User Review: Stansport Star-Lite 2
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $53
Low cost mesh covered, bathtub bottom, 2-man tent with fly. Same design as the Kelty Salida 2 but bigger, and only weighs one pound more.
- Actual two-man tent
- Not a con, but is a two-man tent, trail weight 5.5 lbs
- No center loft, no big deal
After having searched for months, I finally settled on the Stansport Starlite II camping tent. I was looking for a lightweight, cost effective, hiking tent that was big enough for me and all my gear inside. I eventually found what I was looking for, the Stansport Starlite II ($50) because it resembled the Kelty Salida II ($159) camping tent that was Backpacker Magazine's tent of the year for 2011.
I was also attracted to the Starlite II because it is over $100 dollars cheaper. Yes, that is over $100 dollars cheaper! While it weighs just over one pound more than the Kelty Salida II, the reason for the extra weight is from two obvious reasons:
- The Starlite II uses 13 inch fiberglass poles with ferrules while the Salida uses DAC press fit aluminum poles. (The Starlite II shorter pole sections make the poles more rigid, and thus stronger.)
- The Starlite is MUCH bigger — it is actually 90 inches in length. That is 2 inches longer than the Salida II is rated at, but all reviews state that the Salida II is much smaller than the 88 inches it is advertised at. The Starlite II is also 11 inches wider. Yes, I said "11" inches wider. The Starlite is actually large enough to be a two-man tent as advertised. The Salida II is really only a one-man tent.
How could I pass up a bigger tent that is over $100 dollars cheaper? Well I could not so I purchased it.
Disclaimer: Please remember that you need to check each piece of equipment after purchase, and prior to taking it out to use, this is only common sense. You need to check for fit, function, defects, broken parts, etc. This is especially true with equipment that is on the low end of the market. This is not a slam, but many times the low end equipment does not have strong quality control. That being said, I have read MANY reviews from high end equipment that was faulty in some way. Just remember, the low end items can be wonderful and easy on the wallet, but be sure to check the item out before using it so any problems can be fixed or remedied by the companies customer service department. The only issue I had with this tent upon purchase was that the fly had all the corner elastic stake out cords double looped except one corner. Upon setting the tent up I noticed that on corner of the fly did not pull down as far as the others. After a short investigation the problem was discovered and easily rectified. I just untied the cord, doubled looped it, re-tied it, and it pulled the corner low to the ground just like the rest. I also recommend seam sealing and waterproofing every new tent prior to use to ensure it stays water tight.
Update and review:
I am an experienced camper so I have some knowledge and experience. I also literally spent dozens of hours doing research on all the popular tents. My goal was to then find the same thing as the pricey popular tents at an economical price, and that is exactly what I did when I found the Stansport Starlite II.
As you saw I initially rated the tent on its size and price compared to the Kelty Salida II to show a cheaper and bigger alternative and nothing more. I now have used this tent on two different three-day and two-night trips and it is wonderful.
On one of the trips there were thunderstorm and tornado warnings out and the winds were a steady 25 to 30 miles and hour with gusts to over 40 and the tent held up perfectly except on one occasion where the wind pulled a stake out of the very soft ground. I was able to go out and push it into the ground further and it held thereafter.
On the other trip the weather was warm so I set up the tent and did not put on the fly. I had a beautiful view of the full moon and all the stars. The mesh kept out all the misquotes and bugs.
I realized that the tent is so roomy that I can lay with my feet at one end of the tent and lay flat while reaching my arms out as far as I can and I cannot touch the other end of the tent and I am 6' 1''. I also have plenty of room for my 75-liter High Sierra pack, and any items that I take out of the pack. I also have plenty of room for a large size Therm-a-rest BaseCamp model self inflating mattress and still have room to move around despite the mat being 78"x25".
I did test the tent and fly prior to use for being waterproof which it was. But as is my habit, I retreated both the fly and washtub bottom of the tent as additional protection. I am looking forward to taking each of my daughters out on a one day and one night hike while using this tent. There will be plenty of room for my large Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp and their large Therm-a-Rest TrailPro, large size, self inflating sleeping pad. Even after taking up all that room with the sleeping pads there will still be room to spare at one end for both our packs, 75 and 30 liter bags, and all our personal items.
My only suggestion is if someone buys this tent is to set it up and mark the material sleeves so you can clearly know where to slide each of the two crisscrossing fiberglass poles to next since it is a little difficult to see which tube leads to which tube while the tent is laid flat on the ground. The pole tubes are all the same color so marking them will ease setup, as well as speed setup time since you will get it right the first time.
The tent has a mesh storage pocket at each end of the tent for additional storage of frequently used items like glasses, cell phones, headlamps, etc. Each pocket is large enough for me to fit four heavy wool socks side by side hanging down to dry out. The tent does not have a mesh loft, but an after marker loft could be installed.
I highly recommend this tent for anyone to be used as a very roomy one-man tent or as a comfortable two-man tent. If I were to eventually hike the Appalachian Trail alone I would probably either get aluminum poles made for it, thus making it the same weight as the Kelty Salida2—just bigger, or I would look to down size my tent choice simply to save weight. But since I only paid $50 dollars for this one I could afford to just give this one to one of my kids or one of my friends.
Please feel free to ask questions are give your comments. Thanks Kevin
08/26/12 Further update.
