BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Eagles Nest Flex Fly Utility Tarp > Test Report by Michael Mosack

ENO FLEXFLY UTILITY TARP
TEST SERIES BY MIKE MOSACK
FIELD REPORT
October 04, 2014

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Mosack
EMAIL: mosack(at)earthlink(dot)net
AGE: 50
LOCATION: San Diego, CA USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 240 lb (109.00 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, doing solo and group trips, with and without kids. I do day trips, weekenders and week-long or longer trips throughout the year. I backpack in all climates and seasons, from summer desert trips to Spring/Winter camping in Michigan, California and Grand Canyon, Arizona and I worked in Afghanistan for 4 years & rely on my equipment constantly. I prefer to go lighter when possible and am always trying new items. Quality and reliability of items are paramount to me over price and weight.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Image from website


Manufacturer: Eagles Nest Outfitters Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com
MSRP: US $134.95
Listed Weight: 3 lb (1.36 kg)
Measured Weight: 2.93 lb (1.33 kg)
Weight breakdown:
Complete kit (Tarp, stakes, poles, bag) - 2.93 lb (1.33 kg)
1 Tarp - 28.6 oz (810 g)
4 Stakes - 1.1 oz (32 g)
2 Poles - 14.7 oz (416 g)
1 Bag - 2.42 oz (69 g)
Unfolded dimensions: (L x W) 10'6" x 10' (3.20 x 3.05 m)
Material: 210T Nylon Taffeta Ripstop w/PU Coating
Other details:
IMAGE 2
Image from website

I should note that the manufacturer's website states, "Tarps do not come with stakes. Stakes are sold separately."

This tarp is a flat piece of sewn nylon ripstop material that has a waterproof coating on it. There are six guy points (4 corners and one on each of two sides) along with a grommet in each corner to ease in setting it up. The front and rear sides are long enough to reach the ground with the included aluminum poles. The poles break down and easily fit into the provided carry bag. My tarp has the stakes with it however the manufacturer states that the stakes are sold separately. It appears there are multiple ways to set up the tarp to accommodate different applications.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I opened up the bag and found that the tarp, poles, and stakes all fit in the bag easily. Checking out the individual items, it appears that everything is made of quality materials. It packs small and takes up much less space than my tent. I like the size of the tarp and can see myself sleeping under it very soon.

I have limited experience tarp or hammock camping, but with this I might have to try them again.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Instructions are available both online as well as on a hang-tag that was attached to the bag. Instructions printed on the tag include setting up the tarp, describing it as a two-step process. The instructions also cover the set-up with the addition of a hammock if one is available.

TRYING IT OUT

I set up the tarp utilizing the stakes and poles that I received with it. The tarp went up easily and quick. I can see that there are multiple options in how I might set it up. The tarp comes with grommets and stake-out lines already attached which makes setting it up very easy. Substituting the tarp's poles for my hiking poles will save pack-weight.

I own a hammock so I plan to try the tarp out with that as well during the upcoming test. Now I just have to find my perfect spot.

SUMMARY

Well so far, this looks like a quality item and one I'm sure will be an interesting product to test. I like the size of the tarp and how easily it sets up. I am not sure about the weight of the poles and stakes as I think there are lighter weight ones available on the market. Replacing the poles with my own hiking poles would reduce my pack weight significantly as I would have multi-purpose items in my pack. Changing out the stakes might also help but we'll see how this test will go first.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Three-day trip to the area of LaGrande, Oregon USA where the temperatures ranged from 57 - 78 F (14 - 26 C). The conditions included cloudy and overcast skies with some rain and gusty winds.

Two day-hikes near Twin Falls, Idaho USA where the temperatures ranged from 60 - 85 F (16 - 29 C). The conditions included clear and sunny skies.

Three-day trip in the area near the Klamath River Recreational Area in Northern California USA where the conditions included clear and sunny skies with temperatures that ranged from 65 - 94 F (18 - 34 C).
IMAGE 3
Setting up my tarp

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The tarp came with 6 guy out locations and 6 lines already attached but only 4 stakes. I really don't understand why the manufacturer would only provide 4 stakes when they advertise there are numerous ways to set up the tarp. I have to either order more stakes or find and use extra stakes so that I can properly set up the tarp as securely as it is clearly designed to be.
IMAGE 4
Broken stake

While in the Klamath River Recreational Area I had set up my tarp. The ground at this specific location appeared to be soft-surface dirt and grasses but had underlying rocks just below the relatively thin layer of topsoil. I used my soft-soled shoe to step onto the stake end to help push it into the ground and set the stake. This is what is left of one of my stakes. I never realized that it had broken until it pulled out of the ground with a gust of wind. I never retrieved the pointy end that had broken off and this is all that is left. In the future, I'll have to switch to a different style of stake and fortunately I have plenty to choose from in my gear closet.

In each case of using the tarp, I camped under it by sleeping on the ground. My usual set up is to be in my sleeping bag on top of my inflatable pad. As tall as I am I had no problem stretching out or sitting up, under the tarp. Often being a solo backpacker, there is plenty of space to keep my gear next to me. There is also plenty of room to have a partner and their gear under the tarp with me as well.

I am new to tarp camping, having never owned one before. I am familiar with condensation building up inside a tent caused either by cooler temperatures overnight or from camping in wet weather. So far, I have not experienced any condensation with this tarp. Air moves freely through. Bugs can move freely through as well, but to date, I have not experienced any, so that has not been an issue. I generally have preferred to have a tent with a bathtub-style floor, which separates me from the creepy-crawlies and helps keep a lot of the dirt out. I have found so far, that while using this tarp, I don't really put any more thought into locating a suitable location for setting up my tarp than I would setting up a tent. I generally look for the same types of features, like, open space, flat ground on a bit of a rise, protected from wind where possible, etc. If I were using my hammock, I would be looking for a pair of trees spaced just right to hang my hammock from that would also provide enough space to allow for the tarp to be stakes out so I could have a roof over me.

I experienced some rain. It was steady but did not last overnight and therefore did not really soak everything or cause any flooding. I was positioned on a little rise so I had good drainage just in case. The tarp worked well for me during this. It kept me quite dry and comfortable. I liked having the open feel and visibility to be able to watch the weather while being protected from it. A gust of wind pulled out one of my stakes, which is when I found that the stake had broken in half during this. While that was a little disconcerting, the tarp is large enough that I was never exposed to any weather.

SUMMARY

I am impressed with the quality and construction of the tarp. The weight is a little heavy but the trade-off is better durability. The setup is quite easy and quick. Even in windy situations the tarp is not that difficult to put up if staking it out first. It packs up small; about the same size as a one-person tent but provides ample floor space for protection from the weather.

One of the stakes broke way too easily and I am concerned by the level of quality of the chosen material used in their manufacture and design. In this case, I would prefer to see a stronger stake. I am also confused in why this tarp came with only 4 stakes when clearly it was designed and made to have 6 stake-out points.

I would like to thank both Eagle's Nest Outfitters Inc and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me the opportunity to test this product. Please check back in approximately two months for my Long Term Report.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Eagles Nest Outfitters gear
Read more gear reviews by Michael Mosack

Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Eagles Nest Flex Fly Utility Tarp > Test Report by Michael Mosack



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson