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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.