Yurt Dome and Tent Testimonials Before 2004

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If you are considering buying a Shelter Systems' portable, waterproof living or gardening structure, we think you'll find these letters and photographs informative as well as enjoyable. They were sent to us by satisfied people who've bought and used our structures for many varying purposes.

I made a 20'long, 10' wide, 7.5' tall Quanset Hut,
using about 60 of your Heavy Duty Grip Clips. It's pretty tight.
The clips work great. Here is a pic, before I
installed the door panels.

I am building a second
one to tie both together, with a shade structure, and
when I place doors I will send another pic.





Mr. Gillis,

You wanted details (This is sort of a hodge podge of my posts to the backpacker.com forum.):

I made a silnylon tarp no sewing...just grip clips. They are adjustable, do not pierce or damage the material and are no slip.

My 5.5 x 11 tarp with grip clips and lines weighs 8 oz, stake (msr groundhogs) add 1-1.5 oz


I got my fabric from outdoor wilderness fabrics owf. Mine is white/clear and i can see the stars through it at night, but it is opaque in sunlight
NO SEWING...ADJUSTABLE (Custom) PITCH...EIGHT OZ.s INCL. LINES and STAKES. And mine cost me about 25 bucks.

Take One (1) bolt of silnylon from www.owfinc.com (2nds at 3-4 bucks a yd, 5.5 ft wide bolt)

And (8) mini gripclips: http://www.shelter-systems.com/grip-clips.html

And I use moss (or msr) groundhog stakes.

1.Cut the bolt to desired length...Mine is 5.5 ft by 11 ft (5.5 is again the width of the bolt).

2. Use grip clips to secure lines to stakes and hiking poles or trees. (I also use doubled plastic grocery bags filled with dirt or rocks or buried as cheap, dependable sand and snow anchors. Just attach line to the handles for a solid guy out.) For larger applications, use grip clips to join two lengths together to make a 2 man, 10 ft wide tarp (overlap seam for weather tightness).

3. And you are tarping. I often set the lines, poles and guys for a 9 foot length and drape the extra two feet down and stake it to shelter the "head" end. Again the grip clips let me secure the head end stake on the draped over material wherever it works best for a taut pitch.

I rig my tarp using a thermolite bivy (20 bucks, 6 oz) as a ground cloth/splash guard. When it gets windy/rainy I open it and attach to inside roof of tarp w/ grip clips like an inward facing envelope. Keeps me dry in the worst spray.

I have used this system on Lake Superior shore in rain and dry, and dozens of other less weather prone places. Its a lightweight, lazy man's, cheap cheap CHEAP way to go.

Grip clips from www.sheltersystems.com mean no sewing and perfect taut pitches no matter how poorly placed your anchors or guy points. The work anywhere on the fabric, making a non destructive, non slip guy point. I set the guy points FIRST, THEN I adjust the grip clips to fit, and taut line hitches on each grip clip make a tight pitch in almost any situation. (Bonus: the INSIDE on each clip is good hang point for clothesline, loft, or flashlight.)

P.S. 1.1 oz silnylon with the grip clips requires childrens party balloons ($1.00 for 20) as "gaskets". Cut off head (dome) of balloon and unsert between grip clip head and cloth. TOTALLY prevents slippage on the slick cloth.

Mister Gillis, the grip clips make my tarp work all the time, no matter how bad the guy out options. They also are best for extra guys on my other tents and my Batray when i need to batten down. Thanks for a great product.

Tiger Shah

On Mar 19, 2004, at 11:09 AM, Tiger wrote:

You have the best product out there for joining lines to fabric, and fabric
to fabric, thats out there... I will try to find some pics.

Must tell you though, its just a sheet of silnylon, and does not LOOK
especially impressive, with my junk all spread out under the tarp.


Hi Robert. Some of these photos were sent to us from the gallery which sponsored the show. Cathy's piece is in several of the shots. I will get back to you regarding the use of the photos once I talk to the photographer. We are driving down this weekend (800 miles) to dismantle the piece and bring it home. I will attempt to answer some of your questions. The ICE FOLLIES was a curated art exhibit in which 7 artists from Ontario were invited to create their personal conception of ice fishing. The event received wide media attention including national radio and television coverage as well as a special on Canada's version of PBS. On opening day, hundreds of people ventured out onto the lake to partake of the adventure. And it was an adventure considering the fact that the day before, nearly three inches of rain fell and the frozen lake turned to pure slush. Cathy's piece used, of course, your bubble dome as the basic skeletal structure. She covered the dome with a variety of fabrics including, dyed cheese cloth, bubble wrap, synthetic sausage casings, and various linens. The one interior shot shows some of the workings of the fabric but it doesn't tell the whole story since the art works were by consensus, works in progress and a touring international show is being seriously considered. The fish seen in some of the photos are plasma cut aluminum, rolled and spot welded, creating a dramatic and majestic effect.
Cathy didn't cut an opening in the roof (not yet). Her intent to use underwater cameras and sculptural pieces was in part thwarted by the weather, difficulties in providing electricity to such a remote location, and of course security concerns. The option is still open in the future. We are considering bringing some form of the piece with us when we travel to Newfoundland this summer for an artist's residency. I will send further photos and hopefully permission to use them as you see fit once I get permission. Any of my photos are at your disposal. (The first two sets which I sent were taken by me but the outcome was somewhat disappointing because it was such a dismal day.) Will write again once we return. Zen.

