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Any experience with modern Tarptent tents?

Old 10-13-20, 08:47 PM
  #26  
KC8QVO
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Originally Posted by Twang -O- Doom View Post
I have a Protrail, and it's faster to set up than any of the free standing tents I have used..
What all can you tell me about the protrail? How do you find the ergonomics of getting in and out of it after a hard day of riding? Can you sit up in it or do you hit the sides near the peak very easy?
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Old 10-14-20, 07:27 AM
  #27  
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My Contrail is the predecessor of the Protrail, same tent with a flat box at the foot. I often pitch mine with stick in the middle of the foot to get a peak if I'm expecting snow or hail.

The reasons I appreciate the design are its ultimate reliability, simplicity and stability. There is so little that can fail, so little to repair. And the canopy area is huge compared to the sleeping area. It's proven to be versatile and rugged, too. It was my shelter for four multi-month trips, three by foot, one by bike, over a ten-year period, all for under $200 at the time.

I'm in my mid-60s, and thanks to a lifetime of cycling I have no problem with ingress or egress, even with walls wet with condensation. I can do that because of many hard days of riding.

Dealing with the condensation in a single wall tent has a learning curve. Site selection can help--stay away from areas where dew forms, in valley floors and along streams. A breezy site on high ground is perfect. The advantage is ease and speed of drying--five minutes of sunshine and wind at a break during the day and you have a dry start to the next night. There's only one thing to dry out.

I have never used a ground cloth with a Tarptent, with lots of use in rocky tundra and desert rocks and cactus. Henry Shires says he virtually never gets a tent returned for floor repairs. The one I retired a few years ago was starting to fail at the guy line attachments, and the zipper. The floor was in better shape than the canopy.
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Old 10-14-20, 08:55 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Odd that they don't seam seal them. Ive been seamsealing tents for ages.
It's just the nature of the beast type of thing. SilNylon is some pretty slippery stuff, so you can't sew the membrane tape into the seams like the high volume manufactures use in their tents. (but that has started to change as newer fabrics and coatings that have come out like SilPoly).

Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
What all can you tell me about the protrail? How do you find the ergonomics of getting in and out of it after a hard day of riding? Can you sit up in it or do you hit the sides near the peak very easy?
The ergonomics are probably about what you expect. You are sleeping on the ground and most of my moaning and groaning come from just getting up and down off the ground. The pyramid (mid) shaped side entry tents are a bit easier to get in and out of, you only have to spin 90 degrees not 180, but I personally really don't like having the side of the tent so close to my face. Really I think the ProTrail best lives up to the name Tarptent, you are better off thinking of it as a shaped tarp, with built in bugnet, ground sheet, and rain doors rather than a tent. It's in that middle ground between a bivy/tarp and a tent.

Pros:
  • It's light and relatively inexpensive. ($220-250 w/poles)
  • It's pretty roomy (at the head end), it's not one of those coffin shaped one man tents, I could picture someone sharing it with a dog, or maybe even a shorter kid pretty easy.
  • It sets up fast and pretty easy. the first time I set it up was a day with 25-30 mpg wind gusts and it was not a problem (put the foot end into the wind) here is the set up video from Henry
  • It doesn't take up very much room packed, and smushes down easy.
  • It has damn good condensation management for when it happens. (things like the extra bit of netting at the foot end to keep the foot of your bag from touching the walls of the narrow end of the tent)
  • It's simple. I'm simple, I like that.
  • Still made in the USA (He had had to change to overseas manufacturing for some models this year because of issues with his US subcontractor losing workers)
  • The listed weight is accurate, some of the large manufactures list the weight without guy-lines, tent pegs and what have you to gain a competitive marketing advantage.
Negatives:
  • It was designed to be a trekking pole tent. While a positive for backpacking, you do need to sit the optional tent poles on a flat rock, piece of bark, or something to keep the pole from sinking deep into softer ground. Not really a huge deal but something to know about.
  • Condensation will happen. It's a single wall tent and you can't beat physics.
  • It's best used with the foot end and main flap open, and the sides off the ground to prevent condensation. Some people prefer a tent that is more sealed off from the outside world.
  • You can have any color you like, as long as it's the light grey/green color they offer. This can be a showstopper for many people, I think it blends in with the background ok but others my not.
  • The light color + single wall makes it a bit translucent. In the picture of it in the corner of my yard, if you look closely, you can see the dark floor through the walls. A friend saw it and it and that was a total nogo for her.

