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Tarptent Notch Li

rated 5.0 of 5 stars
photo: Tarptent Notch Li three-season tent
Version reviewed: Gen 2

A very light, double wall, pole supported solo tent of Dyneema from an innovative tentmaker.

Pros

  • VERY light (21.3 oz. with stuff sack)
  • Easy to set up
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Two ZIPPERED doors and two vestibules
  • Ample storage in vestibules
  • Double wall

Cons

  • $600!
  • The translucent fly does not give much shade or privacy.

Tarptent is a high quality American tent company that started small and has grown quite a bit in its offerings in the past 20+ years.

At this writing I have now owned five Tarptents, including the Notch Li and every one was good in design and quality. The Notch Li gen.2 is now made in China at a premier tent making company and you can see the improvements in build quality such as reinforcement bonding and stitching even compared to the very nice American made gen. 1 version. The gen. 2 Notch Li is "Hilleberg quality".

POLES: One of the main features of the Notch design is that it uses hiking poles instead of dedicated tent poles (optional CF poles are available for the Notch design). So that I could use my hiking poles "handles up" to support the tent I ordered the optional Trekking Pole Handle Adaptor and I'm so glad Henry Shires, owner/designer of Tarptent, invented these B/C I would hate to have my pole handles in the dirt and wet. The pole adaptors tie into the existing brass peak grommets and are easy to attach to the pole handle with their Velcro wraps. I know of no other hiking pole supported tent makers that offer this option.

SPACE: Yes, this is likely the narrowest solo tent on the market, along with its silnylon version, but unless you are trapped in it in a day-long downpour it is fine for sleeping and changing clothes. I do have just enough room to change my mind. ;o)

There is ample room for emergency cooking under each vestibule. Thankfully this Gen. 2 version has waterproof zippered doors that stay closed in even the strongest winds, unlike the Gen. 1 Velcroed doors.

Interestingly the solid/mesh combo interior is actually 0.2 ounces lighter than the full mesh interior. I got it because I have had dust from wind storms in Utah blow right through a mesh door and coat me, my sleeping bag and all my other belongings with dust. Aaarrgghh!

PRICE/QUALITY RATIO: So yes, the price of admission for a Dyneema Tarptent of any model is high, but nowhere else will you find Dyneema fabric tents (also known as DCF) so well designed AND with such excellent build quality. I seldom criticize backpacking gear harshly but other Dyneema tents look positively thrown together in comparison, both in design and build quality. At the equally high prices they charge for their tents they need to get better fast to meet Tarptent's high quality bar.

PROTECTION: With its solid fabric/mesh vent double wall design I would not worry if I got caught in a snowstorm while shoulder season camping. It is very similar in design to my four-season silnylon Tarptent Moment DW. The Notch Li will be just fine in windy, snowy conditions, especially when guyed out with the provided lines and tensioners at each peak. 

MODS: As mentioned in the "CONS" section I wanted a green or tan fly for shade and privacy, but none was available so I'm dyeing the inner tent solid panels green with RIT Dyemore which is made for dyeing synthetic fabrics.

Also I have sewn on four fly hem stake loops for windy conditions. I double reinforced the stitching areas with one circle of Dyneema repair tape and a larger overlapping circle of Tenacious Tape, each circle folded in half around the edge of the fly hem. Modding my gear is something I almost always do to make it "better" for my own purposes.

In my only outing with the Notch Li gen. 2 so far it was warm enough in costal Southern California that I needed the ventilation that opening both fly doors afforded. It worked well and I had no condensation on the fly.

PACKED: The Notch Li also packs into its Dyneema sack smaller than my similar silnylon Moment DW. I fold then roll my tent, fly and inner tent together, end CF rods still attached. Tarptent cautions against stuffing Dyneema fabric as it shortens its lifespan. My preferred standard length MSR Groundhog stakes barely fit the provided stake bag but the short version Mini Groundhogs fit just fine. I should add that Tarptent includes 4 high quality tubular aluminum stakes. The tent rides vertically in my Osprey EXOS 58 pack but could lay flat on top of my sleeping bag and mattress. 

I highly recommend the Notch Li for those who will justify the high price with high use.

Background

I have owned five Tarptents and all were well designed for their purpose. I now still own three of those tents—Notch Li gen 2, Moment DW, and SCARP 2.

With only one outing in this tent I still have to experience rain and wind storms to know how well it will hold up. But if it is like my Moment DW it will be fine.
MODIFICATIONS:
-> I got the optional pole handle "pockets" B/C I do NOT want my pole handles in the dirt.
I always have used small rubber pole tips therefore my pole tips don't sink into the ground when used as a tent pole.
*** Before installing these pole handle pockets be SURE to use seam seal around the edges of the circles holding the grommet. I had one come loose. It seems the pole handle pockets put a strain on this area in windy conditions.
->Also I did manage to dye most of the inner tent with RIT DYEMORE for synthetic fabrics. Since I had to keep the hot dye water away from the Dyneema tent floor I tied the inner tent off just at the floor seam. The result was a "tie-dyed" look at the lower 10" of the tent wall. A very unique look but at least I now have some shade.
->To keep the fly from flapping in high winds I used circles of Tenacious Tape sandwiched over the fly edge in 4 locations equidistant from sipper to end strut. Two layers of Tenacious Tape should be enough. Then I sewed light nylon tape loops (very light webbing) to each reinforcement. Next I girth hitched heavy women's elastic hair bands to each webbing loop to hold the stakes. This allows for some give in the wind to reduce strain on the fly.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: did I mention $600? ;o)

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Specs

Price MSRP: $599.00
Weight 21.5 oz
Sleeps 1
Packed Size 16 × 4 × 4 in / 41 cm x 10 cm
Interior Height 43 in / 109 cm
Floor Width 20-34 in / 51-86 cm
Floor Length 84 in / 213 cm
Stakes 4 x 6 in / 15 cm Easton Nanos (included)
Reflective guyline 2.5 mm
Material Dyneema
Product Details from Tarptent »