User Review: Tarptent Notch
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $259
I've used my Notch on several backpacking trips in Idaho and on my recent John Muir Trail thru-hike. It provides a good balance of light weight and security. The side-entry with dual doors and vestibules are a real plus. I'd recommend it as a solo shelter for summer/early fall backpacking and thru hikes.
- Two doors and two vestibules
- Fairly light at 26 oz
- Full screening keeps out the bugs, snakes, etc.
- Only requires 4 stakes
- Side entry provides easy access
- Option to set up as tarp or bug shelter
- Reasonable price, great customer service
- Takes practice to set up with a taut pitch
- Doubt it would hold up to heavy snow
- Integrated struts at each end limit packing options
Although I wouldn't want to brave a snowstorm in this shelter, it has protected me well through extended rain, heavy frost, hail, and 35-40mph wind. It does take some practice to get a taut pitch, and takes longer to set up than a tent with poles, but the weight savings are worth the extra fuss. I put rocks on top of the stakes to make sure they held if it was windy. It only requires 4 stakes, which is less than many non-freestanding shelters.
I'm small (5'2"/102 lbs), so space was not an issue for me. I was able to stretch out and sit up easily. There was enough room at the head or foot of the Notch for my pack if I wanted to bring it in from the vestibule. I've even had my border collie in it with me a few times.
I never had a problem with excessive condensation, but admit that I've used it only it low-humidity Western climates.
This shelter requires 2 hiking poles for set-up, which is not an issue for me since I always backpack with poles. On the negative side, I did find that the handle-down position made the tops of my poles very dirty and I needed to wipe them off each morning to avoid grinding dirt into my hands.
The notch doesn't take up much space in my pack, but the integrated struts at each end would not fit into my pack horizontally, so packing options were constrained.
All in all, I'm very happy with the Notch and plan to use it on future summer hikes.