I recently got a SpinnTwinn from a well-known auction site. Gossamer Gear don’t make them anymore but their new tarps are almost the same apart from the material used. The SpinnTwinn is made from Spinnaker fabric while the new ones are called the TwinnTarp and constructed from silnylon. Today was the first chance I had to try pitching it and I’m seriously impressed with it. It pitches easily, is stupid light and cavernous for a single hiker but would easily take two. Potential buyers of the TwinnTarp might be interested in this blog post as the new version is almost identical in weight and size.
Firstly, the stuffsack is nice and large so it’s easy to pack the tarp away and get it out when you need it. Once packed the stuffsack will compress to very packable size and is easy to squeeze into most spaces in a pack. It’s my bugbear to get gear with over small stuff sacks as its a fight to pack the gear back in them and hard balls of fabric eat volume in a pack. So, 10/10 to Gossamer Gear for that.
The SpinnTwinn is a caternary cut tarp rather than a flat tarp as the shape handles wind better. It also looks rather elegant with its gentle curves! There are four corner tie outs plus 3 other on each of the long sides. The ridge lines have colour-coded tabs so it’s easy to see which is the front (red) and the back (blue). There’s more than enough pegging points to hold the tarp in position and the coloured tabs are a simple work of genius. Another 10/10.
Pitching the tarp is simple. Set your trekking poles to 32 and 45 inches respectively for the back and front. Peg out the back pole and corners, move to the front and carry out a similar operation. Adjust pegging and heights to match the ground conditions and it’s done. I think it took me about 2 minutes after an initial practice go. Here’s some pictures of the normal pitch.
My cat, Millie, photo bombed some of the images! Obviously it’s possible to raise the tarp if more ventilation is required but the measurements below give an indication of the size and coverage pitched in normal mode. NB: all measurement are to the nearest whole unit:
- Ridge 115 ins (9ft 6 ins, 292 cm)
- Side Base lengths 101 ins (8ft 5ins, 256 cm)
- Front height and width 46 x 73 (3ft 10ins, 117 cm) X (6ft 1ins, 185cm)
- Rear height and width 32×70 (2ft 8ins, 81 cms) X (5ft 10ins, 178 cms)
Anyone under 7ft and 5ft across will have plenty of shelter from rain and wind! Joking aside, it’s a huge covered area with lots of room for a hiker and gear. It could easily take two hikers. With a well-behaved stove it should be fine to cook out of the elements too. Most people of normal height will be able to sit up at the front end in comfort. Size and pitching time are another 10/10.
But what if the weather turns gnarly on the hike? Luckily it’s possible to drop the foot end either by a small amount, to the floor or anywhere in between and still have room to shelter under whilst being protected from three sides. I didn’t do an especially good job of repitching it but enough to show me I could have a very stormworthy shelter inside a minute. Here’s some pictures.
There are two tabs at the ridge pole ends so it’s possible to rig up a bug bivy or even an inner tent. Alternatively, the tabs could be used to set up and internal ridge line to dry clothes on. There are also two tabs at the floor part of the front so it would be easy to make up a “door” to shelter the hiker from weather coming from the front or to give privacy. Versaltilty and storm-worthiness score another 10/10.
Weight is the bane of a backpacker’s life so what is the penalty for carrying a cavernous shelter with good weather and wind protection, the ability to cook safely out of bad weather and room to live in if the weather is really foul? A mere 280g (9.87 oz) for the tarp plus a stuffsack weighting 10g (0.35oz) including seam sealing and all the lines/linelocks.
As I wrote at the start of this post, I’m seriously impressed with my practice pitching in the garden and can’t wait to try it out in the field. I can’t see any way to make this a better ultralight shelter but proper useage will confirm that…..or dent my 10/10 rating from this afternoon’s playing with the SpinnTwinn.