Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/24/2012 13:09:46 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
hmmmm on 01/24/2012 13:22:15 MST Print View

Its 17-ounce (482-g) weight precludes its use as a solo shelter for hikers that spend more time on virtual hikes than real walks in bad weather

......


It’s also available in a more stealthy gray silnylon and, for lighter weight, less durability, and more debt, Cuben Fiber.


i predict 20+ pages of thread drift over these statements ...

that being said i like the new more rough n tumble reviews better ... its like consumer reports ... im paying BPL to tell me what doesnt work ... because the various fan(bois) on the forums will tell me how great it is anyways, so that part is covered

Edited by bearbreeder on 01/24/2012 13:24:04 MST.

Tor Magnus Castberg
(logrus)

Locale: Norway
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/24/2012 13:42:29 MST Print View

"Its 17-ounce (482-g) weight precludes its use as a solo shelter for hikers that spend more time on virtual hikes than real walks in bad weather"

I'm not sure I understand what's meant by this, could you be a bit more explicit?

Other than that I'm not really sure it told me anything that wasn't obvious. It's a bit short for a review isn't it?

Edited by logrus on 01/24/2012 13:44:26 MST.

Bobby Pack
(Piddler) - MLife

Locale: West Virginia
Nice Pic on 01/24/2012 13:50:06 MST Print View

Love the photo, makes me want to be there.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/24/2012 14:05:19 MST Print View

"Its 17-ounce (482-g) weight precludes its use as a solo shelter for hikers..."

The 10.5 oz cuben Trailstar weight would not preclude it from being considered as a solo shelter for hikers, IMO.

"It’s also available in...for lighter weight, less durability, and more debt, Cuben Fiber."

I disagree with this statement regarding the cuben version being less durable. IMO the .74 cuben Trailstar is a shelter design that is extremely well suited for the use of this material.

Chaff: The "rolling reviews", I think, are meant to work similar to the gear reviews offered by the www.backpackgeartest.org site. Backpack Gear Test reviews provide an Initial Report, a Field Report and a Long Term Report. For me it remains to be seen how effective BPL is in implementing the new "rolling" review method.

Edited by thomdarrah on 01/24/2012 15:11:53 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: trailstar review on 01/24/2012 14:06:06 MST Print View

My ~2 years of owning a Trailstar largely agrees with the article.

The pitch can be manipulated (higher, narrower door) to shed snow well, but especially under heavy snow the interior room can be pretty drastically reduced. IMO the snow shedding ability is more than adequate for a 3 season plus shelter.

I would say the claim of "bomber wind protection" is justified, with the caveat that your anchors better be really good. Mine withstood a night of constant gusts to 60 mph+ once I had all ten anchors very solid. Getting them that good required a lot of digging and several instance when the failure of one anchor almost instantly precipitated the spectacular failure of all the rest and a dive for the shelter itself. It would have been pretty hard to get any shelter solid under comparable conditions.

What ultimately prompted me to sell it was the setup issue. Lots of folks disagree with me, but I much prefer the simpler pitching of a rectangular or square 'mid.

The union of aesthetics and function is a major point in the TSs favor. I'm hard pressed to think of a shelter which exceeds it.

Gabe Joyes
(gabe_joyes) - F

Locale: Lander, WY
interpretation on 01/24/2012 14:07:09 MST Print View

"Its 17-ounce (482-g) weight precludes its use as a solo shelter for hikers that spend more time on virtual hikes than real walks in bad weather"

I'm not sure I understand what's meant by this, could you be a bit more explicit?

---------------------

I read that statement like this: The Trailstars 17-ounce weight prevents some people from using it as a solo shelter because they think it looks too heavy on their spread sheet when they are planning their hike. For someone who hikes often and doesn't obsess over a targeted base weight and actually spends time in some seriously crappy weather, you are thrilled to be carrying a 17-ounce shelter that keeps you comfortable, dry, and prevents you from getting blasted by frigid wind.

If I misinterpreted that Ryan please correct me.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/24/2012 15:07:31 MST Print View

BPL Staff,

Will an update to a "rolling" review article count as a new weekly article?

(EDITED BY STAFF: "No.")

Edited by ryan on 01/25/2012 06:49:43 MST.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
consumer reports on 01/24/2012 15:32:15 MST Print View

"its like consumer reports ... im paying BPL to tell me what doesnt work ... because the various fan(bois) on the forums will tell me how great it is anyways, so that part is covered"

Consumer Reports buys the products they test.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
TrailStar Niche on 01/24/2012 17:39:02 MST Print View

I've learned a lot since the field testing that went into this initial review, and have now had the shelter in heavy snows and high winds.

This is a bad weather shelter. And a good one. More on that in future installments of the review.

At 17 oz, that's what you are paying for - weather protection gained by the use of a more robust and stretchy (highly tensionable) fabric.

The Cuben Version will not have the same benefits. Its benefit will be weight savings. The Silnylon version will be your version for seriously inclement conditions.

Now, about the 17 oz weight.

When I initially talked to some ULers about this, they balked at the weight, and why any "solo" hiker would bring that much weight for ... a tarp without a door even. So, there's some education that might need to be communicated about the TrailStar, because if you compare it in a spec table to other shelters, it's not going to stand out.

Last weekend, in the Bridger Mountains, with fire to radiate heat into a big entrance. This pitch used a high door off one of the five "corners", the rest pitched square, like a 'mid. Center pole 46 inches, vestibule pole 51 inches. Tail into the wind. Gusts to 45 mph, piece of cake - deflection, of course, but no flapping. Can you imagine what the 5-corners-to-the-ground pitch at a 36 inch peak is going to resist?

Trail Star

Edited by ryan on 01/24/2012 17:44:05 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: TrailStar Niche on 01/24/2012 17:47:04 MST Print View

What happens if a heavy wind blows into the open side?

You try to pitch it so the open side faces away from the wind, but sometimes the win d direction switches

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: TrailStar Niche on 01/24/2012 17:50:44 MST Print View

As long as the bottom edges are sealed (piled with snow), it bellows through the bottom of the shelter and doesn't affect it too much.

I had the wind change direction on me, and this is what it did.

My motivation for the big open front was for the fire, headroom, and views. The winds came at night. I wasn't expecting them, and had I known they were coming, would have pitched it much lower. I got lots of spindrift inside as a result, but I had a bivy sack, so wasn't real concerned about it.

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
"Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/24/2012 17:59:58 MST Print View

It resists a lot. I have had it out in some very bad weather. Over 60 mph more than once. Last time a group of us camped. UK location.

One Stephenson's 2C with rear guylines, one 2R, Scarp 1 and my Trailstar. Come morning the 2R had a broken pole the 2C had been shaken about all night but held. Scarp had (with crossover poles) done well but porch was flapping lose from a stake pulling lose. Trailstar had not budged. Had it out in a lot of storms and bad weather. At 90cm its simply the best shelter I have ever used.

Used it on the 2011 TGO Challenge which was a very bad weather year and it was faultless. Others who used Trailstars on the event state the same. In the UK it is the must have shelter as for the weight there is nothing that has the space and ability to handle bad weather like it.Dales 1Dales 2

Edited by rye1966 on 01/24/2012 18:00:38 MST.

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
Re: "Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/24/2012 18:01:40 MST Print View

Dales 3

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Bad Weather on 01/24/2012 19:12:31 MST Print View

"Its 17-ounce (482-g) weight precludes its use as a solo shelter for hikers that spend more time on virtual hikes than real walks in bad weather"

I like my tiny little tarp but if I'm expecting prolonged rain I like something with a bit more space. Camping in damp wet weather has enough challenges without getting claustrophobic under a small tarp.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
small tarps and bad weather on 01/24/2012 19:14:28 MST Print View

Luke, I'm with you, but I didn't use to be.

I used to think it was pretty awesome tearing through a storm under a poncho, or a small tarp. I still do so occasionally, but it's definitely not my first choice anymore.

There's something to be said about livable space, especially in inclement weather.

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: small tarps and bad weather on 01/24/2012 19:33:15 MST Print View



I'm enjoying the recent discussion of aesthetics Ryan.

Enjoyment of the wilderness is, at least in part, attributable to the beauty of the place, the stillness, the serenity. In my home, I fill the rooms with useful items; however, those items must also fill a secondary role as an extension of myself and my home. My couch is something I live with and I must be happy interacting with it on a daily basis. I have to like the way it feels and the way it looks and the way it resonates within the space it occupies.

I feel the same way about backpacking equipment. This is gear we expect to be useful; however, this gear must also fill a secondary role as an extension of myself and the wilderness in which I use it. My shelter is something I sleep under and I must be happy interacting with it on a daily basis. I have to like the way it functions and the way it makes me feel as it resonates within the space it occupies.

There's nothing that makes me cringe more than a campsite that looks like a garbage dump. I come to the wilderness for simplicity and beauty, and expect nothing less from the items I bring into it. I want to feel as at peace with the items in my backpack as the mountains stretched out in front of me.

