Sea to Summit Escapist tent system
I had the chance to try out a Sea to Summit Escapist tent system. The tarp plus the inner bug tent weighs 2 lb 2 oz, and sleeps two. If using only the tarp, it is 17.6 oz, plus the weight of the ground cloth you chose. Below is Dave Litster with the bug tent holding two sleeping pads easily.
It comes in 4 units, which can be combined differently for different trips and weather conditions. It is very light, and roomy when using just the tarp. All configurations use the tarp, and inside the tarp you can use a pure mesh bug net, or a bug tent which has a floor with bathtub bottom the bottom material extends a bit up the sidewalls. If there are no bugs, you could leave the bug options behind. Using the tarp option, you could sleep 3 people. Using the bug tent, you can sleep two inside the bug tent.
The tarp is pitched by using hiking poles at the ends, plus at least 4 corner stakes, plus 2 sidewall stakes. That totals 8 stakes for the tarp alone. If you use the Bug Tent or Bug Net, the four corners of either need to be staked down, and 2 peaks need to be attached to the tarp, and the top corner of each sidewall is attached to the underside of the tarp. This wasn’t too hard, but ends up being a lot of stakes connections. The connections are a little rod on the Bug Tent or Net, which fits into a slot on a leather tab. This takes two hands and can’t be done with gloves. Both pieces are black, so its hard to do in the dark. Other tents set up with 6 stakes, this one takes 12 plus 6 connections. Its not hard, but is a bit fussy. All the stakes contribute to it being very stable in the wind and rain.
This setup is great is great at ventilation, because it doesn’t have walls. If you use the Bug Tent or Bug Net, they are all mesh, so it is excellent at ventilation, even with 2 people.
It doesn’t have a vestibule, but there is lots of room under the tarp for gear.
Living space is roomy if using just the tarp. If bugs were not a worry, using just the tarp would be light and compact, but you'd have to bring a separate ground cloth.
The configurations the system can be set up in include:
Tarp (14.5 oz) plus ground sheet (6.6 oz) plus 8 stakes (3.6 oz) = 1 lb 8 oz.
Tarp (14.5 oz) plus Bug Tent (13.6 oz) (it has a floor so ground sheet is not needed) plus 12 stakes (5.4 oz) = 2 lb 2 oz
Tarp (14.5 oz) plus Bug Net (5.5 oz) , ground sheet (6.6) plus 12 stakes (5.4 oz) = 2 lb. Cost $180 for the tarp, $200 for the inner bug house.
The tarp and bug tent and net all seemed very solid. I can see one thing that is bound to fail, and that is the stuff sacks. To pack the tarp, I had to make three tries before I got it in. It is about as tight as a sausage inside the stuff sack, and after a few trips I’d expect the stuff sack to split. It if was half in inch more in diameter, it would be so much easier to stuff and put less pressure on the stuff sack.
The stuff sack for the Bug tent is a little looser, but could be still looser and it would last longer.
The stuff sack for the Bug Net was ok, since it is pure mesh.
The ground sheet also had a stuff sack, which could be dispensed with if weight is a consideration (isn't it always?).