Tag Archives: modifications

Mariposa rucksack – Frankenpack edition

WordPress managed to delete my original post on this, so I’ll try to recreate it. As followers of my blog will be aware, I’ve made some changes to my old Gossamer Gear Mariposa. The front pocket mesh ripped on my 2017 TGO Challenge. A friend kindly replaced it with a solid one and at the same time replaced the old shoulder straps with new ones.

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Over The Top closure. I preferred the drawstring and Y strap closure of the original Mariposa. I persuaded another friend to remove the OTT closure and replace it. I’m very pleased with the result.

It makes the rucksack easier to pack and more flexible with different loads. It gives a little more volume too, which is helpful for longer trips.

The top closure has a Y strap but it is also possible to use a single strap which is useful for smaller loads. I also added a karabiner to further cinch down the load if required.

I’ve also changed the backpad from some tent underlay (from Needlesports) to an evazote mat from Ultralight Outdoors Gear. I’ve saved a bit of weight, 66g vs 120g.

I’m not sure if I’ve blogged this before but I put a bit of fleece (from a dog bed!) in the lumber area which makes it more comfortable in warmer conditions. If it’s raining I usually remove it to stop it getting wet.

Some time ago I also swapped the original hipbelt for the latest version, which is much better.

So there you have it, the Mariposa Frankenpack, my almost perfect rucksack. The only further improvement would be replacing the gridstop fabric with X-Pac. Now if I could persuade someone to do that…

Notch Li Mods

No tent is perfect and no tent survives my roving eye for modifications. The Tarptent Notch Li is no exception. Right from the start I want to emphasise that the Notch Li is fine without any tweaks and the changes I have made are from personal preference. So here we go!

New cords: this is something that many people do. On my Scarp and now my Notch, I’ve replaced the cordage at the ends with thicker 2.8mm MLD cord to prevent any slippage. Now, Tarptent say that the cord they supply won’t slip and it is different to the cord that they used to supply with the original Scarp, where I encountered problems. While I have no reason to doubt them, I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’ve also lengthened the cord, although in the picture, I actually think it is too long and will shorten it. I also added a sail ring for the bottom cord to slip through (not obvious from the picture) and a larger pull out loop of cord in case I use a large peg like an MSR Blizzard stake. The Notch (like the Scarp) puts quite a lot of strain on the end pegs so it pays to have substantial pegs at the ends.

Corner loops and kamsnap closure: I’ve added a loop on each corner so the bottom of the PitchLoc struts can be pulled down to the ground on uneven ground. Most of the time this won’t be an issue, but it adds no extra weight and makes sure the PitchLoc ends are absolutely stable. The PitchLocs are the key on many Tarptent tents to their stable structure. As I’ve said before, they are genius! The observant in the congregation will note I’ve added a kamsnap closure at the bottom of the velcro on ventilation flap. While I’m not sure it’s absolutely necessary, it will prevent any chance of a strong gust of wind loosening the closure. I’m a bit of a kamsnap fiend!

Extra door linelok: I mentioned in a previous post that it might be wise to treat the door zip with some care as it is light gauge and could get strained. One way of helping to alleviate this is to add another linelok. If you don’t want to add another linelok, then it would be easy to add a fixed loop to the existing grosgrain loop. However, I added a side-release linlok which means that you can not only adjust the tension but can also release the door panel without removing the cord from the peg. The grosgrain loop is just long enough to loop through the linelok fixing without requiring sewing. Brilliant!

To avoid losing the cord when it’s detached I’ve looped it on to the other door cord, similar to the way Colin Ibbottson has done on the Tramplite. Great idea! In the picture below, you can see that it also means that you can have the door unzipped but still have protection from both panels. I might attach a hook or clip at the base of the door zip as well, but this arrangement takes a lot of the strain off anyway.

Apex cords: at he two apexes I’ve used 1.5mm dyneema cord with Clam Cleat linloks. This arrangement is actually lighter than using 2mm or 3mm cord with the apex linelok. I’ve also made the cord longer. The apex cords are key to a rigid structure and unless camping in a very sheltered place, I’d always use them.

Mid ground sheet pullouts: at the mid points of the inner, there are webbing and shockcord pullouts at the base of the groundsheet to tension the middle of the inner. I’ve added a second pullout point where the groundsheet material meets the body fabric, using a kamsnap to secure it. To make it adjustable, I’ve added a length of thin shockcord which can be looped around a trekking pole handle. This pulls out the inner more effectively than just having a ground level pullout.

Having a kamsnap means it’s really easy to attach and adjust. I should’ve taken a picture inside the inner, but, believe me, it tensions the inner nicely and gives a bit more percieved space in the centre of the inner.

DCF pockets: there are some small pockets by the door but I’ve added a couple of pockets, one at either end. These were originally for my Laser Comp, but I’ve repurposed them for the Notch. Rather than sewing them, I’ve used safety pins to attach them. It’s a shame there’s no larger mesh pockets on the end panels as that would be ideal, especially as there’s very little spare space in the inner for gear.

