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Tarptent Notch vs Lightheart solo vs SMD skyscape trekker
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Evan Brodfuehrer
Tarptent Notch vs Lightheart solo vs SMD skyscape trekker on 04/28/2012 09:50:17 MDT Print View

Hello Ya'll!
I was wondering if I could get some input from people who have experience with either or all of these shelters. I sold my Tarptent Moment (which I loved) but living in hot, muggy PA with a lot of rain I got too much condensation. A couple times I woke up with my sleeping bag pretty soaked from the "misting" you sometimes get from silnylon. That being said I have found these three different double wall design shelters. I am leaning toward the Notch because I know firsthand how Henry's quality is. It also seems to have more venting options. I also like the fact that you can seperate the canopy from the net tent.

What are your opinions/comments? I'd love to hear them. Thanks!

kevin smith
smd skyscape on 04/28/2012 23:15:40 MDT Print View

first off i have to say that henry shires builds an awesome tent i have had a few and they are great tents

i do not have a trekker but i do have the skyscape scout (the polyester version of the trekker ) i love the tent im 6-1 and 215 lbs and i have room in there for my sleep system with high loft bag and lots of other gear at the head of the tent

this tent has great ventilation and is pretty roomy for a big guy like me i can sit up and change shirts in it without hitting my head on the tent at all

as to condensation i have had my scout in some pretty wet conditions and i get a little condensation at the foot of the tent and just a tad on the inside rear half of the tent but not enough to get my bag wet at all

i have heard the trekker is a good tent as well but as to condensation i don t know

great design though i really like my scout even though its a tad heavier at 34 oz its a great tent that fits my needs well for a solo tent


Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Tarptent Notch vs Lightheart solo vs SMD skyscape trekker on 04/28/2012 23:57:22 MDT Print View

Hi, I have the TT Notch, I was drawn to it from a tent I have also condensation issues. In addition to the photos/vids, primarily from Franco, I made quite a number of my own to show the size and space. My unique needs won't be like yours probably but hopefully it gives you more of a view of what one is like so aid your consideration of the options.

As its recommended
As its not recommended (condensation issues) but showing what's possible

Masses of headroom, I'm 5"9' ish here on an Neoair

View around

So far, I've only garden pitched to learn how and what I need to customize before real usage, so I can't talk from experience but I've learned a few things so far
- the optional poles are not stiff, I know Easton make stiffer ones but these aren't the ones TT provide.
- pole stiffness is absolutely crucial in the lower-flysheet mode as the more downward forward makes the poles bend so much they sway a fair bit
- recommend using trekking poles for strength, but you can get away with the optional poles with flysheet in upper recommended orientation if its not windy
- long narrow inside area but can be made fairly wide. I'm happy with the internal space.

- if you try to really seal-up (not recommended due to condensation) the side walls become quite vertical, you can see the angles in the above videos, so I've found with trekking poles basically the pegs are wanting to come out. Recommend getting Henry to fit guy attachments, I added later

and then using some stiff guy like Dyneema to help keep the load off the vestibule peg. I've fitted the guy attachments myself, I just got some Dyneema but I don't have any pegs here to try out the combination of additional pegs yet. I might additionally inside the fly make some guys up to peg towards the head/foot end to help take some load off the supplied external pegging points, but not played with that idea much.

- 4 pegs most of the time, plenty strong for most situations

- fast pitch. I can do it in 3mins but sure as I learn the right tension to put in the 4 pegs, I can do it in 2mins-ish with practice.

- the partially solid option I can testify really warms the shelter, we get 20mph off-ocean cold winds in my garden, when its bitterly cold for t-shirt but inside the Notch it is warm.

- I'm making a Tyvek footprint too, I'm just getting into MYOG.

Overall, if you're really seeking to minimize condensation, then the Notch in the high-fly mode seems a happier shelter, less of the peg-pulling mode and better tolerating lightweight poles, but you can lock it down if you need with additional guys and using stiffer poles, so useful if a good-weather trip has surprising bad weather. That's mostly my personal need, I tend to aim to camp when its forecast good but nice to know if I'm surprised by bad weather I can do that with the Notch.

I might get another TT for when its planned to be bad weather, I love bad weather but the travel to it usually blocks me, I'm a bike-tourer mainly recent years and usually if its wet+windy I can't safely bike to campsite. Might get a Scarp, not sure.

