Tuesday, 11 September 2012

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.