Once we get to Lake Nippissing we will be able to offer a more effective testimonial regarding the practicality and (hopefully) durability of the dome. The particular area is part of a wind and snow belt so the structure certainly was put through many trials. From what we have been told, it has survived unscathed. I did tie it down at 32 different locations, so that must have helped. In any case, I will contact you upon our return and will send additional photos. Bye for now. Zen.

Dr. John Arnone in Desert Research Institute in Nevada built such a chamber by modfying your yurt (picture attached).
"The chamber is a modified version of a commercially available 4.2 m diameter dome-shaped yurt tent manufactured by Shelter Systems Inc. (Menlo Park, CA, USA; Fig. 1a). After modifications (see below) the dome covered an inside ground area of 12.25 m2, with a height of 2.0 m, a volume of 16.4 m3, and a weight of 30 kg. The semi-transparent (moderately translucent: http://shelter-systems.com/dome-coverings.html) woven ripstop polyethylene (PE) skin of the dome is held taut by nylon grip clips that are attached at 15 points to an external frame constructed of 3 cm diameter (OD) PVC pipe. The dome skin is actually made of eight large individual pieces of PE that create a shingled effect, with upper panels overlapping lower panels by about 10 cm. Because of the tautness of the skin, there are no apparent gaps between upper and lower shingles. However, we glued the upper and lower shingles together with silicon cement. The frame is made up of a total of 48 individual tent tubes (twelve 65 cm tubes and thirty-six 107 cm tubes) which enable the dome to be dismantled like a camping tent and stored in two duffel bags; one for the tubes and one for the skin.

We have modified the dome in several ways. We constructed and added a 12-sided tubular base made of twelve 98 cm long×6.5 cm diameter schedule 40 PVC irrigation pipe joined together with twelve 7.6-cm-diameter PVC pipe angles. We drilled one 3 cm diameter vertical hole in each base joint to each receive one of the 12 vertical PVC tent poles that would otherwise be staked to the ground if the dome were used as a shelter. We also shortened these 12 bottommost vertical tent poles by 10 cm to ensure that a sufficient length of PE skin material remained along the bottom perimeter of the dome to be wrapped three-quarters of the way around the PVC base tube (Fig. 1) when the vertical tubes are in place inside the 12 holes. To attach the bottom of the PE skin to the PVC base, and to anchor the vertical tubes in the base, we used adhesive-backed Velcro strips with one side of the Velcro attached to the PE film and the other to the PVC base tube."

Dear Shelter Systems,

We purchased your 14’ dome to use as a main base camp tent in a research expedition to Breidamerkurjokull Glacier, Iceland. Despite strong North Atlantic winds, the tent proved sturdy and reliable. We will be taking it on our second expedition there this spring.

I’ve included some picts from Iceland you may want to use on your site.


<<...>> <<...>> <<...>> <<...>>

Ian Howat

Dept. of Earth Sciences

Hey -

I laid down a few tarps for the floor which have made a big difference with the bugs. We had just mowed the grass when I first put it down, which I think is what caused the bug issues to begin with. Getting lots of comments from folks here who see the dome... everyone really likes it. I plan on keeping it up until late October or so (when it starts getting cold and nasty up here), then take it down for the winter. This place is pretty dark and grey in the winter, so I would not plan on spending much time up here anyway. Pretty easy to store away for the winter in the garage, then bring back out again in next Spring.

I will be picking up a bed netting to resolve the mosquito issue. They are not too bad, but a bit annoying when you are trying to sleep. Will get the basic type of bug netting that fits over a bed.... that should fix that. I would like to get the floor option you sell   ... the tarps work ok, but it would be nice to do it right and not have any seams with the ducktape - as I have used several smaller tarps and taped them togeher.

Jorma, Washington State

A rug would also work to cover the tape seam that joins your taprs.


We have enjoyed the shelter of your 30' yurt over our excavation site for 5 months now, and are very pleased with it. It casts a perfect, flat light for excavation and photography, and saves us the headaches of covering and recovering the excavation on a daily basis.

