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Tarptent StratoSpire Li Review

This is the shelter you want when waiting out a storm
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Price:  $689 List
Pros:  Great weather protection, lightweight, adaptable
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   Tarptent
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 29, 2019
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 14
  • Livability - 30% 9
  • Weight - 25% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 10
  • Adaptability - 10% 4
  • Ease of Set-Up - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Tarptent StratoSpire Li is a spacious, liveable tent that stands rock solid against high winds and heavy precipitation. Everything about this tent is slick, from its offset pole design to its magnetic storm flaps. These features are unique and useful, not superfluous gimmicks that weigh you down. Two large vestibules set this tent apart from the competition. They are game-changers when faced with days of bad weather, giving you storage for your gear and room to cook while staying dry. The Stratosphere has plenty of other strengths, but this underscores how liveable this tent is when stacked up against some of the lighter options out there. It's a perfect option if you like to travel to environments where you might find yourself waiting out a storm.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

When set-up correctly with all tie-down points in use, the Stratospire is incredibly weather resistance with its Dyneema construction. It doesn't dominate in the weight game, but earn high points in every other metric. While weight is a crucial aspect of the "ultralight" category, its vestibule space makes it a better choice if you need room for cooking or storing gear. It's also worth noting that this tent comes with six ultralight oz stakes (2.3 ounces for all six), which is included in the overall listed weight.

Performance Comparison


Good weather? Great! Bad weather? Bring it on! This tent has excellent weather protection at an exceptionally lightweight.
Good weather? Great! Bad weather? Bring it on! This tent has excellent weather protection at an exceptionally lightweight.

Liveability


If you need to hunker down for a while, this is the ultralight tent to do it in. We love the vestibule space for storage, cooking, and as a place for our canine friends to bed down.

There is plenty of space for cooking in the huge vestibules  and great ventilation helps keep condensation to a minimum.
There is plenty of space for cooking in the huge vestibules, and great ventilation helps keep condensation to a minimum.

The vestibule space also lets you keep muddy shoes off the tent floor without getting wet. The vestibules are much more spacious than or Editors' Choice winner, but has slightly less square footage on the bathtub-style floor, so space is tighter for two but decadent for one.

This tent isn't massive  but it will comfortably accommodate two  or one person with a lot of gear or a canine friend.
This tent isn't massive, but it will comfortably accommodate two, or one person with a lot of gear or a canine friend.

Several thoughtful design features add to the liveability factor. It has two vents on top where the trekking poles support it, and another vent at each of the vertical corners that are supported by carbon fiber shunts. The result is excellent ventilation that effectively prevents most condensation. One tester boiled water for coffee and oatmeal every morning and again for tea at night. He forgot the lid to his pot, so there was plenty of steam inside the tent, creating an ideal scenario for condensation, and still, there was none. The poles are on the outside of the floor and bug netting instead of the center of the living space. There are mesh pockets on either side, so finding your phone or headlamp in the dark is no problem.

Weight


The entire package including the floor and bug netting, stuff sack, six stakes (2.3 ounces for six!), and the short carbon fiber struts weighs 1.75 pounds or 28 ounces. Remove the floor and bug netting (this is super easy thanks to adjustable clip-in points), and you save an additional 11.5 ounces.


Weather Resistance


Fortunately (unfortunately for our testers), we had ample opportunity to test its weather resistance on a very rainy, eventually snowy, week-long climbing trip in the Sierra. This tent is constructed with Dyneema (an entirely waterproof material) and has taped seams. We got rained on for days and never experienced a single leak.

Dyneema is completely waterproof and won't absorb water or stretch like tents made from SilNylon.
Dyneema is completely waterproof and won't absorb water or stretch like tents made from SilNylon.

Our initial set up was a little sloppy, we didn't guy out every tie-down point, and when we returned to camp after an unexpected snowy afternoon, one of the stakes had pulled out from snow loading. Neither of the trekking poles fell, and despite the collapse of one wall, no moisture got inside the tent, and all our stuff stayed dry. After brushing off the snow, reinforcing our stakes with some heavy rocks, and tightening all the tie-down points, the tent remained bomber through the night. This tent doesn't have the steepest angle; you'll need to be diligent about brushing the snow off if it starts nuking.

When properly set up with all the guy lines taught  this tent can handle a moderate amount of snow loading.
When properly set up with all the guy lines taught, this tent can handle a moderate amount of snow loading.

Adapatability


This a very adaptable tent. It's easy to remove the floor and bug net thanks to the clip-in points. TarpTents offers a smorgasbord of purchasing options for this modular tarp shelter. There is the option of a solid interior instead of mesh for cold weather, and also a "sidecar" interior option to turn one of the vestibules into a floored, bug net enclosed area for small kids or dogs. Don't want to carry trekking poles? They offer a pair of four-ounce foldable aluminum poles.

This design keeps the trekking pole supports out of your sleeping space.
This design keeps the trekking pole supports out of your sleeping space.

This model isn't a freestanding tent, and you'll need solid stake-out or tie-down points to set it up. Bring along some extra cord, and you'll be able to take advantage of larger rocks, trees, and other tie-down points, making the Stratospire even more adaptable.

Ease of Set-up


We love that this tent sets up quickly and easily with its adjustable guy lines. Without any instructions, our eager testers had this tent set up in about ten minutes; the set up is very intuitive.

The Stratospire Li goes up easily so you can tend to other things around camp.
The Stratospire Li goes up easily so you can tend to other things around camp.

To set-up, simple stake down the corners, crawl inside to set up the trekking poles, then made adjustments to the guy lines. For those who are smart enough to follow instructions and do things right the first time, Tarptent's website has an excellent video to streamline the process. They recommend staking down a vestibule, put a trekking pole in through the vent hole op top and then repeat this process on the other side. Stake the lo,w corners, tension all the lines, and you're finished. Assuming you're on a surface that easily takes stakes, the process takes two to five minutes.

Value


Strong, waterproof, tear-resistant Dyneema isn't cheap. The version of the StratoSpire Li we tested with the mesh interior and the Dyneema floor is one of the more expensive tents. That said, these tents are well designed and constructed from some of the lightest, strongest materials available. If this tent is within your price range, the StratoSpire is a worthy investment. The value will be seen for thru-hikers and backpackers that are looking for a double door design with exceptional living space that can stand up to a storm. This price point is no different than other higher performers and worth its weight in gold.


Conclusion


We are very impressed with the performance of the Stratospire in crummy weather, its ease of setup, and spacious design. For expeditions where you could be tent bound for a while or you'll be base camping, it is one of the best ultralight tents on the market.

The Stratospire lighting up this clear beautiful night in the alpine.
The Stratospire lighting up this clear beautiful night in the alpine.

Matt Bento