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Shangri-La 2 or MLD Trailstar?
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Matt Keenan

Locale: In the Mountains in the clouds
Shangri-La 2 or MLD Trailstar? on 01/21/2013 18:54:00 MST Print View

I've been trying to decide on a new shelter that I could use for two, but is still light enough to take on solo trips. I've narrowed it down to either to Golite's Shangri-La 2 or Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar, I like how they both allow for the addition net tents and the large amount of space they offer for the weight. The specs and weather worthiness seem to be the same from what I've read. So my question is are there any distinct advantages to one over the other? And of course feel free to offer up suggestions for other (possible lighter) shelters similar to these, your help will be much appreciated and thank you for your time.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Trailstar v. SL2 on 01/21/2013 19:10:23 MST Print View

In summary, the SL2 is easier to pitch, is better in the snow, but significantly less good in the wind. More detailed thoughts:

I've owned and sold both, and instead have a heavily modified Megalight which I like best of all.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
SL2, Trailstar, or maybe... on 01/21/2013 19:11:43 MST Print View

I've had both of these shelters, so I thought I'd chime in with my thoughts:

The SL2 is super easy to pitch and a nice shelter for one, but I honestly found it crowded for 2. In contrast, the Trailstar was incredibly roomy, but a little more finicky to pitch. I found it difficult to really pin all edges to the ground to prevent wind from seeping in.

In the end, I ended up getting an MLD speedmid. I find that it splits the difference between mid and trailstar quite well, and fits two easily. It is also customizable (add bug netting, an innernet, panel tie-out points, etc).

I think it is hard to beat any of the pyramid-style tarps from MLD, whether it be the Trailstar or one of their mids.

Best of luck!

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Shangri-La 2 or MLD Trailstar? on 01/21/2013 19:11:57 MST Print View

I prefer the Trailstar, but both are great 2 person shelter options. The Trailstar has a ample amount of usable floor space, it really is expansive underneath with the sides raised up a few inches from the ground. If you plan to use the Trailstar with two people, working around the single center pole is a little easier than working around the two poles necessary for the Golite SL2. The SL2 is also a "one trick" pony as far as pitch goes, whereas the Trailstar (*in silnylon) has a greater amount of flexibility with the pitch.

Here's some info on both from someone who has owned and used both rather extensively. Of course shelters, or any gear for that matter, is highly subjective and dependent on your needs and preferences.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Shangri-La 2 or MLD Trailstar? on 01/21/2013 19:51:40 MST Print View

When pitched low, especially with all 5 sides to the ground, the Trailstar will handle a lot. I'm not sure if there's another tarp shelter that is as storm worthy. However, you do lose head room with a low pitch.

If my wife would use a bug bivy (she refuses and therefore we have to use our Double Rainbow) , the trailstar would be my year-round shelter. I really like pitching it high in the summer for breezes and views, not to mention cavernous space.

As Eugene said, the SL 2 is what it is. Single configuration, but easier to set up. The trailstar is more adaptable, but more finicky.

Matt Keenan

Locale: In the Mountains in the clouds
Thank you all! on 01/21/2013 21:51:10 MST Print View

Thanks guys for all your insight, this was my first post and I already feel like I've gotten my moneys worth! I've decided on the trailstar because of its versatility, ability to handle the wind, and MLD's outstanding reputation. I'll be poking around the gearswap forum looking for one these or a speedmid (thanks for the suggestion Aaron) hopefully I'll get lucky

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Re: Re: Shangri-La 2 or MLD Trailstar? on 01/21/2013 21:55:34 MST Print View

I had a Trailstar and now have an SL2 which will probably be on the sale block soon. Most of the time I like the SL2, but when weather gets bad and you're trying to do anything other than sleep inside, it's just too tight for 2. It'll probably be replaced by a simple mid (might try to MYOG one...).

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Shangri-La 2 or MLD Trailstar? on 01/21/2013 22:39:50 MST Print View


Send me a PM about a Trailstar.


Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Megalight mods? on 01/22/2013 03:16:31 MST Print View

Hi Dave,

Care to share what mods you have made to your Megalight. I have one that I have almost trashed, and am looking at what to replace it with. I wondered about the SL-5, and I'm looking for an SL-2 for two up trips with my 13 year old.

I love the Megalight, but the peak on mine has blown out twice and some of the seams have had to be repaired where they have abraded on interior snow walls in winter. We have hammered it pretty hard though, and it was a great shelter for the four of us when the kids were younger.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Megalight mods on 01/22/2013 07:26:01 MST Print View

I replaced all the bottom stake points with linelocs, added guypoints to all the seams mid-panel (i.e. 8 in total), and added a stove jack for running a wood stove.

The stove jack is specialized, but the linelocs make life easier regardless of circumstances, and the midpanel guys improve snow loading a lot.

Carl Umland
(chumland) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Crest Trail, mostly
"Shangri-La 2 or MLD Trailstar?" on 01/22/2013 12:25:24 MST Print View

While I don't have or have ever used the Trailstar, I did own a Duomid and found it to be too small for the two of us. I've found that my Golite SL-2 is a great 2 person lightweight, easy pitch, roomy and affordable shelter. I had John at Bearpaw Wilderness add some noseeum netting in a skirt and zippered door. I also had him add sidewall midpanel tie outs. The use of the tieouts used with 1/8th" black schockcord loops increases the room of the SL-2 greatly and keeps proper tension avoiding wet sylnylon sag. Also I've found that larger stronger stakes on the side middle, like the MSR snow stake, improves the side wind resistance and can be used with the midpanel tieouts.

Edited by chumland on 01/22/2013 12:28:50 MST.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: "Shangri-La 2 or MLD Trailstar?" on 01/22/2013 12:40:13 MST Print View

I have had both and prefer the SL2. More usable space, better snow load, and easier to pitch. Mine has the side panel tie outs which greatly benefit the wind resistance. Here is a video of an SL2 without the side panel tie outs. Did just fine:

Martin Clark
(Marty_Mcfly) - F

Locale: Southeast US
My 2 cents on 01/22/2013 19:21:13 MST Print View

For what its worth I'm normally a Tarp camper and prefer tarps in 90% of conditions. For the 10 percent of the time that I need something else, I need a fully enclosed shelter than can handle wind/rain/snow/ and has easy set up for when conditions are bad, and ample interior space.

I took my SL-2 out for the first time and was BLOWN AWAY by how easy it was to set up, and to use. I only used the six main stake out points and didn't have to use any of the guy out points. For a reference point here is a link to my flickr photos that show my FIRST PITCH using this shelter. Winds flared from 10-20 MPH and the shelter stood strong all night. I used with Black Diamond Z poles at 130cm with ample clearance above ground to prevent condensation. It was a perfect set up~!

John West
(skyzo) - F

Locale: Borah Gear
Re: My 2 cents on 01/23/2013 10:32:01 MST Print View

I've used both, and from what I've found (and it seems the general consensus is here) is that while SL2 is a lot easier to pitch, it doesn't handle as well in high winds as the Trailstar does.
With the Trailstar design, I've seen it get hammered by 25mph+ winds when I was in Wyoming, and it barely even moved. It takes awhile to adjust the pegs around to get the perfect pitch, but once you do, its very stable.

Benjamin Auer
Stratospire 1 or 2 on 01/23/2013 11:13:25 MST Print View

Why not try the Tarptent stratospire 1 or 2. I have the 2 and am getting the 1 because I like the 2 so much. The 2 has a removable inner and a huge amount of space for 2. With the fly and inner it comes to 42 oz on my scale and the 1 is supposed to be about 7 ounces lighter while still providing a large amount of space. Without the inner both provide a huge amount of space. In terms of storm worthiness I think the stratospire is much better than the shangri-la 2. The trailstar might be a little better but I think the stratospire is plenty storm worthy (there is a youtube video of a stratospire in some pretty strong winds) and will be more spacious because of the dual offset poles

Edited by mankind117 on 01/23/2013 11:16:34 MST.