Ryan Jordan

The Versatility of the Pyramid as an Ultralight Shelter


Bench Pitch

A Buttercup Yellow Silnylon Pyramid in the Shadow of the Walling Reef,
Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex (Sigma DP2s)

The pyramid geometry is the most versatile shelter design for the wilderness trekker.

A center pole means there is nothing to break unless you don’t pay attention under the heaviest snow loads, and with cheap and thin carbon poles.

A center pole means it has lots of headroom, and a really easy and fast pitch.

A full perimeter means you’re protected from winds, rain, and with not much extra effort, spindrift.

No floor means that you don’t really care if you open the door in the rain.

If you get the shelter in silnylon, and size it for two, like the 8’3″-er in the photo above, it’s light enough (18 oz) for solo use, big enough that two people don’t kill each other, there’s room left over for all the gear, and the dog, and you can crank it down tight to huge stakes and a bunch of guylines without worrying about it, like you do with Cuben Fiber.

If you add a short noseeum perimeter, like the one in the photo above, you keep out the bugs simply by stashing gear all around it.

If you get it in Buttercup Yellow like the one above, it matches the flowers and makes for pretty photos and Martha Stewart will even be impressed at your ability to decorate the wilds with good color matching.

If you get it in silnylon grey, you’ll blend in better and suffer an identity crisis because there are a lot of these out there in grey.

And if you go from a poncho, or a little Cuben Fiber tarp, or a Moment, or a (the?) One, or a Unishelter, or a Firstlight, or a Lunar Solo, or just about anything else that costs more or weighs more or wears out sooner, you just might think you died and gone to heaven and give yourself a good smack on the forehead for not buying into the pyramid cult earlier.

If I could only keep ONE shelter, it would be a Buttercup Yellow Silnylon Pyramid, because I could do everything on just about any trail in the world during the three tempered seasons, and most of what I’d want to do in the fourth season, and the color makes me cheery on stormy days.