Wild Walking UK

Tarptent StratoSpire Li Review: First Impressions.

I am reviewing my new Tarptent StratoSpire Li, a 2 person Dyneema tent with fabric inner and Dyneema ground sheet. The tent has been imported into the UK from America.

The tent still perfectly pitched and tight, even after a wet and windy night.

My reasons for purchasing the StratoSpire Li

I needed a very light weight tent for my wife and myself – one that had enough room to sit out bad weather in relative comfort, and light enough for long distance hiking. It had to be as light as possible because we go camping with our two youngest children, and we have to carry a lot of their gear as well as our own.

For the last few years I’ve been using walking poles, so I no longer needed to carry the weight of tent poles. I could now use a tent that was supported with the walking poles instead. Initially I was worried about the StratoSpire needing 2 poles to support it, because if I broke one, I wouldn’t be able to erect the tent properly. But then realised, it’s a 2-person tent and more often than not, my wife would be with me and she uses walking poles too. Breaking a pole therefore shouldn’t be an issue, as we’ve 4 poles between us.

Ordering and Delivery

The Li (Dyneema) version of the StratoSpire sells out really quickly. While I’ve been looking to buy one, I’ve noticed that they get a delivery of about 70 tents and they sell all of them within about a week. So it’s rarely in stock. Tarptent have a good website and ordering was easy. I had to put my email address in the box and wait about a month or so. I received an email saying when the tent would be in stock again.

I placed my order with 6 to 10 day delivery. After waiting for 10 days or so, I emailed Tarptent to ask when I could expect delivery. They were quick to reply that my tent was number 67 of the 70 and it was due in from the manufacturer any day now. Two days later I received an email saying the tent was packaged and waiting collection from UPS US.

Once the tent was through customs in the UK, Parcel Force took over delivery. It was Parcel Force who sent me a letter informing me of the import duties that I would have to pay before they would deliver the parcel. Instead of waiting for delivery. I went to the Parcel Force depot, paid the charges and collect the tent. This meant it was a total of 20 days from order to collection.

The tent arrived well packaged and in perfect condition.

I’m impressed with the supplied pegs. They are 6″ (150mm) long, which is a good size for usual UK ground conditions. They are very light weight and feel strong. The tent is supplied with 6 pegs, which is enough for a good stable tent. If you use the extra guy lines, you will need to add another 2 pegs. Even with 8 pegs, it’s not going to weigh you down, and it’s not many for a tent this size. Some tents I’ve used have needed a lot more pegs and that adds to the overall weight.

Unexpected extras were a nice touch and appreciated.

First impressions

The design of the tent is surprisingly complicated, and has relatively unconventional contours. It has been inspired by interesting mathematical and geometrical concepts, such as prismatic shapes and catenary curves. It makes interesting reading on the Tarptent website.

Tarptent have patented the end, Pitchloc. This is a foldable, structural component which is used across their product line and made of very light and strong carbon fibre tubing. The Pitchloc increases usable volume, structural strength and stability. It also eliminates multiple stakes and reduces setup and take down time.

Both end triangles can be opened up for ventilation and held open or closed with thin velcro strips.

The inner tent doors are alternate so you can sleep either way round

The doors are held open by a magnet, which works surprisingly well.

There’s plenty of room for two mats and you can sleep either way round. The inner is the same width both ends.

Note the different height inner corners

The tip of the walking pole slots securely into this, and it looks tough enough to last.

The inner can stay attached to the fly sheet or be removed fairly easily.

Gap under the front of the flysheet with the walking poles set at 125cm

Gap under the front of the flysheet with the walking poles set at 120cm

The connection of the inner tent to the flysheet of the StratoSpire can be adjusted so the height the flysheet can be varied. The flysheet can then be set high or low depending on the amount of ventilation required. I use a 120cm long, fixed length walking pole that was fine with the tent, even though it’s suggested you use poles set at 125cm.

The waterproof zips are a nice touch, and there’s even a flap on the inside to stop any drips if any water did get through. The zips feel strong enough.

A flap covers the zip on the inside of the tent, including a magnet to hold it in place

The Dyneema looks and feels very thin, but from my experience with the Dyneema stuff sacks I’ve been using for the last year or so, it’s tougher than it looks. It’s extremely expensive stuff, so I am naturally careful with it though.