The Trailstar is as useful as it is beautiful, and for that it deserves the highest of praise.

Edited by kylemeyer on 01/24/2012 19:37:27 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re small tarps and bad weather on 01/24/2012 19:36:00 MST Print View

Yeah I agree Ryan, I noticed two things when I went back to a bigger tarp.

1. I didn't have to position my tarp perfectly. With my small tarp I have to make sure I'm not sleeping on a tree root etc. With a bigger tarp I just pitch it and if I'm on a root I can roll over.

2. Livable space. I LOVE this in bad weather. Its great being able to take off your rain gear, take off wet clothes, or fix a meal witha bit of space. I like NOT having to lie on my stomach to do everything:)

I like the recent articles, keep um coming.

Edit - A bit more room also means less "fiddle factor." Sometimes I just don't want to worry about setting up a tricky litte tarp in bad weather. A few more ounces is the price I pay to not fuss with my shelter.

Any way to add a but net to this?

Edited by Cameron on 01/24/2012 19:39:01 MST.

david delabaere
(davidvcd) - M

Locale: Northern VA
Re: TrailStar Niche on 01/24/2012 19:44:40 MST Print View

In what way is the silnylon trailsater the "version for seriously inclement conditions" (for me, that would be strong wind, big thunderstom and heavy snow) compared to cuben ?

Aside from (according to what I've read):
-Snow sticks more to cuben
-cuben, since not breathable would have more condesation
-cuben, since it does not stretch you need to make it taut and pitch it right the first time around.


I believe that the trailstar will be my next tarp, the question is silnylon or spend more money for cuben.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
TrailStar Cuben vs. Sil on 01/24/2012 19:54:47 MST Print View

David,

To make a quality shelter from Cuben: (a) you understand how it behaves on the bias so you can take advantage of what little stretch it does have, and you can take advantage of fiber orientation for maximum strength, and (b) your cutting and sewing are done with a high degree of precision - it's low stretch means that it's very unforgiving. "Some" (note: not all!!) cottage-made Cuben tarp and shelter panels don't distribute tension evenly in them because of small errors in designing with a load in mind, or cutting and/or sewing them.

Low stretch fabric panels also means that higher dynamic loads (force per unit time) may be imparted to stakes in response to high winds. I don't know what the extent of this is. It's one of the things we're studying currently with load cell measurements at stake-out points. We may find that the effects are there in theory, but they may not have practical significance. Who knows.

Then there's the issue of sewing guy line attachment points to Cuben...there are a lot of ways to do this wrong so it ends up being (inappropriately so) the weakest part of the shelter...more on this in an upcoming series called "Storm Resistance of Ultralight Shelters"...

Snow definitely sticks more to Cuben.

Breathability between Cuben and Sil is probably a meaningless comparison when it comes to tarps.

Edited by ryan on 01/24/2012 19:55:34 MST.

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
More good times in the Trailstar.... on 01/24/2012 19:56:09 MST Print View

Cascade Pass, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Sept 2011 watching and waiting out a crazy beautiful fast-moving storm on our anniversary...ts

Great shelter. My biggest complaint is the large footprint makes finding a suitable site a little tricky at times, but worth it if you're expecting some weather.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Cuban vs. Sil on 01/24/2012 19:58:18 MST Print View

I can't wait till that article comes out. One of my favorite parts about BPL are the technical articles.

Bobby Pack
(Piddler) - MLife

Locale: West Virginia
Re: Re: TrailStar Niche on 01/24/2012 20:03:48 MST Print View

"cuben, since not breathable would have more condesation"

I don't have any scientific data but It's been my experience that cuben has less condensation issues than silnylon.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Jerry... on 01/24/2012 21:30:09 MST Print View

>What happens if a heavy wind blows into the open side?

I had this happen in GNP. In the picture below, you can see our Trailstar in the far shadow, just below the snow patch. The storm ripped through Boulder Pass that night, creating a rockslide. We could hear boulders rolling down into the grass next to us (we were on a designated tent site).

The Trailstar was set in an open pitch, where one corner was elevated by a trekking pole. In the middle of the night when the storm hit, I had to get out and drop that corner. I re-staked that corner which gave me a flap of fabric from which I created a small door with the mid-panel tie out. It took only a minute. Basically, you just keep shifting the door as you re-stake. However, with the small door, it would take an awful lot of wind to cause an issue, so re-staking isn't a common thing.

ruyo



Trailstar in the Porcupine Mountains this winter. With robust stakes, you can pound into frozen ground. It's not easy, but not any harder than the rock-hard tent sites we pitched on in GNP.
asdfad

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/24/2012 21:52:55 MST Print View

The TrailStar does have a large footprint but you can pitch any of the individual five points higher or lower than the others, like in a dense forest where having a to-the-ground low pitch is probably less necessary.

Here's a pitch in a Mt. Rainier campsite, pitched over a small log "table," and guyed out to a standing tree and a log:

Trailstar in Rainier

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Cuben storm-worthiness on 01/24/2012 23:37:18 MST Print View

I hope you're wrong about the durability and storm-worthiness of cuben, Ryan. My needs are for storm-worthiness over weight saving, and after exchanging a couple of emails with Ron, i went for the cuben version. As for durability, only time will tell.

Re-reading Ryans comments to David about poor workmanship on cuben shelters. As this is a Trailstar review, i can only assume his comments are aimed at the cuben Trailstar? If so, he should come out and say that. If not, why even mention it?

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 01/25/2012 00:06:29 MST.

joe newton
(holdfast)

Locale: Bergen, Norway
@ Luke on 01/25/2012 00:20:06 MST Print View

"Any way to add a bug net to this?"

Yes. Oookworks in the UK manufactures a Trailstar nest:

http://oookworks.com/OookStar.html

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 00:48:01 MST Print View

Ryan,

How would you rate the TrailStar against MLD's "Mids"? My Solomid is my favorite "go to" shelter for most conditions -- it was even one of my 2011 Staff Picks.

On paper, it looks like the TrailStar offers more space for the weight, and possibly greater storm resistance at the expense of pitching ease and zippered convenience. But, this is just speculation on my part. I have no experience with the TS.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Alaska
Oh Boy on 01/25/2012 01:06:20 MST Print View

"Its 17-ounce (482-g) weight precludes its use as a solo shelter for hikers that spend more time on virtual hikes than real walks in bad weather"

"It’s also available in a more stealthy gray silnylon and, for lighter weight, less durability, and more debt, Cuben Fiber."

I have the feeling that quite a few people are going to be pooping their pampers over these statements. Fun times.

I've been using a silnylon duomid for the past 6 months and have to say I love the simplicity of the setup. However, I've been tempted to pick up a trailstar for the summer months as it looks like a really versatile and fun shelter to have around.

Edited by aaronufl on 01/25/2012 01:07:54 MST.

Ceph Lotus
(Cephalotus) - MLife

Locale: California
Netting options for Trailstar on 01/25/2012 01:14:01 MST Print View

I have the Trailstar and love it - a roomy tarp for one person. I haven't used it in storm weather conditions. On the netting options, I had started another thread about that.

Netting options for Trailstar

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 01:51:50 MST Print View

I should soon have two Trailstars. One in each fabric. I have spent about ten nights under my silnylon one and have been very pleased so far. I have, however, not encountered any strong winds yet, but it is only a matter of time.

I have been thinking lots about bug options this week and still can't decide. I am tempted by a Pyranet 1 and have also been looking at the oookstar. I think that for now I will just stick with my bivy and headnet and see how it goes. I am also going to modify my MLD supelight bivy so that it has a larger mesh window. So far I have been lucky with sandflies, but have a trip coming up where they could be bad. If the bivy doesn't work out then I will look at inner options.

I like the simplicity of a bivy, but a bug net with extended sides would give a nice deep bathtub floor (one day I am going to need one) and some draft protection and may mean I don't need ever need to use a bivy. But I do feel I would be bit more cut off from my environment in this set up.

Edited by jephoto on 01/25/2012 01:53:08 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Trailstar Cuben vs. Sil on 01/25/2012 06:24:28 MST Print View

@Mike: I hope the Cuben Trailstar is manufactured properly. Then, we can receive the weight saving benefits of Cuben while still having some good storm resistance. I haven't seen the Cuben TS yet, but I've seen other Cuben shelters made by MLD. They do them very well. It should be a very strong shelter, if fabric panels can stay tight in pitch.

You wrote: "Re-reading Ryans comments to David about poor workmanship on cuben shelters. As this is a Trailstar review, i can only assume his comments are aimed at the cuben Trailstar? If so, he should come out and say that. If not, why even mention it?"

Don't assume that. I haven't yet seen the Cuben TS. I'll mention brands and models specifically when we review them. I've already posted a photo of problematic Cuben workmanship here on the forums, and will be happy to keep you informed - in proper context. Why mention it? Because it's the #1 problem with Cuben shelters currently available.

