Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Tarptent
Manufacturer Tarptent by Herny Shires
Page By Vic Hanson
Page Type May 5, 2007 / May 21, 2007
Object ID 3104
Hits 11311

About the Company

Three Tarptents and a Hilleberg
Tarptents are ultralight, mobile shelters that shed everything from flying bugs to summer snow. Elegant and airy, Tarptents set up virtually anywhere. Designed by and for the outdoor enthusiast, Tarptents keep you dry and sane no matter the elements. Made in the U.S.A and constructed of the lightest and highest quality materials available, Tarptents let you focus on the joy of the journey, not on the pain of getting there. (From the company website)

Henry Shires was teacher and a backpacker who decided he could make a better, lighter weight tent than was commercially available. It is now his full time business, and his tents are some of the most commonly used for PCT and other long distance hikers.


Squall 2 on the Cotahuasi River
Ultralight – as low as 22 ounces with trekking pole

Fast setup – 2 minutes from sack to pitched

Dual trekking poles support (except Cloudburst 2)

Reflective spectra cord guylines

Catenary ridgelines for wind, sag, and storms

Small packed size

Minimal stakes required

Quick drying – inside and out in minutes

Abundant netting for views, airflow, and bug resistance

Front/rear beaks shield windblown rain and provide protected space for gear

Floorless or sewn-in flooring option

Tyvek® groundsheets available.

My Experience

I used a Virga 2 Tarptent (1 person) on my Pacific Crest Trail hike, for about 130 nights (The rest of the nights I slept without a tent or was in a motel). It kept me and my gear dry from the rain but it is prone to condensation, like all single wall tents, if you don't leave the door open. It was very light weight, 1 lb 10 oz, using trekking poles to support it. It made the whole trip with out any problems, except a few small holes in the screen mesh where I must have snagged it on something.

It is normally very stable as long as it is set up tight. It is best with the foot (smaller) end into the wind. There were 2 very windy nights where it flapped too much and kept me awake, one of those was on Mt. Hood, just above the Lodge. I ended removing the front poles and using it like a bivy sack.

The Virga 2 doesn't show up on the company website now, but the Contrail is a 1 person model that weighs about the same. I am now using a Squall 2, which is the exact same design as the Virga 2, expect it is for 2 people and weighs just over 2 lb. Both normally use 4 stakes, but can be used with only 3. They can also be used with 1 or 2 trekking poles. If you use 2, it eliminates the center front pole, for easier entry.

A number of my hiking companions used the Rainbow, which uses 4 stakes for non free standing, but can be used with 2 trekking poles as a free standing tent. Everyone I talked to was very happy with them. It is now available in a 2 person version as well.


Weights are in ounces, dimensions are in inches

Sleeps Weight Height Length
Contrail 1 24.5 45 94
Rainbow 1 32 43 98
Squall 2 2 34 45 94
Cloudburst 2 2 39 42 94
Double Rainbow 2 40 43 98
Rainshadow 2 3 42 48 94

Company Link




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theta - Sep 3, 2009 3:07 am - Voted 5/5

Awesome Tents
I've been using a Tarptent Sublite (silnylon version) for a few months now, and I can easily say it's my favorite tent. Great air circulation, and the ability to raise/lower the bathtub floor proves very useful for inclement weather. These are some of the lightest full tents I have seen, and my hiking partners are usually envious of my 1.5lb tent...

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