|TarpTent Cloudburst 3 - Pitched in the wilds of my backyard|
Background and General Stuff
I was given this most recent shelter, a TarpTent Cloudburst 3, as a gift this past Christmas. TarpTent has a lot of fantastic shelters at good weights, at great prices, and they are high quality. Check out their website here. This is going to be the shelter that we (my wife Lauren, my dog Obi, and I) use for backpacking. We have an older REI Halfdome T2+ that we really like for car camping. It is easy to use, comfortable, and we got it as a wedding gift from my uncle. However, our Halfdome is heavy (the newer models are apparently significantly lighter) . At least, it is relatively heavy. It is also pretty snug for two normal sized people and an 85lb dog to sleep in. So, I asked for a new tent for Christmas. Not to mention, I like shelters. And I am dork.
|The first pitch in my basement. Ready for seam sealing.|
|Our new Enlightened Equipment Accomplice quilt in the Cloudburst. Obi sleeps on the orange Z-Lite pad.|
|Velcro vestibule door closure.|
|The vestibule doors can be left open, even in vertical rain, for increased airflow.|
|Cloudburst 3 with one vestibule rolled away|
|Cloudburst 3 with vestibule partially rolled away. Note the mitten hooks that hold the rolled up portion in place.|
|Webbing pole tensionsers on the Cloudburst 3|
|Side netting that keeps sleeping bags from touching canopy.|
|Side as pitched normally|
|An elastic band attaches to a hook to increase ventilation|
|A view from the inside of the canopy raised for extra ventilation.|
|Outside view of canopy raised for ventilation. Note the wrinkles in the fabric. This will only be used in very nice weather.|
|The Cloudburst 3 has two vestibule tie-outs, seen here with orange cord.|
|Cloudburst 3 with optional 3rd pole. The 3rd pole attaches with a grommet at the bottom and with three velcro loops inside the shelter itself.|
|Third pole inside the cloudburst. The third poles adds a lot of stability to the tent|
|Sunglasses take up the entire pocket.|
I also really like that it has two full entries and vestibules. This gives a lot of sheltered space for packs, shoes, or perhaps a wet dog.
|The two, identical, vestibules are plenty big for a sprawled out Golden Retriever.|
The Not-Quite-as-Good-as-the-GoodSo, now I will go on to voice a few of my little gripes. I have no major qualms, just a few nit picks. For instance, like all shelters that use silicone impregnated nylon (silnylon), you have to seam seal it yourself, otherwise you will get water leaking through the needle holes in the seams (the exception to this rule is Hilleberg tents, which are made by Swedish wizards). The process isn't hard, just a nuisance mostly. Similarly, because the floor is also made of silnylon, it is incredibly slippery. This means sleeping pads want to slide all over the place. So, it is up to the end user to add some silicone lines/dots to the floor so that the sleeping pads stay in place better.
As I mentioned earlier, you can get an impressively tight pitch with just 4 stakes. However, using only 4 stakes means there is a huge expanse of material along the side of the tent that is completely unsupported unless something is added to the tent. If much wind at all that hits this face of the shelter, there is a pretty big deflection, significantly reducing interior volume. I probably wouldn't set up this shelter with just 4 stakes if I was expecting anything other than clear skies and at most a slight breeze.
In part, this is due to where we camp. The Rocky Mountains are prone to sudden, intense thunderstorms. These usually include brief, heavy, cold rain, wind and often lightning and hail. Mostly though, the weight penalty to bring more stakes is low for the added stability. I think that the stock configuration of the Cloudburst 3 with four stakes adheres to an unspoken rule when it comes to lightweight backpacking shelters: good site selection is crucial. In it's out of the box configuration, the Cloudburst3 would work fine for a sheltered and protected campsite in the forest.
- Sealed all the seams
- Added silicone strips to floor to keep pads from slipping
- Added extra guyline to tie out points.
- Added more stakes to the kit
- Added stake loops to third pole attachments
- This creates significantly better tension in the large side panels of the tent
- Added some cord to zipper pulls (they are pretty tiny)
- The cord makes the doors easier to operate, and because I used reflective cord, it also makes the zipper pulls easier to find at night
|Grey cord added for zipper pulls. Also note that the zipper is coming unzipped due to tension in the fabric.|
- Added pull-loops to included stakes
- One little loop of cord makes them way easier to pull out of hard ground
|Black cord tied through the stake for easier removal.|
- Purchased 3rd pole for stormy conditions or when camping in the alpine (see pictures above)
- The third pole adds significant structural stability to the set up.
- Add buckles at bottom of zipper on vestibules
- This would relieve stress from the zipper during pitching and windy conditions
- Add elastic and toggle in place of the velcro strips for securing rolled up doors (like Hilleberg tents have)
- The elastic and toggle would be easier to use and wouldn't snag on the bug netting.
- Make a Tyvek footprint (piece of material cut to fit under the tent)
- I would use a footprint for this tent if we used it at a campground to protect the floor.
- Total Trail Weight =57.6oz
- Tent body w/guylines = 42oz
- 2 Poles = 10.5oz
- 4 MSR Groundhog pegs = 3oz
- for four corners
- 4 Easton pegs = 1.2oz
- for mid points and side guylines
- Peg bag = 0.1oz
- Main stuff sack = 0.8oz
|Cloudburst 3 pitched with Rab Siltarp2 to create a large "porch" area. Or as I like to call it, the Luxury Backcountry Suite.|
|Plenty of room to enjoy a glass of wine in the backcountry.|