SlingFin NFT Tarp Review
Large, Lightweight, Strong, And Perfect For Group Camping
Sized at 9.5′ x 10′ the SlingFin NFT Tarp (shop now) protects a massive swath of your campsite from the elements for the low, low weight penalty of less than one pound. Through the combination of trekking poles, tree branches, and clever guy-lining, the NFT is infinitely customizable.
What sets this NFT (nice flat tarp) apart are the unique catenary cut edges which deliver a beautiful, secure, taut pitch. It’s perfect for sheltering the whole group from a squall, or setting up over the camp kitchen. It can also be used as a standalone shelter, and is designed to work in conjunction with the Splitwing Mesh Tent.
Compare this to more great options in our guide to backpacking tarps.
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- Price: $220
- Weight: 15.8 oz
- Material: 10D Nylon 66 ripstop sil/sil
- Length: 10′ Width: 9.5′
- Pros: Lightweight. Large. Packable. Customizable. Satisfyingly taut pitch. Strong. Comes with own stakes and extra guylines. Reinforced guyout points.
- Cons: Plastic cord tensioning hardware can confuse, tangle, and interfere with setup
Testing For SlingFin NFT Tarp Review
SlingFin sent us an NFT Tarp to test, and we took it out to use as a group kitchen/camp-hangout shelter on an eight-day backpacking trip in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains – famous for its afternoon squalls. We set up the NFT a few times, in a number of different configurations, using a combination of stakes, poles, and trees. It protected us from rain, hail, and wind. The tent is sufficiently large to cover five backpackers and the sprawl of their camp kitchens, but would be comfier if shared by four.
Construction & Features
The SlingFin NFT Tarp is and isn’t your typical flat tarp. The ridgeline is flat, which gives users the benefit of infinite configuration possibilities. We strongly prefer flat tarps because of how much more versatile they are. Conversely, catenary ridgeline tarps are generally superior in A-frame mode, but cannot be pitched in any other way.
But what sets the SlingFin NFT Tarp apart from the pack is that it is a flat tarp with catenary cut edges. In SlingFin’s words, this configuration, “addresses several qualms we had with most flat tarps by adding subtle catenary curves around the long edges, which make for a gorgeous, taut pitch in the A-frame configuration, unlike straight-edged tarps, which tend to flap due to bias stretch in the large side panels.” In short, you get the versatility benefits of a flat tarp with the tautness benefits of a catenary tarp. Go ahead, have your cake and eat it too!
What’s more, like the fly on our beloved 3+ Season SlingFin Portal tent, the NFT Tarp is constructed with 10D sil/sil nylon ripstop. You can read a dissertation’s worth of info about this from the mad scientists running SlignFing product team, or trust us when we say that applying silicone treatments to both sides of the fabric offers superior waterproofness, strength, longevity, and UV-resistance compared to any other weatherproofing. As you can see in our photos, this fabric seems to absorb no water (which means it is unlikely to stretch and sag when wet), and that droplets bead up and roll-off.
Cracking into its storage bag, you will find the tarp itself, 6 pre-attached guylines, 4 additional guylines, and 12 burly 8″ stakes. All of the guy-out points are reinforced with heavier, 20D nylon reinforcements. Six guy outs is definitely too few, so we recommend divying up the extra 4 between the sides, and center points on the main ridgeline.
Ways To Use The SlingFin NFT Tarp For Backpacking
We recommend using the SlingFin NFT Tarp in the following ways:
- As a roof above your camp kitchen or group hangout area
- For base-camping
- As a wind or sun blocker
- As a primary shelter in conjunction with the Splitwing Mesh Tent or an ultralight/mesh bivy sack
- As a mountain guide treating their clients to a dry space
- As a minimalist tent when going super ultralight
- As an emergency shelter
- As a backup while cowboy camping
Why Group Backpackers Love Tarps
A tarp is an excellent item to support morale and bring people together on a group trip when rain threatens. By pitching a tarp above the campsite’s central group hangout zone, usually also the kitchen, it saves the group from having to separate out during bad weather. Without a tarp, everyone goes to their own tent and isolates. With a tarp, every can comfortably cook dinner or hang out. On your next group trip, bring a tarp and offer to set it up! Everyone will be grateful.
And did we mention that the SlingFin NFT Tarp is large, customizable, and perfect for covering group kitchens? We find it’s sized for four people with their gear, or six without.
How To Pitch the SlingFin NFT Tarp For A Group Kitchen
- Select a group kitchen area that is 15-20 ft in length and width
- Imagine how you will orient the tarp. Make sure it is slanted so water runs off and the lower side is upwind.
- Position the tarp over the center point
- Secure the lower corners with stakes or natural objects
- Secure the upper corners with trees or trekking poles
- Tie off the sides and make micro adjustments until taut
- Enjoy dryness while you cook a meal
Areas For Improvement
So far we’ve gushed about the SlingFin NFT Tarp because it really is a great piece of backpacking gear. But we can point to one area that irritated our testers – the cord tensioners. These are different from traditional LineLocs in construction, and the way that they hold the line by pinching it at the bottom of a V-shaped divot. While unquestionably functional, they take some getting used to, caused (metaphorical) head-scratching, and were generally unintuitive.
While standard issue LineLocs might have been a bit easier to adapt to, that wouldn’t have been ideal either. In truth, tarps are best pitched using the trucker’s hitch. Learn the truckers hitch and you can tie off the tarp to any object. It is fast, efficient, secure, can be used to wrap around tree trunks, is easy to un-do, generally customizable, and able to pull the line extremely taut thanks to the benefits of a mechanical advantage. The versatile trucker’s hitch is essential to setting up the tarp in a novel position above a new camp kitchen each night, and we highly recommend you learn how to do it if you plan on pitching a camp tarp. It is easily our most-used backpacking knot, and anyone can learn it! Plus one more benefit of relying on trucker’s hitch compared to linelocs is that it creates less tangle in the cord system.
As such, we will be removing the linelocs from the SlingFin NFT Tarp and relying on trucker’s hitches to pitch it going forward – and we recommend you do too. We would only leave the linelocs on if we were planning to always pitch in A-frame mode. However, in that case, why pick a flat tarp in the first place? To be fair, some people will simple do anything to avoid learning a new knot, so we acknowledge that it was probably necessary for SlingFin to include LineLocs. Plus they’re cheap and removing them is simple, if not a bit wasteful.
SlingFin NFT Tarp Review Verdict
Thanks to its extremely favorable area-coverage-to-weight ratio and premium ripstop nylon sil/sil fabric, the SlingFin NFT Tarp is now our go-to kitchen roof for group trips and base camps. A tarp can make or break a group trip when rain threatens, and NFT is up to the job. And if you haven’t mastered the trucker’s hitch, this is a good reason to do so!
And while you’re here, compare this to more great options in our guide to backpacking tarps.