A couple of years ago I found Colins Ibbotsons page http://www.tramplite.com/ and read about his Tramplite shelter. It looked very interesting but it seemed more likely to meet a unicorn than to get my hands on one. So I let the thought of the shelter go.
Then in the winter of 2016 I saw on twitter that Colin was working on his shelters again. I sent him a message and asked if he was taking orders. Of course the books where full, but he promised to put me on the reserves list.
And behold! In November last year a mail landed in my inbox:
Last year you contacted me about a Tramplite shelter and as you would get one from the next batch I’m checking to see if you are still interested?
Was I still Interested? Oh yes!
So now, finally I’m holding my new Tramplite Shelter in my hands.
The shelter is a one pole, pyramid-ish design where you use a trekking pole or similar as a center tent pole. It has a lot in common with Hexamid style tents and MLDs Cricket, but also with regular mids like Khufu, Duomid and Ultamids.
The biggest difference from the mids is that the front guy line is attached at the top of the shelter and keeps the fly upright without using the front doors. This gives the shelter a very good stability and makes it stable, even when the doors are rolled up or partially open.
Colin makes several different versions and I went for the fully zipped door, with extra storm lines and a solid inner tent with 3/4 mesh doors. A natural choice for me as I want to feel 100% secure even in the windiest situations.
Complete with stuff bag and inner the shelter weighs in att 685 gram on my kitchen scale.
Craftsmanship and materials
The outer fly is made of 0,74oz DCF (Or cuben as we used to call it) that is similar to the material used by HMG and Locus Gear but a bit thicker than the standard material used by Zpacks.
All seams are first sewn then taped, which makes them super strong. All anchor points are sewn and taped in a similar manner, according to Colins site the seams go through six layers of fabric at these spots. I believe that the anchor points are one of the most critical points in a shelter made of a material as strong as this. As the likelihood of material failure in the fly is improbably low these sewn on patches will be the most likely spots to break. I have seen some reviews of, among other older silnylon Locus Gear shelters where the stitching at the guy lines have teared the fabric.
The zipper for the front door is a waterproof #3 YKK with a buckle for stress relief.
My first impression when pitching this shelter is that it’s super easy! Pitching a mid can sometimes be quite a pain in the a**. If you don’t get the four corners of a mid perfectly aligned there is a big risk that the fly sheet will be off and you will have a quirky looking pyramid leaning in one way or another.
With the six sided design of the Tramplite it is actually easier to get a good pitch as you start with the two pegs in the back and then raise the front guy line. In this way you will straighten out the fly and use the front guy for aligning the rest of the tent. All in all I managed to pitch the shelter in a couple of minutes.
For the full length zippered doors you will need a total of seven pegs, as one extra is needed for the door attachments. If you are going in full storm mode you will need three more pegs for the storm lines.
As mentioned before a single trekking pole is used for support. For the full length zippered version the length of the pole needs to be 125 cm, which is no problem for a normal trekking pole. For me the possibility to pitch with a single pole has been one of the requirements for a one person shelter. The Ultamid for example, needs either a extender or combining two poles to be pitched. Personally this is a bit to much hassle for me, so I want to use a shelter that pitches with one pole. Keeping things simple. This of course means that I will have to do with a much lower height compared to the Ultamid, 125 cm vs 160 cm.
The over all impression I get from the shelter is that it’s a bomb proof design. The back and sides of the fly are sloped to take a lot of punishment from the wind. And if the wind should change direction, the long front doors with full zipper should be able to withstand at least as much as the previous shelters I have used (HMG Ultamid and LG Khufu). This combined with the solid anchor points will let me sleep safe through many windy nights.
I ordered the shelter with a nylon walled inner tent with partial mesh doors. The solid walls are there to stop cold drafts that goes underneath the fly. I have experienced this on a couple of occasions, among others during our hike on Iceland, and nowadays prefer some kind of walls on my inner to protect from this.
The inner came attached to the fly and after pitching the outer there where no adjustments needed. The inner tent have both attachments on all lower corners and also midway up on the walls that attach to the inside of the outer tent, giving extra space inside.
The floor of the inner is in DCF/cuben and is completely waterproof. For protection I think I will get some kind of polycro sheet.
There are a total of four zippers on the inner. In the front they are arranged in an up side down T. Making it possible to open the front of the inner tent totally. But also making it possible to just open a small slot to reach out of the inner if there are lots of insects outside.
