An Ultralight Deep Dive Into the Gossamer Gear Shelter Family: Everything You Need to Know
Looking to dive a bit deeper into what makes a Gossamer Gear shelter? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Below, we'll cover everything you need to know about lightweight shelter designs, fabrics, setups, weights, and more.
Lightweight Shelter Designs
Double wall shelters are your traditional setup: a mesh inner tent with a detachable rainfly on the exterior. They are generally freestanding, meaning they can be set up without staking into the ground and are very maneuverable in terms of campsite selection. This makes them a great option for beginners. On the downside, because they require you to carry a dedicated tent pole set and two layers of fabric, they are the heaviest and least minimal shelter option.
We don’t currently make any double wall shelters at Gossamer Gear, but we are playing around with some minimalist designs—so stay tuned.
Single wall shelters are the ultralight standard: a single layer of fabric and mesh all the way around that acts as a rainfly and inner tent all in one. Single wall shelters like The One and The Two are able to be set up with trekking poles, saving you the weight and volume of having to carry dedicated tent poles. This multi-functional approach allows you to pack a much lighter and more compact shelter set-up.
The downsides to a single wall shelter are needing to use stakes to set up the tent, which limits site placement and requires a little more skill, as well as increased exposure to condensation, which you can read more about combating here.
Tarps are for skilled backpacking enthusiasts. They come in different shapes and allow for a highly modular approach, depending on your chosen campsite. A-frame catenary cut tarps, like our Solo Tarp and Twinn Tarp, are as minimal as it gets: a canopy for wind and rain protection with no bug netting or floor, keeping you fully connected to nature when bug pressure is low.
While tarps are the absolute lightest option, they require the most skill and are something to be approached with ample research and experience.
Lightweight Shelter Fabrics
Picking the right fabrics for our products is a careful balancing act. We consider weight, price, water resistance, durability, test data, production time, availability, and more.
Our shelters are currently being produced with a custom woven 10D Nylon SIL/UTS fabric waterproof to at least 1,800mm. We dive into some more of the specifics on our fabrics below.
The D stands for denier, which is the thickness of individual threads used in the creation of a woven fabric. The lower the denier, the lighter and more sheer or silky a fabric is. 10D is on the lightest end of the spectrum for technical fabrics.
We choose to make most of our shelters and packs from a thin woven nylon fabric. Nylon is exceptionally strong for its weight and price, resistant to abrasion and chemicals, long-lasting, compressible, and easy to wash. The downside in certain situations is that it is relatively elastic, meaning it will have a minimal sag when saturated with water.
These are the coatings that we infuse into our nylon fabric. One side of the nylon is blended with liquid silicone, and the other is blended with UTS, or Ultra Tear Strength. Unlike many traditional polyurethane coatings, UTS is specially formulated to increase tear strength while offering great hydrolysis performance.
Our fabric is rated to at least 1,800mm of waterproofness. The "at least" part means that when coating is applied to a fabric during production, it is never 100% consistent and there is an allowable range of variability. Tents are generally rated between 1,000mm and 10,000mm. Ours is at the lower end of the spectrum, as the less coating that is applied, the lighter the fabric and end product will be. We have found a rating of 1,800mm to be a good balance of being waterproof without applying unnecessary amounts of coating.
Also, instead of having our tents and tarps seam-sealed the traditional way with a caulk-like solution, our tents are seam-taped when they are produced, and are fully waterproof and ready-to-go right out of the box!
DCF, or Dyneema Composite Fabric, is a patented fabric originally developed as a material for sails on competitive racing boats under the name Cuben Fiber. DCF is a laminate fabric comprised of a thin sheet of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethelyene sandwiched between two sheets of polyester. DCF is inherently 100% waterproof and does not require any coatings. It is top of the class in strength to weight ratio.
The downsides of DCF are that it isn’t exceptionally puncture resistant, doesn’t compress as well as nylon, and comes at a premium price.
We began offering our The DCF One and The DCF Two shelters in 2020, and they have proven quite popular among the backpacking community!
Our nylon tent weights are calculated based on an average of 20 production quality-control-approved tents:
- The One: 17.7 oz / 503 g
- The Two: 23.5 oz / 667 g
- Solo Tarp: 7.5 oz / 213 g
- Twinn Tarp: 9.5 oz / 275 g
Our DCF One and Two weights are taken from final golden samples approved by our design team:
- The DCF One: 15.3 oz / 433 g
- The DCF Two: 20.8 oz / 590 g
These weights include the shelters themselves, as well as the cord attached to them.
Our shelters also require two poles for a complete setup. Our Ones and Twos are compatible with trekking poles that can be set to 115-125 cm in length, and our Tarps with trekking poles that can be set to 76-114 cm in length.
All of our shelters are compatible with our 3-piece LT5s:
- LT5 Trekking Pole Set: 4.9 oz / 139 g, per set
If you don’t use trekking poles, you can achieve a lighter setup with dedicated aluminum tent poles for our Ones and Twos:
- One & Two Aluminum Pole Set: 2.85 oz / 81 g, per pole
Our Ones and Twos also come with aluminum peg stakes included, but if you’d like to lighten up or diversify your tent stakes, we offer some additional options:
- Toaks Tite-Lite UL VF Tent Stake: 15 g each
- MSR Mini-Groundhog Stake: 10 g each
- Toaks Titanium Shepard's Hook Peg Stake: 6.5 g each
Want to start taking less and doing more?
Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or keep learning more on the Light Feet Blog.