November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

Reader Reviews

Add your own review

MLD Trailstar

in Shelters - Tarps & Floorless

Average Rating
5.00 / 5 (7 reviews)

Display Avatars Sort By:
Barrie Grieve
( barrie_grieve )

Fife, Scotland
MLD Trailstar on 05/16/2009 07:22:02 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've mentioned on the gspot a couple of times, so here is my review.

Good points -

Size - Big enough for 2x 6+ footers and packs and cooking (with ventilation).
Weight - 650g
Ease of pitch - first time pitched in under 3 min in high winds (Youtube MLD Trailstar)
Versatile - Can be pitched high or low, with or without a door.
Storm resistant - UK met office reported 40mph winds gusting to 50mph for the location of pitch (see above video).
Hanging loops - x5 for bug netting, torch...

Bad points -

Toughness - how long the seams will last under the harsh Scottish weather is a small worry, if they burst they should be field repairable, we'll see.

I have now used it 4 times - 3 over nighters and a long weekend plan to use it this summer for the Cape Wrath trail (Durness to Ullapool)
I have'nt had any problems with condensation, I've had more in a double wall tent.

Shop Versatile products at GearBuyer
Richard DeLong
( Legkohod )

Eastern Europe / Caucasus
The most versatile shelter I can think of on 04/07/2010 08:10:28 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

My Trailstar weighs 468 grams, not 650 g as the previous poster stated. That's with the included linelocks and seam-sealing, but without the included rope for tie-outs. You could cut off the 10 linelocks for a savings of 12 grams, also allowing you to use thinner line (the included rope is quite heavy), but I think most people would prefer the convenient linelocks.

Set-up is easy, perhaps easier than your standard catenary tarp. There are a variety of pitching options, each of which provides you with headroom where your head is. Headroom is quite good even when each of the 5 corners is close to the ground and just one midpoint is elevated to provide an entrance. This pitch provides terrific stormproofness. 9'' Easton stakes are recommended for the corners.

Typically, I pitch the Trailstar as high as possible for maximum room. It is really spacious. 4 people can crowd under it if necessary. A couple can share space either to one side of the center pole or in the center, using two long poles lashed together to form the center with a /\ shape.

At least one of the internal clips always ends up being right where you need it to hang a flashlight or bug net.

For winter use or "for fun," you can create a pyramid shape by connecting two adjacent corners, as I have discussed elsewhere. It works! But probably not for someone as tall as me — 6'3''.

I think that with the 5-pointed pyramid shape Ron Bell stumbled on a great design find. I can't think of anything I would change in the design. Fabric is utilized with greater effectiveness (i.e. you don't have tons of "headroom" above your feet, where you don't need it) than in a 10x10 tarp of slightly greater weight, stormworthiness is better, and pitching is easier.

I should add that I did a ton of calculations on the dimensions and pitches before ordering the tarp, partly because I am a gear nerd, partly because I am 6'3''. The Trailstar is roughly 10.5 feet in maximum length.


I have used this tarp over 20 nights and continue to really like it. Set-up requires a bit of creativity and visualization but is quite quick. I like having headroom where I need it to sit up, not at the entrance of the tarp. The wind resistance is superb and one of its best qualities, along with excellent rain precipitation from nearly all sides and suitability for moderate winter conditions.

Edited by Legkohod on 01/27/2011 04:54:04 MST.

David Chenault
( DaveC - M )

Crown of the Continent
A smart, versatile, well executed design on 04/11/2010 10:39:07 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

In summary: Aside from a bivy sack for good weather and race pace endeavors, I've sold off the rest of my shelters. It's a great cross of a pyramid and a tarp.

Finished weight, seam sealed and with 40' of the included guy line is 19 oz.

Construction is excellent. No issues there.

The design is great and very adaptable. The pitch can be higher, rommier, and more airy, or low and quite windproof. It can be easily pitched with trekking poles, paddles, or (because of the gridstop peak reinforcement) a handy branch. During bad weather I guy up the midpoint of one of the panels as a door, and do so quite close to a thick tree. With this arrangment and the rest of the edges flush with the ground I've enjoyed snug nights of sleep during 30 mph winds, rain, snow, and combinations of all three.

