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Friday, 06 February 2009

The Best Camping Gear

Written by  Nick Atlas
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The Ecotat Systems U.S. Military Tent Multipurpose and Tactical Recon Liner/Bag #4

In reading the title of this issue's review, you may notice something unusual. You may notice that there isn't a snappy product name or a company brand that you recognize. Instead, you see the name of a couple of items with functional, descriptive names such as what you might find on an olive drab label attached to something that fell out of a soldier's pack. Well, if that's what you think we're going to look at this month, you'd be absolutely right. For this issue, I decided to find the lightest and most powerful tent and sleeping bag I could to review. I found all sorts of things. Some that were wired for light, sound, or power. Others that didn't use poles or assembled themselves. Still others that used exotic forms of goose-down found only on the insides of rare radioactive meteorites.

The Ecotat Systems U.S. Military Tent Multipurpose and Tactical Recon Liner/Bag #4

In reading the title of this issue's review, you may notice something unusual. You may notice that there isn't a snappy product name or a company brand that you recognize. Instead, you see the name of a couple of items with functional, descriptive names such as what you might find on an olive drab label attached to something that fell out of a soldier's pack. Well, if that's what you think we're going to look at this month, you'd be absolutely right. For this issue, I decided to find the lightest and most powerful tent and sleeping bag I could to review. I found all sorts of things. Some that were wired for light, sound, or power. Others that didn't use poles or assembled themselves. Still others that used exotic forms of goose-down found only on the insides of rare radioactive meteorites. Really, all sorts of things. After all that research, the most interesting I found was by Ecotat Systems, a military contractor just south of Washington DC. In business for over 25 years, Ecotat specializes in highly portable shelter and camping solutions that are used by the United States military, including a large number of special forces units. They do offer their products to the public, but up until recently have not had a major push in that direction.

I always strive to locate the most portable and functional items for use in your travels and these products fit the bill nicely. Not only are they light and fold down to relatively tiny size, they can also be configured for literally a dozen different uses. Each one can be used in a number of ways and the two items can also be combined like a textile Voltron for enhanced functionality.

The Ecotat Systems U.S. Military Tent Multipurpose (TMP)

What's in the box?

· The TMP

· Stakes

· Shock-cord connected poles

· Carrying sack

· Instruction book


Information

The TMP is a small, one person shelter. It provides sufficient space for a single person lying down to take shelter from the elements. It might also work for two very thin and extremely friendly people, but I don't think I'd want to try it. It is made of a material called "Taslite" which is actually a 2-ounce taffeta that has been given an additional 3/4 ounce urethane coating to protect against UV degradation and IR (in case you need to hide from people hunting you with IR goggles.) The tent poles are curved, sectional aluminum with a 96,000 PSI tensile strength that are connected by shock cords. These specifications are the barest subset of what are available; these tents are carefully documented to meet military specifications.

Setup

Setting up the tent took a little practice. The first time or two were pretty tricky. After practice, I found that the tent could be set up in about 10 minutes of dedicated effort. When complete, it makes a tapered cylinder-shaped shelter about 8' long. A mesh panel can also be zipped in for tropical use. The documentation claims testing in winds up to 45 mph and rain-resistance to 4 inches/hour downpours. Sadly, I could not test under those conditions, but I was able to test in rain and wind and I found it to be quite leak proof and resistant to strong winds. The urethane coating and the double-stitched, hot-taped seems really made a difference.

The Best Camping Gear, Ecotat Systems U.S. Military Tent Multipurpose, Tactical Recon Liner/Bag #4, Ecotat tent, Ecotat sleeping bags, silicon-coated, continuous filament fiber, urethane coating, protect against UV degradation and IR, military strength tent, wicking hydrophobic sleeping bag, Nick Atlas

You might be saying that so far it doesn't sound so amazing. OK, so it's pretty easy to set up and those pesky IR-equipped snipers won't be able to get me, and certainly, the claimed tolerances are pretty impressive. Still, a tent is pretty much a tent. Not so here. This monster can be configured to suit a large number of purposes, including:

· Long coat

· Short coat

· Poncho

· Sleeping bag cover

· Tarp

· Bivy sack

· Rescue litter

· Lean-to shelter

· V-Top shelter

· Sitting shelter

· 8x6' air marker panel (I'm guessing to signal passing planes.)

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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