Integral Designs is one of many small US companies that produce small amounts of specialist and technical outdoor, backpacking and expedition equipment. They have several tarps of different designs, and hybrid shelters, but the Siltarp we tested is the most basic model – a classic tarp.
The Integral Designs Siltarp is designed for one and is a plain rectangle of fabric. It has no seams, and the single feature is a reinforced patch in the centre where a webbing loop is attached as a guy or rigging point. The outside edge is a simple folded hem where more webbing loops are attached – five down each side – to allow for varied pitching options. A small logo is stitched onto one corner, it’s light at 246g and it will fit in a jacket pocket in its tiny stuffsack with drawcord. It is indeed the very definition of minimalist. Integral Designs intends the Siltarp to be used with a bivvy bag as a stand-alone shelter, but also as a lightweight extension to a tent.
On the hill
When I think of a tarp, Integral Designs’ Siltarp is the closest model in the test to what pops into my imagination, being plain, minimalist and light. The Siltarp is the very opposite of what a tent is (camping being easy with your home complete in a bag, ready to build and slip into); but using a basic tarp requires much more input from the user. When pitching the Siltarp I placed the trekking pole supports and attached the guy lines to suit the terrain. With that flexibility you can pitch anywhere you can lie down – between rocks, against crags or next to a fallen tree. The smaller size and extra guy points of the Siltarp allow endless possibilities. The smaller size also means that you often have to concentrate on how much shelter is available around your head area and make that your gear storage, cooking and living area, leaving your legs ‘outside’ with your sleeping bag protected by the bivvy bag. It feels odd at first (you wouldn’t necessarily sleep in a tent with your legs still outside), but it’s part of that closer-to-nature feel that’s a big part of sleeping under a tarp. Despite its low weight, the Siltarp has proved strong, the fabric resisting rocks and tree branches alike. The small packsize means you could carry this anywhere and not notice it, and if you’re a trekking pole user this could be a lunch-stop shelter all year round. It’s also lighter than the big poly bags if you want to carry it as your emergency shelter.
Total fabric area 240x150cm
Made in Canada
Stores in the UK online only
Stockists (01740) 665056; www.integraldesigns.com
The Integral Designs Siltarp is a traditional design in lightweight materials; minimalist tarp for fast and light adventures; pitch-almost-anywhere adaptability.
However the protection area provided is cut to the bare minimum, and the low pack weight will soon be made up by the need to carry extras. It’s the lightest and most basic tarp in the test, but also one of the most flexible models and the most classically styled.
Review by Peter Macfarlane
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2011