Best Shade Structure? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-26-2019   #1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 60
Best Shade Structure?

Hey Buzzards. Looking to see what people like for shade structure. I have looked into and read about several products, but figured it would be best to hear from our own community on their likes and dislikes. Also trying to kill two birds with one stone and take it with us to Baja on the beach for spring break. Ideas, pictures, curse words... all are welcome.

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Old 02-26-2019   #2
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2,687
Best I've seen by far is the Dragonfly tarp, but it requires a pair of oars or well-placed trees.

Not sure about self-supported.
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Old 02-26-2019   #3
90Duck's Avatar
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 427
We've got an REI Alcove. It covers a 10'X10' area which makes it great for a kitchen on a raft trip, and for car camping it will fit over the raised rear hatch on our 4Runner, making a nice sheltered area at the back of the vehicle. I also bought walls for it so it can be enclosed.

Downside is it is pretty heavy (steel poles) and relatively bulky when folded up. Also, the REI brand has been discontinued, but it appears the design has been sold to Kelty and you can get them for cheap right now on their website:
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Old 02-26-2019   #4
Never enough free time
Red Lodge, Montana
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 307
I went through this last year.

I was trying to find the perfect thing for multiple uses for a family of four that was cost effective. I called manufacturers, asked friends, scoured the internet for trip reports and gear reviews, poured over catalogs, the whole nine yards.

Spoiler Alert: I Failed

I went with a Big Agnes 3 Forks Shelter with additional side walls. Not dissimilar from 90Duck's REI option. It is free standing, sets up easily, can be used as a shade structure at a festival, rain and sun shelter on the river, as a tent that you can stand up and move around in...

It sucks in the wind (fold over and collapse with bent poles sucks), isn't waterproof, worthless if bugs are a concern, yada, yada, yada.

It got used for a 4 day early season Yellowstone float trip where it rained and was in the 40's, went on the Smith with me, a music festival in July, and the Main Salmon in August.

I tried, I really did. It was a terrible compromise at best. I made modifications, experimented with various guy line methods, different orientations to the prevailing wind, cots and no cots...

By the end of last season, I had determined that the 3 Forks will likely go along for those trips were you have to set up in tight conditions and want some privacy, like at a festival or some other outdoor event, but will otherwise stay packed up in the gear shed. I wanted a do it all shelter that cut down on packed space and set up fast (and it does do that, just not well) because it always seems like my river time is eaten up by set up and tear down while my wife looks after the kids. I am just going to have to grin and bear it until they are a bit older.

The current choice is an MSR Rendevous 200 Tarp with a couple of extra poles. If you've got good sand stakes it can be rigged up pretty bomber, but it is a PITA to set up really well in "challenging" conditions. I almost talked myself into a dragonfly, and still want one but I needed to be flexible for non-river based adventures.

It's a whole other story, but don't try and go too cheap on your shelter either. I had a Kelty Noah's Tarp literally rip to shreds in steady but reasonable onshore winds while in Big Sur. I also dealt with a couple of gnarly shelter failures when building my cabin.

This has been a multi-year quest.

I'm beginning to think that I am going to simply deal with the sun and only set up a shelter when needed to have a dry place to prepare meals.
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Old 02-26-2019   #5
kayakfreakus's Avatar
Steamboat, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,036
The Juice9000 - completely custom, sewn with industrial sewer. It is like one step up from siltarp I think. It actually takes a wind pretty well and minimal space on his cat. Reinforced grommets and webbing for all the attachment points and the poles tie into the system.

He said it is was a lot of work, not sure if he would do it again, but it is pretty awesome.
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Old 02-26-2019   #6
Managan's Avatar
Edwards, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 84
I too have enjoyed the Juice 9000 on my last Grand trip. It is a great shelter. I went for the Noah's Tarp 12 and do like it but have never used it in any real winds.
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Old 02-26-2019   #7
D-town, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 68
I have a 16' Noahs tarp that gave up the ghost along one seam last year on a windy/rainy Lodore trip. It was a great tarp (12-13yrs old).

Replaced it with an NRS river wing. It looks to be of good quality but it was expensive and the poles are heavy and long (42" minimum). I have some MSR poles I will be using along with oars and leave the NRS poles at home.
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Old 02-26-2019   #8
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,832
I take two or three of these along with a couple of nylon tarps for roofs if it's raining. Shade cloth work great on it's own or as walls to block the wind. If you double them up or use a couple of layers, you can cook in Deso problem. I have MRS tent poles in an old chair bag I drag along if I don't have oars to rig to.
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Old 02-26-2019   #9
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 60
Thanks for all the responses.

So I've looked pretty heavily into the Big Agnes Deep Creek Tarp (L). From what I have read it seems like a decent shelter with a good coverage area (275 SF).

For the sand anchor points I'm going to rig up something to connect to the Neso Tent Anchor bag. Hell... @ $2.00 each you cant really go wrong even if they are not worth a shit.... which they very well could be just that.

BA has an anchor (bag?) type system, but much more expensive. I figured I'd try the Neso accessory first.
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Old 02-26-2019   #10
Moab, Utah
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 47
I have the BA Deep Creek tarp. It's nice. I've been using these for sand stakes and they work really well (and they're cheap):
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