EAGLES NEST OUTFITTERS FLEXFLY UTILITY TARP
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
July 11, 2014
Steven M. Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
179 lb (81.20 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Eagles Nest Outfitters, Inc.
|Image Courtesy Eagles Nest Outfitters|
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com
MSRP: US $134.95
Listed Material: 210D Nylon Taffeta Ripstop w/PU Coating
Listed Weight: 48 oz (1361 g)
Measured Weight: 47.7 oz (1352 g)
Measured Tarp Weight: 30.3 oz (859 g)
Measured Weight of Aluminum Poles: 15.0 oz (425 g) for both
Measured Storage Bag Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Measured Weight of Stakes*: 1.2 oz (34 g) for four
Listed Dimensions: 10 ft 6 in L x 10 ft W (3.20 m x 3.05 m)
Longest Measured Dimensions**: 10 ft L x 9 ft 2 in W (3.05 m x 2.79 m)
Shortest Measured Dimensions**: 8 ft 9 in L x 8 ft 4 in W (2.67 m x 2.54 m)
*The company website and card product card that came attached to the fly clearly states the tarp does not come with stakes, however this Test model arrived with four 6 in (15 cm) Easton aluminum stakes. A search of the Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) website clarifies that they sell these stakes in bundles of six for $15.00.
**My measured dimensions were done with the tarp lying flat on the floor and not pulled taut. I measured the actual tarp body, excluding the LineLoc fasteners. This may account for the dimension variance. For clarity, the "Longest" measured dimensions are from end-to-end at the top ridgeline of the fly and from ridgeline to extended corner of the tarp. The "Shortest" measured dimensions are from end-to-end at the bottom of the fly and in the center of the tarp from ridgeline to bottom. To further explain, the FlexFly is designed with a catenary cut versus a hexagonal design. I will explain the differences in the body of the report.
From the ENO Website -- "Flex by name, flexible by nature, ENO's FlexFly delivers whatever the weather."
The ENO FlexFly is large multi-purpose tarp designed to give the hammock occupant maximum protection. It allows the hammock camper (hammocker) multiple setup options, including six guy points, two on the ridgeline and four on the tarps lower corners. Each guy has a LineLoc attachment that is designed to allow quick and easy adjustments to the guy lines. The four corner guys also have brass ringed grommets designed to accommodate the 50 in (127 cm) aluminum poles.
As mentioned in the above website quote, the fly is designed to be large enough to guy out low to the ground giving the hammocker maximum protection from the elements. It also may be used in conjunction with the accompanying aluminum poles to setup what is known in the hammocking world as "porch mode".
The tarp is made with a nylon taffeta ripstop pattern and has a polyurethane coating on the interior of the fly to create a waterproof barrier.
Having been a hammock camper for several years I'm very familiar with ENO hammock equipment, but I've never owned anything they have produced. In my opinion, their hammocks are extremely comfortable, but considerably heavy for the lightweight backpacker. That stated, I find the FlexFly to be a very well designed product, but a little 'beefy' in weight for my typical backcountry use.
|Tarp, Poles, Stakes & the Bag|
This isn't to detract from the product, as on the website it clearly states the best uses for the fly are as follows: family/car/festival camping. In fact, the ENO marketing drives use of the FlexFly toward the Base Camper.
The tarp appears to be well made. It is made with 210D nylon taffeta material. This is a material I'm not familiar with. Many materials in the hammocking world can easily be translated into an ounce per square yard terminology. In doing a little research my best estimate is that this ENO nylon weighs approximately 3.8 ounces per square yard (129 grams per square meter). 70D Polyester, another material sometimes used in tarps averages 2.5 ounces per square yard (85 grams per square meter). ENO appears to use nylon over polyester for all their products. Nylon tends to have a softer feel than polyester.
The color is in the gray family, and I find it appealing.
|Notice the Catenary Design|
I was impressed with the catenary cut (curved edges) design the FlexFly implemented. Neither the website, nor literature make any reference to the fly being designed as such, but in comparison to a hexagonal or flat design the FlexFly's design is likely to accommodate a taut pitch in varying weather as well as adding strength. It is this cat cut that creates the shorter dimensions at the bottom of the fly which I mentioned in the outset of the report.
One feature of the fly I really like is the incorporation of LineLoc's on the guy points. LineLoc's are designed for both quick and secure tensioning. Oddly enough, the guy line material that was provided with the FlexFly was tied with a knot into the locks. The installation was a completely incorrect way to utilize them. I didn't care much for the guy line material and it felt as if it may tangle pretty easily. I will reinstall the guy lines properly before using the fly in the field.
|Notice the poles in the grommets and the LineLoc's|
The brass grommets allow the accompanying poles to safely be installed in order not to damage the tarp material. This lets the tarp to be set in porch mode allowing for more air flow and visibility. The aluminum poles are each made in three pieces and secured together with shock cord. Much like a tent pole. When I'm hammock camping I try to keep my fly in porch mode as often as the weather allows. I enjoy the views from inside my hammock and the breathability it allows. I've historically done this using my trekking poles. When fully extended my hiking sticks are actually a little longer than these. In base or car camp I could foresee myself using the accompanying poles on one side and my hiking poles on the other for maximizing the ambiance and taking in more scenery as I rest in my hammock.
The truest and most important test will be whether or not the FlexFly keeps me dry in inclement weather. It is certainly large enough that even in a driving storm I'd foresee sufficient coverage.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
The ENO FlexFly appears to be a quality hammock tarp. I'm excited to begin using it in the backcountry. It appears attention to detail has been made in the design with the catenary cuts and use of LineLoc's for quick secure and taut pitches. I appreciate these aspects. The color is rather neutral, so it blends in with the surrounding and doesn't stick out in my opinion. I also like that feature.
|Skipper the dog enjoying a little sun protection|
The poles are a nice feature for allowing ventilation and viewing, but tend to be an item I'd likely use more in a base camp setting than on the trail. I could easily substitute use of these poles with trekking poles in the backcountry.
I don't really like the material the guy lines is made with, but that could easily be a quick fix. I will use the provided lines initially to test how they handle under changing weather conditions and in wet weather. I'll certainly give the entire set-up the old garden hose test before I traipse off into the woods.
My biggest concern with the tarp in terms of backpacking use is the overall weight of the item. All items totaled to include the fly, poles, stakes and bag put the product in at just over 3 lbs (1.38 kg). The tarp alone weighed in at 30.3 oz (859 g). I likely see myself shedding unneeded weight in the backcountry by leaving the poles and bag at home. That will save over a pound (~ 0.5 kg) alone. I can still achieve porch mode using previous mentioned methods.
Save the weight concern, I'm extremely excited to start testing the FlexFly. I look forward to using it for backpacking and less strenuous outings where I can take advantage of all the features offered by ENO.
I'd like to thank Eagles Nest Outfitters and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the FlexFly. Please check back in a few months for my Field Report.
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Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd