About the Shelter
The Scarp 1 from California-based Tarptent is a one person double-skinned shelter supported by a central hoop across the width of the tent and rigid corner struts at each end. The result is an incredibly strong shelter suitable for use in foul weather and snowy conditions, especially when the optional crossing poles are added for extra stability.
I bought my Scarp in 2012 when I was starting to wild camp. It replaced my original backpacking tent – a 2kg T2 Ultralight Pro from Decathlon. In doing so I saved 400-700g of weight (depending on configuration used) and got myself a massive upgrade in terms of the conditions I could camp in.
At the time the choice came down to three possibilities: a Hilleberg Akto, a Force 10 Helium 200 (the 100 being too small), and the Scarp. The Scarp won out by virtue of doing everything the Akto did (and more) for less money, as well as being lighter. It also was on a different level to the Force 10 tent. I’d still make the same choice today in a heartbeat.
Experience with the Shelter
The shelter has now done approaching 100 nights, easily making it my most used shelter. I’ve experimented with various other shelters over the years, but ultimately I’m always happy when I camp with the Scarp.
The Scarp is at its best when conditions are poor. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great in fine weather too, but when conditions are good it can feel like unnecessary weight and functionality – why take a 1.5g shelter when one half that weight will do perfectly well. So, as my stock of shelters has grown, I’ve tended to use the Scarp in the colder months as my main winter shelter, and also to take it when the extra warmth and strength are welcome. It’s also a good option when the trip is too long to rely on the forecast, and you need to allow for anything. Consequently, it’s done 2 TGO Challenges for exactly that reason.
For a shelter that offers a decent amount of room inside for one, it has a pretty small footprint. This is also a massive point in its favour. With a solid inner, it traps warm air quite effectively when conditions are colder.
Issues and Longevity
Do I have any gripes with the shelter ? Well not really. The dual vestibule thing offers the ability to see sunset and sunrise without getting out of bed, but it does cut down on the effective usable space in each vestibule. I’ve long wanted the ability to shunt all of the vestibule space to one side, and Tarptent’s latest version of the Scarp helps a bit with this with its adjustable inner.
The velcro strips to secure the door are quite annoying and come updone quite easily, as do the elastic door ties on the inner. Subsequent iterations of the Scarp have improved all of these things somewhat.
I’ve also had a few bits of wear and tear. Some of the corner mitten hooks that secure the inner to the outer corners have snapped, and been replaced by mini carabiners. One of the roof hooks has similarly gone and been replaced. I have a hole in the pole arch sleeve – right at the apex. However, as this sleeve is external to the tent, there’s no danger of leakage: more of a concern is the hole tearing further, especially as about 50% of the time I pitch, the arch pole pokes out through the hole.
The flap over the door zip also snags in the zip from time to time, and has developed a hole in one place as a result. I’ve also got a loose corner strut where the stitching of the sleeve it rests in has come undone.
None of these really affect the function of the shelter, and they are the sort of wear and tear you expect from a tent that’s used as much as it is and over the period of time it has been.
In time, the shelter will become too decrepit to use and will need to be replaced. Something else will have to do pretty well to sway me from automatically going for the latest version of the Scarp 1.
Apart from running repairs for snapped mitten hooks etc (see above), I’ve only made a couple of modifications:
First, is a modification suggested by Robin who, at the time I was looking to buy my Scarp, was pretty much the guru on this shelter (and he still is, of course). He suggested a modification to the arch structure which was essentially an internal guy to add further strength. I tried this out but eventually removed it, as I didn’t feel I needed it – I’m typically not out in the sort of conditions that need this.
Like many Scarp users I eventually dispensed with the crossing poles, replacing them with a roof pull-out at each end, secured using my trekking poles. This lifts the outer clear of the inner, and I always use this if it’s windy or especially wet. The guys are extra long and are attached with mini-carabiners
When I don’t feel I need the trekking pole pull outs, I thread the long roof guys through the loop on top of the pole arch that the crossing poles pass through, and secure to the roof vent hook on the other side. This pulls the roof up a little (although to a much lesser degree), but most importantly keeps the roof guys from flapping about.
My most recent modification is the adoption of Robin’s revised corner system. This involves re-purposing the lower of the two lineloks on each corner. Together with some pegging loops, the result is a much more flexible system:
It looks a bit complex, but it’s not especially:
- (below) An extra loop of cord attached to the guy to put the stake through. Obviously, can either use it or revert to the normal arrangement.
2. (below) The lower end of the corner guy is removed from the linelok itselfand simply tied to the grosgrain loop behind the linelok. This obviously means a loss of flexibility in adjusting the lower part of the corner, but in practice it’s the top one that does most of the work anyway.
3. (also above) A separate cord (I used about 60cm) is threaded through the lower linelok.
4.The other end of this extra cor dis threaded through the eyelet tab that holds the crossing pole ends and tied off. I made them quite large loops so that when not using crossing poles (which is most of the time), I can use this as an additional attachment to the corner stake.
The sharp-eyed will notice that the cord used is not the original 2mm line. Neither is it the replacement 2mm Nordisk line I reguyed the tent with a few years ago. No, I’ve finally got around to re-guying with thicker cord – this is the 2.7mm line that came with my MLD Duomid. The main reason I’d not done this before was simply that I didn’t have any 3mm (ish) line in yellow.
I’ve also added (thanks yet again Robin), small loops of shock cord to the corner attachment points of the inner, to reduce stress. Having actually snapped one of these mitten hooks (replaced by a small Niteize s-biner), the sense of this is obvious.
I have also attached a bit of line across the apex of the inner to hang things from. This is tied at one end, and attached at the other with a mini s-biner, so I have the option of letting it dangle in the center, if I (say) need light a bit lower down.
Finally, I attached a cord lock to one of the two elastic inner door ties each side. The other was tied into a loop, so that I have a much more secure door tie system. The velcro strips on the outer, remain however, and equally – remain crap.
For a comprehensive guide to the modifications that are worth doing to the Scarp do check out Robin’s dedicated Scarp mods page. Anything of any good I’ve described here, was ultimately thought of by him in the first place!