NVA shelter half, Strichtarn, surplus
One of the most versatile items issued in the NVA, although patterned more like the Soviet model. Or the Great War model, depending on your historical preferences.
A shelter half has been a part of most armies' equipment for a long time, dating back at least to the First World War and maybe even earlier. But some took it further; for example the Germans and the Russians made it much more versatile. The idea was to combine the need for a tent, rain protection, stretcher, and camouflage cape, to name a few possible uses. And this is just what even the East German Zeltbahn does pretty well.
This rectangular piece of canvas has paired buttons and keyholes on each of the four sides. It can be buttoned to other Zeltbahns to form tents both small or large. Near one corner there's a drawcord. If worn as a cape, this forms the base of the hood, while you just button up the front and stick your arms thorough the opening slits. Simple. Grommets on the corners for pitching purposes.
Made from tightly woven cotton, with a water repellent treatment that actually works, verified by us! Measurements 175 x 175 cm (5 3/4' x 5 3/4'), weight 1,2 kg.
Most looked unissued, but may be a bit dusty with corrosion on metal parts after decades of storage.
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does not recommend
Jaakko M. 03.07.2016 (Edited 06.07.2016)
Jos nyt jotakin, niin saisi olla tämän mittaiselle miehelle vähän isompi ja jos olisi kevyemmästä kankaasta, niin olisi aina kassissa.
Yllättäen kankaan kuvio toimii hämärässä metsässä todella hyvin. Jopa niin hyvin, että kun sateessa kävelin pururadalla, minua päin juoksi lenkkeilijä joka ei hämärässä hahmottanut kankaaseen pukeutunutta laahustajaa.
Bill H. 15.09.2016 (Edited 05.07.2017)
Evangelos S. 01.11.2016 (Edited 29.11.2016)
Sure not waterproof but still a very good water-resistant shelter
Richy C. 10.01.2017
Some complaints is that all the drawstrings are not as pictured. They were more like the black plastic packing twine that you can probably find at your local hardware/farming goods store. Should be easy to replace with 550 cord if I spend a bit of time with a sewing machine.
Also I'm not really a fan of the metal buttons and corner loops. Would prefer if they were much like the Russian ones.
But hey for a dirt cheap price and really good condition, I would recommend this if you can get your hands on one.
Ivan Z. 11.02.2017
David T. 07.03.2017 (Edited 13.06.2017)
I also plan to do an article about the general uses of one of these Zeltbahns.
Simon H. 14.04.2017
Aukusti M. 16.04.2017
William W. 23.04.2017 (Edited 13.06.2017)
The cool strichtarn pattern is just the icing on the cake.
My Platsch Palatka is now staying in my car, whereas the Zeltbahn is what I'll be carrying when I go hiking and camping.
Edit: I like it so much I made a Youtube video about it - https://youtu.be/MA0GqDVKqYo
Kenneth N. 29.04.2017
Simon C. 08.06.2017
Ari T. 17.07.2017
Found immediate extra in home use for this multipurpose tool. When not in use in wilderness, it makes for a pretty darn good impromptu (and cheap) blackout curtain to keep every Northern sleepers worts in house enemy during night, Sun, out of the room.
Apparently when one makes canvas tight enough to be water and wind repellant it also is pretty light tight. Bonus for all the buttons, holes and grommets make for easy hanging from pretty much any curtain rail/pipe/support.
Kari M. 17.07.2017
Jonathon S. 25.07.2017 (Edited 26.10.2017)
David G. 28.07.2017
If it came complete with poles and pegs I'd give it the full 5 stars but for the money you get a decent lightweight basha/poncho or tent if you buy more than one.
William W. 01.08.2017
Ari S. 03.09.2017
Dan T. 14.09.2017
I occasionall give one as gifts to friends and tell them to keep it in their car as an emergency tarp, poncho or shelter.
Buy a few while you can.
mobi 30.09.2017 (Edited 30.09.2017)
Here is a list of possible uses for one or two of these or the plash palatkas and shows how versatile and amazing value they are.
(German variants Also more of a rain coat when fully fastened up).
You could probably also collect and filter water through it before you purify it as it's just very tight woven canvas.
Also a little trick for anyone hammocking if you fasten it using the buttons around the outside of the hammock also with a blanket pinned in a similar fashion it makes a lovely cocoon of warmth with no cold currents of air on your ass and you can just slide it to the end of the hammock out of the way if you wanna get in or out
And some pros over modern materials is it's strong, flame retardant, easily repairable and treatable for weather resistance, quieter, and not shiny like all this plastic stuff that poisons our water.
It's certainly a jack of all trades but master of none item. But worth all that extra weight in gold.
Joel F. 07.10.2017
The metal buttons used to assemble the shelter and close the arm-holes are cheaply and crudely made, which makes for a slightly uncomfortable job of assembling them, and as these are unused NOS, the buttonholes are often very tight. I expect that with time they will get a bit looser. I also found that one button popped off as I was rebuilding my shelter, because they are just riveted on in a fairly crude fashion.
