Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn Tarp REVIEW

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn Tarp REVIEW

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    Benjamin Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: South Texas

    Companion forum thread to:

    Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn Tarp REVIEW

    Peter McDonough


    Locale: Above the Divided Line

    From henceforth the "What's not good" points should not include subjects that are inherent to the design of the product. Tarps do not have bug protection. That is a given, not a negative point. If you can't think of anything wrong with the product, don't list concerns that have no relevance to the discussion.

    Bernard Shaw


    Locale: Upstate New York

    I added a beak using the same matierial purchased through Gossamer Gear to the "high" end of the tarp. One edge of the beeak is velcroed, allowing entry and exit. The results are terrific. I have been a proponnent of tents & tarps having the option of having beaks, porches, awnings, etc. for years. For example, the Gatewood Cape functions so well with its 'beak' partially. But this Gossamer addition gave me remarble versatility too. Read on!

    How so? Pitched high, the sides 6" or more above the ground, it adds a measure of wind and rain protection similar to a full tent, with the beak oriented into the wind.

    In an all out wind and rain storm, I pitch the tarp to the ground. The beak I constructed was designed so that it too would reach the ground, thus making complete wind and rain protection. The low end of the tarp is left open, but since it is so small, it affords ventialtion but no wind and rain penetrate.

    The additonal asset is the gain in warmth on cold nights from this "storm" set up. Last year on the John Muir trail, we encountered sub 20 F temps several nights. Without this additional warmth I would have not slept nearly as comformtably.

    The weight addition was about 1 oz. including the small velcro 'spots'.

    Franco Darioli


    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    Crazy Pete
    I am with you. On a different forum sometime ago a Rambo guy rubbished a Tarptent because it would not stand up to Artic weather. Really? That was a surprise…

    Elliott Wolin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia

    I suggest BPL use a separate heading to list issues of concern that are inherent in the product itself, but that are not design or manufacturing defects (such as lack of bug protection by a tarp). These are important to mention, as many readers are not that experienced, and may not recognize what is obvious to more experienced readers.

    I suggest the new section be named "Notes on Product Use".

    Jeff Sharp


    Locale: Blue Ridge

    We are currently out of stock on the SpinnTwinn at Gossamer Gear, however they are in production as we speak and we hope to have them in house in approximately 2 weeks. Sorry for the inconvenience and the unexpected delay. Thanx for the review Will.

    David Passey


    Locale: New York City

    I bought this tarp last year.

    It is the first tarp I have used for backpacking. I am extremely happy with the tarp–it kept my wife and I dry in thunderstorms in the Unitas, pitches tight like a drum, and is a thing of beauty in its design.

    I'm glad to see my impressions are consistent with the views of others.

    I recently copied the design on a slightly larger tarp of silnylon (designed for a three boys on a desert trip).

    John Davis


    Locale: Isle of Man

    Loads of room for one under a SpinnSolo. But I agree with Bernard about the beaks. Without them, wind is an issue.

    On the other hand, if you are adding beaks, why not get a SpinnShelter?

    David Stenberg
    BPL Member


    Locale: South

    I have read several accounts that the GG Spinnshelter has had problems with the pole loop tie-outs ripping away from the fabric and some of the seems weakening. Is the stiching design changed on the SpinnTwinn or is it the same as the Spinnshelter? Are their more reinforcements? If it is different, how so. Any problems with the seems ripping on the SpinnTwinn Tarps? Anyone know if the Spinnshelter has had the issues of seems ripping addressed?

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    This is the nature of the fabric as much as anything. I don't have experience with the Spinnshelter, but I've seen an '06-made Spinntwinn do this, along with an MLD tarp, and even our spinnaker Stealth LITE tarps. No matter how you make the reinforcements, you are stitching, somewhere, into a single layer of ultralight Spinnaker cloth and the very nature of the holes in that cloth and lack of fiber density is going to cause a weak point. This becomes obvious over time and extended use in the field.

    This can be mitigated somewhat by coating over the stitching – on both sides – with a layer of Seam Grip or SilNet. For the Cuben Fiber tarp shelter I took to the Arctic last year, I coated both sides with SilNet, then glued patches of silnylon to either side of the seams, over the stitching, to help distribute the stress further. This adds weight – a total of 1.3 oz to my solo shelter – but adds longevity to the seams and helps greatly with stress distribution.

    I don't recommend these tarps for anyone looking to "break" into ultralight. Go with Silnylon if you want durability. Silnylon has no issues, and is very strong. Go with Spinnaker or lighter if you're interested in pushing the edge and are willing to accept these compromises.

    David Stenberg
    BPL Member


    Locale: South

    Ryan, thank you for your insight!

