Story and Photos by Reuben Bolieu
Backpackers and campers carry shelter with them, but how fast can it be set up in a pinch? This is the essence of the Coalcracker Bushcraft T6ZERO Shelter System!
What if you get separated from your primary shelter? This could happen for several reasons. Ranging from losing a pack during a river crossing to being run out of the camp by a wild animal. Carrying some form of shelter on your person—that is easy to put up without attaching cordage or needing complicated knots—is what the T6ZERO is all about!
Dan Wowak is and outdoor skills instructor, owner of Coalcracker Bushcraft & Appalachian Bushman School. Not to mention the man behind the man of the Coalcracker Bushcraft YouTube channel. Dan’s enthusiastic passion for teaching wilderness skills is impossible to hide. It is obvious within the opening few seconds of any of his videos.
Dan has stated, “I want people to be excited to go out into the woods. I want people to be so excited for their next camping trip that they have their gear laying in their living room, next to the front door, a week before the trip. I want people to try new things, explore new ways of enjoying the outdoors.”
Having the ability to get a shelter up fast, cannot be overstated. Most people who roam the outdoors either have an emergency type of blanket and/or a plastic garbage bag (for shelter). Their emergency blanket is usually in the form of a Mylar space blanket. While they seem ideal for an emergency, they don’t set up fast or without some ‘jerry-rigging!
The T6ZERO is made from Xenon Sil, a lightweight polyester Sil fabric. It’s a low stretch fabric claiming to have 4,500 mm (or more) head pressure. Also, it is an excellent material for tarps or tents where a waterproof fabric is needed.
At the time I received the T6ZERO, orange was the only color offered. Since then, green, brown and grey have been added into the line-up. This makes for a more natural—and aesthetically pleasing—backpackers kind of tarp.
The T6ZERO is a lightweight, pocketable, rectangular tarp that comes with two sets of tie-outs attached, and two stake loops. The idea is simple; if you can tie shoelaces then you can set up the T6ZERO. All that is needed are two stakes and two places to tie off to, like trees.
I set the T6ZERO up as was intended—a quick and easy lean-to—while in Alabama for some training classes. I pulled out the cordage and got the lines separated. Next, I tied the tarp around a tree, about shoulder height, and walked to the other tree, dispatching the tarp in the process. Another shoelace knot secured the tarp, and two stakes were inserted in the stake loops to make the tarp taut. It was that simple to set up the lean-to!
For years, I’ve used a lean-to for my semi-permanent camps. The amount of space it offers, as well as ventilation, is hard to beat—especially in the hotter months. The sides can be built up with firewood or you can construct walls. Thus giving it more of a Shanty effect. If sleeping next to a long fire, you can place wood on either side of your sleeping position, to easily toss on the fire.
One modification I did with the T6ZERO, was add a support stick to keep the tarp from drooping in the rain. This also works for just making more room inside. I grabbed two dry sticks and put a rough point on the end (chisel), to stick in the ground. Also, I cleaned up the Y-ends, using the Coalcracker Mineshaft knife and a baton.
Next, I grabbed a long, thin, smooth stick (about broom-stick thickness) for the support stick. This stick needs to be longer than the width of the tarp. I put the Y-sticks on either end of the tarp (head/foot) and pressed them in the ground for balance.
Finally, I put the support stick in the crotches of the Y-sticks, which are positioned in a way to hold the tarp back enough to create more space. Simple yet effective!
This is a great pitch if you want three sides closed to the elements and one side wide open. It’s kinda like a mini cave, so it’s perfect for keeping out wind or horizontal rain!
Today the term plow point seems to be more popular. But whichever name it goes by, this is definitely one of the quickest and easiest set-ups that you can use. If you don’t have a convenient tree to use it may take a few minutes more, but is still easy.
Setting up the flying diamond (plow point) from the start was easy. It only requires three sticks and a tree. First, I used the tie-out I packed last and attached it to a tree with a shoelace knot. Then, I took one stake and used the opposite diagonal stake loop to pin it down tightly.
Next, I put a second stake in the last grommet and pulled it tight, then pinned it to the ground. The last tie-out was also pulled tight, at a right angle, to measure where to pin the last stake. Once the stake was secure, I used the ties to make another shoelace knot and complete the set-up.
Although Dan may not have envisioned this type of set-up for the T6ZERO, it is a common way many people like to set up their tarps. There are several ways to set up a tarp in an A-Frame configuration. This is how I did it with the T6ZERO.
I located three Y-poles, a long ridgepole, and made four stakes for this one. I made an actual frame without adding any cordage. The ridgepole was held up with one Y-pole, wedging the ridgepole against a small tree to start with. Once that was in place, I positioned the other two Y-poles to hold up the other end of the ridgepole. It remained balanced until the tarp was put on.
Then, I loosely threw the tarp over the ridgepole and hammered long stakes into the corner loops. On the other side, with the tie-outs, I measured first where I would hammer in the stakes. Then once they were in the ground I simply tied a shoelace knot around them. The tension keeps the ridgepole in place, as well as the two Y-poles that are not hammered in the ground.
I consulted Dan to ask if the Xenon Sil material would wet through with contact, like Silnylon tarps do with a ridgepole, and he said no.
To pack the T6ZERO away, I found it best to bunch up one corner of the tarp with the tie out, slowly, so as not to tangle the two lines. Then I continued tucking and stuffing the tarp, until the last set of tie-outs got neatly and lastly tucked away. This method made it easier to deploy the next time.
I started the T6ZERO field test before a heavy snowfall, by leaving it on the ground near my semi-permanent camp. It stayed buried in snow for over 3 weeks before retrieving it for inspection. No rot or damage of any kind took place. I slept several nights under the T6ZERO and appreciated the fast set-up and takedown. Not to mention the weight of 6 ounces.
The Xenon fabric is still going strong and will be my backpacking go-to tarp from now on. The T6ZERO shelter is an all-in-one packable, reusable, lightweight shelter system that protects from the harshest elements. Minimal prep work is needed; pick a spot, make some stakes, and you’re ready to go! K&G
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Orange/Green/Grey/Brown Xenon FabricBuilt-in Tie Out LinesBuilt-in Storage BagRibbon Tent Peg Loops86 Inches L x 65 Inches W7 Inches L x 5 Inches W (Packed Size)6 Ounces in WeightMSRP: $75.00
Coalcracker Bushcraftwww.CoalcrackerBushcraft.comFacebook: @CoalcrackerBushcraftInstagram: @DanWowak
Adventurer, writer, photographer, gear designer and survival instructor for Randall’s Adventure & Training, Reuben has spent most of his life hiking and backpacking through the wildernesses of the world. He has traveled abroad in extreme environments, from Alaska to the desert heat of Egypt – as well as the humid conditions of Southeast Asia and South America. He continues studying primitive survival techniques, construction and uses of knives and edged tools from places such as: South America, Australia, Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, and numerous countries in the South Pacific and Scandinavia. Reuben has published many articles on survival, knife and tool use, woodcraft, shelters, and remains a lifetime student of survival.
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