Performance Appraisal of the Tarptent Moment

A quality, lightweight shelter that's easy to assemble, but does a condensation issue leave us all wet?

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Moment is a quality lightweight tent, recommended for long distance backpacking. It is fairly light, simple, and takes up little space. A lightweight tarp is lighter and easier to pack, of course, but it does not provide the comfort and convenience that comes with netting as well as poles and stakes that make for a speedy set-up. Note also that the Moment is not a sturdy structure for use in exposed windy terrain, but is intended for laying down the miles on lengthy treks where shelter is available.

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by Chris Murphy |

Introduction

Tarptent, a California based company, manufactures the Moment. It is a simple tent with flooring, netting, and one entrance. It also includes one pole and two stakes. The entrance to the tent can be rolled back and secured with two nylon ribbons as seen in Figure 1.

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 1
Figure 1. Moment with 6'2" User

When the door is closed, it forms the vestibule where gear can be stored. The vestibule area has ample room at 6.6 ft2 (see Figs. 2-3). Also, there is a plastic clasp that can be secured that prevents the door from unzipping (see Fig. 2).

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 2
Figure 2. Vestibule Shot 1 and Plastic Zipper Clasp

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 3
Figure 3. Vestibule Shot 2

At the ends of the tent are two A-frames that are plastic rod housed sheaths composed of nylon-like material. Attached to the A-frames is a system of yellow cords. The cords are secured with stakes and then can be used to tension or loosen the tent with a plastic cleat (see Fig. 14). The sleeping area is surrounded by netting and is accessed through a large half-circle door. The netting does not droop around the user because it is secured to the tarp as can be seen in Figure 1. Below these connection points are two mesh pockets. The flooring inside the netting is held flush to the ground with a Velcro patch (see Fig. 11). The area in the netting is spacious with ample room for a 6’2” individual (see Fig. 1). At the peak of the roof are two vents and plastic clips attached to nylon ribbons that can be used to jury-rig an attic.

Specifications

Categories Tarptent Moment
Weight (lbm) 1.78125
Cost $215
Tent Material Ripstop nylon impregnated with silicone
Stake Material Easton aluminum 7075-T9
Pole Material Easton aluminum
Dimensions (in) (LxWxH) 84 x 42 (center) x 40 (20-inch width at ends)
Vestibule Area (ft2) 6.6
Sleeps 1
Temperature Three-season

Quantitative Gear Rating

In order to provide a better idea about how the Moment stacks up against other products on the market, it was compared with another common and popular tent, the 2009 Black Diamond First Light. Specifications for the First Light are listed below.

Categories BD First Light
Weight (lbm) 3.3125
Cost $320
Tent Material EPIC by Nextec Fabric
Stake Material Aluminum
Pole Material DAC Featherlite poles
Dimensions (in)
(LxWxH) 82 x 48 x 42
Vestibule Area (ft2) 9
Sleeps 2
Temperature Four-season
(Note: For further details on EPIC see: http://www.nextec.com/nextec_faq.html) 

The Moment and the First Light were evaluated according to ten specific items critical to quality (CTQ). Each CTQ was assigned an importance value. Importance values are from 1 to 3, where 1 indicates low importance and 3 indicates high importance. Then the Moment and the First Light were rated on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 indicates poor and 5 indicates excellent. The rating was then multiplied by the importance, thereby yielding a final score. The importance, ratings, and scores for the Moment and the First Light are presented below.

Moment Performance Appraisal   
  CTQ Importance (1-3) Rating (1-5) Score (1-15)
1 Weight 3 4 12
2 Durability 2 3 6
3 Breathability 2 2 4
4 Water Resistance 3 4 12
5 Ease of Assembly 2 5 10
6 Vestibule Area 2 3 6
7 Tent Space 3 4 12
8 Appearance 1 4 4
9 Packability 3 5 15
10 Cost 3 3 9
11 Normalized Total NA NA 11.25
Tent Comparison: Black Diamond First Light   
  CTQ Importance (1-3) Rating (1-5) Score (1-15)
1 Weight 3 2 6
2 Durability 2 4 8
3 Breathability 2 4 8
4 Water Resistance 3 3 9
5 Ease of Assembly 2 2 4
6 Vestibule Area 2 4 8
7 Tent Space 3 4 12
8 Appearance 1 4 4
9 Packability 3 3 9
9 Cost 3 2 6
10 Normalized Total NA NA 9.25

The scores for the Moment and the First Light are presented in a Pareto chart to aid in comparison (see Fig. 4).

