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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > MSR Thru Hiker Mesh House Tent > Test Report by Steven M Kidd

MSR THRU-HIKER MESH HOUSE 1
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
INITIAL REPORT
September 23, 2018

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven M. Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Arrington, Tennessee
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)
SHOE SIZE 10.5 US

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+ lb (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 from 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Image Courtesy Cascade Designs

Manufacturer: Cascade Designs, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.msrgear.com/
MSRP: US $149.95
Listed Minimum Weight: 10 oz (283 g)
Listed Packed Weight: 14 oz (397 g)
Measured Weight: 12.4 oz (352 g) {including bag and stakes}
Capacity: 1 person
Doors: 1
Floor + Vestibule: 20 sq ft (1.86 sq m)
Livable Volume Tent: 23 cu ft (651 L)
Packed Size: 8 x 4 in (20 x 10 cm)
Measured Packed Size: 12 x 4.5 in (30 x 11 cm)

Included for protection from inclement weather:

MSR Thru-Hiker Wing 70
Year of Manufacture: 2018
MSRP: US $179.95
Listed Minimum Weight: 12 oz (340 g)
Listed Packed Weight: 16 oz (454 g)
Measured Weight 14.4 oz (408 g) {including bag and stakes}
Listed Capacity 2-3
Packed Size: 9 x 4.5 in (23 x 11 cm)
Measured Packed Size: 7.5 x 2.5 in (19 x 9 cm)

I am testing the pre-released Thru-Hiker Mesh House 1. Mountain Safety Research (MSR) states that is "a trustworthy option for the no-nonsense backpacker who seeks only what she needs and nothing else, allowing her to move faster and farther in the backcountry". It is designed to be paired with a Wing 70 or Wing 100 tarp. I am also testing the 70 tarp. MSR already has both 2 and 3 person versions of the Mesh House on the market; this new entry is designed for the soloist.

The tent is a little larger than a traditional bivy, and has room to sit up in. I measured the peak height at 32 in (81 cm) and the width at 31 in (79 cm). The stuff sack is interesting. It has a tag that says it is the Thru-Hiker Mesh House 1, but the instructions on the inside flap are for a poled tent. Again, this is a preproduction model. The stuff sack says Made in Taiwan. Historically many of Cascade Designs (parent company of MSR) products were made in the USA. This is simply an observation, not a critique.

The tent needs a hiking pole or a stick attached for setup and it uses four stakes for each of the corners. The guyline that attaches to the pole has a mitten hook on the end. The MSR stock photo only uses tension for setup, and with no instructions, I am not 100% certain of the purpose of the hook. I am sure I will learn through trial and error! I typically do not include stock vendor images in my reports, but I am adding one for the reader to understand my thoughts and questions on this mitten hook and its potential purpose.

This series is designed to test and evaluate the Mesh House 1; however, the manufacturer also provided a Wing 70 tarp for protection from the elements, so I will also incorporate its performance into the series. The tarp is sold separately from the tent. It is a traditional hexagonal tarp with no catenary cuts. It came with six guylines and stakes. One for each of the four corners and two for suspension. It has two additional guyline loops on each side, but no lines were provided. In extreme inclement weather they could be used for additional protection. The Wing 70 is made with 20D ripstop nylon. I measured it to be 112 in (284 cm) long by 96 in (244 cm) wide. The bag says Made in China.

I would call the Mesh House maroon with black no-see-um mesh. I would classify the Wing 70 as bronze. The accompanying image make it appear gold in the sunlight, but to my eye, it is darker.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 2
Shelter & Tarp Compared to a 32 oz (1L) Bottle
The tent was quite simple to setup even though I am still uncertain about the mitten hook use. The structure will sag if I do not pull it taut. It is likely designed to allow for tightening if there is sag based on changing weather conditions.

The shelter is not super roomy, but it has ample room for a pad and sleeping bag. If weather is nasty, the ability to sit up is a nice feature as well. Since it is setup with a pole/stick and done with tension only I wonder what the impact of a severe crosswind would do to it? Time may tell.

I setup the accompanying tarp as well. I quickly learned that if I am using a pole setup to pitch both the shelter and the tarp that I will need three poles. If I used just two, the edge of the shelter comes right to the edge of the tarp and minimizes weather protection. If I am in the woods, I will likely suspend the tarp between two trees and stake out on the ground. That would alleviate this concern and I would actually only need one hiking pole for setup. If I am on a beach with no trees when I am kayaking, I can use my paddles for the three-pole system. Again, a 3 ft (0.91 m) stick will work just fine as well.

My measurements as compared to those listed for the items when in storage did not match. The tarp is actually in a smaller bag than the shelter. The latter is very roomy, but getting the tarp back in its storage sack takes a little work.

Basic observations are that the shelter is minimal by design. It only has one zippered door and tapers down at the feet. I wonder if condensation will accumulate on my sleeping bag or quilt if tent touches it at night. I like the simple design and I love the weight! I own a LuxuryLite minimalist cot that also happens to be made by Cascade Designs. If weight is not a priority, if I am kayaking, I would be interested in testing this inside the shelter. My concern again would be at the foot end.
IMAGE 3
Wing 70

The Wing 70 tarp is standard. I hammock camp quite often so I have my fair share of tarps, seven or eight in all. As I mentioned earlier this tarp is hexagonal and has no catenary cuts. The arc of a 'cat-cut' tarp can often make a taut pitch simpler. You will notice some sag in my image provided in the report. I know how to remove the sag it just takes a little work. Unfortunately during my initial setup a thunderstorm was about to pop up and had limited time as I had to get my son to baseball practice. I didn't want to haul a soaking wet setup inside when I hadn't snapped enough images, so I took the shot with the sagginess and hauled it all inside. I am sure you will see a better pitch in my Field Report. I would have loved to had the time to crawl in it during the storm that came through! I am sure I will have similar opportunities over the next four months!

SUMMARY

I am quite excited to take this shelter out onto the trail! This weekend our Cub Scout Pack is taking our Webelos out for a patrol weekend campout, so I will get to put the products into action right away. We are also expecting rain!
IMAGE 4
Thur-Hiker Mesh House 1

The designs both appear well thought out and the products are well made. I would expect nothing less from this manufacturer. Little things that are often overlooked by the casual observer. The tarp for instance, has line-lock tabs that allow the guylines to quickly be tightened without having to secure a hitch. It has metal tabs with holes in it on the suspension ends that are designed to secure to the tip of a hiking pole. Unfortunately, for me, my newer and lighter trekking poles do not have these tips...Darn it!

The shelter is simplistic, but well thought out. Wide enough to fit my large shoulders, but not so wide that it adds unnecessary weight.

As I close my initial report, I am pondering roses and thorns and having trouble coming up with any of the latter. I truly have no thorns, only a little speculation on the pole in windy conditions and the foot of the shelter allowing for condensation build up. Time will answer all these questions.

I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Cascade Designs for allowing me to test the Mountain Safety Research Thru-Hiker Mesh House 1 along with the Wing 70 tarp. Please check back in roughly two months for my field report.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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