We have had some problems in severe weather, when strong, sustained winds were combined with heavy rain. The wind yanked at the plastic guy stakes, which were allowed movement by the rain saturated ground, and snapped off below ground level. That caused loss of tension on the dome, and rain puddled in some of the panels, causing the top of the dome to collapse inward. Several of the connectors broke out on the ends where the cords tie, One near the top of the dome. We made a temporary repair by poking holes in the fabric and passing a cord through them to pull it snug to the connector, but that is about to rip out. These problems are not unanticipated, and are consistent with your warnings about weather conditions etc. It's a large dome that can catch the wind like a big sail, and we're using it in an unprotected location. I've actually been amazed at how well it has stood up against the wind, which have on occasion exceeded 50 mph for sustained periods. It takes vigilance, of course, and constant attention to venting and guy ropes, to allow wind to pass through instead of just piling and bellying against it, and to control airfoil.

We will be taking the shelter down within the next two weeks for maintenance and storage over the winter (we're at 6000 feet, and get more snow than I want to subject the yurt to). I have just submitted an order for some parts needed for maintenance, including two sets of the clips. I also requested a length of that incredible cordage, which I cannot come close to matching in the local hardware store, but which is not listed on your order form. Please let me know what the total will be before shipping.

A question: pieces of the covering fabric are very strongly bonded together in some places. Is that done with a glue, or with heat? We have some minor rifts in some of the panels that need to be mended. Is there a glue or a technique that you can recommend, as to how to go about that? And a related question: what is that incredible fabric? That stuff is truly amazing.

I will attach a photo or two for your collection.


Winston Hurst

Dear Winston Hurst

Sounds like you put the Yurt to the test and I am glad to hear it worked well for you.

Not sure what you mean in your question about the fabric being "bonded" as there is no heat welding or glue used. All the panles are cut and then Grip Clipped together. If you need to make small patches or repairs use 100% silicon glue. For patchs just cut a piece from the packing cover or the skirt of your Yurt.

The Shelter Systems' Covering we use is made of a woven multi laninate film and I agree is truly amazing stuff.

Thanks for the photos of your use of the Yurt.

Bob Gillis


Sculpture studio night and day.

Customer Photo

I tried my new 20 foor dome this weekend. It can be backpacked in 3 loads. I simply duct tape the dome package to an old backpack frame. The instructions were a little hard to follow, but I can excuse that since the dome was totally leakproof in 8 hours of rain. The way the floor is oversized keeps it bone dry even with water running under it! I also like the way the shape of the dome tends to hold it down in the wind. Those windows are really really neat too. It is ingenious how the panels all overlap and seal tightly when stressed by the PVC. I know it sounds crazy to use a 20 foot dome for backpacking by myself but I love it. It is like being inside a house. Congratulations on a great product and thanks!

Bill NC

Attached are a couple of photos of the Hyde Park Archaeological Excavations Shelters as promised.

Dirk Marcucci, RPA

Landmark Archaeology, Inc.


Photo of 30'dome used in a Sierra Mist commercial

Animal Shelter



As I mentioned, this was taken last winter. In addition to the baby
in the doorway, there are two more alpacas and 10 bales of hay and
supplies inside.

18 feet seems to be a perfect fit for 4 alpacas, in case anyone wants to know.

Will send a picture I took of all three domes. Nice talking with you.


Burning Man

Dear Shelter-Systems,
I recently purchased a 30 foot Yurt dome from you to take to Burning
Man 2001. I am writing to tell you how much I enjoyed the dome and what
a great job it did. We attached some PVC and lights to make the dome
look like a big face with spikey hair(it is actually a boognish, the
logo for the band Ween). We were so pleased with it and everyone told
us how happy it looked. I just want to thank you for making such a wonderful
product. Here is a link to our website with pictures of the dome and
our wedding in the dome (just married Sept. 2, 2001, BM'01 Temple of
Boognish)! Feel free to post the night picture on your website if you
want. The boognish looked great from far away!

Once again we thank you for your business.
Justin and Sarah McCaleb (was Sarah Mims when I purchased it!)

Burning Man

Bob -

The following are some fun pictures using your dome camping
at Pismo Beach. We had a lot of fun. The dome really saved what would have otherwise been a disastrous trip. And the funny part is that neither of us had ever put one up before - and in the wind no less - and I had just received my dome 2 days earlier.


The trip was supposed to be a "test run" for the dome. I'd say it passed with flying colors. One of our campers, Chris Hennes, was so impressed that he just ordered another 20 footer from you for his Burning Man installation.

Andrew Michalik

Dear Shelter Systems

Here are some photoes of the Tarp Shelter we created using your Grip Clips.


The Grip Clip worked great to hang a light from the center of the tarp

As you can see the shelter we created was quite large. Thanks for the great tarp fasteners.