And finally not a positive or negative, but the Protrail is lightweight backpacking gear so it requires a certain level of care. Why in no means fragile (I doubt anyone could tear it by hand, but lots of abrasion could hurt it). If you are the type of person who likes/wants/needs BOMBPROOF gear you might worry a bit with it. Look at Hilleburg for that, but be prepared to melt your credit card.
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Old 10-14-20, 11:27 AM
  #29  
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I've been using a Tarptent Rainbow since 2014. It's excellent and the new model looks even better. The only thing I dislike is the poor ventilation from the single door when it's hot and buggy. I bought a Big Agnes to solve this and boy do I regret it. It takes a lot longer to setup and it doesn't feel as durable. Mud gets in the little corner clips so they can't clip and they freeze in the morning and won't unclip. I much prefer the Tarptent. I lust for a Double Rainbow Li but a plain silnylon Double Rainbow would do the job. Seams need to be sealed. Add the liner and you have a double wall tent. One of the best tent design I've ever seen is the Dan Durston x-mid. The 2p would be great for biking. You need poles for it.
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Old 10-14-20, 02:20 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Erick L View Post
,,,I bought a Big Agnes to solve this and boy do I regret it. It takes a lot longer to setup and it doesn't feel as durable. Mud gets in the little corner clips so they can't clip and they freeze in the morning and won't unclip. I much prefer the Tarptent....
I was going to mention this too but didn't want to bash Big Agnes based on my own observations, and no direct experience. I often camp near BA tents, and get to witness the set-up struggles. One friend damn near put his eye out with an errant pole, all of which I watched as I was making dinner after setting up the TT in a couple of minutes.

When I replaced my old Contrail, the Protrail was in beta testing. I was tempted by the Moment with it's two-stake pitch, but the long pole turned me off--it's something to break/lose.
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Old 10-14-20, 04:27 PM
  #31  
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I have to say that the MSR designs are really fast putting up. But then I found my old old Sierra Designs tent from 30 yrs ago easy and fast to put up too, so maybe Im not fussy. The recentish designs of poles all being together certainly make things a bit faster. Also, the MSR vent windows in the flys make a real difference for greatly reducing condensation--although like you guys have pointed out, not being in a low depression, near a river or whereever where the humidity is going to be bad, goes a long way.

specific tents aside--KC , one thing to consider is if you think you'll be ok in a tent of these Tarptent sizes (or other 1 person tents in general, although some are taller than others)
The old saying of if one person, get a 2 person tent, if 2 people, use a 3p tent, is still a good one. Gives you more room for your stuff and or hanging around space if you have to spend the day in it.

something to consider, and for some people , its a tent packing size and weight compromise that is worth it. But only you know how you feel about size and space vs packed size and weight.
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Old 10-14-20, 05:10 PM
  #32  
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If you camp enough, you can get pretty fast at setting up your tent.

One recent data point came as I was planning a car camping outing at nearby state park with my neighbors. (I would ride my bike there, they would drive their car - we would camp at same campground). Prior to this, we went to set up tents and make sure all was OK. I brought four tents since I might lend one or two - and they brought one new tent they just purchased.