@Aaron re: "It’s also available in a more stealthy gray silnylon and, for lighter weight, less durability, and more debt, Cuben Fiber."

Shop wisely when buying Cuben. There are different variants, different construction techniques, and different types of additional costs required (fabrics, increased labor). It's a lot of money to spend if it's not going to meet the expectations that you've set by using silnylon.

Regarding the Cuben TS, we'll see what "less durability" really means over time, but there is no question that extra TLC and manufacturing attention is required when using any Cuben that is 0.7 osy or less in a tarp - it's easy to puncture, seams wear out under load stress, and lack of stretch in the pitch means you have to pitch it right if you're going to get a howler, or you won't distribute stresses optimally. If Cuben is done right - you can achieve a wonderfully strong shelter. I have high hopes for the Cuben TS. If Cuben is not done right (e.g., bad seams) then you've just spent a whole load of money on something that can't take advantage of the fabric's inherent strength.

Edited by ryan on 01/25/2012 06:41:21 MST.

B. F.
(thrush) - F
Impregnate cuben shelters on 01/25/2012 06:35:24 MST Print View

Nice review. I would like a short comparission with a rectangle tarp, advantages and disadvantages or the design.

One thought about the issue "Snow sticks more on cuben": Couldn't you just impregnate the shelter (e.g. with a spray)? The effect will last longer on a shelter than on clothings because of the reduced abrasion.

Edited by thrush on 01/25/2012 06:38:25 MST.

carlos fernandez rivas
(pitagorin) - MLife

Locale: Galicia -Spain
less articles on 01/25/2012 06:44:46 MST Print View

"""BPL Staff,

Will an update to a "rolling" review article count as a new weekly article?""""


+1

Clint Wayman
(cwayman1) - M

Locale: East Tennessee, US
Good Review on 01/25/2012 07:11:32 MST Print View

Thanks for the great review, Ryan! For what you get, the TS also seems to be a fairly REASONABLY priced shelter-- a major selling point for a quality piece of gear.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 07:17:44 MST Print View

"If Cuben is done right - you can achieve a wonderfully strong shelter."

MLD has been working with cuben longer then most in the UL cottage industry and if anyone can do cuben right it is Ron. I'm looking forward to getting my cuben Trailstar and have no doubt that it will be a wonderfully strong shelter.

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
how do you pitch it with all 5 corners to the ground?? on 01/25/2012 08:57:51 MST Print View

Ryan said "...while still being able to pitch a symmetrical-to-the-ground shelter (with only one center pole) with full-perimeter wind protection"

I ran out and tried it (not the first time) and it seems like its impossible to do!!! its like there is always slack btw at least two corners.
I bought a used one here (maybe 2008 model?) so maybe Ron changed it

Also all the sides are the same length exactly (unlike what someone here mentioned in a diff thread)

Can someone let me in on how to pitch it like that....please

Mike

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: how do you pitch it with all 5 corners to the ground?? on 01/25/2012 09:23:40 MST Print View

Michael, how high is your center pole? That affects how a to-the-ground pitch works so make sure it's not too high.

When I'm adjusting my Trailstar, I try to find a balance between three corners before I drive the stake. Let me explain. Pretend you're working on setting the stake for corner Y. Corner X is to your left, and corner Z is to your right. If you take corner Y and "swing" it back and forth you can see the tension tighten and slacken along both adjacent edges to corners X and Z. Don't completely tighten one panel while letting the other slacken. Rather, find a balance between the two, even if neither edge is very tight. As you adjust other corners the same way, you should get a tight pitch.

Sheesh, I hope that made sense! :)

It's not as bad as it sounds.

Also make sure that your center pole is as vertical as possible. For some reason if mine is tilted my pitch isn't as good. I think this might have to do with the fact that it's a symmetrical shelter.

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
Awesome on 01/25/2012 10:33:56 MST Print View

oh - im glad i caught on to this.

working now...guess i need more training time

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Stakes for Trailstar on 01/25/2012 10:47:17 MST Print View

I have my TS pitched today in a good old fashioned Montana winter wind storm. We had gusts this morning to 70mph, but at my location, the max gust was only about 55mph.

To deal with 50+ mph winds, I've found that shelter tension needs to be a minimum of 20-25 lbs at each stake. In very high winds, the forces that get transferred to the stakes are in excess of 40 lb, which is generally beyond the normal capacity of any 6 or 7 inch skewer, tube, or V-stake in all but frozen soils.

What are you all using for your "storm" stakes?

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Stakes on 01/25/2012 10:51:29 MST Print View

I'll be using a MSR Blizzard at the corner pointing into the wind. It does double duty as my 'potty trowel. The other 4 corners will be the Easton 8/9" stakes. Ti Shepherds hooks for the mid guying points.

I should add that this is for snow free terrain.

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 01/25/2012 11:06:01 MST.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Stakes for Trailstar on 01/25/2012 11:01:34 MST Print View

For three season use I've had good success with MSR Groundhog stakes with very few stake failures in exposed high wind conditions.

For winter conditions I use MSR Blizzard stakes. I also use my Lightning Ascent snowshoes dug in and used as a deadman.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Potty Trowel as a Tent Stake on 01/25/2012 11:07:52 MST Print View

Mike, so do you wait until the wind dies down before you p00p?

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Potty trowel on 01/25/2012 11:12:23 MST Print View

I can usually 'hold out' till required, Ryan. :)

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Storm Stakes on 01/25/2012 11:22:10 MST Print View

I don't own a Trailstar yet, but when I camp in strong winds in any of my shelters, I will use mostly found objects to supplement my stakes.

I don't trust most any stake alone unless the ground is very firm or I can wedge them into cracks in rocks or roots.

It is usually easy to find some heavy rocks around, but I did have to bury branches in loose sand in a few cases.

I never assume that my stakes will be required to provide 100%.

One of my hiking partners is Bryce, an active participant on BPL, and he never bothers to even bring any stakes. I know others that have the same policy as well.

I bring some small light stakes, just to help speed up setup.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Alaska
Silnylon vs cuben on 01/25/2012 11:24:30 MST Print View

@Ryan: If I buy a trailstar, it will be in silnylon. I still can't buy into paying twice the price for a fabric that I have to baby and worry about. I've been stoked with my silnylon duomid, so I see no reason to make the switch. That money could be better spent on getting out onto the trail. For me, anyways.

Edited by aaronufl on 01/25/2012 11:30:29 MST.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
trailstar stakes on 01/25/2012 11:31:31 MST Print View

We don't see the wild Chinook winds you do up there Ryan, but I have been pleased using MSR Groundhogs for the main guyouts and shepherds hook stakes for the midpanel guy points on my Trailstar.

Did any of you remove the stock Linelocs? What cord are you using? I have the stock line on mine but find that it gets difficult to manipulate in cold weather and rather stiff, moreso than lighter line I've used in past shelters.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Guyline on 01/25/2012 11:37:52 MST Print View

I use 2mm Dyneema with other MLD linelocs, even though i think they are meant for 3mm line? If the linelocs are the same on the Trailstar, i may do the same.
I usually have different colours on guylines on my shelters, so i can pick out the one i want easily in bad weather. The 'into the wind' guyline, and the 'door' guyline, will be different from the rest.

Not all 2mm Dyneema is equal. The stuff i use has a nice grippy sheath.

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 01/25/2012 11:40:37 MST.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Another happy trailstar owner on 01/25/2012 11:43:55 MST Print View

Beautiful photos Ryan. The yellow sil really looks nice for photographic purposes. The clarity/sharpness of the images is impressive. I assume you shot these with the Sony camera you've been reviewing? Compelling evidence to reconsider my leanings towards the Pany G3...

Anyway, onto my TS comments...

I've had my TS for about a year now and I've been really pleased with it. I haven't pushed its limits in any spectacularly bad weather but it has held up through any rain, snow, hail, wind, etc. I've experienced with it so far with no problems or complaints. I don't need a shelter that can shed major snow... worst I stand to experience is maybe a 6" storm (which would be heavy by my area's standards), but wind/rain proof is important for winter/spring camping around here.

I think the biggest benefit in the shelter for me is its versatility. Since I recieved it, I've used it for all but a couple of trips. It's palatial as a solo shelter and has comfortably fit another adult plus a 100 lb dog on a few trips. I've used it pitched really high (w/ long guylines) as a shade structure for day hikes and lake-side lounging. I've used it pitched low for stormy/windy weather. I find even a "standard" pitch with the center pole set around 125 cm is pretty darn stormproof if there's not lots of wind. I've used it by itself and with a Bearpaw Pentanet 2 when I want a lot of bug-free enclosed space.

Yeah, it might be a little heavy as a solo shelter, but the versatility and simplicity is awesome. As I use it in more and more conditions, I'm getting more comforable with the idea of ditching my other shelters (2 down, 2 to go) and sticking with just the TS as my one shelter to cover all of my needs.