One of the best characteristics of Dyneema is it doesn’t absorb water, so the tent doesn’t get saggy when it gets wet. This also means you can roll the flysheet and inner up together even if the outside is wet. it won’t soak through to the inner, making it wet. Just shake the flysheet to get most of the water off, which nearly dries it. This way I’m not carrying the weight of a wet tent around all day, or having to wait around for it to dry in the mornings. I get going a lot earlier than I might have done with my previous Silnylon tents.

Water sitting on the Dyneema and never soaking in

Cost

Scary…. I justify it by mostly camping wild and reminding myself that it’s saving me accommodation costs. (Probably repaying itself within about 10 nights). This year alone, I’ve spent 58 nights camping wild in my previous favourite tent, the Nordisk Telemark 1 ULW, and numerous more nights in other tents.

$709.00 + $61.90 Delivery via Priority Mail International® (6 – 10 business days) = $770.90.

Paid via Paypal = £658.16 + (Import Duty £56.69, VAT £105.8, Parcel Force Handling Fee £12) = £174.50.

Total Tarptent StratoSpire Li cost = £832.66 in UK, which is dependant on the exchange rate at the time. It wasn’t good when I ordered because of BREXIT

Conclusion

I am impressed with the quality of the tent. It has been well designed and made. So far I’ve only had the chance to use it on my own, walking around the Gower coast path for two days. The tent was light enough for me to carry solo, but I did feel I had too much space. I’m just not used to this kind of luxury! My usual tents are a similar weight to the Stratospire but a lot smaller.

Camped with my son, he’s 21 and too old to share….

The possible down sides of the Tarptent Stratospire Li is the size of the foot print. It’s pretty big, which makes finding a suitable wild camping pitch more difficult. And it may also have a larger pack size than you’re used to 41cm x 12cm (16″x 5″). So may not fit in or on your rucksack the same. But that’s the compromise with having all this amount of space.

I cannot think of a better design for a tent, for two people. I can’t wait to take it away with my wife, on our next long distance hike, she’s going to love the extra space and convenience .

The StratoSpire Li is such a good tent, I am currently doing extra hours at work to hopefully save up enough to buy Tarptents Notch Li…. The 272g (9.6oz) weight saving and smaller pitch size will make a lot of difference on my next solo long distance walk: the 470 mile (760 km) Scottish National Trail. This includes most of the infamous Cape Wrath Trail, which I’ve done before, but am still nervous of its challenges (mainly the weather)

Weights on my scales

Tent Flysheet and Inner 793g (28oz)

2 x Apex Guylines 14g (0.49oz)

Dyneema Tent Bag 16g (0.56oz)

6 x Pegs in Dyneema bag 48g (1.7oz)

What Tarptent say:

  • Dyneema® fabrics for the ultimate in strength and weight savings
  • Bomber performance in high winds
  • Fully taped and waterproof: 8,000mm+ hydrostatic head pressure rating
  • Dual trekking pole support; no poles in your living space
  • Double wall, dual entry, and dual vestibules
  • Interior is completely removable and can set up independently
  • Interior never gets wet during entry, exit, setup or take down in storms
  • Generous vestibules for excellent gear storage space
  • Optional SideCar sleeping compartment for pets and children fits into either vestibule.
  • Excellent ventilation, views, and moisture management
  • Taut pitch with PitchLoc™ foldable corners and integrated line tighteners
  • Pole handle side up possible with optional adapters
  • Reflective spectra cord guylines
  • Fast setup — under 2 minutes from sack to pitched
  • Catenary ridgelines for shape and performance

Tarptent’s StratoSphire Li specs

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Seasons: 3-4
  • 26 oz / 738 g tent body (fly and mesh interior) + 1.7 oz/ 48 g stakes (included)
  • Interior Height: 45 in / 115 cm
  • Floor Width: 45 in / 114 cm
  • Floor Length: 86 in / 218 cm
  • Stakes: 6 x 6 in / 15 cm Easton Nanos (included)
  • Packed size: 16 in x 5 in / 41 cm x 12 cm

Note: Tent body weight includes guylines, struts, and stuffsacks.

Tarptent StatoSpire Li website link.

My 11 Wild Camping Rules.

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