Life in Yurt Domes

Bob, We completed 3 1/2 months in the Yurt you supplied us.
We solved the heat problem with a kerosene heater (the quiet kind) which also gave us a good night light. The yurt looked like a glowing dome in the dark. We kept two vents open the whole winter. Temperatures in the 20's to the warm 60's were encountered.
We never had to worry about leaks, even in somewhat windy conditions, from rain or snow (we were snowed in one day).
The airiness of the structure made it very comfortable. We had some regrets when we moved into our house, which is so air tight that my wife, especially, always keeps the doors open "TO GET MORE AIR".
My wife and I were Camp Hosts for 3 months. I commuted to Boeing and helped her with the state park duties in the evening. Our children
13, 10, 7, 6 years studied math, reading, science, biology, and for physical fitness and fun they hiked and observed nature from the sea shore to the forest hideaway.
Camano Island State Park and South Whidbey Island State Park were wonderful places to observe the day to day changes of nature, season and weather from. We are even more aware of the necessity of preserved areas now that we have lived in them for a short time.
The people who do the day to day work of preserving deserve our respect and support.
We are using the yurt for a temporary storage area while I build the various cabinets and book shelves needed in our new house.

Thanks again for a structure that allowed us to be successful

Harley and Vicki Clark
w/ Sophia, Gabriel, Michael and Nicholas

Love Dome

Hi Shelter Systems,
We have a 18' yurt dome --- (Bev Feldman, La Canada, CA) -- we've turned it into a outdoor sleeping room on these hot Southern California summer nights. We've decorated it quite wonderfully (if I say so myself --- "The Mists of Avalon" meets "Cirque du soleil".) Last week we were interviewed by TIME magazine on un-spoiling the kids of the 90's, and there was a big photo shoot at our place (we are involved in voluntary simplicity and have a visually interesting place). The photographer just LOVED the dome and what we had done with it, and so it was used in a couple of the shots. This piece was supposed to be a story and run this week, but the NYC types liked it so much they're running it as a cover story sometime over the summer. So you might want to keep your eye open for that story and see if you lucked out with the dome getting some free international PR...

I'm also writing a story to be submitted to the LA TIMES about our experiences of turning the yurt into something magical and taking refuge from the heat. If that goes, I'll point you to it.

Needless to say, we really love our dome.

Bev Feldman
La Canada, CA

Archaeology Shelters


June 21, 2001

Dear Shelter Systems :

As per your request, 1 am sending you a photo of your shelters in use by CHRS, Inc. The 30 foot dome is in the foreground and the 20 foot dome is in the back to the left. We are currently using them during our archaeological excavations in Monroe County, Pennsylvania and look forward to using them for years to come.

Take Care,

Christina Civello Lab Director CHRS, Inc.Hi!

"Comments" Burning Man

Dear Shelter Systems,

I was thinking about Burning Man 2001 planning today and visited your web site to see what was new. Andy Nourse and I were glad to see that you had gone out to check how Shelter Systems domes did on the playa in 2000 -- and glad to see our own (DSCN0495.jpg) among those you photographed.

Our Shelter Systems dome did well. For the first few days it was pegged only at the base by a ring of foot-long steel stakes. The reflective shade tarp kept the dome comfortable and we put short lengths of plastic pipe between the fabric panels to increase air flow.

One morning Radio Free Burning Man warned that 70mph gusts were expected in the afternoon. We decided to stay close to camp just in case. As the wind picked, we recalled we hadn't guyed the dome down per the instructions. Andy quickly drove several three-foot rebars in the ground, guyed the dome and came back inside.

It was awesome and a little nerve-wracking. But the dome did not flap itself to bits nor did the PVC fold. After a while the wind diminished.

Emerging from our dome, we were even more startled. A few other tents and shade structures in the vicinity had collapsed, flattened or simply vanished. In the distance we could see a metal-frame geodesic structure that had buckled.

Anyway, your 20-foot dome passed the Playa Test in 2000.


Patty A. Hardy

Note: that this structure uses a woven porous greenhouse sunshade cover the pores let out the heat, Not, a sheet of black plastic which would cause the poles to over heat and bend out of shape.

Dear Patty

Thanks for the great report. We also were impressed with how well the domes did.

There are real dangers involved with these high winds and we all should take all precautions needed to avoid harm including taking the dome down before the winds get too strong and or getting into a vehicle to weather the storm safely.

Hope to see you on the Playa this year.

Bob Gillis

Understood. At some point it's definitely the better part of valour to take down the dome, guy down down the 4WD and climb in...

See you on the Playa.

Patty A. Hardy

"Comments" Life in Shelter Systems' Domes

It was over 5 years ago when Gordon brought the dome into our yard. The wind once blew it over the fence.We put it under the tree to secure it. A never ending parade of people stayed in it. We never had a night when some one was not in it. The tree protected it from the sun.

One time a yoga stayed it in and he said there was too much sexual energy in it. Lots of couples stayed in. We had another dome for a while. We used it for a mediation dome. The one dome we used for people who would come through and then leave. The other we use to put people up for extended periods of time. The domes have been used a lot. We let people use the dome when they had no other place. One woman wrote us a letter to us to tell us about how beautiful it was living in the dome. It helped a lot of people over the years. The dome now is used as a permanent residence. Here is a photo of me in front of it.


