This 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. Integral Designs has been bought by RAB Outdoors. Many of Integral designs products, including the one in this review, have been renamed.
Rab Element 2 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers 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
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 nonetheless 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.
The Element 2 sheds all types of precipitation from all sides and its shorter walls catch less wind than taller walls. The shelter is cut from 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 in order to adjust the tension during the inevitable sagging (found on all silnylon shelters) during wet weather. Linelocs would 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.
Minimalist winter trips.
Other mids offer more performance for less cost.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale