GoLite Poncho Tarp Long term review

I have had this GoLite poncho tarp made of silnylon since I started backpacking. It weighs in at 9 oz and has been a staple of mine while backpacking here in Colorado for a while. I only this last year got into a rain jacket (this one) and I find that that works well for my hammock setup. I am still chasing elusive 5 pound base weight dragon though and a 14 oz tarp, and 10 oz hammock are too heavy.

I’m finding that integration is the key to reduce your weight. Dual use or triple use items are where its at in regards to extreme weight reduction. So I’m back to my poncho tarp.

GoLite Poncho TarpThe poncho tarp setup as a quick shelter from the rain while eating lunch.

I’ve came close to that 5lbs dragon with my current setup, I’m down to 6.88 lbs.  This poncho tarp is an integral part of the system.  I’m still working on it to customize it for me, it’s a small shelter, and my current backyard tests aren’t yielding great results on windy stormy nights. You really need to know where the storm is coming from and which direction the wind is blowing to make sure that the opening isn’t facing into the wind.

When in poncho mode, it has snaps up the sides that will keep it closed, but it will still billow due to the fact that it’s really wide. It’s a very good solution here in Colorado although it wouldn’t be quite the same, or I suspect as good, in places like Pacific Northwest. I can also use this as an asymmetrical hammock tarp, or if it’s hot and a little rainy, I can roll up the front and I get a great breeze, while keeping my pack dry.

GoLite Poncho Tarp
The GoLite Poncho Tarp as an asym hammock tarp.

Current issues with a ground tarp setup:

  1. I’m 6’3” and 220LBS. So I’m really big for this shelter type.  This leaves my head or feet exposed to the wind and rain.
  2. Using an umbrella or rain jacket to seal one side won’t fix the issue if the rain is coming on the diagonal, or doesn’t fix the issue of setup in precipitation.
  3. The outside pole needed to seal the hood and pull it from my face to create room means I WILL get wet if I use this as my only rain wear.


Current Pros:

  1. Its super light at 9 OZ.
  2. As a dual use piece of equipment, it saves the weight of taking a separate shelter and rain gear. Depending on the rain gear, it could be from 4 to 12 OZ or so.
  3. With only slight modification, it could be a great three season shelter.

My plans moving forward are to modify the side of the tarp so that it can become an effective shelter for someone my size.  And I’ll post that up when I get it done.

But the poncho tarp is great for people that are under 6 foot, and setup in the half-mid pitch it would work really well. Since I’m bigger I need to use the pitch in the picture.


This is a great product for use in areas with low humidity, and has served me well for about 5 years on the trail. Not many things will last that long with as much trail use as this sees. If you can find one, get it.




Is the BeFree a better filter than the Saywer?


EDIT: In a recent trip, the BeFree totally stopped filtering even though it was clean and well taken care of. I cannot endorse this filter, as a few others have had this same problem, so I know it’s not just me.

Long story short, maybe in the next iteration.

I recently purchased two Katadyn BeFree filters from REI when they were on sale, thinking that hey, they might be cool and they are only $20 at the time.


I have been a fan of gravity filters for a while due to the set it and forget it factor, but the flow of cheap ones left me with something to be desired for quick stops, and the high cost of the Platypus Gravity left me saying no thanks.  So I have been using the BeFree, modified pretty heavily, but it works soo well. EDIT: No it doesn’t.

First some practicalities.

  • The BeFree filters do not use standard threading like the Sawyer line does. I dislike this. The bottle openings are much bigger and allow for a high flow rate to but the filter, enhancing its already amazing flow rate, but it can’t use any other bottles than the soft bottle it comes with. So you can either use this with the soft bottle, or try to find something that the filter portion can fit on. I didn’t find anything, and I went to King Soopers one day to just try it out. NOTHING fit. And I tried everything, even pancake mix bottles. So that is an issue if you are wanting to hook it up to some smart water bottles or to use it as an inline filter. If that’s the case, you should just stick with the Sawyer which fits nearly everything. EDIT: it fits on a Hydrapak Seeker Water Bottle. Which is an issue because if the bottle pops, leaks or is damaged in any way you are hosed until you can order a new one.
  • The next issue is that damn soft bottle. I get that it’s supposed to be easier to carry, and it can pack down small but I just hate them. They are good on some running vests where they need to conform to a certain shape that doesn’t work for a rigid bottle. But for backpacking, I hate them.
  • Third I don’t really get the idea here. When on a run there aren’t really times when I need to stop to refill my water supply, and for most trail runners I imagine this is true. Ultra Runners might need it to go light and just refill as needed, but even then a bladder would work better I think. If you are running 50 miles unsupported and on your own, most runners carry what they need.

Why I like the BeFree:

  • Using the BeFree after the Squeeze is night and day. It’s like just pouring water from the bottle.
  • When it’s dirty just put some clean water in the bag and shake it. BAM! It’s clean again. So the need to back flush is gone. Thus no need to carry a syringe. There really is no need anyway, just use a Smartwater bottle cap. The blue one with the flip lid.
  • The entire filter is exposed to the water, verses just the end in a Sawyer. This makes it able to filter faster due to the greater surface area and easier to clean as well.

So I modified it this way:

  • I cut the hard top of the soft bottle off and set it aside.
  • I had a dry sack from Mountain Hardware that is now discontinued (but this will work) and I cut a 1.5” line in the bottom.
  • Then I pulled the bag through the hard top of the bottle and screwed the filter on.

It works so well.

EDIT: It worked well until I tried it with some lake water. It didn’t perform then. The filter clogged and wouldn’t let more than a trickle out. It was filtering much slower than the Sawyer.



Soto Amicus, my new favorite stove.

First off I am stoked about this stove, the Soto Amicus. I have been getting great boil times, and effect from this little guy, and it’s super windproof for a standalone canister stove.

But I’m sorry for not posting for a while but with the coming of the holidays and work, I am pretty busy this time of year. I’ll begin posting more after the new year. Until then I’ll just do a couple more.

OK back to the stove. The craftsmanship on this stove is amazing. I have a few things I like very much about the Amicus.

Soto Amicus

First is the spring hinge that the pot stands use. They are little barrels riveted to the underside of the burner. In the barrels is a spring that allows the stand arm to swing out and latch onto the hook that holds it up.

Soto Amicus
The stealth ignition on the Amicus works so reliability that I have moved my lighter into my food bag and out of my cook kit. I have NEVER had a piezio ignition that is this reliable.

Soto AmicusI attribute the reliability of the stealth ignition to the fact that the electrode is in the middle of the burner above, and to the thickness of the thing. The Amicus is the only stove I have seen that uses such a stout ignitor and it’s this thickness that makes it so able to handle the heat from the stove. All the other ignitors I have used are thin and warp, and when they warp they break the wire that causes the spark.

Soto Amicus

The third and probably most favorite thing is the concave burner. The lip around the burner is a small windscreen that makes this the most windproof solo stove I have ever used. I can blow it out but I need to be close and blow hard directly into the burner.

As for burn tests, I have gone through a 100-gram canister and recorded a couple of tests. The stove does pretty well, here are the numbers.

  • The Soto Amicus used an average of 6.8 grams of fuel per boil.
  • Average boil time was 3:45
  • I got 15 boils from the 100-gram canister of MSR four Season fuel.

The first test I did was at 34F, and it did pretty well, here is the video.

The second that I recorded was at 11F and I was very surprised at the performance.

My final thoughts