For stakes, I typically use MSR Groundhogs for the corners and Ti skewer stakes for the mid-point tie-outs. In really soft, loose ground (like beach sand), I've gone with a larger snow stake (like Mike it doubles as my poo trowel) for the corner pitched into the wind. There's been a few times where I've had to use the stakes as deadman anchors of sorts weighed down with rocks and that's worked fine too.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/25/2012 12:37:20 MST Print View

Nicholas,

I made that leap last year in purging all tarps and using the Trailstar as my only shelter, it sure makes the decision making process leading up to any trip easy, grab and go. I'm going to hold out and see how this works. The TS will obviously not be the ideal shelter in all circumstances, nor the lightest option, but so far I've found it to be an exceptional solo+ shelter for 3 season NM use for all those reasons you mentioned Nicholas.

Jeremy Gustafson
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
Beak for Trailstar? on 01/25/2012 13:23:36 MST Print View

Have any of you TS users considered using a removable beak on the shelter similar to the HMG Echo I. In fact looking at the dimensions, it looks like it would fit perfectly. It would probably be pretty finicky to get all the angles right, but might make it more snow worthy and would provide more coverage.

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
Re: Beak for Trailstar? on 01/25/2012 13:33:40 MST Print View

You don't need more coverage. Sleep side ways to the door way back and keep the entrance low. No bad weather will get you back there. Thats the reason this shelter is so good. You want views from this shelter as you wake up.dawn

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
One shelter for all conditions on 01/25/2012 13:38:18 MST Print View

I switched last year to the GoLite Poncho Tarp. That was my first move into Tarp camping. I was generally pleased but had a chance to experience the scenario of hiking in the rain and then having to make camp in the rain. I survived but got a little wet while making camp and it made me think about a bigger tarp.

I really am seeing the TS as a do it all shelter for one person. I still might just take the poncho for those 1/2 night trips where weather is perfect, but in the high country of Colorado there are very few days in the summer where you can truly say there is no chance of storms. Unfortunately it means adding 17oz to my base weight because I would still take the poncho (7 oz) as my rain gear.

Decisions...

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 13:40:32 MST Print View

A really excelent review and follow up!

"Its 17-ounce (482-g) weight precludes its use as a solo shelter for hikers that spend more time on virtual hikes than real walks in bad weather, but, I suspect, offers a weather-resistance-to-weight ratio that may best a pyramid tarp and easily clobbers any cottage-made solo tent on the market - nearly all of which fail miserably in high winds, interior space, and under substantial snow loads."

This is a great initial impression. I like my tarp. It weighs almost 17oz as is. So, I do not get worried about about shelter weights around a pound and is good for the wife and I. I worry more about food weight for a week or two.

Thanks, Ryan!

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 13:47:12 MST Print View

I am using 9" nails for the mains points (one member of the band stands on each line) and 6.5" Ti stakes for the other points. So far this has been fine, but I have not had any mayor winds on trips. If I was expecting extreme conditions I would swap the Ti stakes out for Y stakes that came with my Golite SLa 6.

I think it is time for a testing session. Luckily I live in a very windy area (wellington NZ), so it should be easy. I tested the Duomid on a hill near my house and decided to switch to the Trialstar soon after. However, the nine inch nails did hold well.

I look forward to Ryan's UL shelters in the wind report. @Ryan - are those stresses measured or estimated?

Interesting link.

http://www.secretmountain.co.uk/out-and-about/pitching-an-mld-trailstar-in-extremely-windy-conditions/

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Beak on 01/25/2012 13:55:03 MST Print View

I have a Zpacks cloud kilt, which when folded into a triangle fits the door space, with a low pitch, quite well. Haven't tried it in practice yet as I would need to make few mods to it, but I think it would work. I also use it as ground sheet for getting in an out of the Tstar.

As has already been said I am not sure it is really needed.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
tension stresses on stakes on 01/25/2012 13:58:19 MST Print View

Those stresses are measured using load cells inline with the guy line.

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Wait until the wind dies down before.... on 01/25/2012 13:59:35 MST Print View

>Mike, so do you wait until the wind dies down before you p00p?<
@Ryan
Not necessary. I know we’re all different but, in my case, I do my business every morning as soon as I wake up (or at least within the first 5 or 10 minutes after getting up). Since I know I’ll be going, I use my heavy stake [MYOG – like a deadman anchor – double use as potty trowel] in the evening, before staking out my tarp, to dig a cathole. After digging, I use my trowel/stake at the rear corner of my tarp [GoLite Lair 1] that’s pointing into the wind. In the morning my intestines will -normally- urge me to do my duty first; when finished I’ll take the tarp down, retrieve my trowel/stake and fill up the cathole again. Simple as cake.
BTW, whilst my current tarp is a GoLite Lair 1, I hope this will soon be substituted by a MYOG Cuben CT3.5K.18 (own design).

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
MSR Blizzard Stakes on 01/25/2012 14:23:47 MST Print View

Ryan,

I was pitching a TT Scarp 1 in 60mph and the supplied Easton stakes would not hold, I had 2 Blizzard stakes (which i normamly use on the guys) and pegging these on the Windward corners kept it firm.

cheers,

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 14:36:42 MST Print View

Those stresses are measured using load cells inline with the guy line.

That's what I love about BPL.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
load stress in guylines on 01/25/2012 14:46:42 MST Print View

Jason - I posted a sample graph of the type of data we are getting from load cells in another thread:

Tension Forces in a Guyline Measured Using an Inline Load Cell (Graph)

It's cool stuff for us nerds. We'll see if it reveals anything practical.

Edited by ryan on 01/25/2012 14:47:43 MST.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
9" Nails on 01/25/2012 14:49:24 MST Print View

@Jason,

How do you get 9" Nails to go on your hikes?
That concept seems pretty unreliable knowing about the drug and alcohol issue bands are known for:-)

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Nail stakes on 01/25/2012 14:52:57 MST Print View

Nice long nails are my preferred stakes as well. They're heavy though.

Does anyone make an 8+ inch long, 0.25" dia.+ Ti nail?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Nails on 01/25/2012 15:20:55 MST Print View

I'm sure Lawson would.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 15:35:12 MST Print View

From the MLD Facebook site;
"We added a little more info on the TrailStar product page yesterday to help anyone trying to decide between the SilNylon and Cuben versions."

Here is the link to the MLD sites Trailstar page;
http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=102

Scroll down to "Cuben Fiber Vs Pro Silnylon TrailStar". Very descriptive and interesting to read.

*The MLD Trailstar page also includes a link to Eugenes video on pitching the Trailstar. I've enjoyed watching this multiple times.

Edited by thomdarrah on 01/25/2012 15:37:34 MST.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 16:20:05 MST Print View

Thanks for that link Thom. I just read over that. Summarizes it nicely, that is it's pretty much Cost vs Weight which largely what most Cuben vs SilNylon choices are about. If saving 6.5 ounces is worth $165 (the difference in price) then it sounds like the Cuben would be for you.

Stephan Doyle
(StephanCal)
Re: Nail stakes on 01/25/2012 17:04:22 MST Print View

Ryan,

Here's a 9" long CF nail from Ruta Locura (formerly Titanium Goat). Not sure about the diameter… http://www.rutalocura.com/Tent_Stakes.html

James Moughan
(jamougha)
trailstar pitching & stakes on 01/25/2012 17:48:07 MST Print View

I didn't find the Trailstar hard to pitch; I followed Stever Horner's pitching guide (http://www.stevenhorner.com/?p=1051) and got a taught pitch easily on the the first attempt. If the ground isn't level then it can be harder to get a good pitch with it right to the ground.

In ~60mph winds I've had success with aluminium Y stakes that appear identical to the MSR Groundhogs. The real issue I had was with the centre pole driving into the ground. Flipping the pole over and using a rubber ferrule to protect the Trailstar should fix that.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: trailstar pitching & stakes on 01/25/2012 17:54:58 MST Print View

>The real issue I had was with the centre pole driving into the ground. Flipping the pole over and using a rubber ferrule to protect the Trailstar should fix that.

As long as your pole is long enough and adjustable, let it sink into the ground and just lengthen it. Or you could find a flat rock or piece of wood to put underneath.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
trailstar review: in the porkies on 01/25/2012 18:10:22 MST Print View

Travis,

regarding that photo in the porkies ... how deep was the frost and what did you use to pound the stakes?

(heading to porkies in 5 weeks ... appears there's now enough snow for snowshoes!)

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: trailstar review: in the porkies on 01/25/2012 18:21:37 MST Print View

Jim,
I'm pretty sure the frost was at least as deep as I could pound my stakes. However, in that particular campsite I was under pine trees, so the ground was much softer there. I think I hit a fluffy patch of frozen duff because I was able to push one stake in by hand. The other stakes were just pounded in with a rock. They go in relatively easy provided you don't hit a root or rock. By morning the aluminum will freeze into the ground, so I just lightly tapped the stake *further into* the ground to break that ice bond. I've broken stakes in the winter by hitting them at a sharp angle.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: trailstar review: in the porkies on 01/25/2012 18:25:30 MST Print View

"By morning the aluminum will freeze into the ground, so I just lightly tapped the stake *further into* the ground to break that ice bond."