I absolutely love the Notch's weight / space ratios.

I got some Black Diamond Distance FL trekking poles I just happen to have a body height which is the range for these poles fitting the range the Notch needs, which are FYI 105cm is the absolutely lowest pole setting, and about 115cm upper but my poles go to 125cm to pull any sag out of SilNylon when wet from inside.

I picked TT because its clearly designed by an experienced intelligent shelter designer with good customer interaction, I'm sure if I have any genuine issue they'll get resolved with TT. I forgot when I ordered to request the guy attachments but we emailed and I got them delivered quickly with instructions, so good customer service for sure.

Evan Brodfuehrer
TT Notch vs Terra Nova Photon 1 on 04/29/2012 06:17:17 MDT Print View

Well I am now torn between the TT Notch and Terra Nova Laser photon 1. The laser photon 1 is very similar to my TT moment I had. Which I absolutely loved. Only difference is the photon is a double wall...which is what I am looking for.

Nigel, thanks for the great info on the notch. Does the partial covered interior add more weight compared to the all bug net interior? Also, have you checked out the laster photon 1 tent? It seems like a nice tent. A little pricey but maybe worth the extra $. You can pitch they fly only like the Notch but not the interior. Which, in that case I would probably just sleep under the stars or use a bug bivy anyway.

Marquis Toson

Locale: Southeast
Re: TT Notch vs Terra Nova Photon 1 on 04/29/2012 11:44:56 MDT Print View

Evan, you can pitch interior only with the Notch. The partial solid adss about 1 ounce to the tents weight.

Edited by mktoson on 04/29/2012 11:48:41 MDT.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: TT Notch vs Terra Nova Photon 1 on 04/29/2012 12:12:58 MDT Print View

I own the Laser Comp, it was the lighest til the Photon came out. Photon I assume is thinner and hence flappier than the LC.

The LC has a condensation problem. True, its not on the inside of the inner so you're touching dry but the outer is easily soaked, can't easily vent, no roof vent.

Partially solid is slightly heavier but not by much, guess 1oz ? Its in the geardeals TT Notch thread mentioned by Henry.

i think you'll find Notch is quite a bit lower cost than the Photon.

The MAIN differences though are Notch really needs trekking poles, otherwise its not stiff enough pitch for windier conditions, so if you don't use poles then the Notch becomes 1.2Kg shelter (.7 Notch + .5 poles). If you do use poles then I think Notch is lighter than the Photon.

i'd not go for the Photon if i were you, it will have more condensation problems then the Moment had, admittedly not touching your gear. Consider the Notch or the roomier Stratospire1. Consider buying all-mesh for the cooler (you said high humidity PA) and buy partially-solid inner (option Notch now, SS1 soon for colder situations, it keeps the breeze off your bag and likely adds more insulation for its weight than a heavier bag in my view.

Evan Brodfuehrer
laser photon on 04/29/2012 19:36:13 MDT Print View

I do use trekking poles most of the time. Sometimes on a one night trip i will leave them home. I use Titanium Goat carbon fiber poles. Do you think they are strong enough for the Notch? They can get quite a bend in them when I use them with my golite shangri-la 1 or Black Diamond Beta light tent. My other issue is adjusting the poles for different weather and sagging silnylon.

The laser photon was updated in 2011. More vents, more tie out points and a smaller packed size. It has lighter fabric and stakes (which from the reviews look worthless). I do really like that the TT notch can be pitched with with inner tent only. However, if I know the weather is going to be nice I bring a 7oz bivy or sleep under the stars with a head it doesn't really work for me.

I wish I could afford both. Maybe I will sell my Golite, Black diamond and bibler bivy. I don't use them much anyway. Does Henry have a warranty on his shelters? I know terra nova has a lifetime warranty...

Evan Brodfuehrer
TN laser comp on 04/29/2012 19:40:22 MDT Print View

Have you experienced the condensation issues in the LC first hand? DO you like the tent overall? I know a couple reviews complained about the size. I'm only 5'7" so I'm not too worried. How would you rate both the Notch and LC for stormworthiness? Will both stand up to heavy rain/winds? I really appreciate your input! Thanks

G Watson

Locale: Uk
Laser competition. ? on 04/29/2012 20:03:33 MDT Print View

Can i ask why the photon and not a laser competition. ? (now known as the laser competition 1)

For not a whole lot more weight you get a much more useable tent, and it's cheaper.

