Gear Guide 2009: Tarptent Contrail Tent Review

The lightest solo tent tested is also--surprise--the biggest.

Top Ultralight

When the lightest tent in a category is also the biggest, we know we have a winner. The Contrail’s 91-inch length and 45-inch peak height pleased our largest testers, and its pound-plus weight made our ultralighters giddy. What’s the catch? No poles. The non-freestanding shelter pitches with a trekking pole and four stakes, and achieving a taut setup initially requires some practice. Properly rigged, the Contrail held firm against moderate wind as long as the foot end was angled into the gusts. Broad mesh vents around the perimeter allow plenty of airflow. The 10-square-foot vestibule shelters a pack and boots, and the lightweight siliconized ripstop nylon fabrics withstood being pitched on Sierra Nevada granite. Bummer: The trekking-pole support blocks the middle of the entrance, making entry and exit awkward. $199; 1 lb. 6 oz.

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