Seek Outside BT2 v. Silvertip

I do not think I could overstate how enjoyable, educational, and flattering the past month at my new job has been.  Enjoyable because the crew at Seek Outside operates with both integrity and joy in equal measure.  Educational because, whatever I may or may not know about using gear outside, there are many things about making and selling it I didn’t know I knew, and getting a new window into your lifelong passion is a rare thing.  And flattering because of the many personal contacts I’ve had.  Congratulatory ones written into orders, in person ones from friends stopping by, and surprise contact with readers over the phone.  In the past I’ve been thanked many times for my writing here, and even recognized in person by strangers (very occasionally), but the volume of the last four weeks is quite another thing.

It highlights the responsibility I now have, to everyone out there, my employers, my colleagues, my family, and myself.  There’s the irony that I’ve found a job at which I would cheerfully work 70 hours a week, just when we have a toddler in the house.  There will be the challenge, in the near future, to maintain the impossible separation between my official duties marketing and my public presence, here and elsewhere as an individual.  And most of all there will be the task of producing products as good as many seem to expect, and that I know we at Seek Outside can.  Just know that there is a long list of projects, and that nothing will go out into the world until it is ready.

img_2087My work day yesterday began in the dark, driving up into the canyons to do a training hike and get photos of how the BT2, which I have promoted aggressively here and elsewhere, and the revision of it which came out this fall, the Silvertip.  The BT2 was symmetrical, elegant, and utterly steady in wind and snow.  The interior was a bit on the short side for folks over 6 foot, especially on thick sleeping pads, so the Silvertip was revised to be longer, wider at the head and foot, and a little shorter (to better use fabric and make it possible to pitch with a single 145cm trekking pole).  The above photo shows the sum of these changes as best as I could capture, but it doesn’t show the substantial increase in interior space, which surprised even me the first time I got inside.  The BT2 has been my favorite shelter over the last two years, and the Silvertip should take over that role quite handily.

The heaviest iteration is shown above; with a stove jack and four extra guyouts added to the front and rear, and weighs a hair under 2 pounds.  The Silvertip comes stock with one on each side, in the center, and while I don’t expect the others to be necessary under almost any circumstances, thus far they’ve proven popular with the paranoid.  It is heavy for a two person shelter, but I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a more weatherproof shelter, of any persuasion, without going exponentially heavier.  The design is remarkably silent in moderate (~30 mph) winds, and with 12 ground level tieouts anchoring is generally not an issue.  It epitomizes the stuff I’m excited to be involved in making; light as thoughtfulness will allow, understated, totally dedicated to function, and promising a very long service life and high value.  Even after I crossed into getting free samples and pro deals on most things 275 bucks is still a lot of money.  In this case, I think most will find it cash well spent.

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7 thoughts on “Seek Outside BT2 v. Silvertip

  1. Hopefully one day I get to try out a Silvertip. I had a BT2 and loved it in many ways, but for two (mainly car camping) found it not very comfortable, so upgraded to the Cimarron. Even for one I found it too cramped, but that’s probably just my inexperience…I didn’t care for how close my feet and head were to the walls, and it sounds like the Silvertip solves all that. For one though I also got the LBO, which I really like. It feels like a palace compared to the BT2, although is a bit harder to set up.

    1. The BT2, and the Silvertip, are not big shelters. With equal features and structure a smaller shelter will always be stronger, though also more prone to condensation.

      I have used the BT2 primarily solo, and advise folks looking for a mostly 2 person shelter to go LBO or Cimarron unless weight and especially windproofing are of the highest priority.

      1. Hadn’t thought about the condensation on the smaller shelter, but makes sense.

        I do think the BT2/ST make a lot of sense for a solo shelter, especially if you’re experienced and are going to spend minimal time in your shelter. I think as a two person it makes sense in the same way, even if you’re car camping. If you spend all your day traveling, hiking and just need to crash at night it could be great for that as you don’t need to store a lot of gear. And on the plus side it’s easy to set up, takes up minimal space (both store and erect) and can be hung up easily in a hotel bathroom when that occasion does come.