I'm a Terra Nova fan as i've used the competition for over 2 years (now moved on to a Scarp 1 as i don't venture far, so take comfort over weight) but i wouldn't wish the photon on anyone but a masochist, or someone that could live with a lightweight bivvy, it's really not worth the weigh saving imo, it's a gimmick compromise of the comp to retain the worlds lightest two man tent tag imo, though now we have the cuben ultra.

The competition is a cracking tent and bar the incessant flapping in any kind of wind(no matter how long you practice pitching it) it urinates all over all but two tents imo, the Scarp 1 and the Hilleberg Akto, both 500gr heavier.

If you buy the photon i'll wager you'll regret it, and forever wish you'd gone for the comp, it's bigger, better, cheaper brother.

Edited by twiglegs on 04/29/2012 20:06:10 MDT.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: laser photon on 04/29/2012 20:20:13 MDT Print View

Henry Shires knows FAR more than me on the topic of poles and bending, I'd consult with him directly. The poles I got when ordering the optional pole set for the Notch are Easton and easily bend, they have .344 7065 written on them, and looking at Easton's catalog implies its the Nanolite as whilst there are plenty of poles with 7065 only one is in .344. It has a stiffness of 4.9, which is the least stiff of any Easton pole, and 13.8 grams per inch. There are for example some carbon poles 10.8gpi stiffness 6.3 so lighter and stiffer, and 12gpi 6.1 , or the Expedition series 5.7-8.7 and higher weight.

So certainly, as it seems the thinnest Alu poles have been used, it seems just from looking at the catalog, a stiffer Easton pole probably exists which can also be lighter, no doubt at a cost.

My trekking poles, Black Diamond Distance FL are ample stiff enough, I'm pulling the pegs out of the ground before the trekking pole bends. Nice feature is obviously can raise them up to handle SilNyLon sag which a fixed-length Easton pole can't so easily (although you can simply stuff something under the pole?

I was thinking of getting some stiffer Easton poles, but a little shorter than the ones supplied and consult with Henry because it would be good to have a compact option for biking which isn't trekking poles.

Henry offers 90 day return if you're not happy and its not been used (e.g. garden pitching) and offers some warranty, again - consult direct with TT.

Photon vents? I've looked at it just now, all I can see is option to lift a little the end of the flysheet, the equivalent on the Notch is open up the entire end, so more venting there, the Notch has roof vents, Photon doesn't, and you can raise the vestibule on the Notch higher than the Photon, so overall - the Photon will have more condensation problems than the Notch. I know the Laser Photon gets some of its weight saving from using thinner material, chances are a TT will last longer than the Laser Photon?

For hotter situations but still chance of rain, opening both vestibules gets a through-breeze going, not something you can do so easily with the Photon. The Notch has an all-mesh inner option, the Photon doesn't you'd have to pitch outer-only if its too warm but still rainy and run the risk with the wildlife.

Where I see the Photon having the edge is its got less mesh than the Notch, it has mesh only one side partially, so solid roof, so it will tend to be warmer inside. What I've done, having suffered condensation, is I invested in a warmer sleeping bag and some down clothing and aim to have little less of a locked-down shelter.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: TN laser comp on 04/29/2012 20:34:16 MDT Print View

"Have you experienced the condensation issues in the LC first hand?" Yes. Absolutely soaked sodden both sides all over of the flysheet, due to mostly vegetation damp and being near flowing water, on campsites. I took my time getting ready to pack and left the LC as long as possible but it was still damp. The causes were lack of wind, moisture from occupant, moisture from outside, all the grass was damp. I would expect anything in the vicinity would also be damp but I expect the Notch would dry quicker in the morning sun. Possibly the Notch might catch less damp.

I've taken the approach of getting some Tyvek homewrap, enough to make something to cover all of the ground from just inside the vestibule to reduce damp from the ground, and obviously a higher flysheet will let damp from me escape better.

