Canadian Canoe Routes

Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?
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Author:  sbaillie [ August 2nd, 2016, 12:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I used a Mantis on my first big trip to the little north (Nettogami River) and quickly came to dislike it. Yes it is a pain to setup with the narrow sleeve, but with 2 people it goes alright. My single biggest issue is that if there is any noticeable wind it has to be setup facing downwind. When camped on the edge of a lake, this means you generally have to turn it around and face the shore; thus missing the fantastic lake views that draw me to be out in the woods in the first place!

We failed to follow the wind rule on the edge of one large lake, and when a decent wind came through it tore the entire shelter out of the ground and sent it flying a 100 yards into the bush, where it spent the rest of the night.

I promptly switched to the VCS upon our return from that trip, and have been happy with it. It is slightly bulky, but very lightweight and offers much more spacious bug free accommodation for a roomy 4, or comfortable 6 people. With the genius nesting 8 foot aluminum pole kit, it can be setup in an area without trees available (ie a nice beach site). The poles have the added benefit of doubling as a small mast for the canoe when conditions are right.

The only trouble with the VCS is it is much taller, and in strong winds you need to carefully guy it out. however I recently weathered a day of 40km/hr sustained winds gusting to 85km/hr and it held up admirably other than the odd peg pulling out until I got a good purchase in the soil. All the while we were able to sit under the tarp and enjoy the spray getting whipped off the water and blown into our faces!

The first early June trip you take with the VCS, it will pay for itself as you sit inside and observe the bugs on every available square inch of mesh!

Author:  allusedup [ August 3rd, 2016, 6:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

Strathcona wrote:
Who cares when you can get a Nemo Bugout?


(And yes, I designed it)

I bought one of these and picked it up at the US border and brought it into Canada, and I've used it on one trip so far - I think it's a great tarp, a good combination of weight vs. utility. I'm heading out with it for two weeks in Quetico this Friday.

One quibble - there are toggles on only two corners. So when you want to roll up the netting, you have to go through some shenanigans to get all the fabric up and tidy. I realize that two more toggles will add some cost to the product, but I'd be interested to know what the reasoning was behind excluding them?

I did watch the video, but I had to call Nemo customer service to get them to explain to me how to support the fabric.

Still, I like this product and would recommend it to others.

Author:  swampwalker [ August 3rd, 2016, 12:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I agree with all of the criticisms of the Mantis and have experienced many of these deficiencies myself, with the exception of the pole sleeve. Nevertheless I have to applaud MEC for attempting to give an old lean-to shelter a 21st century upgrade. It's an inspired design, and largely succeeds in its purpose, shelter from rain and wind. To be fair, the Mantis cannot be directly compared to a screen shelter like the Nemo above, which does not provide significant wind protection.

It should also be noted that on a cost to performance ratio, the Mantis is really quite remarkable. When last sold by MEC it was going for only $170 CDN. This is an insane price for a well made shelter. The only other lean-to shelter I know of is made by Cookes Custom Sewing, that runs between $300 - 400 USD. And this is a traditional lean-to that likely requires greater skill to set up well.

I think in the end the Mantis was too specialized a tent, really only at home in the tundra where few people paddle, to justify keeping it in the catalogue. I hope MEC continues to build funky new shelters like the Mantis which will inspire threads as long as this one. Lately, many of the tents offered by MEC are from other brands.

Author:  Paddle Power [ August 3rd, 2016, 1:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I have to agree that the Mantis is at home on the barren lands and best for wind (and wind driven rain and snow etc.).

Author:  sethwotten [ August 7th, 2017, 2:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I am with you on this one Brian! I have been using the Mantis for 5 years now in various locations in the NWT- barren lands and transition zones on the edge of the boreal forest. I echo many of the sentiments of frustration with it, to a certain degree, and recognize that it can be finicky with finding the right slope of ground, I have not come across any better bug/wind/rain/sun shelter for the areas in which I travel. With the right length of pole, it can be set up somewhere on most campsites. Recognizing that there is room for improvement, I wish that someone would improve upon the existing design to make something slightly better. The Big Agnes Whetstone shelter looks interesting, but it requires a floor and has no bug screen. If I had to buy something now, I would go with the Whetstone and modify it to eliminate the need for the the floor and add mesh and sod cloth to it.

Author:  Paddle Power [ August 8th, 2017, 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?


Author:  sethwotten [ August 26th, 2017, 12:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I am back where I live now, in Whati, NWT, but I visited the MEC store in Toronto earlier this week. They have the only Mantis left in stock in any MEC store or warehouse (labelled as such). The website said that it is no longer available, so it must have been a return. If anyone is looking for one, call up the Toronto store, and ask for someone in the tents/shelters department to figure out how you can get a hold of it. I almost bought it, for the day when my Mantis wears out, but mine is actually in good enough condition that I couldn't justify the expense.

