Pitching my Trailstar in a different configuration

I have not slept under my Trailstar with it pitched differently to my/the ‘normal’ way that I have seen it pitched most of the time – that is with one corner into the wind and the door made out of one side to form an ‘A’ shape. I have see pictures of the Trailstar pitched a bit like a tarp with a very wide opening so thought I would give it a go in the local park before trying it out in the wild some time.

The following photos show the configuration. Basically, you put a whole side into the wind and the door (loosely speaking that is) is made at the opposite corner rather that in the middle of a side. It’s really easy to do and you end up with what can be described as a very large tarp.

Laying inside it looks great, even more headroom and an even better view. Also, it will be great to sleep across the Trailstar (as indicated in the photos by my Oookstar inner net) with my gear at the back, the other side of the pole. I can then just lay there gazing at the stars. I think this configuration will be great for when the weather is not too blowy but I still think it will shed a lot of wind. I can’t wait to try it out.


Quick one night wild camp, Snowdonia foothills

It had been a very long time since I had been out for a wild camp so with a trip planned to the north coast of North Wales to visit family I decided to take the opportunity to get out on the hills for a night under my Trailstar.

The Snowdonia National Park extends almost to the North Wales coast and I call the hills there, just before they drop to the sea (literally), the Snowdonia foothills. It’s a quick hop up the hill from Penmaenmawr to the foothills to the south so it’s not about the walk, it’s just great to get onto the hills. The views are great there too because you can see all along the coast and across to Anglesey, where the sun sets at this time of year, plus you have the mountains to the south and there are no roads until you get over the Carnedds to Llyn Ogwen.

My eldest daughter joined me on this trip and used my Akto. It was nice to have some company to share the experience and views. It was also great to see two of my shelters pitched together at the same location! The Trailstar is so large inside, as you know, that we were both able to sit comfortably inside to keep out of the cool wind and enjoy the views.

Here are a few photos. There is also a video showing 2 minutes of uninterrupted Trailstar view which is what you get as soon as you open your eyes :)


Custom Trailstar inner / bug net: Under the Trailstar

In my previous post I showed my new inner net pitched on it’s own in garden. It was my intention to have a night out in the hills of Snowdonia last weekend, to try it out in anger, but for one reason or another that was not possible but I did spend a bit of time trying the inner in various positions under my Trailstar.

Snowdon from Moel Siabod
Snowdon at dawn from Moel Siabod

In my Trailstar I have tended to sleep with either my feet or my head by the door. If you look into the Trailstar from outside then my bed is on the left hand side if I am sleeping with my feet by the door and on the right hand side if I am sleeping with my head by the door. I tried the inner in these two positions and also across the back, opposite the door, which is another possibility.

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Custom Trailstar inner / bug net: Video and photos

Sean at OookWorks has made me a custom inner for my Trailstar. I felt that the OookStar inner was a bit too much ‘inner’ than I required at this time and so I chatted with Sean about an alternative.

I wanted something small and light that I will use only when there are midges about and at other times I will just use it as a groundsheet. I wanted to be able to place it in different positions inside my Trailstar depending on the terrain (how many times have you pitched your tent only to find you didn’t realise how uneven the ground was right where your inner tent has to go), the weather and my mood! Its an inner that I can use under a tarp too or just on it’s own if I was bothered by midges and confident of no rain!

So this is what we came up with. Sean made a great decision to have the zip go all the way down to the ground sheet which, as you can see in the images below, allows ease of getting in and out but I can also easily make a cuppa first thing in the morning. The tensioner at the head end is adjustable from the inside and the sloping ends allow it to fit under the Trailstar more easily (something I have not tried yet!)

It weighs in at 240g at the moment, with the stuff sack and generous amounts of shock cord.

Much appreciation to Sean for pulling the stops out to get this to me this week. I am looking forward to trying it out this weekend ahead of the Rab TGO Challenge.

Here are some photos and a quick ‘walk around’ video:

Pitching an MLD Trailstar in extremely windy conditions

On a very windy walk in the Peak District last week I took opportunity to practice pitching my Trailstar. My brother took some video and as you can see it is a little blowy! The forecast was for 50 – 60 mph winds but I have no idea what the actual wind speed was other than it was extremely windy! The temperature was just 3 degrees C and with the wind chill it was bitterly cold. Unfortunately the video stops short of the final moments but you get the picture (there is another little clip that I might post sometime)

The Trailstar was seriously bowed in at the back once pitched and I could not manage to stop the front sides from blowing out. Still, due to the large internal space of the shelter it would have been quite possible to have used it to camp in an emergency if a more sheltered spot could not be found. It was an interesting exercise.

In response to Martin Rye’s question in the comments of ‘what height was the Trailstar pitched at?’ it got me thinking. The answer is I don’t honestly know but I seem to remember I was going to pitch it a 100cm high but I have a feeling that I set one section of my trekking pole to the 110cm mark (in my haste in the extreme conditions, it just goes to show mistakes are easily made!) so the pole could have ended up being 105cm. Anyway, I just checked the recommended poles heights on the MLD website and I could have pitched it as low as 36″ which is about 91.5 cm, which may have made a small but significant difference if I had to shelter under the Trailstar for any length of time in these conditions.

My first night under my MLD Trailstar

I had been looking forward to this weekend for a while because besides visiting family in North Wales I was intending to wild camp with my new Trailstar shelter. The primary purpose of this wild camp was to test my MLD Trailstar. However, I also had with me a new Exped SynMat 7 UL sleeping mattress and some instant backpacking food that I had just received from Outdoorsgrub to try out. I was also closely recording how much I had used my little gas stove to figure out how much gas (roughly) I will need for the TGO Challenge; more on that in a later post.

By late afternoon on Saturday the light was already beginning to fade when I left my car in Penmaenmawr and headed off to the top of the hill behind the small town. I was not out for the walk particularly as it was not going to take long, or much effort, to get to the 400m or so top (although it is good training none the less) but the purpose was to spend the night under my new Trailstar shelter. The location is pretty exposed and can be very windy catching the westerly and northerly winds whipping across the Irish Sea.

MLD Trailstar

It did not take me very long to be at my intended pitch, the middle of a stone circle known locally as the Druid Circle. For some reason there is no heather and the grass is short having been grazed by sheep and wild ponies.

This will be a good test for both me and the Trailstar; strong winds, hail and rain, cold temperatures and 14.5 hours of darkness. Continue reading