In the back of the inner there is one extra horizontal zip, this gives access to the space at the rear end of the shelter. Back there is a small space under the fly, perfect for storing gear like your backpack and various stuff sacks.
Comparison to other shelters
I’ve had the luck to use a couple of similar high end shelters and thought that it might be interesting to compare the Tramplite to those. The ones I’ve had first hand experience with are Locus Gear Khufu CTF-B and first of all, the HMG Ultamid 2. A short run down of the Khufu can be found here.
I have also understood that some parts, specially the back of the fly have similarities to the Trailstar. But as I have no first hand experience of that shelter I choose not to make any comparisons there. If any readers of the blog have experience of both shelters I would be glad to hear from them!
Here are some of my opinions regarding these shelters:
What makes the Tramplite differ from the others is that the back and sides of the fly is much more sloped than on the regular mids. This of course means that pressure from wind won’t affect the Tramplite as much.
The door design with possibility to leave the doors open or rolled up without affecting the stability also stands out, and I believe that it will make a lot of difference when using the shelter. In this way you will have a decently sized front porch that you can cover with one of the doors when needed. Combined with the storage area behind the inner this should be more than enough for one person. But I will have to get back on this topic after I’ve had a couple of trips with the shelter.
For the normal mids you will have to open one of the doors to get ventilation inside the porch area. This is no problem but as the front side of these tents only has a normal peg attachment this will reduce the stability of the tents considerably. You can often see that a mid with open front doors sacks a great bit, loosing it’s stiffness. This does not happen with the Tramplite as it has a separate guy line to the top.
All three shelters use waterproof YKK zippers. The Tramplite uses a #3 with a stress relief buckle, the Ultamid I believe uses a #5 with a metall snap buckle for stress relief of the zipper. The Khufu uses a #3 with no buckle, so the zipper will take a bit more punishment than in the other two shelters.
A thing that makes the Locus Gear CTF-B stand out is that some kind of reinforcements in rubber material are attached to the peg points around the shelter. By the looks these patches are bonded directly to the fly material.
I do believe that the Ultamid has some similar reinforcements at all attachments points. Not really as sturdy as the Khufu though, more like an extra layer of tape.
For ventilation, both the Ultamid and the Khufu have small ventilation ports on the top. My personal experience is that these are to small to make any larger differences. To get better ventilation in theses shelters you need to put the fly upp from the ground or open the doors.
The Tramplite have no ventilation port, but the front doors on the full zip model are able to stay unzipped all the way, leaving a gap for airflow. I have no own pictures of this but you can see it here.
Dimensions & weight
The Tramplite is actually a bit longer (286 vs 272 cm) than the Ultamid and I would guess that the space between the center pole and the back of the fly is about the same. What differs a lot is the height tho. You can never compete with the inner height of the Ultamid.
Used as a one person shelter the Ultamid will give you loads of space, having half the shelter to use as a porch and storage area. I have been using the Ultamid as a two person shelter and I would say that it’s not a perfect solution if you wan’t to use an inner tent. With two persons inside the tent you won’t have space for a porch and almost all gear will have to go inside the inner tent. For two persons to be able to cook inside the tent you would need to remove parts of the inner temporary.
The Khufu is a little bit shorter (265 cm) and more narrow than the Tramplite with the back wall closer to the center pole. This can be sorted out with the DPTE if needed, but for me thats not a solution that appeals. With a half sized inner I would say that sleeping area and porch size is pretty much the same in Khufu and Tramplite, with some extra space in the Tramplite inner compared to the Khufu.
With the DPTE the Khufu is supposed to accommodate two people. Personally I believe it should be a bit crowded, but absolutely possible. As with the Ultamid there wouldn’t be much space for extra gear or a cooking area inside the tent.
At 365 + 320 gram for the Tramplite it’s marginally heavier than the Khufu at 320 + 300 gram. The HMG Ultamid at 560 gram for the fly plus 30 grams for the pole straps is of course a bit heavier.
Complete cost for the Tramplite with inner starts at £680 which is a bit more than what you pay for a Khufu. A Ultamid is more expensive but also a larger tent, possible to accommodate two persons.
None of these shelters are of course cheap, but considering the price of DCF/cuben material and the low production quantities this is totally reasonable.
After a first look and pitch I’m very impressed with what I have seen of this shelter. With good wind resistance and a bunch of simple but smart solutions it has all the capabilities to stay with me for a long time. How it will hold up to my expectations can only the future tell.