Funny how the stuff that makes the most sense often eludes us. Thanks Travis, I never thought of that! Brilliant in its simplicity and common sense!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: trailstar review: in the porkies on 01/25/2012 18:32:05 MST Print View

Thanks Doug. However, I must credit Roger C for that. I extruded that little gem out of one of his posts a few years back.

I was actually surprised how relatively easy it is to pound a (very strong) stake into frozen ground, and how easy it is to get it out again!

And apparently, ice does not bond to titanium that well, so extraction is even easier.

Edited by T.L. on 01/25/2012 18:33:38 MST.

victor marshall
(victor@vrmarshall) - F
Foolproof sequences for pitching the Trailstar on 01/25/2012 19:29:19 MST Print View

Love our TrailStar, but I still don't have a foolproof sequence for placing the stakes to pitch it right the first time (a)with a door mid-panel, or (b) with a high beak. I iterate & iterate, but it's never quite taut. I've looked at all the web instructions, so maybe Ryan can solve this math problem

Having a third pole makes for panorama views when wind is not an issue, or when the wind is steady from one direction.

Can't beat this tent - it makes looking at rain fun.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/25/2012 21:03:07 MST Print View

I've been spending too much time in cushy igloos and snow caves this winter to care much about stakes and wind. Methinks it's time to go on a fast 'n light trip with tarp and bivy again so I can join in this conversation. That 17 oz comment at the end of the article has had me giggling all through the four pages of commentary, Ryan.

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
TrailStar review on 01/25/2012 22:19:45 MST Print View

I've really enjoyed the commentary section to this review - much value added by both members and BPL staff.

And what an intriguing shelter the TS is - a very appealing combination of weather protection and versatility for the weight. After spending most of my outings last season alternating between a Golite Poncho Tarp + TiGoat bivy and a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, this just looks really, really nice.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/26/2012 01:29:20 MST Print View

Ryan - thanks for the link. Results should be very interesting. Would also be interesting to know what sort of stress is being put on our little trekking poles in some of these shelters. The pole in my Duomid was flexing alarmingly in a strong wind. The idea of being in a shelter when a CF pole snaps is rather alarming:).

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: trailstar review: in the porkies on 01/26/2012 01:32:07 MST Print View

> ice does not bond to titanium that well, so extraction is even easier.
That's been my experience anyhow. I thump with just the heel of my jogger normally.

Cheers

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: TrailStar review on 01/26/2012 08:56:22 MST Print View

For those that have the TS or are considering it, if you have a Poncho/Bivy setup presumably you would keep that even with a TS?

1] Poncho for Rain Gear (3 season) (GoLite Poncho 7 oz)
2] Bivy for bug protection (Katabatic Bristlecone 7 oz)

If that is the case then the TS weight is fully additive and the primary attraction of the TS to me is having a shelter where waiting out a storm doesn't mean retreating to a small poncho tarp where you really can't move around.

Edited by randalmartin on 01/26/2012 08:57:08 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: TrailStar review on 01/26/2012 08:59:24 MST Print View

Randy, you don't really need any other protection under a Trailstar, except for bugs if its the season for them. It is large enough for two people to move around and still be plenty protected from rain.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: TrailStar review on 01/26/2012 09:17:00 MST Print View

"Randy, you don't really need any other protection under a Trailstar, except for bugs if its the season for them. It is large enough for two people to move around and still be plenty protected from rain."

Right, but you need a Poncho for hiking in the Rain.

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Re: Re: Re: Re: TrailStar review on 01/26/2012 12:02:32 MST Print View

I agree, the weight would be additive. If I was considering the TS for a trip, it would probably be because conditions dictate it or are unknown, and there'd also be a good chance that for the same reasons I'd consider swapping the poncho tarp out for weightier rain gear (eVent shell/pants) as well.

My experiences with the golite poncho tarp tell me that it's a lot more fun if I don't need to use it as a poncho - my forearms/hands and lower legs eventually get wet, then cold, while the rest of me just tends to steam up. In like conditions, eVent keeps me dryer, better regulated, more mobile (poncho tarps can be a little cumbersome), and much more comfortable. But it also adds an extra 16oz in my pack compared to the poncho tarp, and the TS would be another 17oz, and I'd probably still bring the bivy for bug protection/wet ground.

The thing is, at this point I just don't care that much about lugging an extra 2 pounds plus odd ounce in my pack as long as I can still get out on the trail. Heck, by doing just that I lost 15-20 pounds in the past year. So while expending the effort to optimize base weight was certainly worth it - the benefits of going from a base weight of 24+ pounds to 15 to 10 were not unnoticed - shrinking my own waistline has been the biggest (and most rewarding) difference maker when it comes to packing light.

Edited by Dianoda on 01/26/2012 14:35:16 MST.

James Moughan
(jamougha)
Re: Re: TrailStar review on 01/26/2012 16:25:14 MST Print View

If you're using a poncho then I assume there's not much wind where you hike. In that case I doubt the Trailstar will be the most logical choice for a solo shelter.

Edited by jamougha on 01/26/2012 16:32:39 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: trailstar review: in the porkies on 01/26/2012 19:44:42 MST Print View

Thanks for the reply Travis.

Looking like they are actually getting some snow in the porkies now

So I might be using deadmen instead of stakes. But not for a trailstar ... do not own one (yet, anyway:-)

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
footprint on 01/27/2012 08:00:26 MST Print View

the Trailstar looks like it has a pretty large footprint, I know when I went w/ a Duomid over a tent that it did limit where I could pitch my shelter (vs a tent), the Trailstar looks like this would be even more so

the Duomid w/ it's steeper sides should shed snow better, guessing it (DM) wouldn't fair as well in high wind though

if you need the room, the TS looks like a very viable option :)

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re Footprint on 01/27/2012 09:21:13 MST Print View

It depends on the terrain you hike in. The footprint is irrelevant to me, as there aren't many trees here. You can simply pitch over rocks, heather clumps, grassy tussocks, etc. As long as there is a space to lie down in.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/27/2012 09:38:54 MST Print View

I've had no trouble pitching the Trailstar in awkwardly tight areas, it just requires a little creativity staking out the lines. If you can find a place to lie down, you can pretty much pitch the Trailstar, with the exception of an exposed ledge of course.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Re Footprint on 01/27/2012 11:55:20 MST Print View

The beauty of floorless shelters. Stake 'em out over the obstacles. Snuggle up to that
little huckleberry bush.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
huckleberries on 01/27/2012 12:38:51 MST Print View

now that would make for a nice addition to a shelter! :)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
huckleberries on 01/27/2012 17:01:14 MST Print View

...especially when a grizzly wanders in for his share of the berries

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: huckleberries on 01/27/2012 18:08:29 MST Print View

^ well maybe not such a nice addition :)

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: huckleberries on 01/27/2012 21:32:19 MST Print View

Just eat all the berries before the griz gets there. You can always take it off your consumables. That, and there's nothing like fresh huckleberries on the trail.

Heather Branch
(hpbranch2) - F
trailstar in warm, rainy weather and for one or two on 01/28/2012 20:02:41 MST Print View

I'm considering the trailstar with a bug tent, needing to be protected from rain but in conditions where being too warm is my usual problem [late June until early October in Ontario], not staying warm. I read about snow load and wonder if any of you have experience with it in warm weather? It seems it would lend itself well, with ventilation possible from all angles underneath each side, even with rain? Am I correct?

My other question is whether it allows a bug shelter for two underneath, so that both people can sit up and not be cramped? or is it better for solo?

any input would be appreciated.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: trailstar in warm, rainy weather and for one or two on 01/28/2012 20:35:30 MST Print View

Check out Bearpaw Wilderness Designs for a 2person bug shelter that was designed with the Trailstar in mind.

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: "Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/29/2012 02:07:01 MST Print View

Just wanted to bump the thread with a photo from Friday evening. Left to right, MLD Cricket, Trailstar, and Supermid. Overnight, winds picked up on the ridge line gusting to roughly 30 miles per hour. The Trailstar definitely handled it best despite a pretty crappy pitch and none of the midpanel guy out points used.



The best part? The open doorway provided a most excellent view in the morning.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: "Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/29/2012 22:01:45 MST Print View

Cool pictures. Interesting to see the Cricket next to the Trailstar. For a solo shelter I have been evaluating both. Having room to move around during bad weather is a big deal to me and so have been leaning towards the Trailstar. After dealing with small tarps (Poncho Tarp) during bad weather I can fully appreciate the room that the Trailstar affords. Of course there is a weight penalty for that. Would really like to hear from Cricket (Solo Trailstar) owners to get their insights into the Cricket's performance during bad weather (rain/wind).

