The Trailstar is a simple-looking five-sided shaped tarp. The design is less basic than it appears, however, as the curved shape of the Trailstar means it’s amazingly wind resistant – far better than most lightweight tents – when pitched with a low profile and the sides down to the ground. Last year it stood up to the big winds and torrential rain on the TGO Challenge better than, I think, any backpacking tent would have done. If the wind isn’t very strong it can be pitched with a higher profile for more headroom and a bigger door that gives better views of the outside world. And if the wind picks up the profile can be lowered from inside. For maximum ventilation and views it can be pitched with the edges well above the ground and two sides raised to form a huge entrance.

With only a little practice it can be pitched quickly too. It does cover a large area but this doesn’t matter as there’s no fixed shape. I’ve pitched it with one side halfway up a high bank and over mounds and logs. Using a trekking pole as the centre pole I’ve found 120cms about right for a high profile pitch and 100cms for a low profile one. A second pole is needed to hold up one side for a doorway. Even with a high pitch the door can kept low to keep any rain out. A low door also gives privacy if you’re using the Trailstar on a campsite.

Whether pitched high or low there’s plenty of room inside for gear storage and cooking for two people. Used solo there’s enough space to spread out all your gear and still have bare ground.

In my opinion the Trailstar is close to perfect. There are just two drawbacks. Firstly, it’s only available from the manufacturer in the USA and there’s a waiting time. Secondly, you have to seal the seams yourself (a tube of silicone sealer is provided). The last didn’t take me very long though.

First published: June 2013