Roof cord: I’m sure virtually everyone does this, a cord for hanging socks and lights. Mine’s adjustable with a cord lock. I will shorten it a bit.

Pole apex cords: in the picture above, the yellow cord is for a lantern, clothes or a food bag. The orange cord is to secure a trekking pole in “handle up” mode.

Although I bought the trekking pole adapters from Tarptent, they don’t work very well with Leki poles. This arrangement is almost as good and is simpler and lighter. It also means I have the option of tips up or handles up. Both cords are simply looped through the grosgrain at the apex that has the grommet for pole tips in the apex. You can see from the picture that I’ve also added zip puller on the fly door to make it easier to open. I’ve not bothered on the inner.

None of these mods are essential and the Notch Li is a good tent in its delivered condtion. However, for me, I think the mods add a bit to the original design. I hope you find them interesting!

Scarp mods summary: part 2, minor mods

In part 2 of my Scarp modifications, I’ll outline the more minor tweaks that I’ve made. They are all quite straightfoward.

1) Silicone anti slip stripes on groundsheet. Silnylon is very slippery, so sleeping mats tend to slide around, especially on a slope. To counter this, it’s a good idea to paint a few stripes of silcone seam sealant (McNett Silnet) on the groundsheet. It’s up to you whether you use stripes or dots.

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2) Inner tent pocket. The pockets in the Scarp are so small and poorly positioned that I’ve never used them. Instead I’ve cut a silnylon stuff sack in half and sewn up one end to make a pocket. I’ve attached it to the inner with a couple of safety pins. This means I can move it around if I decide to switch sleeping positions. In an ideal world, I’d like to have large mesh pockets at either end, but such a radical mod is beyond my capabilities.

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3) End vent cord lock, hook and loop. On the flysheet, at either end, there is a short zip to aid ventilation. The tension of the flysheet means that this has a tendency to come apart. To prevent this, I added a cord lock to ensure it stays closed. To make it easier to keep the vent open, I’ve used a hook (taken from another tent) and a loop of cord, so that I can hook up the vent as shown below, to maximise the ventilation.

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4) Inner tent door tie back. The original door tie backs for the inner are plain ribbons. These are a pain to tie, so I’ve put a cord lock on one ribbon and added an elastic loop to secure the tie back. I probably could have done a slightly neater job as the elastic has frayed a bit. It’s now much quicker, simpler and more secure to tie back the doors.

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5) Zip pullers. The zips on the Scarp are not supplied with pullers. On the inner tent I’ve made my own and on the outer, I’ve used some Alpkit pullers. It’s much easier now to use the zips, especially with gloves.

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MYOG zip pullers

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Alpkit zip pullers

6) Fly adjuster venting cord. For some reason, the cord supplied was like an old black bootlace. I’ve replaced it with some dyneema cord. There’s no particular need to replace it. It just looks neater.

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7) Modified crossing pole loop. Inserting the crossing poles through the grosgrain loop at the apex, especially after it’s been sealed, is quite tight, so I’ve added a loop of dyneema cord to make it a lot easier (orange loop above vent in picture). Arguably it makes the Scarp slightly less stable, but it doesn’t make very much difference.

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The only modification that I’ve yet to do is to swap the supplied crossing pole clips, which are like glove hooks for the clips that Vango kindly supplied me. Something else I’m mulling is whether to make some removable snow valances for winter.

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Hopefully, at least some of those mods will be helpful to other Scarp owners. I’d be interested if anyone has thought of any others.

Scarp mods summary: part 1, major mods

I thought it would be useful to do a couple of posts summarising all the modifications I’ve made to my Tarptent Scarp 1. Feel free to copy and use these as you wish. Equally, if don’t want to use them, that’s no problem to me! I’ve divided them into two posts, major and minor modifications, to indicate those which I think are highly desirable and those which are more optional. However, none of the modifications are difficult to do. Some require a modest amount of sewing, but that’s all. Here goes!

Major modifications

1) Seam sealing. If you want the Scarp to be fully watertight, you really need to seal the seams with a silicone sealer such as McNett Silnet. The pole arch requires particular attention. It’s best to seal the outside, rather than the inside. I made the mistake of preferring the cosmetically superior route of sealing the inside. Later I had to seal the outside as well. On the pole arch you need to seal both sides of the arch from the zip to the apex. It is important to seal the crossover pole loop as well, otherwise it will wick rain inside the tent. It’s also worth sealing the seams that go from the corners of the tent to the pole arch. I’ve also sealed the seams around the vents. I’ve not bothered with the seams on the vertical walls at the end of the tent as these are unlikely to cause problems with water ingress.

