We had just enough time to crawl into our shelters before the skies began to unload on us. Quarter sized bullets of hail and ear-shattering thunder had me in a fetal position most of the night as frequent and terrifyingly close lightning lit up the interior of my tarp. The barrage lasted several hours and the fear of getting hit by lightning, having my shelter torn to shreds by hail and wind, or having a tree collapse on me all but ensured a sleepless night.
In the morning we awoke to a calm, cloudless sky and my hiking partner Vortex looked at me perplexed. There were shards of glass around both of our shelters. A particularly large piece was near where my head had laid the previous night. We had cleared the site prior to putting our tarps down, which had become our thru-hiking ritual, and were dumbfounded to find the glass in our respective sites. Could we really have missed these sharp pieces of glass? We would later find out that the lightning strikes had hit the sandy beach of the small lake we slept beside, fusing the sand into silica glass.
From that day forward, I knew my shelter was bomb-proof!
The Deschutes Zero-G is a DCF shelter with a stated weight of 8 oz (226 grams) although my scale read 222 grams or about 7.8 oz (including the stuff sack but excluding stakes and pole).
The set-up is pretty intuitive as the shelter only uses a single pole, which was a major draw for me (I have a tendency to snap trekking poles). Even with no real tarp experience, my first time setting it up took ~5 minutes to get a taught pitch.
Quick, easy, and taut pitch, everytime! by Dahn Pratt
Deschutes Zero-G + SerenityNet inner. A fully enclosed double-walled shelter at 19 oz. Photo by Dahn Pratt
Using a piece of Tyvek as a groundsheet and a SMD Serenity Net provided me with a fully enclosed double-walled shelter. The added benefit being the modular nature of having a detachable inner for clear nights or just the Deschutes for bugless nights.
One of the reasons I absolutely loved the Deschutes was its ability to pitch in precarious spots. With its tiny footprint, most sites that would otherwise be off-limits to other hikers were perfect “nests” for me.
After crossing the Wyoming/Colorado border the deadfalls limited safe camping areas, but it had no material impact on the small footprint my Deschutes took up
Photo by Dahn Pratt
With nowhere flat and plantless to set up in the Great Divide Basin, I had to set up shop on a seemingly endless dirt road.
Photo by Dahn Pratt
After proving its worth in the berserk weather of the Divide, I spent the next ten months across seven countries and 5,000 miles with the Deschutes Zero-G as my roof. Completing a year of back-to-back thru-hikes made me more comfortable and well versed in the outdoors than ever before. With this new-found sense of confidence and the Deschutes in my pack, I never doubted its ability in any condition. The increasingly precarious and outright ridiculous places where it was able to perform exceptionally well warranted its new nickname as my “all-terrain vestibule”.