Josh Pearlman
Latest posts by Josh Pearlman (see all)

I tend to gravitate more towards tents than sleeping out. I don’t have an aversion to sleeping out, tents are just cozier and contain my gear better.

On a recent eight day rafting trip down the Rogue River in southern Oregon the weather looked about perfect, so we opted to sleep out. The reality is that we had no choice because we forgot our tent poles. So it was perfect that we had the MSR Rendezvous Sun Shield 120 along as a group shelter for all two of us.

The first thing I noticed was the typical MSR quality and thought in design — 120 square feet, made of 68D Ripstop Nylon with reinforced tie points and handy little pockets to tuck all that cordage in when not in use.


The poles are nice. Sturdy 6’ aluminum jobs with a point that runs through a grommet to be staked down or tied to a tree. Being only 6’ tall, the wing is too short to use as a river kitchen shelter. This could be easily remedied by ditching the poles altogether and tying off to trees or strapping the pole to an oar. The stakes are geared more for backpacking and are inadequate for the sandy beaches of the Rogue. This was easily solved by tying off to water jugs, ammo cans, rocks, etc. In a raft where weight is not a concern, I’ll pack larger sand stakes next time.

Sure enough, it rained. Not a lot for Oregon, two nights and two days. Enough to ruin your night without a shelter. The nights we stayed dry and one day we were rafting so we didn’t mind, I actually really enjoy rowing in the rain. The other day was a layover. After returning from an awesome rainy day hike to a natural waterslide we pitched our chairs under the wing, made a cocktail, watched the salmon jump and a bear grubbing black berries on the far bank while the water beaded up and ran off the wing keeping us dry and happy.

Overall we were extremely happy with the Sun Shield 120. Aside from a slight learning curve when pitching it, it performed exactly as expected and we were stoked to have it along. It will certainly be part of our river kit on future trips.


What defines “waterproof” in a tent and what does the “mm” rating mean?

For an MSR tent, waterproof means that all external fabric has been coated with our exceptional polyurethane coatings and the seams are watertight out of the bag. “mm” refers to millimeters and is paired with a number to represent a standardized measurement of how waterproof a coating is. For instance, a 1500mm coating will withstand a 1500mm (5′) column of water for more than one minute before a single drop might appear through the fabric. That’s strong enough to prevent rain from leaking into a tent in a hurricane-force storm.

What do the letters D and T after the fabrics mean?

“D” stands for Denier. It’s a numbering system for fibers, filaments and yarns, in which the lower numbers are lighter/finer and the higher numbers heavier/coarser. “T” stands for Thread Count – specifically the number of warp and fill threads in a square inch. The lower numbers represent a loosely woven fabric and the higher number a tightly woven fabric. These two numbers together help indicate the strength and feel of a piece of fabric.

What are some different configuration of the tarps and wings?

The 7-point design has a “flat” and a “pointed” end. For all configurations, the “pointed end” should always be used as the highest supported point. The opposite “flat edge,” which consists of three points, can be stretched tightly and attached to a shelter, car rack, or even the pole-supported vestibule of a tent to form a protected area. Try placing the poles at different points, using no poles at all or adding more poles to create new living spaces. (Paddles and sticks work well in the cord storage pockets, too.) Experiment and be creative!

Why should I get a footprint?

We recommend that you use an MSR footprint (sold separately) underneath your tent. Customized to fit each specific model, it will not only keep your tent floor clean and dry, but it will also protect it from excessive abrasion, prolonging the life of the tent. In addition, some of our tents can be set up with just the footprint and fly, creating an incredibly light, minimalist alternative to a full tent.

How should I store my tent?

Never pack or store your tent if it is wet, damp or dirty. Although we use the best polyurethane waterproofing available, prolonged exposure to moisture causes hydrolysis which, in turn, causes the waterproof layer to break down, becoming soft, sticky and no longer waterproof. Storing a wet tent for as little as 24 hours in warm weather is also likely to start the process of mildew forming on the fabric. Mildew will cause your tent to stain, smell and will also lead to the premature breakdown of the waterproof coating. Mildew and moisture damage are not covered under the Limited Warranty.

For long-term storage, keep your tent in a dry and cool area, out of direct sunlight. Store it outside of its stuff sack, as you would a sleeping bag, in a breathable, over-sized cotton or mesh duffel for protection. On the cheap, an old pillowcase is ideal.

For more, visit


Read other gear we love here.