Home Away From Home

by ahanagata


  Ahhh…the tent. It’s such a simple piece of equipment, yet it can really make or break your trip. When car camping the main concern while tent shopping is the size and ease of assembly. Backpacking…do I even need to say it? Okay fine, it’s weight. Weight is usually the primary issue and people will shell out massive coin to shave ounces off their tent. I looked at a lot of tents, repeat a lot of tents. Tents I believe should really be chosen based upon how, where, and when you intend on using it. At it’s core, it’s just a place that will keep you dry, block the wind, and keep out creepy crawlies. Ideally, you’ll only spend your time in it when sleeping…but it doesn’t always work out that way.

  If you’re backpacking with a buddy, I strongly suggest you take a two person tent rather than two singles. The reason for this is twofold. Reason one is that generally speaking one two person tent is lighter than two single person tents. If you combo that with a tent that can be broken down into two separate pieces you’ve just saved yourself some major weight. Reason two is more often overlooked, and that’s the psychological one. From experience, I tell you it’s much much easier to wait out a storm when your buddy is in the tent with you providing conversation and a card game. However if your adventure buddy smells really bad or is a terrible snorer then you might want to consider separate accommodations.

  So, after a lot of looking I found a small boutique tent company called Tarptent that specializes in ultra-light shelters. I know most of us hear the word ’boutique’ and think it’s a fancy clever word for expensive. The fun part here is Tarptent is surprisingly affordable for ultra-light tents. I gave the company a call and battered them with questions, which they were all to happy to answer. It gave me the impression that in a customer service situation they’d put any wrongs right with efficiency and a smile.

  The tent that’s at the center of this article is the StratoSpire 1, which I chose for a two person setting. I’ll begin by telling you, it’s marketed as a one person tent. As a one person tent it’s roomy as the Taj, as a two person tent it’s a bit tight. Not unbearable tight mind you, you can still both sit up in it and play cards, it just doesn’t leave a whole lot extra movement room. If you tend to move around a lot, and intend on this being two person affair you might want to get the StratoSpire 2. However, I don’t want to scare you off this, it can indeed fit two sleeping mats side by side. You can indeed sleep two (reasonably sized people) and their gear.

  I love being able to dual task or triple task items in my pack. This tent will help you with that goal as the tent poles used are trekking poles. They do indeed have dedicated poles available if you wish, but hey why not get some extra use out of something you intend to carry anyhow. The material is surprisingly rugged feeling and you won’t need to carry an extra foot print unless you’re on particularly nasty ground. Set up is really quick, after the initial set up you’ll be able to break down and put up this tent in literally two -four minutes.

  The tent itself is two major pieces, the outside fly and the inner netting. Both can be pitched independently depending on your needs. Taking the two parts apart or putting them together is a quick breeze also. If the weather and creepy crawlies are light you can just pitch the fly and have a larger space to roll about in. If it’s really hot and the crawlies love you long time, you can just pitch the netting. It’s a versatility that I don’t see often when it comes to tents.

  One of the things I really like about this tent is it’s very airy. If you’ve gone backpacking you’ve slipped into the little sardine can tent and woken up in a terror sauna. In my opinion there’s nothing worse than a stuffy tent, especially when it’s been a while since your last shower. There are two doors on the StratoSpire so you can close the one facing wind and leave the other open to allow air flow.

  Alright already, I’ll tell you how much it weighs. The StratoSpire 1 weighs in at a meager two pounds if you weigh both pieces and stakes. This is one pound per person if you’re sleeping two! Again, it’s really robust and it doesn’t feel like it’s cheap or that it even is that light, which provides peace of mind when you’re miles from home.

  If you feel like the StratoSpire isn’t for you, TarpTent offers 13 different shelters all the way up to a four person tent. Give them a look, you might just end up with a great tent at a great price with the added bonus of giving your money to a smaller business. Now, I suppose I could throw up a bunch of specifications and numbers at you but that’s really not my style and they already do a fantastic job of that over at the Tarptent website, so head on over there have a look.


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