Tarps are a great idea in theory: they promise a simple shelter while adding little to your burden. Sadly, this theory trips up when confronted by good old British weather and the winged biting pests that plague our hills at the height of the wild camp season. The common solution is to use a bivvy bag for added protection, but this sort of defeats the object, as the combo generally ends up weighing as much as, if not more than, a tent. The Fast Stash from Mountain Safety Research (MSR) is an interesting development from our friends across the pond that for once tips its hat at the reality of life on our hills, and offers the ‘weight-concise’ among us a realistic shelter solution.
Basically the Fast Stash is a two-pole tarp, which can either be erected over its own twin DAC poles, or (for more weight saving) over a pair of walking poles. What makes it different are the built-in walls and a groundsheet. Okay, this makes the Fast Stash sound very much like a tent; but there are subtle and clever differences that put it in the tarp bracket while gaining some of the benefits of a tent. This is achieved by tucking away the walls under the protection of its expansive tarplike wings. Being out of the direct line of falling and windblown rain means the walls can have large mesh panels (to keep the wee midges out) while permitting condensation-beating ventilation.
The footprint of the MSR Fast Stash is pretty big, again reflecting its tarp heritage, and so, although it’s a two-person tent, you could easily squeeze in a third bod, particularly if you ‘top and tail’. It is totally reliant on being pegged out taut, which with its large wings and panels means it isn’t brilliant in high winds. However if carefully pitched in sheltered locations it delivers excellent three-season performance.
So if you are looking for a lightweight set-up with plenty of room and you aren’t planning on windblown wild camps this is a definite contender.
Size floor area 3.4m2; max height 117cm
Packed size 51x15cm
Weight 1.66kg (1.3kg without poles)
Fly material 30D x 246T ripstop nylon 66, 1500mm Durashield polyurethane and silicone-coated
Door material 20D nylon micromesh
Floor material 40D x 238 T ripstop nylon 6 3000mm Durashield polyurethane-coated
Stockist details tel. (01629) 580484; www.msrcorp.com
The MSR Fast Stash is an exciting lightweight shelter development that neatly tackles all the typical drawbacks of using a tarp in Britain.
Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine May 2011