"DO you like the tent overall?". I don't dislike LC overall, its got all I need in a light compact package, certainly not a bad shelter, but its only got a few issues, I've not sold it, I'm going to use the Notch and make my next decision (sell the LC,or sell the Notch, or buy something else), the dislikes of the LC are:
- the roof height was fine when I was using a Prolite 4 mat. I then got a thicker mat and was scraping the roof, sucking in the condensation inside. A nuisance but not a major problem
- in warm weather, its too warm, its stuffy, due to only a little mesh inner on one side. Of course this produces the opposite benefit of warmer when you need it. I figured the more flexbile approach is more venting options from the shelter to make it cooler and less damp, and get a bit more 800fp down gear, which I've done over the last 2 years.

"How would you rate both the Notch and LC for stormworthiness? Will both stand up to heavy rain/winds? ". I can't really rate either hands-on for storm worthiness, my LC has not been in a storm, and my Notch only garden-pitch familiarisation. I have concerns with the Notch at the vestibule pegs, til I get some additional pegs and see how the additional guys help, I don't know if that solve the problem. All I know at the moment from garden pitching is if I similate windy conditions by tightening the fly, the pegs get pulled out of the ground due to the geometry of the angle of peg-fly-ground. Both LC and Notch have been rain tested, both have been 100% perfectly dry inside. I bought my Notch before I needed to so I could benefit from last of California's rain before the dry weather, did a rain test last week.

I'm sure there are others who can answer some of these questions better.

G Watson

Locale: Uk
Condensation. on 04/29/2012 20:58:45 MDT Print View

I'm torn here as i love Terra Nova tents, they are based just down the road from me so i'm a little biased, but not so biased to go through the hell of sourcing a scarp 1 over anything they offer, and selling my TN laser competition to fund it.

For two wall lightweight tents they have it wrapped up imo, but i'm coming from a UK perspective weather wise, for UK conditions (which it seems you are looking to replicate use) you won't find better, there' no way i'd rely on any of Henry's tents other than the Scarp here in the UK as the weather is so changeable.

A word of warning though, solid inners mean condensation, and i've had it dripping off my inner with the comp, and it's not a rarity, but i'd choose that all day over sleeping cold in the likes of the Notch/Moment etc, a bit of water can be wiped off with a J cloth, you can't easily make a cold tent warmer.

Turn your speakers down, a vid i made cooking in a laser comp at -10 on Kinder Scout, notice the frozen condensation on the inner, which was partly my fault for cooking inside with the fly closed, but it was way colder outside and i knew i could sort it with a cloth at sunrise.

You pay your money and make your choice, whatever you go with will be some compromise. :)

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Condensation. on 04/29/2012 21:20:01 MDT Print View

Sigh, all the best music was written by end of the 19th century.

Notch, like the Scarp, has roof vents so if you were to cook inside it has a good chance to disappear out the chimney you've formed. The roof vent will chimney more aggressively the greater the temperature gradient, and cooking is such an example. The Notch's roof vents are right above the vestibules.

Notch, like the Scarp, has 2 vestibules so you can cook the side away from the wind even if wind changes after pitching so you have a bit more chance to cook with the fly open to let steam go outside.

The LC and the photon don't have either such feature.

Scarp has solid inner option which includes solid roof so it will tend to allow condensation inside the inner more than the Notch's roof which is mesh even with solid lower walls.

I know I've put a fair bit of thought and reading the last months on my shelter, but over the last 5 years I've done more with my clothing gear, more cold-weather clothing, more Primaloft and more 800fp down, and I reckon I need less from my shelter now. Bitter cold cooking in the tent, I match that and raise you leaving an alcohol stove on simmer in the foot of my tent...brrrr.... cold....brrrr.... since then I made my tent smaller to trap more heat and bought more clothing. PHD has a fair bit of my $$$.

Cooking whilst keeping warm inside your sleeping bag, I got Paramo Torres Sleeves...

Edited by nigelhealy on 04/29/2012 21:22:29 MDT.

G Watson

Locale: Uk
aye on 04/29/2012 21:48:47 MDT Print View

In that video i was boiling water for a hot water bottle. :)
I'm not knocking Henry's tents, hell i just got rid of a TN to fund one, but bar the Scarp nothing he produces comes close to the laser comp as far as true lightweight twinned wall shelters go, in anything but settled weather, and imo, of course. :)

As i said before, Henry should look at the comp from a Moment perspective, or vice versa, and give me the beta for testing. :P

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Condensation. on 04/29/2012 21:51:28 MDT Print View

Yes, the poor TN didn't test great here because of condensation issues:

G Watson

Locale: Uk
Half a dozen or 6 on 04/29/2012 22:06:02 MDT Print View

It's like sleeping in an upside down bath (tub?) with the tap dripping mostly, but not running on you or your gear, and it's no big issue in my (2 year) experience, and i was just about to hit the buy button on a new one when i was offered the Scarp.

