Reflections on the use of the Tarptent Notch in Lapland

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I have written previously on the comparison of the Tarptent Notch and the Moment and as I have now used the Notch for 15 nights, of which 11 were in Lapland, I felt it was time to describe my experiences and observations on this shelter in use.

To some the Tarptent Notch would be considered a double skin shelter whilst others it will be seen as a tarp with a bug inner. The Tarptent Notch, epitomises modularity, as it has a removable inner and can be used with hiking poles or with dedicated tent poles. Pitching the Notch requires 4 pegs (stakes) as a minimum along with two poles to erect and with practice can be erected in well under 5 minutes. When erecting the shelter the floor of the inner is connected to trekking poles using velcro, if you are using “normal” trekking poles then it works fine.

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But if you use Pacer Poles as I often do then it can be a little more tricky. My solution has been to connect the velcro to the string attached to the Pacer Pole handle. I can then tension the flooring as needed.

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The inner is more than long enough for a 183 cm mat with about 30 cm left over, which is where I store my important essentials overnight.

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The net inner is roomy enough for a mat such as the Exped 7 UL M (183 cm long by 52 cm wide) and more importantly when laying on the inflated mat you do not touch the netting and thus do not provide a target for the bugs outside.

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An optional extra is a partial solid inner as shown in the picture below, this provides the added advantage of stopping cross drafts when ensconced in your bed, or when wind blown moisture (mist) is prevalent.

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Inside view of the partly solid inner.

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The possibility of using different inners, or no inner, adds to the multiple uses of this shelter. The outer is essentially a shaped tarp and when used alone provides considerable space for the user, the accompanying photo demonstrates how much space there is when the inner is not deployed.

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However, the first version of this shelter has its faults. The first being the clips at the bottom of the zips, the clips may “let go” when erecting the shelter and can also let go in strong winds. Henry, has indicated that more robust clips maybe required.

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Also in my view the shelter needs side stabilisation, that is, there is a need for cord attachments which are perpendicular to the longitudinal line of the shelter. This can be accomplished by connecting cord to the trekking poles through the vent, or through the vent to the rings connected to the inner net. But in both cases this can be time consuming. Henry offers to add extra loops at the top of where the trekking poles are inserted and I believe that this is the most time effective way of providing latitudinal support.

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Cord attached to eyelet holding inner.
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Cord attached to the trekking pole.

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The modularity also provides opportunities as I feel that I can use this shelter in winter with a bivy, or a semi solid inner (or even both) and it maybe that a fully solid inner will provide a double skin like feel and provide some protection for the elements.

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In closing I feel that this shelter is a capable, weather worthy three season shelter for Scandinavian conditions, and with the variety of options available the shelter can be tailored to meet the particular needs of any trip.

This entry was posted in Lapland, Modular Gear, Pacer Poles, Shelters, Tarptent Notch. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Reflections on the use of the Tarptent Notch in Lapland

  1. John Abela says:

    Enjoyed reading your review!

  2. I just returned from three weeks walking the Pyrenees and used my Notch nearly everyday for the three weeks up in the mountains. I concur with your observations, and agree that the shelter needs the side guy lines to tauten the entire set up, and pull out the ridge. I don't think the shelter can be properly set up without these guy lines. I also used the Exped Synmat UL 7, and found that, though it does leave about 30 cm of room at one end of the inner, there was also no extra space to spread out, and I found the inner quite confining. The inflatable pad had a habit of migrating out the opened door while I slept. I often had to leave quite a lot of gear out in the vestibules, which were subject to being blown away by strong winds that got under the lifted edges of the fly.It is a very stable shelter when pitched tautly. Definitely can handle strong winds. However, there is one trick to setting it up that new users might want to keep in mind. When first pulling out the v-stut ends, leave a bit of slack when stretching the entire length of the shelter out. That'll keep the v-struts from scissoring closed when the length is pulled too taut. Adjust the tautness of the shelter after it has been erected.

  3. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Miguel for commenting, yeah the v struts can be a little tricky both on the Notch and the Moment, I also found I needed to tie knots about 2 cm in from the ends so that I could actually grab the cord to get the required tautness. I agree that the inner can feel a little confining but for a long trip where walking and sleeping are the main activities a confined inner is fine in my view, for more relaxed trips a little more space, such as in the Moment maybe useful. BTW in Lapland in summer leaving the inner door open is not an option : )

  4. Rand Lindsly says:

    Great post! Love to see that you're also a member of the Pacer Pole elite! 🙂

  5. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Rand, yeah bought my first set of Alloy pacers from Brian Frankle when he ran ULA. I have had to replace one bottom alloy section after 8 years of use, and there are many chips in the paint on the other lower section.

  6. I find that a taut pitch without side guy lines is possible, but tricky. The main problem is that if you have tightened the tent lengthwise first, there's no way to tighten the ridge (at least, without additional guy lines). So, the ridge should be tightened when the tent has some slack lengthwise.The other problem is, as Nielsen has described, the doors clips are not strong enough. Though, the strength applied to them can be decreased a bit by placing the stake so that the guy line forms a straight line with the door zipper. Not on every kind of soil it is possible, of course.

  7. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Sergiy for stopping by, the tips on the on the guy line forming a straight line with the zipper is a good one, I did do that and more often than not it worked. Regarding, the ridge line the challenge is to get it taught without popping the clips which happened to me on a couple of occasions. No big deal and with practice tightening the ridge line can be achieved, as you say, without side guy lines.

