MSR Thru-Hiker Mesh House 3 Trekking Pole Shelter and Thru-Hiker 100 Wing Shelter
Editor: Cory McLaughlin
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Just the Facts:
The ultimate 3-person shelter for long-distance backpacking trips.
Weighing a mere .46 kg (1 lb) this ultralight and ultra-packable shelter is ideal for thru-hikers and long-distance backpackers on extended trips in the backcountry. It delivers all the essentials: excellent ventilation, bug-free protection, and space for three backpackers—or extra room for two. Use the Mesh House on its own for maximum ventilation, or pair the shelter with the Thru-Hiker 70 or 100 Wing (sold separately) for added wind and rain protection. Whatever the trip or conditions—marshy meadows in the Sierra Nevadas or thunderstorms in the Cascade Range—this highly adaptable shelter system lets you choose the weight and protection you want.
Minimum Weight (Standard) 1 lb
Minimum Weight (Metric) 0.46 kg
Packed Weight (Standard) 1 lbs 4 oz
Packed Weight (Metric) 0.57 kg
Floor Area (Standard) 37 sq. ft
Floor Area (Metric) 3.43 sq. m
Tent Volume (Standard) 71.5 cu. ft
Tent Volume (Metric) 2024 liters
Interior Peak Height (Standard) 10 in
Interior Peak Height (Metric) 96 cm
Packed Size (Standard) 10 x 4 in
Packed Size (Metric) 25 x 10 cm
Number of Doors 1
Mesh Type 10D polyester micro-mesh
Floor Fabric 15D Ripstop Nylon 1200mm Durashield
Country of Origin Imported
Thru-Hiker 100 Wing Shelter
Wind and rain protection for small groups.
Offering essential ultralight protection for minimalists, thru-hikers and long-distance backpackers, the Thru-Hiker 70 Wing and 100 Wing keep wind and rain at bay with minimal impact on total pack weight. The 70 Wing accommodates 2-3 people and weighs as little as .38 kg (12 oz), while the 100 Wing offers ample room for 3 backpackers at a minimum weight of only .49 kg (1 lb 1 oz). Use a wing shelter by itself on a fastpacking trip along the John Muir Trail, or pair one with the Thru-Hiker Mesh House 2 or 3 (sold separately) for added wind and rain protection on a long-haul trip up the Continental Divide.
70 Wing 100 Wing
Color Blue Blue
Capacity 2-3 2-3
Minimum Weight (Standard) 12 oz 1 lbs 1 oz
Minimum Weight (Metric) 0.38 kg 0.49 kg
Packed Weight (Standard) 1 lb 1 lbs 4 oz
Packed Weight (Metric) 0.46 kg 0.57 kg
Interior Peak Height (Standard) Variable in Variable in
Interior Peak Height (Metric) Variable cm Variable cm
Packed Size (Standard) 9 x 4.5 in 9 x 4.5 in
Packed Size (Metric) 23 x 10 cm 23 x 10 cm
Freestanding No No
Rainfly Fabric 20D ripstop nylon 1,200 mm Durashield 20D ripstop nylon 1,200 mm Durashield
Country of Origin Imported Imported
Typically I start with a bunch of technical info about the products but I’m going a different route for this review. I want to tell you a tale….
Picture yourself basking in the sun 8 miles past the trailhead on the Idaho side of Hells Canyon. The sun is shining bright and the sand is holding the spring heat making it just a little hotter than I would call comfortable. The wind is blowing slightly and it is truly a peaceful setting. The Oregon side of the river is a completely different story and a dark menacing cloud is rolling over gobbling up the sunshine and any trace of blue sky in its path. My mother used to tell me that thunder was the sound of angels bowling but in this case I think it was the war cry of spring.
The first raindrop hit me like a pebble. It was huge and it hit my chest with a slight sting. I knew that this was going to be a good storm and I began to run toward my shelter. The 100 Wing Tarp was sitting perfectly all the guylines nice and tight. For a second I thought everything was going to be just fine, for a second I thought I would just huddle under the tarp and weather the storm in peace, it hit with a fury unexpected and that second was gone. I watched in horror as all the stakes were pulled from the sand and was only just able to grab the tarp before it blew away. My friend Johnny was at the rear of the tarp and when last I saw him he was grabbing for the flailing end. I grabbed as much of the tarp as I could with arms spread as wide as possible and jumped on top of the Mesh House as it was now caved in. I huddled holding the tarp against the wind while my back was pelted with rain and hail. The wind blew water and sand into my face and water ran under me pooling at my knees and elbows. It was so loud that I could not hear Johnny and could only hope that he was holding down the other end. It was 15 minutes of absolute madness and then as if nothing had happned we were back to normal.