I've yet to use the Scarp in anger due to injury so i may well sell it and go back to old reliable, who knows. ?
One thing i do know, it wont fit in some of the places i've pitched the comp on the hill, so some old favourites are out. :/

Edit: I guess the question here is would i buy a Notch, a Moment or a photon, my answer would be go with either an Akto, a Laser Comp or a Scarp 1.

Edited by twiglegs on 04/29/2012 22:10:14 MDT.

Evan Brodfuehrer
thanks ya'll on 04/30/2012 05:34:56 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for all your input. I haven't seen either a laser comp or laser photon firsthand. So i don't know the difference in their fabrics. I do know the photon is about 7 ounces lighter than the comp, but other than that they are exactly the same.

It sounds like the photon would be better in colder weather than the notch. I have read a few reviews of people claiming that the photon holds a good amount of heat. One person said almost 20 degrees warmer inside the tent! Probably not a good thing in Pennsylvania where it can get upwards of 100 degrees and very humid.

I was very happy with my tarptent moment when I had it. I know henry is very talented and makes a great product. I think I have decided to try the laser comp though. I like the fact that it doesn't need trekking poles. I also think I will try to sell a bunch of my gear and also purchase the notch...but that wont be for a little while.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: thanks ya'll on 04/30/2012 08:51:27 MDT Print View

It is not just about how much insulation you can make, but how much of it you can puncture, being able to only open one side is a lot warmer than being able to open both sides. Surely your plan is obviously not to be sheltering in the Laser Comp in 100F humid? That would call for a mesh-only shelter just to keep wildlife out? In what conditions would you then switch to the Laser Comp? I'd suggest it has to be max 60F as you enter.

Is there any scientific results on the differences of internal temperature between

- dual-walled little-mesh-inner (e.g. Laser Comp, Scarp solid inner option, etc)
- dual-walled some-mesh-inner (e.g. Notch solid inner option)
- dual-walled little-mesh-inner (e.g. Notch mesh inner, Stratospare mesh inner, Rainbow with liner, etc)
- single-walled tarp (e.g. Contrail)

I know for sure it feels warmer the more enclosed as more of the warm breath is kept inside and also less windchill but, as I was thinking about this about 3 years ago, I'm guessing the weight of a bit more insulation in the sleeping bag is small relative to the extra weight the bag and the tent will have from accumulating damp from too-sealed a dual-walled shelter? Increased humidity from a more enclosed shelter will conduct heat away more easily. I did try to read forums to find out, after I got a warmer bag, and ended up leaning towards something like the Notch, with the part-solid-inner to block any strong breeze at the ground-fly gap without enclosing the shelter to trap moisture.

Anyhow, I got my USA Permanent Resident card last week so I'm staying in US for longer, I'm bringing all my outdoors kit to USA in September and will be hopefully experience the US cold first hand by end of the year, and I'll be a lost wiser, less theoretical on my part in a year. I have the concerns the Notch won't withstand harsh weather, i.e. stay up. My bags take me down to -20C and I got down gear which I can walk in -15C.

G Watson

Locale: Uk
Good choice. ; ) on 04/30/2012 22:46:22 MDT Print View

You'll love the laser Competition Evan, but don't subject it to too much wind if you want to sleep, or take ear plugs. :P

The best other tip i can offer, when you think you've got the perfect drum like tight pitch, tighten all the guys some more, i mean really tighten them, so you think the tent is going to go pop, but don't worry, it wont. :)

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Good choice. ; ) on 04/30/2012 23:05:45 MDT Print View

does the newer Laser Comp have the elasticated loops still to the pegs? If so it is impossible to get it truly tight.

There's videos online of it in wind, has been a benchmark popular tent for years for those wanting dual-walled lightweight with decent porch. Example:
and others too....

Its not a BAD tent, I've not sold mine, but I have bought a Notch new and a Scarp used and will try both and see which I sell. I might conclude.... can't improve on the Laser Comp!