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. I am interested to see how suitable the tent is for UK conditions.
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 that’s only an issue if I’m using the tent alone. But 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. Another initial worry was, I walk with 120cm fixed length trekking poles. But thats not been a problem either, as they support the tent at a nice height off the ground.
Tarptent can supply tent poles for this tent if you don’t use hiking poles.
Ordering and Delivery
Tarptent have a good website and ordering was easy. 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.
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 walking poles are offset from the centre so they don’t restrict access to the inner tent at all. This is a very impressive design because this is usually a compromise on most walking pole supported shelters.
The doors are held open by a magnet tie-back, which works surprisingly well. (Such a good idea that all tents should have them). Great in cold weather, if you’re wearing gloves, no fiddly hooks. It’s so easy that its now a shame they haven’t got them on the inner tent doors as well. I have found that the magnets can be released when it’s really windy, but it’s pretty rare and a minor niggle.
Inside the tent
There’s plenty of room for two mats and you can sleep either way round. The inner is the same width both ends.
The tip of the walking pole slots securely into this, and it looks tough enough to last.
If you don’t use walking poles, Tarptent and others also sell tent poles to use instead.
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.
The Dyneema looks and feels very thin. But from my experience with the Dyneema stuff sacks that I’ve been using for the last year or so, it’s tougher than it looks. It’s extremely expensive stuff, so I’m 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. If the flysheet is wet on the inside with condensation, it’s easy to take the inner down separately.
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.
Scary…. don’t tell my wife.
I justify the cost by mostly camping wild and reminding myself that it’s saving me accommodation costs. (Probably repaying for itself within about 10 to 20 nights). This year alone, I’ve spent 58 nights camping wild in my previous favourite tent, the Nordisk Telemark and about 10 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
This is a lot of money but still cheaper than anything available in the UK in 2019 that’s equivalent to this tent. There are some cheaper single skinned or smaller and lighter dyneema tents, but they are not the same as this tent.
I’m not an ultralight backpacker, always looking for the lightest and often smallest gear to move faster for longer etc. I just appreciate light weight backpacking, as I’m often out for weeks or months at a time. A bit of luxury makes all the difference to me, so I’m happy to carry more weight and be more comfortable.
Cheaper option: If you cannot justify paying this amount for a tent, you could consider Tarptents silnylon StratoSpire 2 tent which is 391g heavier, but only $379.
Using the StratoSpire Li
I am impressed with the quality of the tent, it’s been well designed and made. My first experience using the tent, was 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 solo, one person tents are a similar weight to the Stratospire 2 but a lot smaller.
The second outing for the tent was with my wife, walking the Boudicca Way. We both loved having a porch each, we could sort ourselves out at the same time, without clambering over each other. I sat in mine cooking tea, out of the wind and my wife was able to sort the bedding etc out from her side. Best of all, if one needed to get up in the night, they didn’t have to clamber over the other, waking them up.
The first night with 2 of us sleeping in it, we had to camp near a river and there was no wind, so we had a lot of condensation in the morning. (in hindsight we should have left the doors open or pitched the tent higher of the ground to increase the airflow through it) But the tent had stayed taut and the inner hadn’t sagged onto the sleeping bags as it would have done with our usual silnylon tents. The inside of the flysheet was running with water and had been dripping on the inner. If we had been using a mesh inner, this would have been a problem. It would have splashed through, possibly waking us up and would have definitely made our sleeping bags wet. This was the main reason we purchased a solid inner with the tent.
There’s enough room in the inner tent, for us both to sit up and get dressed without touching the sides or elbowing each other too much.
Dyneema is pretty see through, so can be very light inside if there’s a full moon. Also it’s worth remembering that when you’re on a campsite getting dressed inside it. But it doesn’t seem to be a problem with our solid inner.
The Stratospire is taller and wider than my previous tents, so it catches the wind more than I’ve been used too. It handles the wind just as well but I’ve found I need to use larger pegs, or I have to put rocks on them to stop them pulling out of soft ground.
The size of the foot print, it’s pretty big, this 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″). This may not fit in or on your rucksack the same way as previous tents you’ve had. But, I suppose that’s the compromise with having all this space inside the tent.
The Tarptent Stratospire Li is so light weight that you could carry it when hiking on your own. It’s a great tent and obviously designed by people who go hiking. My wife loves the extra space and convenience of 2 doors (and the little magnetic tie-backs). She’s even admitted, under her breath, it may be worth the crazy price. Negatives – The tent is fairly large so needs pegging down well in windy conditions and can flap noisily. High cost of the Dyneema and its limited life span, it’ll do one or possibly two thru hikes.
*Update 2023. I will not be buying another dyneema product, it’s not cost efficient as they do not last long enough. If the other dyneema tent I have is anything to go by, this tent will last around 100 nights away camping – if you’re lucky and look after it well.
The Dyneema stretched oddly and holes opened up during my Cape Wrath Trail hike.
Luckily Tarptent supply patches to stick on and hold it from getting worse. The tent bag has also got small splits/holes in it where the dyneema has creases.
A tent is an essential piece of kit that you need to trust when camping is the only option for long periods. It’s a great tent but I don’t trust it’ll survive another thru hike so dare not take it again. I can’t afford and don’t think it sensibly to buy a new tent at the start of every thru hike. I would consider buying the heavier and cheaper polyester (“silpoly”) version.
Possible Alternative Tent
I would consider the Nordisk Telemark 2.2 tent as it’s easier to pitch, much more wind resistant and still has the two entrances. Also the Nemo Hornet tents for the weight and inside space. The MSR Hubba NX tents for the space inside and lower price. Read My best tents for wild camping.
Weights on my kitchen scales
Tent Flysheet and Solid 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 StratoSpire Li spec
- 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 StratoSpire Li website link. (Scroll down for the Set Up Video)
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