10 Year Old Shelter Systems' Greenhouse

Good Morning,

I purchased a greenhouse from your company more than 10 years ago. The greenhouse is till being used and the plastic covering is still good. I have and eight foot diameter greenhouse. I think it was the middle of 2 or 4 sizes that you had at the time. I am interested in purchasing the same size or the next size larger. I never thought it would last so long and work so well, and the best part is that I can put it together myself. I usually take the greenhouse down at the end of June and sometimes put it back up in the fall and use it again till December. Thanks for a great product!

Sincerely, Caron Chapman

"Comments" Yurt Dome Use in HI

Dear Bob,

Aloha from Maui!

Maxiii P~~ lay Lt&
Honolua Division

As the manager of an 8,661 acre watershed/wilderness preserve, my field crew and 1 regularly spend 2-3 days a week throughout the year in remote camps that require tough and reliable equipment that can survive near-constant use in a subtropical environment. Over the years, we have refined our equipment list, but we still keep an eye out for quality gear that can improve our work conditions in the field,

Since November of 1990, we have been relying upon two of your Shelter Systems domes (18' & 14') to keep us and our gear dry during our regular, overnight+ field trips in the rugged, West Maui Mountains. Set-up with just two people is a breeze in all but the worst winds. Ventilation is great and the headroom (all three of us around Cor so) has your competition (what competition?) beat "headsdown." I'll never go back to those cramped, hot, aluminum-poled, geodesic domes again!

Not even the U.S. Army approved (your tax dollars hard at work!) $1900 MOBIFLEX dome (seen blowing away in the desert in the movie, STAR GATE) could handle the extreme wind and rain conditions that your Shelter Systems Lighthouse domes have readily withstood.

Please feel free to use the enclosed shots of your Shelter Systems' domes in action as you see fit.

Mahalo (Thank You) from Maui,

Randy Bartlett

Warming Hut

Dear Mark

Thank you for the details on your experiences with our dome. It may inspire others. You can tie off your clothesline to the holes inside the clips as this would provide an hold fast with out going through the flaps. I was wondering if you might send us a photo that we could include with your commits?

A few notes about our geo dome. Red Top Meadows is a school / treatment
center for emotionally /behaviorally challenged teenage boys. We bought the
geo dome with the idea of having a semi portable warming hut for our winter
wilderness camping program. The idea was to have a structure that could be
set up on snow, with a roll out astro turf floor and install an outfitters
stove. The entire unit could be broken down and transported with snowmobiles
pulling haul sleds. This satisfied our need for portable as well as the
forest services need to minimize our impact by setting up on snow and not
establishing a camp. This was an experiment of sorts. I had done a fair
amount of research for shelters and this was the lightest, cheapest, most
portable and aesthetically pleasing thing I found. Strength was the question
mark. Our program is located at close to 7000 ft in the Snake River
Mountains of western Wyoming. We usually have over 400 inches of snow fall
each year and it is not unusual for temps to go well below 0 . The dome
past its first tests but we learned nothing the easy way. Here is a few
notes that may help the next who try what we are trying. First off it needed
a name. We took one look at it and everyone thought we would start with the
Hindinburg because it looked like it would sail in a big wind and go up in
flames. both were wrong but the name stuck.

-- We set it up in the yard for a week to watch it and see how it handled
the elements. I got the call one morning saying the burg had collapsed. This
was after it had accumulated 5-7 inches of wet heavy snow. One staff got in
the middle, shoveled off the fabric, popped a few poles back in place and
the burg self inflated so to speak (popped back up). Damage was one broken
pole and one damaged hub.
-- If the dome is cold shaking lightly and gentle poking from inside will
shed most snow easily. shake at the window triangles works best.

-- We used 10" square plywood with perlon rope to make deadmans for
anchoring in the snow. One for each pvc touching the ground.

-- We bought used astro turf for 60cents a sq. ft from a company in Texas
and cut it to fit then cut it again for hauling. Heavy but it worked. Were
looking into other alternatives.

-- Putting the stove pipe through the door works but the door is 62"x 62" so
one piece of plywood does not do it. We used a piece 48" x 62" and then
rolled down the door flap and tied it off. We then used a piece of fire wrap
insulation to protect the pvc and the door fabric doing a drape and weave
kinda thing. Worked well.

-- We had an elbow out of the stove then a straight section inside and
another straight piece outside, then an elbow going up. We stabilized the
unit by sinking a ten foot piece of conduit into the snow pack and using
hose clamps ( get the size right first) and bailing wire to secure it. The
mesh spark arrestor needs cleaning every two days or get a dunce cap style
top to the stove pipe.

-- The area around the stove needs to be insulated or else the snow will
melt out and the stove will drop, screwing up all your rigging.

-- The dome heats up quickly to be very warm and cools down even faster when
the stove goes out. condensation was pretty heavy and froze on the inside
wall but knocked off and dried out quickly in the morning sun.

