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

Pitching my MLD Trailstar for the first time

Today I pitched my new Trailstar shelter properly for the first time. I say properly because I tried to pitch it in my garden but it would not fit, such is the large size of this shelter and the small size of my Victorian terraced garden!

I pitched it with a centre pole height of 120cm initially. I am 5′ 9″ and there was loads of headroom for me. I then lowered the centre pole height to 110 cm for a slightly lower pitch in adverse weather conditions and I still had more than enough headroom, If necessary I could easily pitch the Trailstar even lower and still be comfortable.

Trailstar first pitch

It was very quick to pitch, a matter of minutes, and I managed to get the edges really close to the ground which will keep the drafts down in the winter. The lower edges look pretty tight and I have not even pegged the sides out! I had a little trouble getting rid of all the wrinkles but the silnylon was pretty tight so I would not be too worried about it really.