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Seal the pole arch, crossing pole loop, lateral roof and vent seams

2) Re-guy with 3mm cord. The cord supplied with the Scarp is 2mm and the end guys are a bit short. Initially I re-guyed the tent with longer 2mm cord. However, 2mm cord tends to slip through the lineloks when wet. You can prevent this by tying a slip knot after tensioning them. I had some spare cord from my MLD Duomid, so I decided to re-guy with this thicker cord (I’m not sure whether it’s 2.5mm or 3mm, I think it’s 3mm but someone can probably tell me). This thicker cord locks properly in the linelok and there’s no chance of slippage.

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Re-guying the end guys with 3mm cord

On the lower linelok on the corners, I’ve tied off the cord through the grosgrain loop. I’ve attached the crossover pole eyelets to some leftover 2mm cord, so I can thread them though the remaining free lineloks. Slippage is not an issue with these when using the crossover poles.

The second mod is to add sail rings to the cords on the corners to ensure that the guys can be easily adjusted and stay securely on the pegs. These are available through yacht chandlers (a good source of bits and pieces). Alternatively, you could use a short loop of cord.

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Sail ring mod

On the side guys, I’ve used the same cord (mainly to match the other guys). To accommodate the thicker cord, I’ve used some larger lineloks, which were leftover from another tent (!). Additionally, I’ve secured them to the grosgrain loop on the tent with a mini carabiner. This provides a neater connection and the option to remove them completely, which is useful on narrow pitches and camp sites.

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Carabiner on side guy

3) Pole arch tension system. I think this is well worth doing and adds a lot of stability to the Scarp. Instead of repeating myself, have a look at yesterday’s post.

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Pole arch tension system

4) Threshold cord. I know this hasn’t found favour with a number of Scarp owners, but I think it’s worthwhile as it takes the strain off the door zip. I know there’s a small connector at the bottom of the zip, but it’s quite fragile and I think the threshold cord is a much better solution (copied from the Hilleberg Akto, incidentally). It also takes the strain when the door is open and ensures the tent retains its rigidity.

Again, it’s really easy to do. All you need is some cord and a linelok. I’ve used 2mm as it doesn’t take a huge strain. At the pole end the cord is threaded through the loop beyond the pole eyelet and doubled back to a linelok. It is important, when pitching the tent that the cord is looped around the end of the pole underneath the grosgrain ribbon, so the pole takes the strain and not the grosgrain.

At the other end, loop it around the strut of the PitchLoc strut. Again, it is important that it pulls against the strut. To ensure that it doesn’t slip down, I’ve secured the cord with a couple of stitches to the strut sleeve.

It’s really important that the threshold cord is secured against both the strut and the end of the pole. Once the length is adjusted, it doesn’t need to be changed and it seems to stay secured in the linelok when packed.

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Threshold cord

5) Inner/outer tent shock-cord connectors. On the original Scarp, the four corners of the inner are connected to the outer with a glove hook connector secured by a (very) short piece of elastic. The first time I pitched the tent in the garden I broke one of these. Because of the slope of our garden, when I got in the tent, the groundsheet slid downhill and ping, the connector broke. So to add a bit more flex, I’ve inserted a small shock-cord loop between the inner and the outer.Since then, I’ve never had a problem and there’s sufficient “give” to accommodate less than ideal pitches.

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Inner/outer tent shockcord connectors

In part two, I’ll outline what I think are more minor, optional tweaks. In my view, they are still worth doing, but make less overall difference to the Scarp. Happy modding!

Revised Scarp pole arch tension system

After my experience with the F10 Nitro Lite 200, I decided to revise the pole arch tension system on my Scarp. You can find the details of the old system in this post. The old system is shown below.

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The reason for the “dog leg” was that I thought the cord might compromise access to the porch. Having experienced the more direct system in the Nitro Lite, I decided that this wasn’t really a problem after all. The new system is shown below.

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At either end of the cord I’ve used a mini carabiner so the whole system can be easily removed if needed. When packing, I unclip the lower carabiner and tie the loose cord so that it doesn’t get tangled when rolling up the tent. On the lower attachment, I added a loop of cord to the small grosgrain loop on the ribbon that connects the pole grommets (see below).

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At the top, instead of tying the cord, I’ve used another carabiner. While this is not strictly necessary, I prefer to have the option of removing the cord quickly if necessary, rather than fiddle around trying to untie a knot (show below).

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How did it work? It gives the pole arch a lot more stability than being untethered or just using the side guys. In conjunction with the side guys, it makes the hoop a lot more stable, but still allows some modest flex. It can be used without the side guy on small pitches where space is compromised and has a similar effect to having the side guy. It doesn’t compromise access to the porch. It also has a secondary use as clothes line for drying socks!

All in all, I think this works better than my first iteration. Later this week, I’ll publish a post with all the modifications that I’ve made to my Scarp 1. I was going to make a video, but I chickened out and just took photos of the mods when I was on Dartmoor.