-- We used parachute cord for clothes line for drying socks etc... We
reached through the fabric flaps and tied it off to the hubs. This seemed
most secure.

-- The doors were hard to keep sealed even with bigger clamps once the
fabric was cold and iced up a bit the clamps just want to pumpkin seed off.

-- The dome did well in some pretty good stiff wind gusts and held 3-4
inches of light snow with out a problem. If the dome collapses the legs are
what take the weight. We are goping to try 450 psi / pvc pipe for the leg

-- The material is incredibly strong. We tested a scrap piece with a hole in
it. We could not get it to tear any further and we tried. I also tried
burning it to see what would happen. It melts but does not burn.

-- Replacing a hub was easy. I'm not looking forward to a grip clip
replacement. Should practice before its necessary. The local hardware store
had all the PVC I needed but none in the lighter 200 psi stock. Also, 10
footers come with a flared end so there is some waste when it comes to
cutting spare parts

-- Were looking forward to what we can use the Hindinburg for next. It is a
beautiful structure that gives off good vibes. Hope these notes help some
one -- Cheers -- Mark Ames -- Red Top


Here is an image as we walk it to its place in the snow. We set it up where it was warm and then carried it one mile. Andre

Just wanted to let you know that we purchased two of your domes to use as dining tents on our treks in Bhutan. They were a HUGE hit with our clients and our local trek staff as well. The trekkers came to call the 20' dome the "Taj Mahal" and enjoyed luxuriating in the roomy interior. We did have one gusty day that lifted the dome off the ground (our staff hadn't tied the guy lines tightly enough) but other than that, they held up extremely well. If you are interested in any photos, we hope to have some up on our site in the next few weeks. Look at our site and go to the Bhutan section (go to Asia first, then to Bhutan). All the best! Brent


"This photo was taken on the road from Moron to the Dharhat Valley and Lake Hovsgol in northern Mongolia. The tent is used as a general dormitory for our Mongolian guides (who think it is really cool since it is lighter and easier to move and pack than a yurt and it allows them all to sleep in a big lump together, as they are used to doing. They are not so keen on our 4-person backpacking tents. Each to his own.). We also use it as a cooking/dining/meeting tent wheneveHappy customersr the weather is bad. It packs on horseback pretty well. The big attraction of the tent for me is that it provides a level of security and comfort in remote regions when traveling with a large group. The difference between huddling under a tarp in the rain and being in the dome is all the difference in the world. In the event of emergency or prolonged bad weather we have a place to keep people safe and secure." -Kent, Boojum Expeditions, MT

Hi Bob. Here are a couple of shots from this summer when we used the tent on the first raft trip on the Chuluut river in Mongolia. Cheers.. Kent Madin -- Boojum Expeditions Uncommon Adventures


Inside dome"I have been completely satisfied with the quality and appearance of our dome. So far it has handled the 20 inches of rain and wind storms very well. The dome is my year-round home. I have a bright, airy but warm home inexpensively. The tipi style doors are a 100% improvement over zippered doors. Living in the dome, one becomes intimate with the sun, clouds, and waning and waxing moon. I love it." -Paul Guree, CA

"The dome has performed well, has stood up to the elements and is quite the conversation piece. We grow a garden in a place noted for a very short growing season. It's been a product that more than lived up to our expectations."- Bob Woodward, OR

"I'm really happy with your design because the ability to cross-ventilate this dome is very important in the tropics. The use of different membrane panels is also a nice feature. My goal is to perfect this structure so that it will eventually be a self-reliant living system powered by solar panels." - Peter Ziegler, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics

"The LightHouse 18 makes for a wonderful portable classroom at our nature preserve. As soon as an area begins to show some wear and tear, we move the tent. It is truly living lightly on the land." -David Wicks, KY

"Just skied down from the high camp and the tent is great. It is a warm and cozy place in this storm we are having and we could not have included 15 kids and 4 adults without it."-Susan and David Beck, Sierra Ski Touring - Mammoth, CA

warming hut

"Our dome has been very useful. For eight years it has been doctor's office, guest house, and teenage crash pad." -Elsa Etchevery, CA

"We are very pleased with our Solar-Dome greenhouse. We have been able to get a head start on our vegetable garden, start perennials in mid-summer, save a lot on plant costs by purchasing seeds, and bringing into bloom any exotic plants requiring humidity higher than natural for our area." -Bernice Linchester, IL

"Dear folks, This is from Oklahoma. I spoke with you on the phone on Wednesday, ordering some new liners for our 18'ers and 20'ers. This will be our 3rd summer season with a Shelter Systems tent camp. So far, we have nine tents, a mixture of 20'ers, 18'ers, 14'ers, 8'ers, living & greenhouse tents. Even our seven cats have their own tent! Thursday, the day after we called you for the liners, we had a storm come through. We'd set up several tents, but had not staked all of them down. Okay, that was stupid, but it did have amusing results. Three of the tents took off rolling, one making it through a grove of trees, over a low concrete wall and out across the south pasture. There was a little tearing of this three-year-old tent at one junction (actually, that may have already been there), and one pole fell out. We picked it up, moved it back to the site, and (finally) staked it down well. Of all three tumbling tents, one lost a pole, and another had a window pole snap. Can't help admiring how durable these things are. They even stand up to our sins of omission in properly tying them down!"