In the same amount of time, my neighbor could set up their new basic dome tent, I completed a setup of the following four tents from my stable:
1. REI Quarterdome 2
2. MSR Hubba Hubba
3. Big Agnes Wyoming Camp 2
4. Sierra Designs, Windy Pass (older from ~15 years ago)

I knew exactly where the poles went (not hard and often color coded) and exactly what I staked and didn't etc. They were still learning how to set up their new tent. Just being experienced with my equipment made me 4x faster...
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Old 10-14-20, 07:10 PM
  #33  
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I dunno, I'm suspect the Wheaties you ate that morning was the real factor.
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Old 10-14-20, 08:27 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
specific tents aside--KC , one thing to consider is if you think you'll be ok in a tent of these Tarptent sizes (or other 1 person tents in general, although some are taller than others)
The old saying of if one person, get a 2 person tent, if 2 people, use a 3p tent, is still a good one. Gives you more room for your stuff and or hanging around space if you have to spend the day in it.

something to consider, and for some people , its a tent packing size and weight compromise that is worth it. But only you know how you feel about size and space vs packed size and weight.
Good thoughts.

The tent I have now (the main one, the Hammerhead 2) is a 2 person tent and I have had 2 people in it fine. The tent is big for just me - which isn't usually a bad thing. However, the packed bulk and weight is what I am trying to get around.

When I converted to my hammock some years ago I did away with "tent camping" nearly entirely. However, my hammock set up isn't a storm-proof set up and the tent is. It also doesn't pitch well on the ground. So that is where this thread came from - I recalled the company name from way back and looked in to them and was curious of others' experiences with them from use. I have never camped in one myself. The idea of one, for me, is to get a "storm proof tent" that is lighter and less bulk than the Hammerhead 2. At the moment, the complete set up with ground sheet and stakes, is 8.2lbs. If I could cut that in half that would be a good target.

The hard thing, for me, is how to do the "balance equation" of packed bulk/weight vs how much "tent" I get. I agree, having a 2 person tent for 1 person is a good rule of thumb. However, going smaller is less packed bulk/weight. If I spend most nights in the hammock, then is the space really required in the tent? I suppose if I am hunkered down for a storm system to pass then the space in the tent would be warranted.

Lots to think about.
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Old 10-15-20, 09:31 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
I was going to mention this too but didn't want to bash Big Agnes based on my own observations, and no direct experience.
I thought they'd be better too. They have good reputation and they are well made, yet they're missing a basic feature like adjustable corner tie-outs. The pegs have to go where the loop is. Those little clips get muddy. My old Sierra Design has simpler, stronger and faster clip (the J foot or something). Since the corners are loops instead of a single cord, it gets twisted and you have to make sure the fly clip is inside the loop. They have velcro and "inserts" for the cross strut on the fly to make the tent more taut. Nice features but they add to the setup. They kinda have to do this because the fabric is so thin. Opening the inner door is a two zipper operation and the tent has 8 anchor points but comes with 7 stakes. They still use those annoying toggles to hold doors and big fabric flaps that get caught in the tiny fragile zippers. The door stash is pretty cool and so is the new big gear pocket. The UL1 has a side door and a tapered shape, and with the big gear pocket, you can't really sleep with the head at the narrow end. This makes site selection more difficult when you want that lake view but the ground slopes the wrong way to do so.

Meanwhile, Tarpent and Durston use big waterproof zippers and no flap. Tarptent uses magnet to hold doors. Much better when you wake up to rain in your tent. The Durston x-mid is double wall and both inner and fly go in one motion. Same for many Tarptents or they have an optional clip-in inner. Speaking of modern, the BA feels prehistoric in comparison.
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Old 10-15-20, 09:39 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Like mev, we fit the tent we use to the destination, season, and weather.

Try this with a non-freestanding tent-- my wife doing a little house cleaning before packing.