The storm was so violent and wet that it raised the river by nearly a foot. We found the next day that the trail had experienced the wrath of the storm as well as we discovered a rock slide that had come over the trail that we had walked just 12 hours before. This was a typical springtime storm in the Hells Canyon and it proved to me more than what the 100 Wing could handle. My camera was hidden amongst my things and in our panic we only worked to get the tarp set up again so I forgot to take a picture of it laying in a heap but here it is as we began to get things put back together.
The next night was clear and the stars were bright. I badly wanted to sleep with only the Mesh House so as to look at the night sky but I was not willing to risk it. I set the 100 wing up slightly different this time as I anticipated the storm that may come. I staked the whole right side of the tarp to the ground and offset the Mesh House to allow for it to be mostly set up. It was not as pretty as the last time but at least this time it may stay up. I also felt a bit more comfortable as the ground was not as sandy and I felt like the stakes got a better hold. Midnight stuck with the sound of thunder and I snapped out of my dream world only to enter a nightmare. I had anticipated the storm I hoped would never come an by doing so I pitched to tarp at a pretty sever angle to try and combat the wind I thought might come. I am so happy that I made this choice even if it did make the Mesh House sag a bit from the off center set up.
This storm was a little different as it hit with fury all at once. I had no time to get out of my sleeping back and so as the first stake flew out of the ground I just reached up and grabbed the tarp with through the mesh. Johnny was able to get to the other side and we again sat holding the tarp and the storm battered us. A river of water ran through the bottom of the tent and out the door. This storm lasted for about 20 minutes and when it was over we had another mess to clean up. This picture does not really capture the the true feel for the amount of water that we were dealing with but it was the best I could do in the heat of the moment. My other hand was holding the tarp from flying away.
Staking down the whole side against the direction of the wind did prove to be a better plan and though to tarp did again fail it was less catastrophic as the night before. Because of this Johnny was able to get out and reset the poles during the storm and we made it through a little better than the last one. I remember laughing my head off each time lighting would strike I could see Johnny’s silhouette against the tarp as he searched for the stakes. It was pure pandemonium and it was glorious! Here is a view of our situation after the storm slowed a bit.
To sum it up, the problem that I found with this setup is that the poles must be set very high to allow the Mesh House to fully expand. This creates a very undesirable situation when dealing with high wind as it essentially creates a sail. The stakes that come with both the Mesh House and the 100 Wing and just not up to the task when put against strong winds. In calm weather this whole combo is a dream setup and I really do love it but I hate not having faith in my gear when it counts. MSR does offer some other stakes that I believe would be a better choice, the Cyclone and Core or Carbon Core might be a better option. The picture below was taken the morning after the first storm. You will notice that there is an extra trekking pole used in the set up and this was to allow for a slightly lower pitch. You will also notice that we used large rocks to hold the stakes down in the event the wind came back to call. Lastly, you will notice that we trenched out a place for the water to run in the event that it came back as well.
I would recommend at the minimum upgrading the stakes to something sturdier if you are going to be in an area that has high winds and sandy soil. I also found a way to get a slightly lower pitch on the tarp by using a second set of trekking poles. It is not ideal but it allows for a fully extended Mesh House without any unneeded height. I am not going to call this a total failure as I see this system as a great option that just might need a bit of tweaking. I look forward to more use and hope to report that better stakes made all the difference.
Find it Here:
What can be done better?
First off I would like to see some better stakes. I understand the UL intention of these stakes but when they result in a catastrophic failure of your shelter the added ounces are well worth a more robust stake. Additionally more cordage could be added to the other 4 guyout points so if the height must remain above ground it can still be secured. I can say that the tarp material did its job and though I did have to hold the tarp over myself and my gear the areas that were covered stayed dry. I am eager to get some new stakes and get this back out for more testing and use.
I give the whole system 3.5 stars as it is a good system as it stands and seems to be very well made. With some new stakes I think this could really be a 5 star setup. I will test it out with better stakes in the months to come and update this review if my opinion changes.