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MSR E-wing Emergency Shelter

A soda can-sized emergency shelter!
Photos and text by Joe Flowers

See step-by-step instructions on tying the tautline hitch knot referred to in the second slide.
  • The MSR E-wing is an emergency shelter designed to get through a tough night.  At only 7 ounces, the tarp stuffs into a tiny package, 5 inches by 2.5 inches in diameter.
  • The 6 loops on the corners easily lash to trekking poles. The pole is then reinforced with a guy-line into the ground and with a tautline hitch knot, the uprights are tight and reinforced.
  • Two loops along the center of the shelter allow for a no-pole configuration as long as trees and some type of tent stake can be utilized.  The center loops came in handy to raise one part of the tent higher than the other, allowing for water runoff.
  • The two configurations I used the most were the A-frame style pitch with a center ridge line, and a lean-to style. The A-frame setup using trekking poles at either end and gave the most room for the two-person capacity.
  • Durable 30-denier ripstop nylon coated with silicone makes for a lightweight setup that repels water.  The shelter did well during a light storm and kept the occupants dry without any odd dripping.
  • <b>The Stats</b><br> Price: $79.95<br> Weight: 7 ounces <br>Packed size: 5 inches by 2.5 inches <br>Capacity: A tight 2 person setup <br>www.cascadedesigns.com
The MSR E-wing is an emergency shelter designed to get through a tough night.  At only 7 ounces, the tarp stuffs into a tiny package, 5 inches by 2.5 inches in diameter.
Image 1 of 6

The MSR E-wing is an emergency shelter designed to get through a tough night. At only 7 ounces, the tarp stuffs into a tiny package, 5 inches by 2.5 inches in diameter.

READERS COMMENTS

Page 1

80 bucks for a dining fly, its bad enough you cant find a fly at a brick and mortar store,(you should see the blank looks, really!),and now they are $80.
EMS, REI, Cabbella's did not even know what I was talking about, they showed me tarps and gazebos before they walked away befuddled.
— Thomas B.

For the same packsize and a bit more weight, you can get a 9' x 12' 3 mil painters plastic drop-cloth that will be more than enough to get you through an emergency.
Cost: $4
— MNbasecamp

Interesting emergency shelter. Wouldn't work up in my neck of the woods, though most tarp style setups won't. If there's an emergency its typically due to high winds and driving rain in the Allegany National Forest area. Tarp setups won't keep you very dry as the wind frequently changes direction between the low hills and valleys. Better to take a real tent or at least a decent bivy.
— ssejhill

I spent a couple nights in the high Uintas of Utah at around 10,000' with an 8 x 10 blue plastic tarp for shelter. I ran a taughtline about 2 1/2 feet high between 2 trees perpendicular to the wind (at that elevation its not easy to find trees that tall.) A third of the tarp is the floor, a third is the windward wall, and a third is a roof with the ends held up with short sticks or staked right to the ground. The tarps can be found for under $10 almost everywhere; they're light, fold easily and with some line and a few lightweight stakes can make a versatile shelter option. I'm sure the MSR E-wing is a wonderful product, but I don't think I'd spend $80 for it either.
— Jim the desert rat

$80??? for an EMERGENCY shelter? wrong. my sil-nylon PRIMARY shelter cost about half as much. time for a reality check.
— misnomer

With a wide choice of fixpoints and independence from utterly over-filled huts, one place I've found a tarp to utterly shine is in the Italian Dolomites. In regions such as this, you are on the whole better served by a tarp than a tent.

Shelter on rock-shelf during a climb, on a via ferrata pathway, in the woods (from one tree or between trees), against one of the numerous large boulders or in some -perhaps leaky- cave.

Keep it simple, robust and light. Tarps with a vaguely tent-like shape are less useful (if expensive, it's due mainly due either to this or to claims of tent-quality material).

A light bivouac sack against cold or moderate spray-through from overhead during heavy rain can be a help. Don't underestimate the strength of wind and make sure snow and rain can't pool.

Chose a discrete green material and there's a good chance the much-improved views will reveal far more of nighttime wildlife. Once your first bellowing Stag has stumbled close by during the rutting season, you'll never want to use a tent again. Visits from (say) the Brenta's european brown bears excepted, hehe, you can also cook with dramatically reduced risk. :-)
— Douglas

Hey Douglas! Liked your comments, but disagree w/color choice. I don't find that most animals (non-primates that is) are that sensitive to most colors, more sensitive to large continuous blocks of any color or to the disturbance in their area. I'm trying to find a blaze orange or even blaze camo sil-nylon tarp. If I'm using my tarp in an emergency, winter (think snowmobile traffic), or fall (think hunting), I want it to be visible. Matter of fact, I'd be willing to put up with an extra ounce or three to get a reflective swatch on it even, maybe reflective binding or reinforcing seam tape?
— Green_mantle

Please stop crying about the price. Your blue tarps and pieces of Tyvek ARE cheaper. We all know that. With the additional fix points and the cut of this shelter, along with the itty bitty size, it's a good one to stash in the bottom of the day pack just for what it was intended "emergency shelter."
— scorched

Why not just use an army poncho? It gets the same job done with a little parachute cord.
— Luke

Army ponchos, tried that back in the day and liked it, but this pitches a bit better and compacts down way more. Tyvek is so loud!
— Joe Flowers


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