I decided to set my tent up today in my yard during a heavy down pour of rain just to see what it would be like to do so on the trail. To show you how heavy the rain was, I got soaked in under 30 seconds while setting up the tent. The tent bottom also gathered a fair amount of water inside it. Having set up the tent in the heavy rain I learned a couple new things that I would like to share with everyone.
First, as I was putting the pole sections together I realized why the tent stood up so well in the wind storm as I mentioned earlier in my review. With each section of pole being only 13 inches it gives the poles more strength since they are shorter and will not bend as much as longer pole sections.
One reviewer complained that the short sections made it too difficult to set up and take down, but I do not see that. I do not find it any harder to push the assembled pole with 13 inch sections through the material channels through which they run than pushing 18 inch sections through the same material channel. You simply push from the end and run it through each material channel. Yes, you will have to pull the material channel over the end as it goes through the channel, but that is no different than any other tent with channels for the poles to run through. On a day with no wind I can set this tent up by myself in approx. five to six minutes. When my daughter and I set up the tent on a day with no wind we had it up in three minutes. I pushed the poles and she guided them through the sleeves. It was a piece of cake. I have also set up the tent in strong wind and like any other tent it takes a little longer, but that is to be expected. There is a positive to having 13 inch sections of tent poles; their shorter length makes them stronger because they bend less than longer sections. This makes for a sturdy tent, albeit adding a little extra weight. I will take that trade off of strength for a few extra ounces every time.
As far as dis-assembly, you simply reverse the process and push the assembled poles out of the material channels. While tents with channels for the poles are not as fast or easy as a tent that use hooks to attach the tent to the poles, material channels provide much more strength for the tent and poles thus making the tent more stable and less susceptible to pole breakage. I set the tent up during the downpour in about five or six minutes, and I have only set it up a half a dozen times so far so I should get faster with practice.
I should also note that I have not yet marked the pole channels as I mentioned above and I still had it set up in under six minutes. Once you understand where the poles go it is not that hard to set the tent up. I also figured out how to rectify the water build up coming through the mesh top portion of the tent and getting into the inside of the tent while the tent is being set it up in the rain.
I set up the tent as I would any other time with the top mesh part up- and yes water gathered quickly in the bottom of the tent in the heavy rain, but once I had the tent put together I flipped the tent over so the top was down on my footprint. This allowed the water from the bottom to drain back out through the mesh. I then took the fly and draped it over the tent bottom, which was now facing up, and then I flipped the tent back over so the tent bottom was back on the ground. As I flipped the tent I simply held the fly in place with one hand, this prevented rain from getting back inside the tent through the mesh since the fly covered the mesh portion as I flipped the tent over.
Once the tent was back in position I secured the fly clips. After staking out the tent and fly I got inside and used a camp towel to wipe up the small amount of water that remained scattered around the floor. If I had then used the towel to wipe the inside of the mesh which was holding water, I would have had few if any drips from the mesh onto the bottom. But since I did not think of that at the time, I had to re-wipe the floor about 30 minutes later after the water had dripped from the mesh.
After doing this, I left the tent set up in the heavy rain. I checked the inside of the tent approx. two hours later and found no moisture of any kind. It should also be noted that setting up any mesh topped tent will allow for water to enter during set up, this is not a defect of this tent.
I left the tent set up for the night since it is supposed to rain all night. If I find any water in the morning I will report that, but I do not expect to find any since I seam sealed and waterproofed the tent prior to using it— as everyone should with any new tent.
10/04/12, additional update.
I took one of my daughters on a hike and camp. As I mentioned above, there was plenty of room for both of our Therm-a-rest sleeping pads, and there was plenty of room at one end for both packs-75 liter and 30 liter. We also stored water and clothing at that end as well.
During the day it was quite humid and the night got down to about the upper 30's so there was a tremendous amount of dew on everything in the morning. The picnic table by us had a 1/4 inch of standing water on it in the morning from the dew. As should be expected with two people sleeping in such humid and cold weather, there was condensation on the inside of the fly. We did have a small amount of water at the end with the packs and clothes. There was no water on our sleeping bags so I do not think it came from the condensation. I had put my hydration bag beside my mat so I could get a drink at night. I obviously rolled over on it because it was nearly empty at morning. My body weight obviously forced the water out of the mouthpiece. Considering this is the second time that I have done this, you think that I would learn.
I am due to take my other daughter hiking and camping very soon so I will make sure to have the hydration bags outside in the vestibule. I will provide an update at that time. I will let you know if condensation drips inside the tent.
I took my other daughter, twin sister of above, hiking and camping on 10/21/12. The conditions were almost identical to the 10/04/12 event mentioned above. There was a heavy dew outside and everything that was outside was very wet in the morning. We slept in the tent with the fly zipped and pulled down. This time I made sure to put both Platypus water sacks outside the tent in the vestibule.
In the morning the tent was completely dry. There was condensation on the inside of the fly, but none in the tent. Since the fly rests atop of the tent poles it is approx. 1/2 above the tent mesh so no condensation is transferred into the tent. Apparently, as stated on my 10/04/12 update, the water inside the tent was from me rolling over on my Platypus and forcing water out of it.
I still love this tent, especially for the price. I have no plans to look for anything else and I plan to continue to camp regularly in this tent. I do plan on using this tent to do some winter camping. I will update after doing so.