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
tstars on 01/29/2012 23:35:50 MST Print View

www.andyhowell.info/Colin-Ibbotson/index.html

colin has used both tstars you could drop him an email. personally I do not think the term solo tstar is really that reflective of what the cricket offers as a shelter.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
solo ts on 01/30/2012 07:33:24 MST Print View

I have a solo TS (now called the cricket tent) it's much more cozy than a poncho/tarp that I can tell you w/ certainty :) it's going to much less roomy than a Trail Star though (less roomy than a Duomid as well)

I used mine last year w/ a bivy, but after being in a couple of rain storms w/ it, I'm going to leave the bivy at home (unless the forecast is extra soggy); I will pack a polycro ground cloth though

I've had it in some windy conditions, but nothing extreme yet- I'm confident it will do pretty well in the wind (like the trail star you can pitch it pretty low and like the trailstar you want to go the door away from the windward side)

Photobucket

Photobucket

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/30/2012 11:05:06 MST Print View

@Ryan - thanks for the soulful review and especially following up with more active participation in the thread discussion following.

This thread has been as enjoyable as the review. What is more fun than testing shelters to their limits in high wind? :) Great photos everyone - it really adds to the review. In fact, this has turned out to be one of the best 'community' reviews that I have seen on this site. I do not have a Trailstar and thus cannot contribute technically or anecdotally with legitimacy, but it is a striking shelter in design. I hope to see more comments comparing/contrasting the Cuben and Sil-nylon version from those who have had the opportunity to use both. That topic, of course could and probably will end up with an article/thread of it's own, but this will be interesting nonetheless in the meantime. /props all around.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
100th TStar Review Post on 01/31/2012 10:47:29 MST Print View

Bump for photos







Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: 100th TStar Review Post on 01/31/2012 10:53:38 MST Print View

Nicholas,
Nice photos. How's that BearPaw inner working for you? How's the space inside?

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
@ Travis on 01/31/2012 11:09:53 MST Print View

I've only used the Bearpaw innernet on a couple of trips. So far it seems to work out fine if a little bit of a hassle to set up.

There's plenty of space for two adults and their gear, in fact we fit our 100 lb lab in there with us with enough room for everyone.

The set-up of the innert net is a little fiddly. Maybe I haven't mastered the most efficient method yet, but what I do is stake out four of the corners of the TS, then run the pole that will be the center pole of the TS through the inner net and place it in its position under the shelter. Then center the net tent door where I want it, get the five corners of the TS where I want them and then attach the corners of the inner net to the lines coming off the TS.

The net seems to work best with a higher pitch in order to get all the slack out of the walls and maximize usable interior space. I haven't experimented too much with alternative TS pitches while using the net tent... more to come this spring, I'm sure.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: @ Travis on 01/31/2012 11:16:09 MST Print View

Thanks Nicholas. I've experimented with two-person bug net options as well, and yes, it can be fiddly. Just the nature of the beast, I guess.

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: @ Travis on 01/31/2012 11:19:34 MST Print View

I set it up the same way—

1. Plan to pitch it high.
2. Stake out Trailstar.
3. Insert inner with pole threaded through.
4. Spread out the inner so the corners are somewhat close to the corners of the shelter.
5. Connect guy lines to existing stakes on the back and sides
6. Stake out two front points separately

I've noticed I need to stake out the two door point separately for a truly taut pitch, but it works really well once it's set up! Plenty of livable space.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/31/2012 12:49:20 MST Print View

Bump for photos:

marty

SNOW

DUDES

JOEL

Pitched high for 3 late summer, giving my son room to wiggle around under a quilt.

ozarks

Trailstar on the Ozark Highland Trail.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Door height on 01/31/2012 13:03:56 MST Print View

Do you guys find that it's easy to get in/out of the Trailstar? Pitched low, it looks like you might almost have to crawl in/out of the shelter. Even when it's pitched high, the door looks pretty low to the ground.

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Re: Re: "Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/31/2012 13:04:58 MST Print View

"Left to right, MLD Cricket, Trailstar, and Supermid. Overnight, winds picked up on the ridge line gusting to roughly 30 miles per hour. The Trailstar definitely handled it best despite a pretty crappy pitch and none of the midpanel guy out points used."

If I recall correctly, it was the Trailstar owner that got up in the middle of the night to re-stake and shovel. ;)

To the Cricket question—pitched properly and with the proper stakes, this could be a legit light snow shelter. I was using tubular stakes and groundhogs, so I didn't get the taughtness I wanted, for fear of flying nighttime stakes. I also ended up accidentally pitching into the wind, which didn't help matters. With some snow stakes and a low pitch, it isn't a bad option. The downside, of course, is less space than a full trailstar, which would be especially nice for wintertime when you want more space, but the little porch does help.

Edited by ChrisMorgan on 01/31/2012 13:07:59 MST.

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Re: Re: "Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/31/2012 13:08:32 MST Print View

No restaking, just sealing a draft that was blowing snow in!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Re: "Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review" on 01/31/2012 13:15:45 MST Print View

Kyle- What kind of snow anchors to you use with your TS?


Eugene- Nice photos. It really is an elegant shelter, isn't it?

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
@Travis on 01/31/2012 13:25:33 MST Print View

Since we have snow called "cascade concrete" around here, I use typical snow stakes like the MSR Blizzards. The Supermid was held in place by snow anchors like these though, and they seemed really nice to use.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: @Travis on 01/31/2012 13:41:04 MST Print View

Heh, yeah, I actually have both of those. I did some tests last weekend using both types on the same shelter in some powder. After work-hardening them into the snow and letting them set up over night, the Blizzards were much harder to remove than the REI ones. However, when initially setting them in the snow, the REI anchors held better.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Re: Re: @Travis on 01/31/2012 13:49:25 MST Print View

@Nicholas, thanks for sharing your photos and experience. Is there room in the Bearpaw inner for two adults (i.e. with a 2 person quilt) to sleep next to each other without one being completely up against the side? In order to do this would you have to angle to center pole away to one side?

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Re: Re: @Travis on 01/31/2012 13:51:24 MST Print View

Bear Paw's Pentanet won't pitch properly at all with the pole askew. You could ask to have the hole in the floor moved, but I can only imagine that would make the shelter exponentially harder to pitch correctly. The wife and I sleep with a pole between us : [

Jeremy Gustafson
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
Re: Re: 100th TStar Review Post on 01/31/2012 13:59:21 MST Print View

How well would it work to use an inverted 'V' to open up the floor for the inner? I suppose you would have to have a second pair of poles or pole jacks to make it work... I'm just not sure how that would affect the tensions of each of the panels.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
TS entrance on 01/31/2012 14:22:41 MST Print View

@ Andrew,

The entrance to the Trailstar is not unusually low when pitched in storm mode (down to the ground), comparable toto tarps I have had in the past (MLD Grace duo, Oware Cat2). I'm 6' and a little crawl or squat is all that is necessary. Interior height isn't what you find on the Duomid or other mids of that style, but it isn't crammed- easy to sit up inside. For fair weather you can pitch the front pole high and enter with ease. There isn't one way to pitch this thing, so making a higher entrance is up to you and the conditions.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
@ Trevor on 01/31/2012 14:49:40 MST Print View

I don't know if using an off-centered pole would work when pitching the TS with the inner net. You would, at a minimum, need to have some kind of cap or piece of wood or something to rest the tip of the pole on so as to not puncture your floor. There may be problems with the geometry too and get getting a taut pitch to the trailstar and/or inner net... could be worth exploring though...

Other solutions would be to hang the trailstar from an overhead branch by the exterior loop on the peak. The inner net could then be hung from the loop on the interior of the TS peak. That would eliminate poles entirely from the shelter interior and would likely provide enough room for 3.

Or, if you have a 2nd set of poles (or pole jacks) handy, you could probably set up an inverted V pole arrangement to support the trailstar and again hang the net tent from the interior loop at the peak of the trailstar. This would again leave all of the interior space inside of the net tent pole-free. I don't have a second set of poles (or any pole jacks) so I've never tried this arrangement (one of us hikes with poles, the other gets to be dog handler).

Maybe this weekend I can try the off-set center pole just to see if it's even possible.

Here's the inner net sans trailstar; there's any number of ways to arrange the pads, I just threw them in there to show what could fit:

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Re: @ Trevor on 02/01/2012 10:55:08 MST Print View

Thanks, Kyle and Nicholas, for your responses! It seems like an inverted V with two trekking poles could work in theory. I guess as Jeremy pointed out the key question would be if having the poles configured like that would affect the panel tension and strength of the shelter overall, one of its key benefits.

Thanks for the picture of the net tent too! That really helps to see what is possible in there.

