Living With the Tarptent Stratospire II

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The Stratospire II in Glen Mazaran

Last autumn I gave my first review of the Stratospire II — you can find the review here.  Having just come back from the TGO Challenge, where it was used for another couple of weeks, I feel it is worth adding a little more to the original review.

In short the Stratospire II worked very well and proved to be an excellent choice for Scotland. Without repeating myself there are real pluses about using this tent in climates where you are likely to be hitting bad weather with some frequency. The inner space in the tent is huge which is very welcome when two of you are stuck inside for extended periods dying bad weather. The vestibule areas are very generous and cleverly designed so that you can always open one section of the door out of the direction of the wind. The apex of each vestibule extends beyond the profile of the inner tent meaning that in non windy weather you can have the doors open during rain without any worry of the inner getting wet.

The first review went into the design and unusual geometry of the tent in some detail. In this review I shall reflect on some of the features that I was keen to get more experience with.

Pitching

I was a little worried that the huge footprint of this tent would mean that I would have to be more careful than usual about picking sites for pitching. In reality pitching was very easy with some un-expected bonuses.

Finding a piece of reasonably flat ground it was pretty easy to locate the two doors so that I could confidently place the inner tent on the flat bits!  The vestibules themselves may have been on uneven ground but this is where the tent really excels.

Using two tent poles has real advantages, no least because they can be independently set to different heights, very different on undulating ground. However, once the poles have been properly set individually you have a very stable tent. This is a more effective system of pitching on uneven found than that you would find with fixed length tent poles.

In reality during the two weeks of this trip I had no trouble pitching at all.

Using the ‘lifter’ attachment points

Both the front and the rear of the tent have attachment points for extra guy lines. The Tarptent video suggests that these are best used with poles (or as in the photo a big piece of wood) that can ‘lift’ the sides. While you can give some extra support to the tent by simply running line to the floor using a lifter technique has some real benefits:

  • Use the lifter guy at the right height and you will give extra tension to the sides of the tent in wind — there is after all a lot of tent to play with here;
  • Pitch one of the lifter ends of the tent into the wind and the lifters will give you a lot more stability — the coos of the vestibules will flap around a but but the head and feet areas of the tent will be rock solid;
  • Using lifters will increase the airflow between the inner and the outer fly considerably — in wet and humid climates like Scotland this can be a real benefit.

During the trip I inspected a number of similar designs which dimly employed single its out points for extra guy lines; I felt the lifter system was more effective at giving me a stable and airy tent.

As a result I always set the tent up with lifter guys even when there was little wind. One benefit of this — on popular camping grounds — is that it kept those who snore a lot a little further away!

In truth I found virtually nothing that I disliked about the tent. You can getter lighter designs especially when made from cuben but many (including my partner) prefer a more ‘solid’ fabric.  But even if you find  lighter shelter I doubt you will find one that is equally as effective as this for two.

This is a backpacking tent. It needs two walking poles to suspend it — four if you are using lifters. This means this is not a tent for base camp pitching but on a backpacking trip it is simply superb!

Henry Shires is a very clever designer!

Comments

  1. The post I have been waiting for, which has confirmed my original thoughts, as well. I purchased a Stratospire 1 for above treeline use (Lapland) because I felt that its hexagonal base combined with protected inner space, along with a 2 walking pole setup accompanied by the lifters would provide a shelter that will withstand a lot. I will be using mine in Lapland in July 2014 and will add more to the knowledge base of what seems to me to be an ideal shelter in exposed environments. I can hear the question how do you use lifters in a Stratospire 1, when you are hiking alone? Yes there is an answer, I think, but I need to test it first.

  2. Good points. Look for branches or fence posts. I lost a pole for a few days and these came in very handy!

  3. Andy, I looking to purchase the Stratospire 1 , so I was interested to read your reviews on the 2 and it’s use in the UK rather than in the USA. Thanks for an informative review I think it has helped me to decide on this rather than the Scarp 1.

    • The S I has tie out points for lifters but I suspect a direct tie out to the ground will work better than for the 1. The Scarp is bombproof of course if heavier.

  4. Greg Pettingill says:

    I hope my “Notch” performs as well on the Via Alpina…..leaving Monaco tomorrow for a 100 day treck to Trieste on the red route.

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