The MEC Mantis is a very unique shelter that can easily be used as a sleeping shelter, protection from heavy winds, a refuge from bugs and a communal area that will seat 4 to 6 people quite comfortably.
My first experience with the Mantis was when we went on a canoe trip in late May and wanted to have a place to sit if the bugs got really bad. Well, the bugs weren’t too bad, but we did have to endure 4 days of drenching rain and high winds. We were wind bound on our second day of the trip. Our tent was leaking and quite wet in areas. Later in the afternoon, the wind finally died down a bit and we decided to quickly pack up and head to the next lake (mostly for a change in scenery and something to do).
When we packed up the Mantis, we noticed that, after all that rain, it was completely dry where it was set up. Our tent did not fair nearly as well. We decided right there and then, the tent was going to stay in the bag for the rest of the trip and our sole shelter was going to be the Mantis. Although the rain continued for the next two days and nights, we stayed completely dry with 3 of us sleeping in this rugged and comfortable shelter.
The Mantis can be used with a pole or, if there are plenty of trees, you can skip the pole and simply tie it to a nearby tree. We don’t bring a pole with us on our interior trips, but simple make a pole out of a stick if needed. Most sites do have lots of trees, so it’s rarely required. The maximum height is 2.1 metres. It can be lowered during foul weather and high winds.
The Mantis does not have a floor. I recommend a tarp or some kind of ground cover if you are planning to sleep in it. Floorless makes it easy as a plain shelter. No floors to worry about getting dirty so your shoes can remain on. Stumps and other natural seats can be brought in without any worry. Once we even erected the tent over a large log and used the log for seating. Cooking is also easier without a floor, if you choose to cook in it. Naturally, normal precautions are necessary if you plan to cook inside the shelter.
The shelter has a large screen area without a cover. The design is great if you point it away from the wind. The water simply travels down the back of the tent and the front stays remarkably dry. If the bugs are not an issue (like in early May or October) then you can roll up the screen and it’s wide open; almost like sleeping under the stars.
If you are taking the mantis on a long trip just as an eating and bug shelter, you should know that it is heavy compared to simple tarp systems. It weighs as much as most tents at 3kg and a packed size of 65 x 61cm. However, when set up right, it can’t be compared when dealing with bad weather. Most tarps can’t help you with high winds, where sleet and rain is coming at you at near right angles. That’s where the mantis shines.
Wet Long Weekend Saved by the Mantis.
Mantis with the Screens Rolled Up.