Floorless shelters are always a hot topic in the Rokslide forums, where multiple questions are asked and answered on a daily basis. In many situations, these shelters can offer significant benefits over a standard backpacking tent. Now that floorless shelters have been around for several decades, manufacturers are starting to tweak and refine their features, shapes, and weight. It’s been nearly 20 years since I started using center-pole pyramid-shaped designs, and I have since moved to even lighter designs that pitch with trekking poles. With this long range of experience, I reviewed the features and field-tested the performance of Seek Outside’s new Guardian floorless shelter.
Seek Outside Guardian Features
Seek Outside released the Guardian two-person shelter in 2022 as a big brother to their single-person Silex. It is wood stove capable (unlike the Eolus) and pitches with two trekking poles and six stakes (minimum) into an elongated hexagon shape. The dimensions are 9.1 ft. by 11.8 ft., equaling a 70 square ft. footprint with a height of 51 in. at the pole pockets. The body is made of 30D Cordura silnylon fabric and has two entrances serving as vestibules for gear storage. More info here.
This is the third tent in the lineup that uses a zipper-less door opening. In place of a zipper, a pair of line locks slide up and down a tight guy-out line, which raises and lowers the door’s fabric. This configuration saves weight and eliminates the potential of a failed zipper in the field. The Guardian can be ordered with or without a stove jack. My test shelter was ordered without one, as I wasn’t planning to need a stove. The total weight of the seam-sealed shelter, including 12 stakes, extra guy lines, and stuff sacks, comes in exactly at 2 lbs. This total does not include the weight of the required trekking poles or the optional carbon poles from Seek Outside. The stove jack would add an additional 4 ounces.
An inner nest can be ordered separately for the Guardian, which adds a bathtub floor, mesh zippered doors, and a solid upper. The nest fits perfectly in the space between the poles. The weight of the nest itself is 2 lbs., and it can be pitched with the outer tent or on its own. It is important to note that the nest is not compatible with the use of a stove.
I started using the Guardian floorless shelter during the abnormally wet spring bear season of 2022. I used it with the nest throughout summer for backpacking during the height of mosquito season. And I used the floorless configuration again during the fall archery and rifle seasons.
Since I ordered the test shelter without a stove jack, the review will be limited to its use without a stove. Having spent considerable time in other shelters with stoves (see my review of Seek Outside’s Silex shelter with stove here), I wanted the perspective of how the shelter would feel in the minimalist configuration. However, late-season hunting was extremely wet and cold, during which I wished I had ordered differently! If cold conditions are a possibility, then order with a stove jack.
Pitching The Guardian Is Extremely Easy
One key tip for a perfect setup is to stake out the non-door ends first, leaving a little slack in the tent body. Once the door ends are staked out, the shelter will have a tight geometry. Seek Outside produced a video on pitching the Guardian, which explains this technique in detail and can be found here.
Staking out the four corners and two doors is the bare minimum needed for shelter setup. There are six more stake loops and two guy-outs to be utilized when maximum storm proofing is needed.
Alternatively, the shelter can be pitched without poles by suspending it from a line tensioned between trees using D-loops located on the exterior of the pole pockets. Tensioning can be achieved with stakes and cordage.
Weather Protection and Stability
The Guardian performed favorably in the mountain climates of Montana and Idaho. After sealing the seams, this shelter did not leak from any weather events, including heavy downpours, days of constant drizzle, and wet, heavy snowfall. However, the silnylon of the tent does absorb water, and the shelter did stretch and sag a little when wet. The shape of the Guardian is a catenary cut, meaning the tips of the poles next to the doors are higher than the middle center ridge. This design, plus the end guy-outs, makes it easy to tension the shelter as the fabric stretches. The tight pitch keeps it from flapping in the wind, and the abundant stake loops with line locks keep the wind from blowing under the shelter edges.
Snow loads are shed easily from the center ridge but build up along the lower edge of the shelter. The lower-angle end walls accumulate more snow than the steeper-angled doors and tend to press inward somewhat. During large snowstorms, snow clearing was needed every 6 – 8 hours to keep the interior volume maximized.
Let’s Talk Condensation
Single-wall shelters can have condensation issues in more humid conditions, and the Guardian generated light to moderate condensation. Any wet weather event would increase condensation inside the shelter, with heavy snowstorms generating the most. Snow pileup along the bottom edge of the shelter created a tight air seal, limiting air exchange to the single ridge vent. Pitching the shelter with a gap along the bottom edge maximizes air flow and minimizes condensation when the weather is more mellow.
Livability And Space
The interior of the Guardian is expansive for a single user and comfortably fits two with plenty of room to sit upright. The guy-outs at the head and foot of the shelter tension the walls, which adds extra room to keep sleeping bags from touching a wet wall. The double vestibules are spacious and easily fit packs, cook systems, and weapons. With two people, two doors make entry and gear organization simple. The zipper-less closure system is easy to operate and is secure in high wind and wet weather.
The nest, with its bathtub floor, zippered mesh doors, and solid silnylon end walls, performed exceptionally well during the rainy insect season. The zippers on the doors are four-way, durable, and easy to operate. The floor is a heavier silnylon than the body of the nest and is incredibly durable and waterproof. Used during wet, humid conditions, the nest eliminated condensation and offered more weather protection with its bathtub floor and paneled walls. It also eliminated any insect and rodent issues.
When hunting tight ridgelines or steep, rugged ground, finding a site that is brush free, flat, and large enough for a shelter can sometimes be a problem. The hexagon-shaped footprint of the Guardian is small enough to fit most spots, but occasionally the pitch has to be compromised due to the availability of flat ground. It was an incredibly rare occasion I couldn’t find an ideal location in the rough country I hunted.
The Guardian is a great fit for anyone looking for an efficient ultralight hunting shelter. It offers great weather protection, a comfortable two-person living space, and an optional nest and stove. It packs small and pitches quickly and easily. The catenary cut of the ridgeline makes for a tight pitch and a quiet shelter. This tent is a fantastic option for summer backpacking trips, early fall hunts, and late-season use with the stove option. It is a truly versatile all-season hunting shelter.
Comment or ask Josh questions here.
- Guardian Silnylon shelter w/out stove jack: $259
- Guardian Silnylon shelter w/ stove jack: $314
- Guardian nest: $239
- Optional carbon poles (2) $98
Read more sleep system reviews here.