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 4
Figure 4. Score Comparison between the Moment and First Light

Analysis and Testing

Analysis

The rating values assigned to each CTQ for the Moment were formulated while using the Moment in the November of 2009 and April of 2010. Presented below is the qualitative reasoning for the ratings assigned. The testing details are provided later on in this section.

  • Weight - The Moment weighed 1.78 lbs. This is not super light, but it is fairly light and easy to pack so it received a rating of 5.
  • Durability – Nothing on the Moment has failed as of yet. However as discussed in the qualitative review there were some components that seemed flimsy, so it received an average rating of 3.
  • Breathability – There is no breathability with silicone impregnated rip-stop nylon. However there were vents that alleviated condensation to some degree, so a below average rating of 2 was given.
  • Water Resistance – The Moment with silicone impregnated rip-stop nylon is completely waterproof, thus a high rating of 5.
  • Ease of Assembly – The Moment is extremely easy to assemble as evidenced by my experience setting up while intoxicated, in the dark, late at night without instructions. 5
  • Vestibule Area – The Moment provides 6.6 ft2 of vestibule area. This is ample room for a pack and boots. A little more room is nice, but it is currently satisfactory. 3
  • Tent Space – There is ample room in the Moment – even for my 6’2” compadres. Therefore an above average rating of 4 was given.
  • Appearance – The Moment is sleek, stylish, and vaguely aerodynamic like some futuristic rocket pod to transport homo-sapiens between distant galaxies. 4
  • Packability – The size of a pole bag and half the weight. Again the Moment is a joy to slip into a pack. Bam. Score of 5.
  • Cost – The Moment costs approximately $215.00. This is a modest sum that compares favorably to the $315.00 for the First Light. $215 is not a steal, but it is a decent price for an excellent product. 3

Testing

Testing was performed in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness and the Gravelly Mountains. The two primary tests were a two-night hunting trip in the Gravelly Mountains (estimated mileage: fifteen miles), and a two-day twenty-six-mile trip up the Selway River.

Moment Performance Appraisal    
Date Morning Temp (deg F) Evening Temp (deg F) Weather Notes
4/1/10 ? 42 Partly cloudy with winds 5-10 mph Evening - Set the Moment up again. Got compliments all around. Also my tent bag is the size of the pole bag for the Hubba Hubba my buddy packed in.
4/2/10 32 ? Gray and windy with light rain sprinkling Morning - Again, a truck load of condensation on the outside.
11/6/09 ? 45 Cold and cloudy with about 1 inch of snowfall Evening - First Moment set-up in the dark at hunting camp. Surprisingly easy. Happily surprised.
11/7/09 30.9 20 Cold and cloudy with about 3 inches of snowfall Morning - Condensation. Definitely a three-season tent. Glad to have a 0 deg F bag.
11/8/09 27.3 ? Cold and clear Morning - Lots of condensation. The Moment is a snow cone. Again glad to have a 0 deg F bag.

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 5
Figure 5. Selway River April 2010

What I Disliked

The condensation. And the condensation. And the condensation... And the condensation. The Moment is made of silicone impregnated rip-stop nylon so it keeps the rain out, but... imagine wearing a full body silicone suit and picture how the sweat would pour off the body in a get-up like that. That actual volume of sweat is hard to quantify, but let’s say it would fill a Nalgene bottle. The same volume of condensation was on the Moment come morning time. There are two vents at the top of the tent that alleviate condensation build up, but even with the vents open, the condensation is still substantial (see Fig. 6). Note that when the vents are open, you need to make sure to connect the internal plastic hooks shown in Figure 6 (rightmost photo). If the hooks are not connected, a Velcro strip external to the vent will catch and re-seal the vent. Figure 7 illustrates how easily the Velcro strip could re-seal a vent.

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 6
Figure 6. Vent 1 & 2

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 7
Figure 7. Closed Vent and Open Vent

The condensation discussion is slightly exaggerated, but the Moment does hold a lot of condensation. After one night of camping in cool weather with minimal wind and no rain there was enough condensation on the Moment to make a sizeable snowball, (see Fig. 8). This is great for that early morning snowball fight that ignites unparalleled affection in camping compadres worth their snuff, but not so great for packing into a stuff sack. Especially when it is about 32 F outside and your hands freeze up into unfeeling nubs trying to jam a tarp into a stuff sack that's the diameter of a pole bag.

