About a month ago, I received my YAMA Mountain Gear Cirriform 2-person double-walled shelter. It consists of an 0.8 oz cuben/sq. yard ghostly-white fitted tarp, and an inner bug netting with a 1.0 oz/sq. yard cuben fiber tub floor. The shelter sets up with two trekking poles, and the bug netting can either attach with included shock cord tie-outs to points on the shelter or stakeouts, or can be pitched on its own with two trekking poles. The configuration weighs in at around 26 oz total (750 g on my kitchen scale), with the tarp weighing in at 397 g (14.05 oz) with the included cuben fiber stuff sack, leaving 352 g (12.40 oz) in the net tent and its included stuff sack.
When I received the tarp (after about a two-week wait – pretty darned fast!), I went out to set it up in my front yard. I had watched the very informative instructional videos on the YAMA website, but before ordering the tarp. I wanted to see how intuitive it was to set up. My first pitch was not too bad (you can see it below). The net tent connections were less intuitive to me, as I’ve been running without net tents for some time now. In spite of not having set the tarp up or really done my proper homework, the tent was up with the internal net tent in about 15 minutes.
Its first real outdoor journey was the following weekend, when I took it along for a Three Ridges + The Priest backpack, ending at Spy Rock. The pitch was again fairly easy (see below), and the tarp stands up nicely in steady winds in the teens mph. I will note that the cuben fiber stuff sacks that come with the tarp are quite light, and blow away easily in the wind. I pitched fairly high, and the wind definitely blew through the bottom of the tarp, which wasn’t a big problem, but I will have to see how it handles more serious winds, and lower pitches.
As you can see, there are two zippers on the 2-person version of these tarps. Neither come down to a tie-out point, which is nice, as that can interfere with actually being able to get in and out of the tarp. However, it also means that the point where the zipper fastens isn’t as taught, and can require two hands to begin zipping or unzipping. The zippers are waterproof, and there is no additional flap material as you might find on other tents. Being cuben fiber, the seams are all taped, not sewn through, so seam sealing is automatically taken care of. The tarp stakes out with a slightly larger than normal number of stakes, and I find that I need 7 to get a decent pitch, 8 for a sturdier pitch, and another two to really tie the sides down in higher winds. That’s a lot of stakes! Fortunately, you don’t need more than 7 for typical Mid-Atlantic conditions, and you often can use a rock, stick, or tree/bush trunk to make due in place of the side stakes, or of the other tie-outs to free up a stake.
With care, you can roll the tarp and net tent into one bundle to fit in one of the provided cuben fiber stuff sacks, but it’s a tight fit, and you have to try to compact it that much. So while it is quite light, it does take up space in the pack.
AT the DC Ultralight Spring Gear Showcase event, Gen Shimizu (Magnet), founder and chief at YAMA was nice enough to show me how to use the tarp (which he had just made about two weeks before!). He showed me tips on where to clip the shock cord to keep the net tent tub walls high, and how to pitch the tarp lower in crummy weather. He showed off his craftsmanship, and how he layers cuben around pull-out points, where stresses in the fabric are highest. We got a little lesson in how cuben fiber wears and ages by looking at some of his old gear and some other well-weathered gear on display, and he described what he does to minimize these effects, and how he carefully crafts his products to make exceedingly strong and durable products. It was a neat lesson! Gen was helpful, informative, and passionate about his craft, which was also reflected in my e-mail correspondence with him before getting the tarp.
I will have to keep using this setup. So far, it’s been out a few additional weekends, but hasn’t really seen inclement weather. This baby is going out on the Sierra High Route this summer, so we’ll certainly put it through its paces, and will provide an updated review at that time!