Tarptent Advice

Share your advice and personal experiences, post a gear review or ask any questions you may have pertaining to outdoor gear and equipment.
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oldranger
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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by oldranger » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:33 pm

I use a contrail. Less than 1 out of 5 nights condensation is an issue. Invariably it is when I would like to get an early start. I do carry an extra towel to deal with condensation when those mornings occur. Think I might start carrying a sponge instead. But the Contrail weighs 1 lb. 13 ounces including 6 stakes, some pc cord I have tied to a couple of places on the tent, and the stuff sack. As with most tents the advertised weight does not include stakes.

I consider the condensation a small issue. Two other problems are 1. It gets too hot in the sunlight to use as an escape from mosquitoes. 2. It is getting more and more difficult for me to get in and out of it.

Other alternatives I have seen: Big Agnes Flycreek UL 1. This is a true double tent, can be set up without the fly. Problems for me: Weighs 1lb more than Contrail. Not much easier to get in and out.

There are a couple of side entry tents of comparable weight to the Contrail that would be easier to get in and out of but as I recall they are also single wall tents. I think by Bearpaw, Enlightened Equipment, Gossamer Gear and Hyperlite Mt. Gear. (one of these could be a front entry, my notes and memory are both a bit sketchy.

There is one fly/mosquito netting w/ tub floor that I have seen at about the same weight as the Contrail but it seems fairly complex to set up but if you didn't need the fly you don't have to set the fly up. According to my notes this is by Alpinlite Gear.

All of these solo tents except maybe the Fly creek and the Tarp tents are in the $300 and up range.

Mike


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AlmostThere
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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by AlmostThere » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:45 pm

maverick wrote:AlmostThere wrote "I enjoy the Tyvek version also because it is not going to heat
up in full sun, and provides shade, making it a great place to take a nap in the
middle of the day in treeless areas."
What other differences between it, and the sil versions have you experienced?
In very heavy rain, your bathtub floor becomes a bathtub.

I do not know if the rain was actually coming through the tyvek, since I bailed at the three hour mark and left the tent in the pouring down rain by itself... when I went to take it down in the morning the fabric was soaked through, the floor was full of water (poured gallons out) and the side edges were sagging into the mesh.

I suspect that the majority of the water was running down through the mesh from the outsides of the tent. The tent was still standing, one foot end support had toppled over, and when I drained all the water out the tent, normally 20 oz, felt like it weighed quite a number of pounds.

But this was an inappropriate intentional use by me - I knew it would not be up for a Pacific coastal winter rainstorm! the manufacturer is very clear about its tolerances - when I knew I had a car handy to climb into. I subjected it to six hours of ongoing sheets of heavy rain.

I will take it into the mountains in summer, and I know it will stand up to moderate rain. It stood up to a couple of hours of intermittent rain before the real stuff started, and stood up to heavy rain for another couple hours before it started to drip on me. And then it drowned...

FYI, some of the PU coated dome tents in my group were also dying in that rainstorm! I was shortly joined in my car by one of the campers who didn't wake up until her dime store sleeping bag and all her clothes were completely soaked. My tarptent did me the favor of landing a good sized cold drop of water smack between my eyes to wake me well before my down quilt got even a little wet. We sat in the car watching flashlights in some of the other tents while people were finding leaks and moving around....

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The Other Tom
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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by The Other Tom » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:04 pm

Another vote for the rainbow. Plenty of room and light weight. I also have a Stephenson which is condensation prone, but I haven't had a problem with the tarptent.

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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:11 pm

I bought a Tarptent Moment last year and used it over 50 nights. In almost every case there was condensation. I am fully aware of how to set up a tent to avoid condensation. I honestly feel it is a design flaw of that particular tent. The top vents are too small. It never outright dripped but the inside of the single wall almost always is wet or totally frost covered. I am short, so I had plenty of room to sit up without scraping the wall. My biggest gripe about the condensation is that I ended up packing a very wet tent every morning, then had to unpacked it during the day at a rest stop to dry it out. I am an early bird, so usually am on the trail before the sun hits. When set up it dries quickly once the sun hits it. It handled intense rainstorms quite well. The pegs that come with it are flimsy- I broke one the first night out! I have tons of tent pegs from other tents, so that was not a problem. Although you can set it up on two pegs, you really need four for a set up if you use the guy lines (really needed in any kind of wind). And I brought two more pegs just to peg out two floor corners. In summary, it is still a good light tent for the Sierra. I would not use it in the Rockies where days of rainy weather would make it impossible to dry out. My other complaint about Tarptents (all of them) is that they have a relatively large "footprint" making it tough to find a spot to set it up in tight situations. Tall people will love Tarptents for their length. My little Micro-zoid was more my size, but I could not sit up in it. I have yet to find a tent that is "perfect". I think you have to choose what is the most important features, and just put up with those few other things that may not be to your liking. At least the Tarptents are reasonablly priced and light weight, so I am willing to deal with the condensation and size issues.

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AlmostThere
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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by AlmostThere » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:31 pm

OH yeah! Those Easton stakes? All of mine developed a nice curvature, and when I loaned the Sublite to someone, she was setting up and broke one of them in two. Swapped 'em out for groundhogs.

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Clubb
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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by Clubb » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:44 pm

Good stuff guys. I figured some of you would have the good and bad on the tarptents.

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AlmostThere
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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by AlmostThere » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:04 pm

I don't know if there's much bad about them... It's like any piece of gear. Everything has its limits and applications... they aren't made to be bombproof, or perfect for every environment. And you do have to understand how to use them and have a notion of good site selection, if you're going out for some extended duration.

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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by markskor » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:37 pm

Like Mav above, have been using the Rainbow last two seasons...80 + nights.
Pros:
Great solo tent - light - plenty of space for 1, room for all gear inside - a palace, adequate vestibule for boots, cooking. Some misting but mostly stayed dry, even under heavy overnight torrents. Condensation some, but not really noticeable.
Cons:
Not designed for 50+ winds, no matter how well guyed out.
Tent (sil fabric) heats up, sort of infra-red effect...impossible to stay/nap in tent afternoons...unless pitched in shade or drape a towel atop to block the sun.
Mountainman who swims with trout

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Clubb
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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by Clubb » Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:55 am

AlmostThere wrote:I don't know if there's much bad about them... It's like any piece of gear. Everything has its limits and applications... they aren't made to be bombproof, or perfect for every environment. And you do have to understand how to use them and have a notion of good site selection, if you're going out for some extended duration.
I here ya. I love the weight and price. Im not so sure about the "draftiness" or "bombproofness" in nasty weather. I'm trying to decide betweeen this style and something like the Big Agnes Seedhouse. More weight, but more burly ,and prolly suitable for more conditions.

decisions, decisions.

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Re: Tarptent Advice

Post by oldranger » Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:02 am

I have experienced up to 2" of snow, high winds and driving thunderstorms in the Contrail. Nothing has ever gotten wet. I do set it up differently than designed--I use a stick or my second trekking pole to create an A shape at the foot. Most of the wind is knocked down so I don't feel that is an issue for me. Having both a Tarptent and a Big Agnes Tent one thing directly comparable is the quality of the mosquito netting. The tarptent mosquito netting is much stronger. I really like the Rainbows that Markskor and Maverick and others use. It is really spacious. But it is a little heavier and has the same problem of inadequate ventillation when the sun is bright.

Mike
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