MSR E-Wing 2011

MSR stands for Mountain Safety Research, suggesting a ‘belt and braces’ approach; but ‘lightweight and performance’ are probably more apt. The E-Wing takes the classic simple tarp rectangle and aims to add a little extra protection.

Design
The MSR E-Wing has a very basic design. It’s essentially just a large fabric sheet with the only detailing on the main body being a stitched seam and reinforced webbing tab at the centre point for suspending it from above. The edges have webbing tabs for attaching pegs, guy lines or trekking poles. Rather than a normal plain rectangle, the E-Wing has pointed ends, which act as a canopy when pitched in A-frame fashion; but these extensions don’t limit your options and the tarp can still be pitched in a wide variety of forms. The E-Wing will fit two people if pitched with a lower centre height, and it comes with guy lines and pegs with their own separate stuffsack.

On the hill
The E-Wing is an easy tarp to get to grips with – its simplicity is its strength. Getting a good pitch is very straightforward, and adjusting and tensioning are easy with the supplied guy lines. The pegs included in the package are red so you can see them easily, and happily they’re also sturdy, so they’ve proved reliable. It’s easy to shave weight off by trimming down or leaving out pegs altogether, yet despite the E-Wing coming as a complete package, it’s still the second lightest model in the test at 500g. When pitched for one person with a good inner head height there’s plenty of room for sleeping and gear, and the pointed canopy ends extend your gear storage ‘safe zone’ a little further still. These extensions work well if falling rain is not wind-blown, and they also serve as great cooking areas as steam escapes outside, but you’re still cooking indoors after a fashion. One thing I noticed immediately was that yellow fabric. Most tarps are dark colours, which suits the woodland, backcountry, night-time angler aspect of tarp use, but I found this can help give a cramped feeling at times. The E-Wing feels quite cheery by comparison. There are fewer guy points than some other models, which did limit how many pitching permutations I found, but as a basic tarp it works well and it’s also small-packing enough to take as a shelter on rainy day trips.

Fabric nylon
Sleeps 1-2
Total fabric area 320x210cm
Weight 500g
Packsize 22x11cm
Made in Taiwan
Stores in the UK 10
Stockists (01629) 580484; www.msrcorp.com

The MSR E-Wing is simply designed and easy to pitch; additional sheltered areas compared to other basic tarps; light fabric makes a pleasant change from dark green.
However it is more limited in pitching options due to the extended porch and a comparative lack of guying points. In summary, the E-Wing is basic, but the porch extensions are a great addition; and small packsize, plus the included guy lines and pegs, add up to a good package.

Review by Peter Macfarlane
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2011