I wanted to set up the Big Agnes Whetstone (large size) in the store. They used to encourage that. I asked, but it sounds like they don't really like people doing that any more. It was suggested that I buy it, set it up in a park, and then return it. That is what I did. It is much shorter and smaller than the Mantis, but also way lighter. With the modifications that I was mentioning in the previous post (webbing instead of the floor, velcro-on sod cloth and bug netting), this could be a suitable Mantis alternative or replacement for 1-2 people (maybe more), in my opinion. Also, Big Agnes made a bunch of these for Burton, in some other colours. It is called the Burton Whetstone. If I experiment, making myself a "solo Mantis" with the Whetstone, I will start a new thread about it :wink: .

Author:  Odyssey [ August 26th, 2017, 8:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I already have a CCS tarp, but no bug netting. Is there any reason a large bug net suspended under the tarp wouldn't work? Anyone try or use this?

Author:  Sam82 [ August 26th, 2017, 3:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I used my used Mantis for the first time several years ago on the Noire when I paddled the whole river. This year I have used it a few more times. I really like it...mine needs to be waterproofed again and I tore a small hole where the pole goes into the fabric. Last trip I had to cut the elastic cord in the poles because it stretched too far and wouldn't pull back in. I bought it used though.

Best things about that I like are, you can kind of stand up in it if your 5'9" or less. You can cook in it. And it is so much easier putting clothes on/taking them off. If it is pegged down right the wind (moderate wind) won't knock it down. It is also very simple to put up and take down....which some shelter are not. It is also light. It is best for 1 person and a couple of dogs...2 people cramp it.

Author:  Donomemee [ August 30th, 2017, 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I haven't used the Mantis tarp but own a VCS16 w/bug shelter and like it.
The new Eurika Bug shelter is the VCS13 with the VCS16 bug shelter sewn in so it's lighter.
You can make the VCS free standing by cutting poles like a Prospector tent and hanging it from the pole or drape it over it.
You can carry a couple Tent Poles if there aren't any trees.
Many videos on the setup.
I'd recommend it.
Happy Paddling.

Author:  Prospector16 [ October 13th, 2018, 12:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

$100 for a used MEC Mantis OK if it is in great shape?

Author:  sethwotten [ October 13th, 2018, 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

Absolutely, in my opinion. You wouldn't be able to get it anywhere else, since MEC discontinued it.

Author:  Mike McCrea [ October 14th, 2018, 12:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

Yes, depending on how and where and with what number of people you intend to use it. And whether it has the larger pole sleeves. And/or your willingness to make modifications.

See above comments about best in far north/Arctic/Barren Lands. The Mantis was a disaster on sand. And about facing away from the wind (& lake views). And, mostly, about the usable space inside for more than a couple of people (or one person and two dogs); as a shelter for your family it would be mighty cramped.

Mike McCrea wrote:
One of the Mantis’ subsequent owners used a long webbing strap with several grommets at each end. The ends of that long arch pole could be held in a variety of grommet positions and that simple grommet strap helped speed the set up by restraining the pole in a given arch.

Of the possible modifications mentioned on the 1st page of this thread the webbing strap with grommets was the only one actually implemented. That strap helped hold the very long arched pole at the correct/best arch, and made setting up easier, especially for one person. It was a little awkward having a strap running across the bottom area, worse on uneven ground where it was lifted in places off the dirt, but with some gear set on the webbing strap to hold it flush with the ground it was a functional and simple improvement.

Had I kept the Mantis for use as a one or two person shelter I would have eliminated all of the (too tight) pole sleeve except for a foot or so at each end and sewn on pole clips for easier set up and take down. And probably have made some wind & rain proof door flaps for the front screen.

Author:  Prospector16 [ October 15th, 2018, 9:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I picked up the Mantis yesterday for $100 - it is in extremely good shape. Will report back when I've set it up somewhere.

Author:  Captaincanadian [ October 15th, 2018, 11:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Who designed the MEC Mantis tarp bug shelter?

I just use the bug netting that you can buy at any MEC or Sail etc, $50 or less depending on your size, and it works great, weighs pretty much nothing. Not free standing but an extra tie out ring for under tarp use or a ridge line for fair weather , it sets up in no time. I can peg out the corners for maximum room. Being using this for 10+ yrs no issues in the worst of bugs.

I still recommend my first system I used when I was young and had no money for luxury items such as bug screens. I just recycled an old tent with the fly worn out, toss the fly, keep the poles and mesh inner and you have an instant free standing bug shelter, set up under a tarp and works just as well in the rain. The tub keeps everything off the dirt so the Miss can curl up with a good boo while I chop
Cost me nothing with an old tent, around 2lb and you're good to go!

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