It works just as well. This was in 60km/h+ wind.
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Old 10-15-20, 12:53 PM
  #37  
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A nice text on tent material by the creator of the x-mid: https://durstongear.com/materials
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Old 10-15-20, 08:38 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Erick L View Post
I thought they'd be better too. They have good reputation and they are well made, yet they're missing a basic feature like adjustable corner tie-outs. The pegs have to go where the loop is. Those little clips get muddy. My old Sierra Design has simpler, stronger and faster clip (the J foot or something). Since the corners are loops instead of a single cord, it gets twisted and you have to make sure the fly clip is inside the loop. They have velcro and "inserts" for the cross strut on the fly to make the tent more taut. Nice features but they add to the setup. They kinda have to do this because the fabric is so thin. Opening the inner door is a two zipper operation and the tent has 8 anchor points but comes with 7 stakes. They still use those annoying toggles to hold doors and big fabric flaps that get caught in the tiny fragile zippers. The door stash is pretty cool and so is the new big gear pocket. The UL1 has a side door and a tapered shape, and with the big gear pocket, you can't really sleep with the head at the narrow end. This makes site selection more difficult when you want that lake view but the ground slopes the wrong way to do so.

Meanwhile, Tarpent and Durston use big waterproof zippers and no flap. Tarptent uses magnet to hold doors. Much better when you wake up to rain in your tent. The Durston x-mid is double wall and both inner and fly go in one motion. Same for many Tarptents or they have an optional clip-in inner. Speaking of modern, the BA feels prehistoric in comparison.
thank you for those detailed descriptions
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Old 10-16-20, 09:59 AM
  #39  
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Double-wall pyramid set-ups are my favorite as an ultra-compact/-light camper. Least fabric (weight/bulk) for a given sit-up height and floorspace, use a fallen branch for a pole. Inner/outer tents are independent/modular so you can pitch fly higher for more room/ventilation in light wind/rain; or to the ground for 360 protection in storms. Inner tent drops with 3 clips for the giant floorless vestibule advantages - more room, leave mud shoes on, use ground chairs, huge kitchen/cook space, even dig an indoor latrine (wild camping). For me, 1.5lbs in a 2.5L stuff sack including fly, inner tent, polycryo footprint, and Ti stakes.... and arguably even smaller, lighter considering the multitasking capabilities.
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Old 10-17-20, 07:18 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
...
Try this with a non-freestanding tent-- my wife doing a little house cleaning before packing.
...
My non-free standing tent in the bottom photo below is a small light weight single wall two person tent, takes only seconds to turn it inside out, give it a few shakes and then reverse. Your free standing tent is faster to shake out, but mine is not that much slower.


Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
... is a 2 person tent and I have had 2 people in it fine. The tent is big for just me - which isn't usually a bad thing. However, the packed bulk and weight is what I am trying to get around.
....

I used a one person tent on several trips, not enough room in a tiny vestibule for my four panniers and not enough room in the tent for more than me and my handlebar bag. Nice tent and light, but too small. And way tooooo small if I decide to sit for a rainy day instead of ride. That said, there are some that have more vestibule space that are one person tents, but I eventually decided to go for a two person tent.




Switched to an older two person tent. I could bring all four panniers inside the tent and store a bit more stuff under the vestibule. Tent was fantastic, except it was quite heavy. Used that for several tours. Vestibule was large enough that I sometimes heated up water for coffee and breakfast under the vestibule with a butane mix type stove. Great tent, especially in the wind, will still use it on trips where weight is not a problem.




But, packing up my luggage and trying to stay below the weight limits for international travel with the tent shown above, I decided one day when i was trying to finish packing in time to catch my flight that I was going to buy a much lighter two person tent after that trip.

Tent below is the one I bought. Big Agnes Scout Plus. I am not sure if they still sell this tent. Vestibule is big enough that I have heated up water under the vestibule. Single wall, so you get a lot of condensation inside, but I sleep in the middle and when I sit up I can stay below the wet ceiling and avoid touching it. Vestibule is adequate for storing more stuff too. I can get all four panniers and handlebar bag inside the tent, which has come in really handy on days when it is raining in the morning, thus I can pack up all my gear except my tent while I am inside the tent out of the rain.

I mentioned above that I cut folding poles for it, it was sold as a trekking pole tent for backpacking.




