditch their tents but still want protection from the elements, the Escapist would be perfect if you are a solo camper who sometimes takes a friend. The tarp is far more affordable than most tents and the ability to add features (like the bug net or a footprint) is really useful since you won’t have to spend money if you already have suitable equipment.
This shelter doesn’t disappoint.
Sam Hardy is an outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for survival skills. He writes about the great outdoors and his favorite equipment here.