"Sorry, folks, but you're going to find a mix of reviews of this hybrid shelter under various names. The confusion stems from the fact that in order to "keep up with the market," MSR updated and lightened this shelter. They also started to call it a "tent" rather than a "tarp" in 2005, because in theory, this is now supposed to be sold as a set for around $279.00 MSRP.
Picture a modernized Army Pup Tent shape with a modular floor and insect net, designed to use your trekking poles, AND which leaves enough space between the poles for the two occupants to snuggle at night (versus the poles in between the occupants in the MSR Twin Peaks; the Black Diamond Betamid/Beta Light; and the REI Gimme Shelter). This is a VERY LONG shelter when compared to many in its class and this can present problems on the trail, where trees and rocks might not allow a textbook pitch.
OK, a little history so you can tell what you're looking at:
1. Several years ago, WALRUS made the Trekker Tarp. It was a light Olive Green and featured an optional insect insert. It's a good system, but I believe there are many more Walrus Trekker Tarps out there than insect inserts. Find a set on Ebay these days, and they sometimes sell for twice their original price because folks respect them that much. [Tarp: about 3-1/2 lbs. and Insert: about 2 lb. for a total of 5-1/2 lb. packed].
2. Around 2002, Walrus had been bought out by MSR and the Trekker Tarp with optional Insect Insert quickly changed brand names and colors. From 2002 to 2004, the Trekker Tarp was "Chinchilla" color [a gentle on the eye tan/olive, as they used on many of their 2002 and 2003 shelters]. There are many more Trekker Tarps than optional Insect Inserts... as one might expect. This one had pack weights that are very similar to those of the Walrus Trekker, but MSR Trekker came with MSR Ground Hog stakes.
3. Enter the 2005 Model Year: MSR decided to use the lighter blaze orange silnylon fabric [as with Missing Link, Twin Peaks, etc.] and to change the name of this shelter to the MSR TREKKER TENT (indicating the Tarp and the Insect Insert are to be sold as a system).
GREAT CONFUSION REIGNS! BUYER BEWARE! There are either ignorant or sleazy (more likely in my opinion) outfitters and Internet outdoor gear sites that will show you the 2005 model and then attempt to dump the old stock (former models) on you at 2005 MSRP prices. Believe me, I'm speaking from experience here [You know who you are -- "Mount Rogers Outfitters," "Venture-Out," and "BackpackingDeals"]...
OK, the TREKKER TENT is MSR Blaze Orange and sports a couple of improvements over the models that came before it:
- Tarp: 2-1/2 lbs. packed and Insert: 2 lbs. packed for a total weight of 4-1/2 lbs. Not the lightest combination on the market, but a full pound lighter than former years [again, as with the Twin Peaks, MSR substituted MSR Needle Stakes for MSR Ground Hog Stakes and that's where most of the weight savings probably came from].
- With the older models, the sides of the Insect Insert drooped and allowed insects to bite your body parts that leaned up against it in the night. Trekker Tent now features buttons on the side of the Insert that match rings on the walls of the Tarp, which keep the sides of the net away from your elbow at night.
- The older models featured only a long side zipper on the Insert, which was convenient only if you raised the side of the tarp an entered the shelter from the side. The 2005 Insert has the normal long side zipper and a zippered entrance on both ends as well (to match up with the side/end zippers of the Tarp). This was a no-brainer... but a great help.
- The Insert's floor is now red and less slippery than the older black floors.
I REALLY LIKE THIS DESIGN FOR AN ALMOST ALL PURPOSE SHELTER (perhaps not for snow camping although I’ve used it for this).
Carry only the Tarp and a Tyvek ground sheet to save weight.
- A very flexible shelter, with many possible pitches and a modular format
- An all-purpose shelter for less than five pounds pack weight
- Many possibilities for venting the shelter to reduce/contain condensation
- TWO vestibules – room for dogs and gear!
- Blaze Orange color…!?! A positive for Search and Rescue, I’m sure…
- A little heavy for its class
- Its length might require some creative pitching around obstacles
1. Buy and retrofit either the Walrus Trekker and Insert or the pre-2005 MSR Trekker Tarp and Insert with the new fittings to hold the Insert’s sides away from the camper. Don’t bother asking MSR Customer Service for the fittings, however (I did) -- they don’t stock spares. You’ll have to buy a $19.95 El-Cheapo bivy from Gander Mountain and strip the fittings off it [in the Army, we called this, “Controlled Substitution”]. You can also make a reasonable substitute with a pair of standard Army BDU buttons and some light-duty nylon cord.
2. Sorry, I really don’t like the blaze orange color of the 2005 model, but if you choose to carry less weight, carry the newer one. Better yet, substitute MSR Needle Stakes for the standard-issue Ground Hog Stakes on one of the older models, and you can carry a lighter version of an older one for similar pack weight.
3. Sell your MSR Missing Link on Ebay and use one of these great, all-purpose shelters. Yes, I also reviewed the Missing Link. Enjoy…"