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 8
Figure 8. Condensation Snowball

Other than the condensation issue however, the Moment is a quality product. Some of the components on the Moment do seem too flimsy for backpacking gear, but they have not failed as of yet, and I am excited to continue using the Moment this coming summer and fall - and for however long the Moment holds together. The three items that seem especially flimsy are the tent stakes, the elastic cords that connect the tent floor to the two small A-frames at either end of the tent, and the Velcro strap that holds the floor of the tent flush to the ground.

The tent stakes are lightweight aluminum stakes shaped like knitting needles. Upon first inspection they seemed rugged sturdy items. The size was misleading. Both of the stakes bent the very first time they were driven into the fall Montana ground (see Fig. 9).

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 9
Figure 9. Bent Tent Stakes

This is not a big deal, since all tent spikes bend. In this case, however, it was surprising because the size and knitting needle shape seemed to indicate that here at last was a stake design that would not conform to that bent shape that all stakes eventually achieve.

The Moment has, for lack of better term, two small A-frames at either end of the tent (see Fig. 10).

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 10
Figure 10. A-frame and Elastic Cord with Bowline

These A-frames are lightweight plastic tubes housed in sheaths made of a nylon-like material. The A-frames elevate the far ends of the tent and they stretch out the tent flooring. The floor of the tent has elastic ties extending from each corner to connect to the base of the A-frames (see Fig. 10 (rightmost photo)). As shown in Figure 10, the elastic cords are tied, with a bowline, to the base of the A-frames. Since the cords are elastic, the bowline easily unravels. The bowline is easy to re-tie, but re-tying the bowlines at set-up time can be bothersome.

In actuality this detail is not so much flimsy as just pesky, and it also incites a sense of low quality - admittedly this sense could be spurious. A tent from, say, Black Diamond would most likely have some plastic clasp or other doo-dad to keep the elastic tie from detaching from the A-frames. And so now, prejudiced by this standard, one expects to see quality tents with doo-dads that keep elastic cords in place. Now whether or not doo-dads indicates high quality is debatable, considering that they could snap, thereby possibly making it difficult or impossible to reconnect the elastic cord. It is perhaps preferable to have elastic cords that simply tie off because they are easy to re-attach. Most likely the Moment designers recognize this. So after re-considering, this detail, although seemingly flimsy and indicative of low quality, is more likely the result of a commitment to simple design that in truth is of higher quality in light of the old adage “keep it simple.”

The Velcro strap that holds the tent flooring flush is located on the same side as the entrance (see Fig. 11).

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 11
Figure 11. Velcro Flooring Strap

When I first rolled into the tent, I fully expected the Velcro to detach after the first few minutes rustling around in my bag. Then the rest of the night I would have an ever-diminishing tent space. This was not the case. The Velcro held fast and I rested comfortably in a spacious dwelling all night. Granted I was not on a ridge line or making a summit attempt where heavy winds would have surely uprooted the Velcro strap and battered the Moment until it lay over me like a crumpled tarp you’d find in the back of an old shed. But the Moment is not designed for summit attempts. It is made for lightweight backpacking trips where a skilled user selects sheltered campsites that make for enjoyable camping.

Tarptent does offer a second pole to improve the structural integrity of the Moment (see Fig. 12).

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 12
Figure 12. Moment with Second Pole (http://www.tarptent.com/moment.html)

However I was not issued this secondary pole and therefore cannot comment on how it would affect the Moment's performance. From Figure 12 though, it seems unlikely that the second pole would do much to improve the performance of the Moment when it comes to heavy winds and/or serious summit bids.

What I liked

I liked everything about the Moment - except the condensation, that is. The features that really stand out are:

  • The weight
  • The packability
  • The ease of assembly
  • The plastic tensioning clasps/cleats

The Moment weighs in at 1.78 lbs and, when packed in its stuff sack, it is approximately the same volume as a pole bag (see Fig. 13).

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 13
Figure 13. Moment Tent in Stuff Sack


However, it is much lighter than a pole bag, making it is a pleasure to hoist up and slip into a pack. The actual volume of the stuffed tent, with a diameter of ~3 inches and a length of ~16.5 inches, is ~2 quarts. The BD First Light packed in its stuff sack is about two times the size of the Moment, with a volume of ~4 quarts, and it is twice as heavy.