  8. AlanR says:

    Miguel’s comment on the V struts i have found varies with the type of ground you are on and i have now resorted to using the very thin skewer type pegs to peg out the base of the V. It doesn’t add much weight and it also gives a taught-ish side. It keeps the shape at all times and keeps. (I have the Moment and not the Notch but the principal is the same).

  9. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks for stopping by Alan, I also have used thin skewer ti stakes at times on the v struts, often only 1 stake is needed. I feel that it is the flatness of the ground which determines whether the V holds it shape.

  10. Been waiting for your take on the Notch for arctic areas. Good review and a very interesting shelter. Do you know if any of the shortcomings you mentioned are being addressed by Henry Shires? Particularly the side stabilisation feels important for use on the tundra.

  11. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Jorgen. I have been in contact with Henry and he is aware of the issues, and my impression is that some time in the near future the Notch will come with better clips and include tie out points attached to the peaks where the poles are attached.

  12. Henry Shires says:

    Just to let you all know, we are happy to install the apex pullouts on request (no charge, just ask for them in the comments field on the order form). Later this year we're going to make them standard on the Notch as they are now for the StratoSpire series. However, I'm not sure I agree that they are completely necessary for a strong pitch. As noted below, the trick to a taut ridgeline and fly panels is make sure that you don't over-tension the ends during initial setup. Stake one end and then pull out the second end to where you just begin to feel a little resistance from the underlying floor strap. And I do mean JUST. If you over-tension the ends you have no hope of a taut, slightly curved ridgeline. Also, the vestibule guylines are a little too long for optimal pitch if you use them fully extended. Shortening them a few cm before staking will better align the tension with the slope of the vestibule and put more tension on the apex points (and less stress on the buckle).Henry ShiresTarptent

  13. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks for stopping by Henry, it is not often that the designers and manufacturer comment on blog posts, wherever they may appear. Thanks. The more I used the Notch the more I became aware of the importance of shortening of the vestibule guylines, as it was apparent that if they are not aligned with the zip, and with the slope of the sides then too much pressure was placed on the side clips. Tensioning the ends is also an art that with practice becomes easier, if the ends are over tensioned over tensioned I quickly noticed that the outer was touching the inner between the two posts. I also liked your suggestion on BPL about being able to modify the lengths of one or other of the poles if required to block more breeze, must remember that one. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  14. Martin Rye says:

    I am not a fan of double apex shelters. But this looks good ,and well done Henry for pushing designs yet again. Great insights to this shelter with this and thanks.

  15. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Martin, yeah double apex shelters can be problematic and a little more time consuming to set up than a single pole mid. But my experience in Lapland in the last 2 summers indicates that they work well in all but the worst winds. In future though I am more likely to use a mid. And I agree Henry has designed some very good shelters.

  16. I like the looks of the Notch and the amount if usable space compared to my Duomid. what is the weight of the fly without the inner nest?

  17. nielsenbrown says:

    Hi Philip, the space inside, especially without the inner is luxurious. The weight of the outer on my scales (including all supplied cords) is 433 gms.

  18. Reading through your site Nielsen, you've had a lot of experience with many shelters. I am interested in the Notch because it seems like there might be more head and foot room than a Duomid because the side walls are higher up. When it really comes down to it, the amount of usable space in the Duomid is lower than one might expect because of the wall angles. Short of a hoop style shelter is there anything out there better than the Notch in this respect? I am also considering a Shangri-La 3 but the weight of the Notch outer (alone) is attractive and it's nice that the inner and outer are so modular.

  19. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Philip, you could say I have spent a lot of money and time on new shelters. I have played with the Duomid and the Solomid and agree with your observations. In my closet I have the BD Megalight, the Moment DW and the Cricket, each have different purposes, but I do not see me changing any of them. I expect that I will mostly use the Cricket whilst the other 2 will be used for exposed and challenging environments. Have you looked at the Tarptent Stratospire? It may offer more space for the weight than the Notch.

  20. Roger,I hope you don’t mind me asking how you are getting on with the Stratospire 1 on this older post. I spoke to Henry Shires regarding whether you need poles for the “lifters” to help with stability in the wind. He said not, just guying it out would be fine. You would only need this on the Strat 2. Have you come to any conclusion yet?

    • Hi Mark, thanks for the question and my apologies for the slow reply. To date I have had no need for extra tie outs. Having said that when I take the SS1 to Lapland this summer, I intend to take 2 sections of a trekking pole (also used a tripod leg) to be used as lifters. I have just returned from hiking with a group from the http://www.coast2coastsweden.com/ One of the group had a SS2 and even on windy nights they did not use extra poles as support. However, I did note on the SS2 that the flat panel of the roof has a large area and I feel that you would more likely need poles for panel support in high wind conditions and especially in snow. I hope that helps. Roger BTW I assume you have seen Andy Howell Stratospire 2 comments.

      • Thanks for the info – I may looking at take a tent pole or similar and tie down the windward side and experiment a bit. Yes I have seen Andy’s review. I have ordered a SS1 from Niels. He was very helpful answering all my questions. I decided to get it from Denmark as the cost was not that much more than getting it from the USA once you take shipping and import taxes into account. About £35 more I estimate depending on exchange rates and it will be here it a few days rather than potentially being stuck in customs. I will let you know how I get on with it.

        All the best

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