dome in the snow

"Enclosed are some slides of my old 'Freedome' which I lived in for 4 years (2 in New Hampshire and 2 in Alaska). With the double-walled design and a little wood stove, it was a 'God-send' of a living situation for me. Allowing me to live 'cheaply' anywhere. Thank you so much. It was a 'threshold' period of my life and enabled me to affordably explore new places, opportunities and lifescapes. I currently use my Light House as summertime living quarters while building log cabins for clients in remote parts of the state. I think that in summertime the LightHouse is a nicer alternative to the traditional Alaskan wall tent, being roomier, lighter and less prone to mildew. If the Sourdoughs' had Domes , they would have used them!"

Globe dome

"We used a full sphere 10' Bubble dome as a 'earth container' for a recycling program on Earth Day."

"Dear Bob, Thank you very much for the prompt service. So far I am very pleased with my greenhouse. I had carrots germinating in 90 days - a record for my Alaskan garden." -Pat Kegel , AK

"It's a wonderful space, playing tricks with a mystical light and always letting in the full sound of the wind in the trees and the babbling brook. If I ever have to move, it will be easy to take my dome with me. I think it's way cool."
-Tom Zajac , CA

"...We recently had a freeze with a low of 22°. The plants in the greenhouse had minimal frost damage; plants outside were lost. I was impressed with the performance of the greenhouse this winter." John White, Dept of Horticulture

"We used 14 of your domes at the San Ignacio Whale Watch Base Camp. They are truly extraordinary and were instrumental in providing the high degree of comfort and protection we needed. We had some very strong winds and heavy rain and the tents performed flawlessly. For strength, size, cost and aesthetics, your tents are ideal." - Kent Maden, Baja Expeditions, MT

Group Camp domes

"Greetings from New Mexico. We are the folks that bought two of your 18' domes. We took them on the road - traveling 2,000 miles with 16 kids - exploring Chaco Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, The Grand Canyon, and Hopi. Our experience with the domes on the road was quite marvelous. Kids (ages 11-14) learned how to put them up (often with impending storms) and we loved the cooperative effort that took over our shelter lives. They also faired very well with the rains. We have used lots of different shelters over our nine years of camping with groups and were very impressed. We came back after two weeks traveling feeling quite endeared of our two domes. Thanks." -John M. Leod , Our Children's Earth, NM.

Setting up a dome

"We own a sea kayaking and whale watching expedition business in Mexico and have found your domes to be a great asset when the Baja weather goes bad. Your domes have held up against strong winds and rain and provided a sanctuary for cooking, sleeping, socializing and even dancing to the cumbia music of our 'Pirates of the Gulf' Baja beach band. Thanks!" - Mary Harter & Ricardo Amador, Mary Aventuras, Mexico

Dome by the water

"I tried my new 20 foot dome this weekend. It can be backpacked in 3 loads. I simply duct tape the dome package to an old backpack frame. The instructions were a little hard to follow, but I can excuse that since the dome was totally leakproof in 8 hours of rain. The way the floor is oversized keeps it bone dry even with water running under it! I also like the way the shape of the dome tends to hold it down in the wind. Those windows are really really neat too. It is ingenious how the panels all overlap and seal tightly when stressed by the PVC. I know it sounds crazy to use a 20 foot dome for backpacking by myself but I love it. It is like being inside a house. Congratulations on a great product and thanks!"
Bill Appel

"Last year, I purchased the Geo-Dome 18. It's been great having it because I use it as a greenhouse environment. My neighbor purchased one three weeks later, because he was so enthused by it. They definitely sell themselves. Some other friends are interested in having one too. I am trying to sell them on the 18', because of how much more versatile this size can be for a garden environment. I call mine 'a tropical greenhouse' due to the fact that I have fruiting papaya and banana and pineapple, plus regular vegetables!" - Paula Halsey, NC

Happy customers

"We are a group of environmental scientists who purchased your White Solar Dome 20 for use as a portable field laboratory for water quality investigations in southeastern Massachusetts. Our project ran for two years, and we used the Dome throughout the four seasons, in ALL kinds of weather. It kept us dry and warm, and hey, our electrical equipment liked it, too. The 'pipe forest' you can see in the foreground is our 3-D well sampling network that we use for our research. Inside each pipe are 15 thin plastic tubes that go into the ground water and sample water from a particular depth. Sometimes we sat for weeks at a single location, and other times we moved the Dome from one site to another several times a day. One day after moving the dome quite a few times, we left it for the night, forgetting to stake it down, as your instructions say. Well, in the night a big storm blew in. We're talking a 20 Foot East Coast Tumbleweed! However, despite being blown 300 ft. and smashed into a pine forest, the Dome could be set back up in twenty minutes with no damage done. The Dome was the best product on the market for meeting our needs for a dry, cozy portable field site." - J. A. Davis, MA