The Moment is also extremely easy to assemble. There are two stakes, one pole and one tent sleeve. I first used the Moment while hunting in the Gravelly Mountain range in Montana. I arrived at camp near dusk, and I immediately headed out to scout for critters. When dark came I stumbled back to camp and spent several hours around a fire with friends and a bottle of whiskey. It was around 11:00 p.m. when I finally endeavored to set up the Moment. I pulled out the stuff sack, noticed I had lost the set-up instructions and then bragged to my friends, “Time for some gonzo gear testing.”

Fortunately the instructions were unnecessary. It’s been said that a well engineered product does not need instructions, and I’d like to add to that: an extremely well engineered product does not need to supply directions to people who have been enjoying adult beverages. The Moment is just this. Cheerfully impaired, cold, and by the light of the fire (my headlight batteries were long dead) I successfully erected the Moment in five to ten minutes. Truthfully it probably took less than five minutes, but I added a few extra minutes since my cognitive abilities were somewhat dulled.

To set up the Moment first insert the pole in the tent sleeve. Then insert one stake through the yellow loop at one end of the Moment (see Fig. 10). Complete the set-up by applying tension on the other end of the tent until it stands erect and then insert the second stake into the second yellow loop. To increase or decrease tent tension push or pull on the plastic tension clasps as illustrated in Figure 14.

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 14
Figure 14. Tensioning and Loosening the Moment Ex. 1

These clasps are quality. They don’t catch or hang up, and it is not necessary to hold the loose end of the cord at a funky angle to tighten and loosen, like when raising blinds. It is a simple, functional design. Tent tension can also be adjusted with buckles at the base of the pole (see Fig. 15).

Tarptent Moment Performance Appraisal - 15
Figure 15. Tension Buckle at base of Pole

Final Comments

The Moment is a quality lightweight tent. It is fairly light, simple, and takes up little space. A lightweight tarp is lighter and easier to pack, of course, but does not provide the comfort and convenience that comes with netting as well as poles and stakes that make for a speedy set-up. In closing, it is possible to go lighter, but if you’re willing to put up with 28.5 ounces (actual weight of the Moment) the Moment is worth it. Note also that it is not a sturdy structure for use in exposed windy terrain, but is intended for laying down the miles on lengthy treks where sheltered sites are available.

The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and the author/BPL has returned or will return this product to the manufacturer upon completion of the review. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Performance Appraisal of the Tarptent Moment," by Chris Murphy. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/tarptent_moment_performance_appraisal.html, 2010-07-27 00:05:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Performance Appraisal of the Tarptent Moment


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Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Thanks! on 09/07/2012 18:55:57 MDT Print View

Thanks for that tip, and I learned several more tricks from your video.

Henry should link to it!

Here's a shorter URL:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSTJMdjOql4

Edited by Rex on 09/07/2012 18:56:27 MDT.

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
still going strong on 02/08/2013 13:20:28 MST Print View

I used the Tarptent Moment on a couple of overnight to week long trips last year (2012), summer through fall, in the northern and central Sierra, and I gotta say I'm still really happy with it and I'm looking forward to using it again this year.



Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: still going strong on 02/08/2013 13:47:32 MST Print View

I like that first picture. Might come in handy the next time someone says, "Just give me half a moment."

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
half a moment on 02/08/2013 15:46:48 MST Print View

Ha, I never noticed that. I think the fly door is tied back and I'm really good at taking a terrible photo.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Performance Appraisal of the Tarptent Moment on 02/08/2013 18:55:46 MST Print View

Alex
"I'm really good at taking a terrible photo."
Not at all. That second shot reminds me of why I like hiking (when I get the chance)
I do views, not distance/weights/speed...
Why did you change the end tie outs ?

(thanks for the reply. Makes sense)

Edited by Franco on 02/09/2013 15:25:11 MST.

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
girth on 02/09/2013 00:40:14 MST Print View

I switched the lines partly because after a season of stacking rocks on the ends in high winds the lines were beginning to abraid from rubbing against the sharp rocks and needed to be replaced. Since I was replacing the lines anyways, I wanted to sideline the slipping problems that I've experienced in pulsing winds.
I swapped the guylines on the ends with ones that offered a little more bite in the linelocs. I believe they're under 3mm thick, so not much thicker than the stock lines, but the outter sheathing is not as slick and holds much better.