    Ron Bell / MLD
    BPL Member


    Locale: USA

    Normally I would not join in this post since it is about the Gossamer Gear product; and they make very fine products. But Ryan mentions that the tie out ripping is part of the nature of the Spinnaker fabric and that he has seen an MLD tarp tie out fail.

    I certainly agree with his recommendation that reg 1.35 Silnylon as a better choice for new-to-SUL tarpers.

    I'm not doubting Ryan's statement about the MLD tarp tieout failure, perhaps he's refering to a much earlier MLD product, but I wanted to point out that I've never heard from a customer about a tie out failing on an MLD tarp. If I did, I would replace the tarp. That type of failure should be fully warranted on all type of tarps, regardless of the fabric's lightness.

    I've tested our current Spinnaker tarp tieouts strength at over 140lbs strength ridgeline, 120lbs corners and over 80lbs center edge sides. I've received multiple reports of use in over 60mph gusts with no damage. In addition, we have upgraded our equipment, construction method, tape type and reinforcement design significantly since our recent relaunch in Feb 2007.

    The Spinnaker fabric type MLD uses is Spinntex, a .97 final weight. Some other spinnaker fabrics are lighter. While not a hard and fast rule (spinnaker fabrics in the same family-same general weave/coating types) as the weight goes up X percentage the strength increases at a much faster rate.

    MLD Spinnaker and Cuben tarp reinforcements are constructed differently than any other I know. We use a special 1/2" double sided tape to bond the leading edges of the reinforcenments to the tarp body. The wide spaced (fewer needle holes) stitching over that tape is only as a "deep backup" and no additional weight of adding seam sealer to the tieout reinforcement areas are needed. This can save up to an ounce of sealer from the overall tarp weight.

    (DYI'ers Note: Professional Spinnaker permanent tapes are expensive, specific to the fabric finish type, come in long rolls and are shipped double sealed in plastic to prevent drying of the adhesive. They have a set shelf life too. Some smaller sail boats sail's long seams are not even sewn anymore! Note: Applying the taped reinforcements add about 25% labor time to the tarp.

    Close up detail pictures of MLD tieouts are posted with our Spinnaker .97 Duo tarps on the MLD site. I wish all manufacturers would post these type detail pictures for customer comparisions.

    Light Spinnaker fabrics will always require reasonable care to prevent damage in the tarp body area; but I feel that it's much more the construction method, and not the nature of the light spinnaker material, that is the issue with the strength of the tieouts.

    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    Thanks for that info, Ron. I also wish manufacturers would offer more small-scale detail shots. I'd rather have too much info (easily navigated) than too little.

    Jeff Sharp


    Locale: Blue Ridge

    We haven't had any reports of tie-outs or seams ripping or weakening. When and where were the reports published? Was this recent? We do have reinforcements of silnylon at each corner for the tie-outs. The stitching is pretty much the same it's always been and we haven't had any reports of problems and if anyone ever does have any problems we either repair or replace the shelter.

    As far as detailed pictures I'll try to post some of these on the shelter pages at once we receive the new shelters. We're adding line-locs to the new versions of the tarps, like the Squall Classic has, and I plan on taking detailed pictures of those when they arrive. These will be sewn with a different piece of grosgrain than the original tie-outs so that the line-locs can be cut off to save weight if the user decides not to use them while keeping the original tie-out intact.


    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Ron

    > (DYI'ers Note: Professional Spinnaker permanent tapes are expensive, specific to the fabric finish type, come in long rolls and are shipped double sealed in plastic to prevent drying of the adhesive. They have a set shelf life too. Some smaller sail boats sail's long seams are not even sewn anymore! Note: Applying the taped reinforcements add about 25% labor time to the tarp.

    I would be interested to know what tapes you use. I have used 3M 9485 with some good success myself, plus Venture 1163 and Tesa 4965 with reasonabvle success.


    Brett .


    Locale: CA

    I am most definitely not a tarp camper, not since many miserable sleepless nights in the military with a cold river running under my pup tent, but still, I agree, "no bug protection", no wind protection, etc.. are not problems with the tarp, they are problems inherent with tarp CAMPING. Along with blowing dust, blowing snow and ice, conductive, radiative, and convective heat loss, varmints like rats chewing your pack, and the previously mentioned flowing water. But I am digressing into a rant about tarps.. forgive me.
    I would like to have had the silnylon tested for its water resistance. Nothing is waterPROOF, especially fabric. I've tested and seen some cheap silnylon such as in the SeaToSummit sacks leak at only a few inches of static water pressure. I think rain induces a dynamic pressure as Richard previously mentioned.

    Mike Maurer


    Locale: Oregon

    As the original designer of the Gossamer SpinnTwinn tarp, I appreciate the kind words in the review.