Ceph Lotus
(Cephalotus) - MLife

Locale: California
Bearpaw Innernet for Trailstar on 02/01/2012 11:33:09 MST Print View

Bearpaw has two 2-person innernets that will work with the Trailstar:

PentaNet 2

PyraNet 2

There are tradeoffs between the two, so you'll have to determine what is more important for you.

The PentaNet 2 is larger, and weighs more, but provides more netting protection, and the rooms it takes up means smaller vestibules. The PyraNet 2 is smaller, but can still accomodate two people. The PyraNet 2 can also be twirled around the center pole, so you determine where you want the doors to be relative to the tent opening, and being smaller will allow more room for your vestibule space. The PyraNet 2 can also better accomodate the lower pitch configurations of the Trailstar than the PentaNet 2. So, the PyraNet 2 is more versatile than the PentaNet 2, in exchange for netting space.

Also, with either innernet, you have the choice of what material to use (silnylon, cuben), the thickness of the No-See-um material, the height of the sidings, and the number of doors and where to put them on the innernet. And you can also request custom modifications. John Stultz, the owner of Bearpaw, has been very helpful with me on the numerous questions I asked him about his innernets.

Edited by Cephalotus on 02/01/2012 11:54:09 MST.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Tstar photos and video on 02/02/2012 17:40:46 MST Print View

A few more Trailstar photos and a link to a video of the cuben version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vmneOE4j2s. Still waiting on mine :(.

Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island New Zealand

Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island New Zealand

Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island New Zealand.

Edited by jephoto on 02/02/2012 17:46:21 MST.

Ronda Nelson
(pinoakrd)
good first tarp? on 02/04/2012 23:06:10 MST Print View

I am new to backpacking and currently use a TarpTent Rainbow, but have been interested in just using a tarp. Would this be a good way to start? The comments are all so favorable.

Thanks,

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: good first tarp? on 02/05/2012 08:39:01 MST Print View

I don't see why not if it's of suitable size for you; it's a little trickier than some tarps to pitch, but nothing that a little practice in the backyard wouldn't fix (that goes for any tarp btw)

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Trailstar as first tarp on 02/05/2012 09:32:13 MST Print View

@Ronda:

The TS would be a great first tarp. Take a look at Eugene's set-up video (someone mentioned it above and linked on MLD's site too) to see how easy it can be to pitch. Obviously, where you pitch it can change how fast it takes to set-up.

http://desertpaincave.blogspot.com/

You CAN go with lighter tarps but often at the expense of cost (to get a lighter material for the same coverage, currently cuben) or room (smaller tarps will weigh less), which are factors that an experienced tarp user or true SUL hiker will consider.

The TS will give you great coverage for 1 or 2 people -- and you can always move to a small and lighter 1-person tarp once you've played around with the TS.

wander lust
(sol)
learning curve on 02/13/2012 22:36:14 MST Print View

The Trailstar is a good shelter.
Sometimes I love it, sometimes I don't.

It takes some practise to get the setup right, so definintely learn it before you use it the first time.

the footprint is huge and can be annoying sometimes. but it can be setup almost everywhere and it is just a matter of practising anyway.

emergency camp
emergency camp right on the trail, btw little bushes or twigs hold better than most stakes would do.

the guy outs should be long (mld recommends 60cm, I would rather go for 80cm or more), so that one is able to pitch it in awkward location and tie rocks to them...


terra rosa gear from Sydney made me a custom innernet for my trailstar, which worked out pretty good, it was a prototype, so it needs a few small tweeks. but it can even be used with a low pitch (90 cm)innernet

I might go back to using a bivy though, easier and faster to use for me.

Condensation is still an issue with this shelter, but you can dry it really fast and shake it off too.

I would really like to see how the cuben version does, cuben does not gain as much weight as silnylon in humid conditions and also has less built up condensation.

I couldn't test my trailstar in really windy conditions.
But I had it in some nasty humid weather instead; where any shelter becomes a cold sauna. No wind, camped on wet grass and massive dew everywhere. Well, it was near a rainforest. :)

Bottom line: get good stakes and use rocks or the vegetation if needed, learn to pitch it, condensation can always occur but is managable, enjoy the views


Heck, even the local cows like it.

cows

Edited by sol on 02/13/2012 22:41:02 MST.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Trailstar Price Increase to $185 on 02/20/2012 15:46:02 MST Print View

Looks like the Trailstar is now $185, up from $170.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - M

Locale: 40°N,-105°W-ish
Any ETA for an update to this review? on 04/10/2012 11:29:33 MDT Print View

It's been two and a half months since the first impressions were posted, and we were told:

"This will be a rolling review, and I’ll add more content (at this URL) as it becomes available."

In the comments on the day it was published, Ryan said:

"I've learned a lot since the field testing that went into this initial review, and have now had the shelter in heavy snows and high winds. This is a bad weather shelter. And a good one. More on that in future installments of the review."

Can any of the BPL staff tell the subscribers when we might see said future installments? I for one am eager to read the updates.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Any ETA for an update to this review? on 04/10/2012 12:33:17 MDT Print View

Maybe there was no wind :-)

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
It takes time to produce a review! on 04/10/2012 12:45:50 MDT Print View

2-3 months for further testing, maybe more
1-2 months to write up the article
2-3 months or more for editing, review, publication scheduling

July?

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - M

Locale: 40°N,-105°W-ish
ETA on 04/10/2012 13:32:52 MDT Print View

Cheeky, Stephen :-) For months this winter there was nothing but wind in the Rockies.

Mary, those timeframes make sense for traditional publishing (especially writing/editing/scheduling). Maybe the internet gives us unrealistic expectations in this instant gratification era. Either way, it would help for subscribers to know whether the rolling reviews are likely to be quarterly, semi-annual, annual, or 'as new information comes available'. Any staffers care to comment?

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: ETA on 04/10/2012 13:55:35 MDT Print View

Sure I am a cheeky Paddy :-)

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Rolling reviews on 04/10/2012 14:04:58 MDT Print View

Call me cynical, but my initial impression when hearing that BPL was doing rolling reviews was that it was a convenient excuse to lower the quality of the published articles. Now reviews which are not conceptualized or finished can be published anyway, and there is little motivation to finish the review to make it more comprehensive afterwards. I expect that many of the rolling reviews will stay pending for much longer than it would have taken to write a complete review; I hope I am proven wrong.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Rolling reviews on 04/10/2012 16:10:48 MDT Print View

+1 with Andrew.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Rolling reviews on 04/10/2012 17:21:22 MDT Print View

It comes down to two options:

A) Evaluate a product for 6+ months, and then publish a complete review with long-term(ish) data. The problem is the product is likely no longer relevant (winter bag reviews published in the middle of summer, etc.) or may even no longer be available at the time of publishing.

B) Publish an initial review followed up later with long-term data. The initial thoughts are published while the product is relevant and the product can still be evaluated over a longer term for durability, etc. This is how it's done on at least one other review site exclusively.

Do you prefer reading about something irrelevant or unavailable? Or reading an initial review and having to wait on durability testing?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Rolling reviews on 04/10/2012 17:57:32 MDT Print View

How about publishing an editorial schedule like you guys use to? So we can know when to expect something instead of everything here getting sucked into an editorial black hole.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Rolling reviews on 04/10/2012 18:01:46 MDT Print View

I've honestly never seen an editorial schedule published, but then I've only been around for 5 or so years. I'll bring it up regardless.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Rolling reviews on 04/10/2012 19:09:58 MDT Print View

Last on the thread drift. How abut just a line at the end of part one stating, Look for part 2 00/0000.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - M

Locale: 40°N,-105°W-ish
Rolling reviews on 04/10/2012 22:04:38 MDT Print View

Thanks for chiming in, Chris. I appreciate the feedback and your willingness to bring up the suggestions in your editorial meetings. It's the 'not knowing' that has folks wondering. Sorry to have caused the thread to drift. Let's get back to discussing the gear at hand... Even though I'd heard of the Trailstar before, it wasn't till this review that it grabbed my attention. I scoured the internet for more details, and finally completed my search for one this evening.

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
Any updates on 08/26/2012 14:18:07 MDT Print View

So july has passed and Aug soon to be done - should we expect an update on this?
Mike

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Any updates on 08/26/2012 14:24:42 MDT Print View

Nothing on the upcoming editorial calendar that Chris and everyone else can find here.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/editorial_calendar.html


"A) Evaluate a product for 6+ months, and then publish a complete review with long-term(ish) data. The problem is the product is likely no longer relevant (winter bag reviews published in the middle of summer, etc.) or may even no longer be available at the time of publishing."


I'll take option A.

Edited by kthompson on 08/26/2012 17:07:00 MDT.

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Re: Any updates on 08/26/2012 16:27:22 MDT Print View

The Trailstar is one of the shining achievements of the cottage industry being a truly no-compromise, ultralight shelter. As such, it seems ludicrous that this shelter continues to go unreviewed.