I am quite tempted to buy more of these to extend the shelter somewhat - 170x170 is probably generously sized for the average NVA soldier - or indeed men generally in the 1970s, but I only just fit in there. Once I start that though, I have no idea when it will end...that's the beauty of modular construction!
Nelson S. 22.10.2017
Thomas H. 23.10.2017
Bjornar M. 06.11.2017
Keijo N. 24.11.2017 (Edited 24.11.2017)
Michael N. 04.12.2017 (Edited 08.12.2017)
(update)8/12/17 I received the other half and that one is like brand new also! Awesome!
David F. 23.01.2018
David F. 23.01.2018 (Edited 08.02.2018)
I did notice out of the 24 a obvious weight difference in some. The ones with blackish grey nylon cordage certainly weigh less than the ones with any color green to brown "rope" as draw cords. These are still the same, but simply made of lighter material. If you appreciate good quality that's lighter, these may be better for you. I ended up with 7 of these out of 24. Still well worth the price , just different. I think military buffs and manly men will be more satisfied with the roped version. It is on par with Russian stuff, but more modern. The ones with black nylon cordage reminds you of things getting cheaper once you have a Russian or earlier variant, but are still awesome!
Jeff D. 09.02.2018 (Edited 22.02.2018)
The 2nd NVA shelter half arrived today (7 days from day of order to deliverly to my home). Again, the shelter half is new , unissused, same size as the first one I ordered. But there are some differences. This one is an olive drab green with black nylon/plastic cordage, which if it ever became an issue, one could replace with para cord. Possibly lighter in weight than my first one, which is brown with cloth draw cords, suggesting my green shelter half is a newer version. The quality of both articles is excellent.
One correction to my first posting. Do not get just one shelter half, buy two.
ritchie m. 06.03.2018 (Edited 08.03.2018)
Just a small update,got in touch with store via messaging service at bottom of screen and got instant reply.they are sending me another poncho ,it was great to get an instant reply rather than wait for e mail which could take forever and be robotic.
SO top marks to a great store with great customer service and great people ,now my number one store for my gear....A1
Joshua C. 08.03.2018
I think in a pinch you could set up a one-man shelter with a single shelter-half but I would probably be too tall (6ft2) to be comfortable under it. It's really designed as half of a shelter unless you are a compact socialist warrior.
Huck M. 22.03.2018
I mainly ordered it for the fabric to modify another tent, and I'm happy that I didn't order it to use as a shelter.
Christopher S. 29.03.2018
I'll try bringing up the condition of these last 5 next time I order some more with the staff.
Mikko K. 16.04.2018
Niin ja ei todellakaan persaus kastunut testausreissulla.
Johannes J. 24.04.2018
Ian G. 18.10.2019 (Edited 18.10.2019)
Pros: First, the camo is amazing. Strichtarn is one of the best out there. It works really well, especially here in Vermont. Second, its multipurpose. You can use it as a shelter, rain cape, cloak, bivvy sack, sleeping bag, blanket, hammock, stretcher. I have used this thing to clean up after a college party littered in the woods, carrying around 40-50 beer cans in it to a dumpster. I washed it and boom brand new (well, new for surplus.) I have used this as a sunshade on the beach. I have used this as a Pierogi costume for Halloween. I have used this so much that is got a small hole in it that I fixed. I now have two, one to use, and one for my East German reenacting impression, rolled around the backpack. Buttoned up together, they make a very big tent. And I'm 6'2. This is also muuuch cheaper than most other sites. Also, it gets stiff when it gets wet, so the wetter it is the more water repellent it is, as the fibers swell and close up all the gaps. Ingenious design.
Cons: Two-ish things. One complaint is that it doesn't come with the rubberized utility straps to roll it up in, and/or with one of those Strichtarn bags that contains the poles and stakes. However, they might have sold these in the past so its probably just an availability issue. Second is inherent with the actual item, not the selling. The buttons, at least on mine, are extremely hard to work (and detract from the camouflaging properties.) The button holes are tiny. Buttons are metal so in the winter it makes this issue worse. The toggle holes on a Soviet Plash Palatka will at least break in with use, and I find toggles easier to use than buttons as well. The drawstrings in this are also that East German 'Dendron', a nylon material, which can slip with some knots, and are longer than necessary. However, I just made coil knots at the end of mine and that solved that issue. Wearing it as a rain cape on a college campus in public might get you some weird looks too, and probably isn't a girl magnet. However these issues are pretty small in the big picture.
Verdict: I would absolutely buy this. The pros far outweigh the cons and this is a handy, if not essential piece of kit for whatever you are doing. And at this price, might as well, its just a good thing to have around.
Peyton B. 05.11.2019
Currently, I carry this shelter half slung on my Czech M60 backpack, secured with the Swiss utility straps. It works great as a picnic blanket/ground tarp, emergency rain poncho, or rain tarp for my bicycle when I have to leave it outside on wet days. When I next go camping, it will be used as a ground tarp with the BW flecktarn two-man tent. I'm quite content with this purchase.