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Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review
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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
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

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

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) - F

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

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 h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
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

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

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)



/A .
(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