Even pitched to the ground as per above, there is plenty of room for two 6' guys and all their gear. With an angled pole or a rope suspension, three would fit without problem.

The linelocs are very nice. The weight and complexity are more than made up for by the ease of use they afford.

Highly recommended.

7.2010 adden.: I continue to be impressed by this shelter. Provided that it is solidly staked out, it will stand up to some serious wind. Not only stand up, but hold steady with remarkably little flap or movement. It makes for a very restful night of sleep during bad weather.

12.2010 adden.: I finally found the limit of the TS w/r/t wind. Not in the design, nor the fabric or tieout strength, but in the quality of the anchors. I camped on a rock beaches in Glacier NP, with plenty of fetch off the lake to get 60+ mph gusts. Once I got all the tie outs set and equalized the shelter held fine, but until then some of the anchors would get uprooted under strong gusts. Conclusion: get the anchors solid and this thing can take serious (60+ mph) wind.

Edited by DaveC on 12/06/2010 20:53:56 MST.

Shop Glacier products at GearBuyer
Michael Schwartz
( greenwalk )

PA & Ireland
Trailstar on 11/24/2010 12:58:08 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I love the Trailstar!, which I used for 40 days on a solo walk on the HRP (Pyrenees) this summer. Easy to pitch, sturdy, luxurious space, reliable .... Kudos to Ron!

It was fantastic but a bit too big for a solo hiker (my partner backed out at the last minute and I had my heart set on using the Trailstar), yet I love the simple, sturdy design, and the luxurious space of this shaped tarp. Read the other reviews and comments in the forums. My highest recommendation.

Gordon Green
( nodrog )

A fantastic shelter - Scotland proof! on 06/01/2011 09:36:51 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've just used the Trailstar for a two week backpacking trip across Scotland - TGO Challenge (from the West coast to the East Coast).
It rained every day and the winds were strong (gusting up to 120 mph on one day).
There was only one day when I could not sleep. That was at a high camp where the strong winds were swirling around and the rain was heavy. My fear was that the stakes would come out (I triple staked on poor ground). The Trailstar took it all and stayed up despite being shaken and stired all night long.
I can only echo the other comments. The Trailstar is spacious and more than capable of coping with rain and winds that are common in Scotland. The winged vampires - Midges - were too scared to come out in the winds and rain, but I was using a bivvy bag with an integral bug net just in case.
This was a real test in real Scottish weather and the Trailstar never let me down.
A superb shelter. A high five!

Fred eric
( Fre49 )

France, vallée de la Loire
great two people shelter on 09/04/2011 08:03:18 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

After some week end uses ill give it a 5 as a 2 adults plus 4 year old son shelter.
With a ground cloth and stakes i am at about 550+150+100= 800g for 2 1/2 people.

I like the simplicity , no vents, no zipper etc..
Ill keep the linerlocs though, i find them really useful for winter hiking with buried anchoring points.

It can be used as a nearly fully enclosed shelter or as a very open one.

For a solo shelter i will give only a 4 as it starts to be heavy.
I think i would usualy trade some confort / space for some weight reducing.
I will use more my cuben poncho tarp or my kifaru paratarp for mild conditions when i hike alone.
But for exemple next year for a 2 weeks hike in Scotland, ill definitly use it.

Kyle Meyer
( kylemeyer )

Portland, OR
Best tarp that exists on 01/18/2012 11:43:13 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Trailstar in the snow on the Benson Plateau in Oregon

I've now had the Trailstar out over thirty nights in the Pacific Northwest and feel comfortable providing my thoughts on it. Simply put, this is the best damned shelter you can buy for most purposes. Where I backpack, it rains often and when it's not raining it's moist. Being able to cook and hang out under a shelter is a necessity, and the Trailstar offers this in a simple, lightweight package. It's also a great transitional tarp to help your friends go lighter—friends with tents feel comfortable under the Trailstar because it is mostly enclosed, while still giving them a taste of the benefits of tarp camping.

The Trailstar has held up well under moderate snow loads, held up well in high winds, held up well in rain storms, and is generally awesome. Nothing to break, nothing to fiddle with.

Edited by kylemeyer on 01/18/2012 11:46:00 MST.

Shop Benson, Northwest, Pacific products at GearBuyer

Add your own review