Six Moon Designs Deschutes Tarp Review

Six Moon Designs Deschutes UL Backpacking Tarp Review

The Six Moon Designs Deschutes Tarp is a one-person, single-wall ultralight pyramid tarp which weighs 13 oz (although ours weighs 12 oz seam-sealed). Made with silnylon, this floorless tarp requires one trekking pole or tent pole to set up and six tent stakes. It has an enormous amount of internal space, 44 sq ft to be exact, although I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone over 6′ in height. You can also add insect netting and bathtub floor to it with the  Six Moons Serenity Net Tent bringing the total weight up to 23 ounces.

Specs at a Glance

  • Manufacturer’s Weight: 13 oz (not seam-sealed)
  • Actual Weight: 12 oz, seam-sealed (tarp) 0.5 oz (stuff sack)
  • Capacity: 1 person
  • Type: Pyramid Tarp
  • Pole: 45-49″, not included
  • Stakes: Requires 6, not included
  • Dimensions: 1o5″ (266cm ) max width x 80″ (203 cm) max depth
  • Material: Silnylon w/ 3,000mm waterproof rating

The Six Moon Designs Deschutes Tarp has a six-sided pyramid shape that requires a single trekking pole adjusted to 49″ or tent pole (sold separately), to set up. The peak is offset from the middle towards the front of the shelter, which has two front doors split by a zipper. The two front doors are cut at a slight angle to create a covered front vestibule that does not reach the ground but has enough depth to prevent rain from splashing back at you.

The front of the shelter is a bit higher than the rear creating an elevated vestibule
The front of the shelter is a bit higher than the rear creating an elevated vestibule

I like this vestibule design because I like the connection to the outdoors and the increased airflow, but the Deschutes is decidedly not a full-coverage shelter with a rain fly that reaches to the ground unless you decrease the height of the pole, which is an option in bad weather.

You can roll back one or both doors
You can roll back one or both doors.

If you want even more ventilation or views, you can also roll back both front doors, since the front guyline is attached to the peak and not the ends of the doors.

You can reduce the height of the pole to bring the vestibule closer to the ground.
The peak is offset, so you get more headroom in the front of the shelter. You can also tilt the pole to create more room inside the front of the shelter.

The Deschutes has 6 guylines located around the perimeter of the tarp. These are guyed out with reflective webbing lines and tensioners, but not linelocs and cordage used by other ultralight shelters. I haven’t noticed functional or performance differences in the webbing and hardware they use, although I prefer linelocs myself.

The guylines are made with webbing and buckles and not linelocs and cord
The guylines are made with webbing and buckles and not linelocs and cord

While there is a glove hook in the peak and plastic rings at the guy out points to attach a net tent, the Deschutes is a barebones tarp without any internal pockets or ceiling attachments, to suspend a bivy sack head net, for example. The lack of ceiling attachment points is puzzling since this is a standard feature included on all square, rectangular, and pyramid tarps. It’s a little thing, but it makes a huge difference in keeping the mosquito meeting off your face so you can sleep more comfortably.

If you need to deal with insects and you plan to use hang a three-season UL bivy sack for that, this isn’t the shelter to get. I find that disappointing because this tarp provides so much more coverage and weather protection than a flat or square tarp, with little added weight penalty.

Dimensions

While the inside of the Deschutes is huge, with 44 sq ft of surface area, the slope of the sidewalls reduces the amount of livable space where there’s enough headroom to sit up or even lie down. This is a problem with the majority of pyramid tarps, not just the Deschutes. On the Deschutes, you’ll find it better to store your gear at the rear of the tarp which has a lower ceiling than the front and is much more prone to internal condensation transfer.

Unobstructed view of the interior space.
Unobstructed view of the interior space.

The usable width of the Deschutes is also on the small side, due to the slope of the walls. While the specs say that the tent is 105″ / 266 cm wide, it feels quite cramped when lying inside at the widest point in a 6′ (72″) bivy sack with very little slack space at the head and foot ends to avoid touching the ceiling or even with sliding under the side walls. I’d recommend choosing a different shelter if you’re taller than 6′ in height. Six Moons Designs also recommends this.

Materials

The Deschutes Tarp is made with siliconized nylon (silnylon) with an excellent 3000 waterproof rating that exceeds that of most of the tents you can buy at REI. The front door closes with a YKK #3 zipper and is not water-resistant. It is covered with a silnylon flap to protect it from rain.

The Deschutes Tarp has to be seam-sealed, which is a bit of a hassle, but you can ask Six Moons to do it for you for a small fee. The rear-most four sides of the Deschutes are made with a single piece of fabric without any seams, which significantly reduces the amount of seam sealing required.  The Deschutes packs up very small, 12″ X 4.5″, and doesn’t take up much space in a backpack. It is available in one color, grey.

The back of the Deschutes has a classic pyramid shape that good at shedding wind and rain.
The back of the Deschutes has a classic pyramid shape that is good at shedding wind and rain.

Assessment

The Six Moon Designs Deschutes Tarp is a bare-bones, one-person pyramid shelter that is lightweight and packs up small. It’s easy to pitch and provides good wind and weather protection by adjusting the height of the supporting pole. Pyramid tarps like the Deschutes offer a lot more protection than a flat or rectangular tarp and are a lot easier to use because they have a single standard configuration.

While the Deschutes has a lot of interior volume, the shelter is too small for anyone close to 6′ tall. In addition, the lack of internal hang loops makes it impossible to suspend a UL-style bivy sack providing insect protection, a feature commonly provided on other pyramid shelters and most flat or shaped tarps for this purpose. If you want to buy this shelter, I’d advise buying the companion Serenity Net Tent at the same time for insect protection.

If you want something lighter weight than a modular shelter system, I recommend trying the Deschutes Plus Ultralight Backpacking Tarp ($220, 16 oz) which has perimeter netting under the door and around the sides of the tarp. While you’ll still want to use a UL groundsheet, the perimeter netting eliminates the need for a separate bug bivy or bivy sack.

Comparable Shelters

Zpacks Pocket Tarp w/ Doors

Hexamid Pocket Tarp w: Doors
The Zpacks Hexamid Pocket Tarp w/ Doors ($299) has very similar dimensions to the Deschutes but is much more expensive because it is only available in DCF. It requires one trekking pole to pitch and does not have a front zipper. It has line-locs and guylines, and a hang loop is very easy to attach to the ceiling with a DCF Stick on LoopA bathtub groundsheet is also available as an add-on, but a separate net tent is not.

Mountain Laurel Designs Cricket

MLD Cricket
The Mountain Laurel Designs Cricket ($185) has a very similar shape but has larger dimensions and weighs slightly less. It requires two trekking poles to pitch and is available in silnylon or DCF. The Cricket does not have a front zipper for improved durability, but you have to crawl into the shelter when the front beak is pitched low. It has interior hang loops, uses linelocs in the corners, and is available in multiple colors. A compatible net tent is also available.

Disclosure: Six Moon Designs gave the author a Deschutes tarp for an honest review.

Editor’s note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 − one =