        Knowing what you’ll be using the shelter for is key though. The LBO and Cimarron make more sense in my casual user sense, where I will be spending more time at camp and wouldn’t go out in really adverse situations.

        1. The Silvertip is a backpacking shelter in exactly that sense; good for when you’ll be moving all day. I have to remind myself occasionally that people do it any other way.

  2. Dave,
    Thanks for your “to the point”, pragmatic writing style. I like what you have to say regarding your thoughts on how your responsibilities are evolving. It’s exciting to watch and I wish you the best. I just received my Seek Outside Divide in the X42 olive. Out of the box, with no tinkering and no weight in the pack I could feel how comfortable it will ride at any weight and volume. I am having a hard time justifying keeping my frameless pack now.

    I sold off my BT-2 and upgraded to the Silvertip. I should have kept the BT-2 as it is such a high value shelter. I am tempted to purchase the last stock with the mesh doors. What is your experience with mesh doors on mids? Will it limit the BT-2s ability to be filleted open into an A-frame? At which point is the mesh sewn in the hexagonal base shape of the BT-2?

    I’ve only use the SIlvertip car camping so far. What is the best way to prop open the fabric that would form the vent covering of the zipper? In the YouTube overview Kevin mentioned using a piece of plastic…? I am not sure what he meant. I thought maybe a tunnel would have been sewn into the bottom hem to insert a stiffener or weed whacker plastic. I tried using a guyline hitched to the center pole, guyed through the zipper- effectively pulling out the vent flap. Any suggestions on the ideal setup.

    Lastly, I just have to comment that the one thing I do miss about the BT-2 is the ease up setup using the equilateral triangle method. A method suggested by hex-mid, GoLite SL3 users. I could set my trek pole to about137cm (half the diameter of the circle footprint of the BT-2), Set the center stake, measure out the door to door stake line and finish all other main seam stakes by swiping out from the main vertices forming equal triangles. This allows a user to have all stakes properly set and ready for quick erection of the shelter in high winds. I don’t think it’s possible to do this with the silver tip because it isn’t a symmetrical triangle anymore. On the other hand, stakes are always needing adjustment and a user does save time not having to lash two-trekking poles together. Also, the increase in head and foot space allows more of a wet vestibule surface area for whatever door is being used. With the center pole canted to one side my girlfriend (she is short) and i can fit on one side. Leaving the other for entry and exit in rains. (This is theoretical, haven’t had any real world experience.)

    Thanks for your work Dave. I appreciate any thoughts or insights for this shelter.

    1. The screen covers the door/sides which do not have the zipper flap. There’s an entirely separate #8 zipper so that the screen and regular doors can be used independently. It will be not really possible to use the various modified tarp pitches with the screen doors zipped.

      In winds I stake the windward corners (short axis) of the Silvertip tight but not taunt. Then pull the downwind corners tight and go back about 3 inches. That seems to get it close to perfect every time.

      The Silvertip vent is a compromise, to put it mildly. I don’t think it’s needed, but lots of folks disagree. The way to maximize venting with it is to wedge something between the open zipper halves to keep it as open as possible; a twig, spoon, piece of plastic, etc. In a shelter that small, with smallish fabric panels (and thus less stretch) to play with vent placement ends up being compromised. We kicked around a much bigger idea akin to the LBO main vent, but that would added weight, complexity (and thus cost). The Silvertips, and to a lesser extent any mid or tipis, niche is windy weather. If you rarely see winds above 20 mph and humidity and bugs are more frequent issue the Silvertip isn’t the ideal tool.

  3. Yeah the windproof-ness (and warmth) of the BT-2 is the main reason I love it. It’s more quiet in the storm than 4 season tents I’ve used. Was tempted to try out the Silvertip, but I usually use the BT-2 solo anyways (or with my petite wife/ 9 year old son) and the height is perfect for half my packraft paddle, so sticking with it for now. The Cimarron is the ideal size for 2 with gear I think.

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