Reviews You Can Rely On

Rab Element 2 Review

Rab Element 2
Photo: Max Neale
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Price:  $160 List
Pros:  High quality fabric, low height catches little wind, lightest and most affordable two-door shelter tested.
Cons:  Cramped for two, low peak heigh, non-adjustable ground level tieouts, tiny vents do little to combat condensation.
Manufacturer:   Integral Designs
By Chris McNamara and Max Neale  ⋅  Apr 13, 2015
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Our Verdict

This model is one of the smallest, lightest, and least expensive pyramid shelter we've tested. It's a minimalist shelter that's very cozy for two people (better for one person) and performs at a higher level for winter use, when you can dig the floor down, than in three-season applications. RAB Outdoors has bought integral Designs. Many of Integral designs products, including the one in this review, have been renamed.

Our Analysis and Test Results


The Element 2 is a small two-pole, two-person shelter that has enough space for two six-foot-tall people with a pack on either end. The shelter is narrow, and strong winds pushed the walls in against our sleeping bags. Two tiny doors increase livability slightly, but a moderate amount of training in yoga makes getting in and out easier. Two very small vents attempt to reduce condensation. See the photo below to compare the sizes of several mids we tested — the Element 2 is roughly half as large as the others.

Several of the mids we've tested, from left to right: Mountain...
Several of the mids we've tested, from left to right: Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid, GoLite Shangri-La 2, Black Diamond MetaLight, Integral Designs Element 2, MSR Twin Sisters.
Photo: Max Neale

Weather Resistance

The Element 2 sheds all types of precipitation from all sides, and its shorter walls catch less wind than taller walls. The shelter is a high-quality silnylon that requires seam sealing. Trekking pole tips insert into two grommets in the roof; a design that's less desirable than the more common mid design (where the handle of a trekking pole goes on top) because inserting the tip into the ground provides more support in high winds. It's also possible for rain to enter through the small grommet holes and drip down a trekking pole.

Weight and Packed Size

The seam-sealed tarp weighs 20.6 ounces without stakes on our scale.


The Element 2 is missing several features that we believe are critical for four-season mids. (1) There's no mechanism, such as a plastic clip, to relieve stress from the vestibule zippers. (2) The ground level tieouts are not adjustable, which makes it hard to pitch in uneven terrain and forces you to go outside to adjust the tension during the inevitable sagging (found on all silnylon shelters) during wet weather. Linelocs should be standard on the bottom tieouts like they are on many other mids. (3) The shelter's simple design is more like an A-frame tarp with closed ends than it is a full-on pyramid; The geometry isn't perfect, and we found that it was harder to achieve a proper pitch than with other mids.

Best Application

Minimalist winter trips.


Other mids offer more performance for less cost.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale