I’ve had my Cricket for 8 months now and used it more than any other shelter this year so far. A total of 19 nights under it in varied weather conditions including strong wind, heavy rain and snow.
Since first posting a picture on Instagram of the Cricket, I have had allot of people asking me to review it or give my thoughts. I don’t like to review a product until I have used it and have a good idea of how it performs which is why I left it until now to write this.
In reality there is little information regarding the Cricket and what is online seems to be patchy so I hope this helps a little.
This review is based on the current SIlnylon Cricket. I have no experience with the Cuben version.
Price, from $185 SIlnylon / $335 Cuben (DCF)
30D Silnylon, 365g (unsealed and without lines), 275x135x130cm (L,W,H).
30D Silnylon, 435g, sealed and with lines, 277,135cm, height variable.
Mine is a brown 2017, Pro Silnylon version that I picked up second hand for a pretty reasonable price. The shelter was already seam sealed when I got it and its quite chunky and from what I can tell was packed away with the sealant not being 100% dry as which has left a few marks on the main areas of the fly. I have managed to remove some, that which is left does not bother me so much now.
The 2017 Cricket is larger than the original
Build and Quality
I have a number of MLD shelters and have seen and used others, this and the other shelters I own and have used has given me a bench mark of the quality to expect.
The Pro Silnylon used on my Cricket is the newer type that MLD uses. I have found it to sag less and believe it absorbs less water than the Silnylon used on my Trailstar (2015 model), it also seems to dry quicker.
The seams are all triple rolled and finished well with straight stitching. The only issue I have found with any of the seams is not really an issue, more of an observation. Where one of the mitten hooks have been stitched in on the front left seam, when ever this hook is used or under tension, a very small gap appears and daylight can been seen through it. The seam sealer runs right over the seam and I have never had any leakage through this or any other part of the construction.
‘MLD are now shipping their shelters with an updated seam design. Ron recently replied to a post on facebook saying that the seam strength is the same and the newer, more modern fabric is stronger’
All in all I cannot fault the construction of my Cricket, even the stuff sack is finished with the same quality.
The pitching of the Cricket is simple. I start by pegging out the back corners leaving around 5 inches of line free between the peg and the fly. I then move to the front corners, instead of pitching them at right angles to the rear, depending on how high I want the beak, I peg them a few inches off, between 70 – 110 degrees to the rear.
For the central pole, I set it to 135-140cm with an offset of around 20 degrees. This gives good height inside, an easy taut pitch and plenty of room behind.
The rear and side panels can be pitched to the floor with ease, maintaining a tight pitch which reduces drafts, spin drift and any spray.
For the beak, you can either use a second pole to pull the beak taut or simple run a line from the lineloc down to the ground for a lower more storm resistant pitch.
I have seen few comments about the Cricket being a fair weather shelter, I do not believe this to be the case at all. As I said above, I have used the shelter in strong winds around 30-40mph with gusts, heavy constant rain often with wind and fairly heavy snow (for the UK). As with any shelter, if you pitch it to the conditions, you should have no issue.
Space / Coverage
The Cricket I own is based on the Solomid XL, the space inside is more then adequate for a solo shelter and with the overhanging beak there is plenty of coverage.
To create additional or a less restrictive space inside, you can use an ‘A Frame’ which is incredibly stable in wind. In good weather, you can also place the pole a few inches from the back panel which gives you uninterrupted space.
I am 6ft tall and have not found an issue with space at all, height width and length are more than enough. I know of another UK user who is 6ft 4inches and he also find the space ample.
I have a number of inners that fit the Cricket, A Oookworks Weenest, Oookworks Duomid innner (for this to fit you need to measure 5 inched from the apex and tighten some shock cord around to ensure the side walls pull in correctly. I also have two 3FUL inners that fit, a T Zip Winter inner and a full mesh that I have modified form a J Zip to a T Zip.
MLD Also make a number of inners that will fit the Cricket which should not be overlooked.
The strongest wind my Cricket has seen for a prolonged period of time is between 30-40mph with gusts a little higher. Pitched with the central pole at 135cm and with a 20 degree offset, the shelter stood upright with a little flapping as you would expect from any Silnylon shelter. When pitching in strong wind, I tent to use a single pole with a lowered beak to cover again the wind direction swinging around.
I have had the wind swing a full 180 and start blowing in under the beak before, this was easy enough to solve. you simply have to widen the pitch of the from corners and lower the beak. Doing this will enable you to pitch the beak nearly to the ground.
I have read a few comments regarding a near ground beak pitch, most people seem to say you have to crawl under the beak to get in. This is not the case. If you release one of the front corners and the central beak line you can scoot under and simply retention the lines from within.
The first picture in this review was taken on the first camp I used the Cricket. We walked out to Steeperton Tor on Dartmoor, there was a little snow forecast but nothing like what we encountered that night. I was with two friends, one in a Duomid XL and the other in a four season Hilleberg Kaitum. Initially we had around 6-8inches of snow fall with drifts. This was followed by continuous heavy rain and strong winds.
Many people commented that I took the wrong shelter, to this I completely disagree. I have taken the Cricket out in similar weather since and would have no issue doing so again. The protection offered in my opinion is superb, wind and rain are little cause for concern and the only issue I found when it snowed was the corners were weighed down.
I initially bought the Cricket as a curiosity, my thoughts were that it would idea for summer use or as a day hike shelter to use to get out of the weather, it soon became one of my favourite to use.
For the weight, weather protection, price and ease of pitching I think there are very few shelters that come close.
I have been nothing but impressed and so have a few of my hiking friends, no less than four have ordered a Cricket since using and/or borrowing mine.
For anyone looking at this or a similar shelter, you need to bear in mind its designed as an Ultralight/Lightweight shelter, without an inner supplied. A number of the comments I have read over the last few months have been negative due to the large open front. Before buying a product, you need to understand what it is your buying.
If anyone has any questions, please leave a comment, I am happy to answer any you may have.