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Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar Shelter Review
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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


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.

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
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.


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) - F

Locale: Colorado
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 Deep Frreze
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
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


Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
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 Deep Frreze
Re: ETA on 04/10/2012 13:55:35 MDT Print View

Sure I am a cheeky Paddy :-)

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

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 T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
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 T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
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 T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
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) - F

Locale: Colorado
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?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
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.

"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

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.