I haven't re-upped my membership because, since it ended two months ago, there hasn't been a single article that adds value to my outdoor adventures. The windshirt SOTM is a good first step but it's like the Trailstar review—only the easy part is done. BPL should be congratulating the successes of the cottage industry with coverage when a sterling example of innovation like the Trailstar comes out. BPL should focus on products that will improve people's day to day backpacking experience, not delve into a five part treatise on water danger and filtration.

Finish rolling reviews, review more cottage gear, be more transparent, and you have a subscriber back.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 08/26/2012 16:36:52 MDT Print View

In one of his newsletters Ryan mentions not being quite such a fan of the Tstar any more. Can't quite remember why now. I think he has gone back to std mids.

I think it is a great shelter for open terrain where high winds are a possibility. For below the bush line I am finding it to be a bit of an over kill for a solo shelter, so will looking for something lighter here. Probably a Hexamid or a Cricket. The large covered area of the Tstar is great though for managing gear in wet weather.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Any updates on 08/26/2012 16:49:06 MDT Print View

Michael,

Search online and you will unearth an extensive collection of reviews on the Trailstar from active and knowledgeable users. The Trailstar was a late bloomer, many adopters picked it up within the last two years coming off the praise of vocal outdoor bloggers expounding its capabilities as a lightweight shelter (I did!), yet it has been around for several years now and paid its dues. What exactly are you looking to gain from Ryan's "johnny come lately" perspective on the Trailstar?

I think there is more than enough quality beta out there on this shelter for anyone to make an informed decision as to whether or not it would be an asset in their outdoor quiver.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 08/26/2012 17:05:59 MDT Print View

I liked mine and used in a lot a couple of years ago (I was an early adopter). However, I had difficulty finding spots for it below treeline and a Mid proved better for my needs.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 08/26/2012 17:09:53 MDT Print View

A mid is best all rounder for most it seems. I've seen a couple of TrailStars and they do take up some serious real estate.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Any updates on 08/26/2012 17:16:21 MDT Print View

"I think there is more than enough quality beta out there on this shelter for anyone to make an informed decision as to whether or not it would be an asset in their outdoor quiver."

http://www.christownsendoutdoors.com/2012/03/trailstar-wars.html

http://www.summitandvalley.com/2011/07/is-trailstar-best-lightweight-shelter.html

http://sectionhiker.com/mountain-laurel-designs-trailstar-long-term-review-by-dave-lintern/

http://www.stevenhorner.com/?p=1003

http://goinglighter.blogspot.com/2011/04/first-impressions-mld-trailstar.html

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 08/26/2012 17:30:08 MDT Print View

It seems like a mid and a trailstar have about the same footprint.

Mid - 8 or 9 or 10 feet square

Trailstar - 7 feet on a side - it depends how you pitch it

I just don't like the open side - I'de rather have it extend to close to the ground and have a zipper - but that takes away some of the simplicity

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 08/26/2012 18:04:52 MDT Print View

Forgot to add that Chris Townsend gave the Tstar a rave review in the latest TGO magazine. Also gave the Duomid a good review. I started with the Duomid, but figured for the same weight I could get much better high wind performance. Also with a std mid if it is raining, even in calm conditions, it seems to me that you need to close the door.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 08/27/2012 11:26:47 MDT Print View

Jerry, specs aside, the TS takes up a lot mor real estate than the DuoMid. One easily fits on tent platforms, the other doesn't.

Experience trumps all.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Space on 08/27/2012 11:39:27 MDT Print View

I've never done it, but I'd assume there are a few pitch options for the TS, like the narrow 4 sided pitch that someone posted on here somewhere.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Any updates on 08/27/2012 11:42:42 MDT Print View

Idester, you are now going head-to-head with "Link" O'leary. Watch out, she could rip you to shreds...

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Any updates on 08/27/2012 14:50:38 MDT Print View

"Watch out, she could rip you to shreds..."

And as we learned from another thread, she's got a mean side. I take back all my links! I'm sorry Anna! I didn't mean it!

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
MLD TrailStar Update on 11/14/2012 15:05:18 MST Print View

The MLD TrailStar has Won 1st Place : Camping Gear of the Year in the TGO Magazine The Great Outdoors Awards event today.

TGO is the leading outdoor magazine in the UK.

The judges of this category were only the editors at the magazine. -Other categories were by popular vote online so we feel extra happy about this one as extra special. http://www.tgomagazine.co.uk/awards/judges/

We can tell you that they get plenty of rough weather and high winds in the UK on the exposed walk areas in the north and that on the 2012 TGO Challenge hike across Scotland many dozens used the TrailStar.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 11/14/2012 15:43:48 MST Print View

Congratulations Ron. The Trailstar is also great for the conditions we often face in New Zealand. You have bomber wind performance, plus plenty of space to get out of the rain and deal with soaking wet kit. So far mine seems to have come with fine weather attracting coating, but its only a matter of time:).

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/02/2013 22:40:53 MST Print View

I wonder if the review is going to be updated, it is almost a year. Seems the rolling reviews must have rolled off a cliff.

Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
stupid question on 01/12/2013 05:30:23 MST Print View

I know I'm going to embarrass myself with this one, but I've been watching Bear Grylls on TV a touch lately and it got me thinking:

Could I use the TrailStar as a parachute, if I *really* needed a parachute in a pinch?

this assumes I'm caught on the top of a cliff somehow and the best decision is to get down ASAP by some means other than descending like a normal person or "aiming for the bushes."

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: stupid question on 01/12/2013 06:18:04 MST Print View

While trying to avoid the profanity filter I'll say this...

We have a saying here in SE LA. "When you're up to your _____ in alligators you're gonna run, walk, swim or fly."

My point being, when you are presented with a situation that demands you do whatever you can ASAP to avoid serious injury or worse a person will "try" to survive.

Parachutes have harnesses, multiple shroud lines and steering lines. At most your TrailStar has 10 attachment points for guy lines. All of these would be held in your hands as you attempted your "jump".

Use the proper tool for the job. I doubt that you really want to carry a chute on a hike but an alternative might be a suitable length of climbing rope and gloves to allow for a quick descent.

Party On,

Newton

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 01/12/2013 09:20:17 MST Print View

"I wonder if the review is going to be updated, it is almost a year. Seems the rolling reviews must have rolled off a cliff."

Are you really waiting to hear what they have to say about the Trailstar, Nick?

No need to finish this, other than for formalities sake and honoring what was promised. ;-)

Anyways, this initial review was late to the "party" when it came out almost a year ago.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Re: Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 08/29/2013 09:53:32 MDT Print View

A smaller and larger version of the TrailStar is now available at mountainlaureldesigns.com

The LittleStar is about 15% smaller and the BigStar is about 30% larger than the standard TrailStarMLD LittleStar.


BigStarBigStar

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Big Star on 08/29/2013 18:09:13 MDT Print View

Wow.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Big Star & grandkids on 08/29/2013 18:11:44 MDT Print View

This will be an excellent tarp when out with my grandkids! I can hardly wait!

alan york
(alanyork9) - MLife

Locale: PIEDMONT N.C.
Question for Ron: on 08/29/2013 18:46:23 MDT Print View

If you pitch the Big Star as a pyramid,with 4 corners to the ground(as pitched by one of your youtube reviewers,what size shelter will you have?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Question for Ron: on 08/29/2013 18:51:53 MDT Print View

From the MLD website -

"It is 30% larger than the TrailStar and offers the same sleep space as a 9 X 9 Pyramid Shelter."

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 08/29/2013 19:54:17 MDT Print View

A little under 9 X 9 - Each of the 5 lower edges are about 9'.

rowan !
(romonster) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Question for Ron: on 08/29/2013 23:41:38 MDT Print View

Ron,
Now that the LittleStar is available, would you be able to compare it to the Cricket Tarp? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? I really like both, and want to buy one of them . . . I just can't decide which one!

If it matters, I'd be using it as a solo shelter, and I'm only 5' 2".

Tim Czarkowski
(buylow12) - MLife

Locale: South East
Still pending? on 01/28/2014 17:29:56 MST Print View

I'd like to see the review finished. Still rolling?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Still pending? on 01/29/2014 00:19:35 MST Print View

It's too bad it hasn't been updated. The comments in the thread were overall very positive. Doug Ide posted some very good links that should be read. Unfortunately, there are many blogs that rival some of the BPL reviews these days.

About a year ago I posted the same question, and Eugene replied what else did I need to know... there was ample information on the Web; and he was right.

If you want the best wind-shedding shelter for the weight, buy one. But ignore the posted weight, by the time you seam seal it, add guy lines and substantial stakes it is going to weigh a lot more.

I only take mine when I expect nasty weather, and it meets all my expectations.

Doug Hus
(Doug.H) - M

Locale: Ontario. Canada
blogs on 01/29/2014 04:33:21 MST Print View

May I ask which blogs you are using for light weight backpacking.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review on 10/22/2014 20:21:15 MDT Print View

Ryan, any chance you could update this review? Recommended? Highly recommended?