Best known for its hunting apparel, Sitka jumps into the emergency shelter market with its new Flash Shelter 8’x10,’ a tarp that packs light but rolls out large enough to provide cover for two people. For the backcountry hunter, the Flash Shelter is made to provide quick concealment, and shelter from rain, wind, and snow.
The Flash Shelter is handy and thoughtfully designed with several very functional features. Mine was done in Sitka’s Optifade Sub-Alpine pattern, and it is also available in Optifade Open Country. Of course, as a Sitka product, it also features a Sitka price tag.
On a recent elk hunt in Idaho’s Selway Wilderness Area, I took along a Flash Shelter and tried it out in the field. Not that I had a backcountry emergency but I wanted to find out how it might deploy and function in the field versus my living room.
Weighing in at just 25 ounces, the Flash Shelter packs into the same size as a 1-liter bottle of water–literally—and can easily be stowed in even a smaller day pack.
Once unrolled, the Flash Shelter can pretty much become whatever you want it to be. Need a make-shift pup tent? Just find a couple of sticks of equal length to use as center poles and peg down or weight down your corners. You have a tent.
Need shade or rain protection? Tie the guy lines to a couple of branches or tree trunks for a quick canopy.
Let’s say you are out hunting on the side of a mountain and are suddenly drenched in a cloudburst. Shivering and a bit disoriented, you need to recover your warmth. So, you use the Flash Shelter in the easiest set up possible, simply unroll it and then wrap it around your body and head to warm you while you consider your next move.
You can even configure the Flash Shelter into a funnel
shape to trap rainwater for drinking.
Each corner of the Flash Shelter sports an orange, reflective guy line.
The six corners on the Flash Shelter (yes, six!) are all reinforced with another layer of material and extra stitching. Likewise, the attached loops are stitched into the corners at three separate places for very solid support.
Why six corners on a rectangle? Well, the Flash Shelter isn’t a rectangle. Sitka designed it with what it terms a “catenary curve,” essentially a slight, pointy curve in the short sides of the shelter. This design allows for another two corners for tie-down and attachment purposes.
Maybe you are hunting above the tree line when the need for shelter crops up, but there are no branches or sticks for supports. Sitka thought of that and designed the shelter with two reinforced pockets located lengthwise along the centerline that fit the handle of a hiking pole.
Interestingly, though, my tape measure puts the Flash Shelter tarp at 7’2” by 9’. I measured this every way possible and could not get close to 8’x10’.
Now for the sticker shock. Sitka lists the 8’x10’ Flash Shelter at $249. The Flash Shelter 10’x12’ version sells for $299.00.
That’s a lot of money for a lightweight tarp. Of course, if you’re already a Sitka fan and want a quick and handy shelter in case of some sort of emergency, you’re probably not worried about Sitka prices.
I will be packing mine along at all future hunts. Given the lightweight and the small size of the Flash Shelter, there’s really no reason not to pack along a little extra help in case of a sudden change in weather.