I am well aware that running a stove under a vestibule can be a hazard and I would never do that with a liquid fuel stove that can flare up, but sometimes you want to stay in the tent in the morning for that chore instead of outside in the rain. It had rained for two days before i set up my tent at the site below, I used a newspaper to create a barrier between the mud and my stuff. I was sitting inside the tent when I took the photo, you can see the gold colored tent pole in the middle of my door that unfortunately kept getting in the way. Occasionally I have considered cutting two poles for an A frame for the front, but so far it is a low priority.



Just looking at the cup of coffee in the photo above, I had to go top off my cup.

And one more scenic photo, Bay of Fundy in background when the tide was out.

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Old 10-18-20, 08:01 PM
  #41  
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Tourist in MSN, was the picture of your free standing tent taken at the Sprague Campground in Glacier NP?
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Old 10-18-20, 10:57 PM
  #42  
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31oz. Protrail Tarptent with poles & no need for ground cloth sounds good.

For some positive thoughts about:

Shug's Ol' Henry Shires Contrail TarpTent

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Old 10-19-20, 12:02 AM
  #43  
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While reading the FAQ the Protrail TarpTent seems roomy enough:

Can this shelter really fit two people?
Yes. The interior will fit two standard width sleeping pads (72 in x 20 in / 183 cm x 51 cm) up front, but they will overlap towards the foot end of the shelter.

https://www.tarptent.com/product/protrail/ I also like the additional videos provided such as avoiding condensation, seam sealing, setup.
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Old 10-19-20, 01:34 AM
  #44  
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Oh really, is it possible with 1p & gear?

Tarptent ProTrail first set-up and check if it suitable for 2 people

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Old 10-19-20, 07:48 AM
  #45  
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No way would I share my Contrail with an adult, unless it was an emergency/survival situation. A dog or child, yes. I've heard it described accurately as a 1.5 person shelter. It's great for one + gear.
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Old 10-19-20, 08:45 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Tourist in MSN, was the picture of your free standing tent taken at the Sprague Campground in Glacier NP?
Yup. Hiker biker site. I heard that the White Pine behind it is one of the biggest for many miles around, I was not in the site when some foresters came to admire it, but I heard later that some foresters were in my campsite area while they were admiring the tree.
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Old 10-19-20, 09:03 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Yup. Hiker biker site. I heard that the White Pine behind it is one of the biggest for many miles around, I was not in the site when some foresters came to admire it, but I heard later that some foresters were in my campsite area while they were admiring the tree.
A little OT:
My wife and I rode through there about 7 years ago. We are both retired foresters so that White Pine is pretty memorable.

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Old 10-19-20, 09:07 AM
  #48  
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That Tarptent Protrail 1 person tent does look pretty good for a one person tent. I did not look at the dimensions closely, thus I am not sure if I would want to use one, my Big Agnes Scout Plus (photo above in post number 40) is wide enough and high enough that I can get four panniers inside it, two on each side of me when I am sleeping in the middle, the panniers standing upright. I am not sure if the Protrail would be that big however. But if you are bikepcking and going light weight with less than four panniers, it might be roomy enough.

My Big Agnes, the two poles that I cut for it, and a piece of plastic that I use for a ground sheet under it weighs 1.7 kg. Tarptent is lighter, but my Big Agnes is light enough.
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Old 10-19-20, 09:14 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
A little OT:
My wife and I rode through there about 7 years ago. ...
I was there in July 2012. Did the Glacier Waterton loop guided/self-supported tour with ACA that year. I hate to go half way across the country to visit an area and then rush home in a hurry, so I went out there several days before the group tour to do some sight seeing on my own, camped at Apgar and Sprauge for several days and then rode back to Whitefish to join the group tour.
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Old 10-20-20, 12:07 AM
  #50  
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The Protrail Tarptent certainly seems like a good value. But 1st read the FAQ link at the bottom of this link https://www.tarptent.com then ask questions to be sure. The one I liked was: Do I need to use a groundsheet with my Tarptent?
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