"Here is a photograph of our Crystal Cave being used in the excavation of the Dowell Site in January 1989. This structure made doing Archeology in the winter not only feasible but even pleasant. It is easy to assemble and easy to move. The only problem we had was in high winds when it blew away. This was solved by using Tee fence posts and ropes to hold it down. It has since held up and stayed in place in sustained winds of 30-40 mph." - Robert Lafferty, Mid-Continental Research Assoc., AR

Thought you might enjoy seeing how well your dome works for a wheelchair. I love it and had tomatoes for 8 weeks after the first frost. It has stood up to our often high winds of 30 - 40 mph." -Mime Power, NM

"I live near Arcata on the coast of California. We get lots of rain here, yet I've lived comfortably in my 18' Dome Tent for the 2 years and have not had a single problem. My tent was warmer than a lot of my friends' houses because I had a little wood stove and the tent was cozily small. Yet it was bigger than a rental room. I would not have had the comfort or privacy that this tent has allowed me. It also allowed me to get through without paying a lot of rent. I've had to take it down, not because of any problem with the tent, but because moths and gophers ate holes in it when I left it for 4 months unattended. I had electricity via solar power." -Jennifer Hawley, CA

Happy customers

"I purchased the Lighthouse 18 last November. It has withstood all weather for the past year including being crushed flat by an all-night wet snow last January. I shoveled hundreds of pounds of snow off of it, crawled inside and popped it right back like new. The only damage was a pinhole in the roof." - Richard Markley, OH (Note: Shelter Systems does not recommend that you allow snow to build up on your dome; best is to take it down for the winter or at least to knock the snow off with a broom or melt it off with heat inside.)

"Success on the North Ridge of Mt. Everest is dependent on maximum performance from each detail of equipment. Only the best product is selected. Thank you for the standards of excellence that helped our team stand on top of the world! The Solar-Dome gave us a great place to eat and meet. The white material gave a bright feeling to even the gloomiest of days." - Colin Lynch, 1995 American Mt. Everest Expedition, CA

"In 1986 I ordered a Gro-Dome 8 and it has been in constant use since then. It was getting rather 'feeble' after such a long life [1993] and recently some tree branches fell on it and finished it off! I need another one. I've really enjoyed using it." - Margaret Davis, VA

"We purchased our first dome, a 21', from you in 1985 before moving to our property here in Last Chance. It was a trial run at the time, as we knew we were moving to 12 rural acres, and we wanted to have some immediate living space to use while we began to develop our new home. We tried the dome for a year before moving and it met our needs. At the time we had two young daughters.

Kids room inside dome

"As we made the move, we purchased two 17' domes to complete our 'dome village.' The smaller domes served as our two bedrooms and the 21' unit housed our kitchen and dining room. We enjoyed this setup for five years. Our location in the Santa Cruz Mountains is a wet one, yet the domes handled the climate beautifully. We were able to concentrate on establishing our gardens,
building workshops and experiencing our property before actually picking a building site.

Inside dome

"We have now [1994] completed construction of our home and still the domes live on. The original 21' dome that served us so well as kitchen is now helping produce our food. It occupies a prominent place in our garden as a greenhouse, and last summer we harvested an amazing crop of melons. (We have attempted melons several times before and, at best, harvested a golf ball or two.) In the dome we were able to create an environment that produced the most unbelievably sweet fruit, and for almost two months! One 17' dome we use as a guest bedroom and the second provides great storage for our accumulated junk.

"Your domes have met a great need for our family through the years. I have appreciated your willingness to consult with us as we have had questions. Personally, I have impressions of my children through their young years living independently in their own space, and I know they will always remember these years with fondness. You truly helped us live our dream." - Steve Pitzer,

Testimonials  2013-Now  2012  2010-2011  2009-2010  2006-2008  2004-2006  Before 2004

1 1/2-YEAR GUARANTEE. If for any reason you're not completely pleased with your purchase, return it in original, dry and clean condition within 30 days of receipt for a full refund or exchange as you wish. All items in this catalog have a warranty against defects in materials and workmanship for 1 1/2 years. Should any product prove defective we will repair or replace it at no cost to you. Special Orders are not returnable. Read Snow and Wind Warnings.

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Questions?   Orders & Customer Service: Toll Free 866-777-1066 or 831- 464-2002 or Moble 831-588-8794 eleanor@shelter-systems.com Technical: 650-323-6202 bob@shelter-systems.com. Copyright © Shelter Systems 1976 - 2015 All Rights Reserved