    Mike Maurer

    Ed Jones


    I just completed my first long term trip, 8 days in the Wind River Mtns, using this tarp. I attached 2 "beaks" to the tarp using simular material from Thru-Hiker, and also designed and sewed a "net-tent" that suspends from under the tarp using the loops provided and velco sewn to the underside of the tarp and on the outside of the netting. With zippers and a bathtub type floor, it weighs 9 oz, and provides complete bugproof sleeping for 2 adults. I was quite surprised to enjoy a 5-10 degree temp increase inside the net-tent during sleeping, even in stiff night breezes. Absolutely no condensation! What an improvement all around.

    Frank Deland


    Locale: On the AT in VA

    I, too, really like the beak idaes on the SpinnTwin. The Spinnshelter does have a beak solution, but it is a solo shelter. The SpinnTwin can fit two people. I like having the beak option to help close off the front end from drafts or a wind change in the night. That happened to me once, and I thought I was in a wind tunnel, which I guess, indeed, I was! My temporary solution was to turn around having my feet at the higher entrance. I added beaks when I got home. I thought it was pretty good to have the reviewer mention the Mountain Laurel Designs alternative. Their tarp has side pull out options which I have always found useful with silnylon, non-catenary tarps that end to stretch and sag. ( I do not own a SpinnTwin…yet) BTW Shawn did e-mail me on his technique for adding a beak and an e-mail to Gossamer Gear confirmed that tey would help me with material once I figured out dimensions. Thanks to Grant for his customer service at GG. For those interested in beaks, check out the "dodger" that Granite Gear makes for their tarps. Cowboy, could you describe your beak. Does it also extend to the ground? I would also like to hear the opinions of those who think beaks are not necessary.

    Frank Deland


    Locale: On the AT in VA

    I do now own a Spinntwin and have been fiddling around with a beak. Two yards of Spinntex is 54 " wide. Cutting the rectangle on the diagonal, then sewing the new triangles together to form a pyramid shape with the 54" lengths combined to form the bottom of the pyramid makes a beak that goes all the way to the ground. The middle of the 108" base attaches to the top of the pole, the peak of the pyramid attaches to the center stake holding up the pole, so that the seam of the beak rests over the cord. The other corners of the beak then attach to the corner stakes. Problem: The top of the beak has to go over the pole point that is in the grommet in order to completely close the gap between beak and tarp. The point is sharp, so that some sort of tough patch has to be added to the beak. If the butt end of the pole could be used to hold up the tarp, the sharp point issue would be solved. Next: How to attach the top of the beak to the tarp? Velcro or a tie out sewn to the top of the tarp, or a line going all the way to the other end so that nothing has to be sewn to the tarp are solutions. A fixed length pole also causes a problem. To lower it, the pole has to be put at a steep angle, or the guy line just has to be tied in lower on the pole. But, then what happens to the beak? It can no longer go over the pole. This becomes an issue if one wants to put the low end of the tarp into the wind. A slit opening along the seam line of the beak would be the easiest solution. Anyway that is what I am trying to figure out. The beak as a wind break works fine with just loop attachments of the beak over the pole,but a gap is left for rain. BTW the tarp has an excellent toggle for tightening the tie outs. I also tried spray painting the stakes orange, but the paint just wears off as the stake is put in the ground.

    Ed Jones


    Rambler: My beaks extend about 24" in front and 16" in the rear–simply to make the ridge line longer and drip line less likely to get the gear wet–The front (high) beak is sewn to the leading edge of the tarp and a small hole is in the fabric to allow the pole to seat in the grommet (very little water could come thru)–It is held taught to the anchor line (10-12' long) with a small loop just beyond the fabric–The rear beck is sewn likewise but is completely below the grommet and anchor line, and is tied to the pole directly–I sealed all stitching, even the velco patches which support the net tent from the underside–and it seems to work quite well.

    Ed Jones


    Rambler–You only need to paint the upper 2-3" of the stakes to remain visible–still a great idea however–I have had some trouble with the fancy tensioning gadgets provided–some work and some don't–frustrating

    Floris van Breugel


    I'm thinking of constructing a beak as well for my spinntwinn – I was wondering if anyone had pictures of theirs, and other insights/suggestions? I'd rather not sew it on, but have it removable.

    Stamati Anagnostou


    Locale: New England

    Curiously, is it absolutely necessary that one have adjustable trekking poles to use with this tarp, or is it possible to use fixed length poles? Does anyone have experience with this? I am attracted to the lighter weight and lower price of fixed length poles, but it seems the might not be useful with this shelter.

    Andrew King


    Locale: Arizona

    Fixed length poles work fine too. You can wrap a strip of duct tape around your pole and use that to seat the line for your rear tieout point.

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