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Tarptent comparison
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ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
Tarptent comparison on 07/20/2007 01:29:19 MDT Print View

I went through all the single and double wall tents and eliminated everything except the Tarptent Contrail and the Tarptent Virga 2.

Contrail is .68kg but needs a pole (I don't use trekking poles).

Virga 2 is .79kg which includes the necessary poles.

.11kg / 4oz difference.

I think I've read that the Contrail is not supported too well when using a tent pole (as opposed to trekking poles which seem more robust) so I guess my question is, is the Virga 2 a better choice as it is supported well by it's supplied poles?

I've never seen either tent so would like experienced advice.

Lapsley Hope
contrail on 07/20/2007 09:43:43 MDT Print View

Up until this year I never used trekking poles either but I now use them and I have bought a Contrail. I have been "revitalized" by the lightweight backpacking movement. I bought ALL new gear and am hitting the trails with complete enthusiasm now. I think the Contrail is one of the best single person single wall tents on the market and have been very happy with its performance. I also want to comment on the use of trekking poles. I would not go backpacking without them! They have already saved me from several potential hard falls and just add that certain confidence when negotiating tough terrain. I also enjoy the rhythm and cadence they add to hiking. That said, I'm sure you could find a lightweight pole that would be compatible to use with the Contrail. I added a line to the front to add in stability so no you don't have to use a trekking pole.

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Re: contrail on 07/20/2007 09:48:05 MDT Print View

Not being a hiking pole user I ordered the Contrail along with optional pole costing a mere $5.00. I have encountered no problems at all with the pole.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Tarptent comparison on 07/20/2007 13:50:08 MDT Print View


Weight wise, you're better off with the Contrail. My Virga 2 carry weight is about 28 oz. without the front poles. If you don't use trekking poles, you'll have to add two front Easton aluminum poles for stability in wind, adding 4 oz. and bringing your carry weight to about two pounds.

Mark Hurd
(markhurd) - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Tarptent comparison on 07/20/2007 19:19:26 MDT Print View

Another vote for the Contrail. I use mine with trekking poles. My favorite "Go To" tent for most condtions. Well ventilated, roomy and it offers several pitching options that the Virga lacks. As far as I can tell, Henry doesn't produce the Virga anymore. At least he doesn't have it on the TarpTent web site. I do own a Squall 2 which I think is similar to the Virga 2 but bigger, and it is a great tent, but the Contrail is definitely the better tent IMO.
P.S. My Contrail w/ floor, seam sealed, and with stakes (but without a pole) weighs 0.74 kg (26 oz).

Edited by markhurd on 07/20/2007 19:26:26 MDT.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Tarptent comparison on 07/21/2007 00:29:42 MDT Print View

Here's an item of information that's wholly unrelated to whether the Contrail is better than the Virga 2. Henry's website does still list the Virga 2 (floorless) as for sale, or more accurately "on sale" -- $144.50 marked down from $170 -- at the following link:,itemid&cols=1&&c=detail.htm&itemid=16

Found the above link to the Virga floorless on sale when I was checking the tyvek groundcloth for the Squall, and it was there that a link exists (like an easter egg) to the Virga floorless on sale.


Edited w/PS: But maybe the Virga link is an extinct link and no more Virgas are being sold by Henry.

Edited by JRScruggs on 07/21/2007 00:32:41 MDT.

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
Tarptent conclusion on 07/21/2007 02:49:35 MDT Print View

Thanks one and all.

I'm more of a 'go overseas and travel with some camping along the way' traveller so don't need trekking poles or at least they would seldom be used.

It's good to know the pole you can buy with/for the contrail does the job. I have liked the Contrail for some time but know nothing about the Virga2 except one vague photo.

I have been thinking about just using a bivvy sack on my next trip but a lightweight tent would still be a wonderful luxury to have. EVen if the weather turned bad for just one night it would be worthwhile carrying a tent for a month!

Henry Shires
(07100) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Tarptent comparison on 07/21/2007 13:22:24 MDT Print View

The Virga 2 is no longer made although we still have a couple or three sitting in a box. Sometime this fall/winter, I'll get organized enough to pull together a list of older/discontinued/scratched/dented/previously loved shelters we have sitting around and make them available.


Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Yes, Contrail on 07/23/2007 12:05:10 MDT Print View

I like the contrail a good deal too, have no experience with the Virga. The only caveats I have on the contrail (there's no perfect gear item):
- has a relatively large footprint for a solo tent. The upside of that is that you have a lot of room inside for all your gear. The downside is it takes a little more room to pitch. If that's ever a factor for you, FYI.
- Depending on how tall you are, I find that I can only sit upright if I first scoot my butt all the way to the entrance, then scoot back in order to lay down. Not a huge factor, but not optimal either for, say, changing clothes.
This becomes a particular factor when there's condensation inside the tent body, which of course is sometimes common on single-walled tents.

Despite the above, I like this tent a lot.

Brian Lewis

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
contrail on 07/24/2007 06:21:49 MDT Print View

Thanks Brian.
I'm willing to put up with a few limitations
if the tent is very light.
The contrail would seem luxurious compared to some
tents that are only about knee high
and impossible to sit up in at all.
Compared to a bivvy, the contrail would also
be a nice luxury for the bit of extra weight.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
bivy ==> contrail on 07/24/2007 10:21:30 MDT Print View

Yup, if you're coming from a bivy it's a dead win in covered space, but that's the real context in which you'll notice the bigger footprint. I used a bivy for a relatively short time and got accostumed to being able to tuck into some pretty small places. If bushes or rocks or whatever were close by, one can also put a tarp up over that stuff, but not so when you have contiguous tent floor space over a bigger area. Note that I'm assuming you're getting a contrail with a sewn-in floor.

Again, not a big deal; I mostly notice this when I'm hiking with other people and there's a little polite scramble to work out who can put up their tent where.