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Tarptent Notch Tent Review

Backpacking Tent:
Philip Werner, SectionHiker.com

Reviewed by:
On May 12, 2014
Last modified:August 26, 2016


The Tarptent Notch is a very flexible one person double walled tent that can be pitched as a standalone fly or a complete double walled tent with an inner nest and rain fly, making it a cost-effective option for many kinds of trips ranging from UL fastpacks to car camping.

Outer fly and inner tent pitched together
Outer fly and inner tent pitched together

The Tarptent Notch ($285) is a single person, double walled ultralight tent weighing 27 ounces with two doors and two vestibules. With a removable inner nest (including bathtub floor), the rain fly can be pitched as a standalone tarp or as a complete double-walled tent depending on your needs.

When I bought the Notch last year, I intended to just use the fly shown below, but the inner nest has grown on me, and I carry it on backpacking trips when I don’t mind a little extra weight.

When purchased new from Tarptent, and before seam-sealing, the Notch fly and inner nest weigh in at 27 ounces, combined. After seam sealing, and with one extra guyline cord, mine weighs 28 ounces total; 17.2 ounces for the fly and 10.8 ounces for the inner nest.

The rain fly pitched by itself as a standlone tarp
The rain fly pitched by itself as a standalone tarp

Requiring two trekking poles to pitch, The Notch is what’s called a dual Apex shelter, meaning it has two peaks. This design provides a lot more space for an occupant than a pyramid tarp with a center pole.In addition, The Notch provides greater clearance between the shelter ceiling and top of your face and feet, increasing livability. The footprint required for the Notch, that is the ground space required to pitch it, is also quite small making it an easy to pitch in very dense forests with few suitable tent sites between the trees.


With dual (zippered) vestibules, The Notch has excellent ventilation, including keeper toggles along the side seams, so you can roll up the side doors. You can also regulate the amount of airflow by pitching the fly higher, so there is more space between the ground and the bottom of the fly, or lower, so the fly bottom is flush with the ground. The latter is helpful in storm mode and heavy rain where you want to direct as much water away from the tent as possible, so it doesn’t seep under the fly and back into your living space.

Dual vestibules provide excellent cross-ventilation
Dual vestibules provide excellent cross-ventilation

The Notch also has two end ports, which can be opened or closed with a flap of silnylon, to allow more airflow through the inner. These are useful in cooler weather to prevent cold air from blowing onto your head and feet, and in warmer weather, to prevent condensation in those same locations.

The triangular areas at both end ports (head and foot) are created by two sewn-in carbon fiber struts connected by guyline cord and line-loc adjusters, allowing you to control how high/narrow or low/wide the ports are. Although these struts complicate storage of the fly a bit in transit, they are one of the reasons that the interior space in The Notch is so livable. By raising the ends of the tarp about a foot higher, than say a pyramid shelter where the ends touch the ground, the struts reduce the angle of the fly (making it flatter and not as steep), providing more usable length above the feet and head.

End Ports and Tie-outs
End Ports and Tie-outs – That Bag of Charcoal is Training Weight

 Pitching The Notch

The Notch is very easy to pitch once you practice it a few times and get the hang of it. The first thing to do is to lay the fly out on the ground in a diamond shape. Next stake out the four corners: the two end ports and the guy lines at the base of the vestibule zippers.

Inside Apex - grommet to hold tip of trekking pole and inner nest loop
Inside Apex – grommet to hold tip of trekking pole and inner nest loop

Next, raise the side of each vestibule and slip the tip of a trekking pole into the grommet located in the apex. Repeat for the second side, walk around the fly and tighten the guy lines. The height you set your trekking poles at will depend on the weather and wind. I like to keep some airflow between the base of the fly and the ground, but there are many factors which can influence what you set the height at, depending on weather, temperature, humidity, wind direction, wind speed, dust levels, etc.

The Notch also includes line-locs on the outside side of the Apex points, which can be useful to reinforce the outer fly in wind, or to help pull the apex points a bit wider apart. I’ve semi-permanently added one such line on my Notch for this purpose, because I prefer a taut, non-sagging lateral pitch between the two apex points. I rarely have to deal with wind issues, below treeline and in forest.

Adding the Inner Nest

The Inner Nest is included standard when ordering The Notch from Tarptent. It has a bathtub floor and two side zippers to provide access to the vestibules. It can be erected after the fly has been set up or left attached, enabling you to set up the entire tent at once. The value of setting up the inner nest separately becomes evident in rainy weather, where you don’t want to compromise the dryness of the inner tent when you set it up or take the tent down the next morning.

Inner Nest end connectors
Inner nest end connectors

To add the inner nest to the fly, you suspend it with hooks from plastic loops located in each apex cone and at the end portals. This is best done by first attaching the three clips shown above to the three loops at one of the end portals. The middle hook attaches to the top of the triangle formed by the carbon fiber struts and the left and right hooks attach to the bottom sides, all on the inside of the fly. Next attach the three plastic hooks at the other end, before attaching the hooks at the mid-point of the Inner Nest to the plastic loops next to the grommets in both apexes. If doing this in the rain, you will probably have to leave the dry area under the fly to complete the setup, which can be a bit fussy with these little clips.

End Point Plastic Strut System
End Point Strut System

Once set up, the inner nest hangs about 2-3 inches below the fly. The resulting air gap provides enough ventilation that it can stay ahead of internal condensation if the vestibules are both closed, the end ports are open, there’s a respectable air gap between the floor of the fly and the ground, and it is not raining outside. However, after long periods of rain, internal condensation will drop onto the inner nest and begin to splash through the mesh above you and onto your gear (this is really no different from most double walled tents). In those circumstances, your best bet is to wipe down the inside of the fly with an absorbent cloth and wring it dry periodically There is enough space in the vestibule to reach around the top of the inner nest and perform this maneuver without having to get out of the nest or the fly.


The Tarptent Notch is a very flexible one person double walled tent that can be pitched as a standalone fly or a complete double walled tent with an inner nest and rain fly, making it a cost-effective option for many kinds of trips ranging from UL fast  packs to car camping. In addition to its low weight, I like fact that The Notch is so easy to pitch even in dense forested settings where space is very limited. While I also like flat tarps in these circumstances for their flexibility, pitching The Notch is so much faster and provides a large livable and weatherproof shelter. This can be further enhanced with the inner nest on those trips where you want a little bit more comfort and increased weather protection, the ground is wet or the bugs are swarming. While there are a few things I don’t like about The Notch, like the fussy inner nest hooks and the difficult of packing a tent with end struts, on the whole I’m rather pleased with The Notch and like it more and more on every trip I take with it.

For more information about the Tarptent Notch, visit The Notch product page at Tarptent.com


  • Inner nest can be pitched after fly, from the inside, to keep it dry in rain.
  • Requires small footprint. Easy to pitch in narrow forest pitches
  • Excellent ventilation


  • Side nest attachments points are not pacer pole compatible. Requires two extra shepards hook stakes to pitch.
  • Small hooks on inner nest attachment points are a bit fussy to secure.
  • End pitch loc struts make the fly more difficult to store in a pack.

Disclosure: Philip Werner bought this product with his own funds. 

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  1. It looks similar in design and size to a old Eureka! Single man tent I started out using to hike the PCT in 2002. I traded it in when I had the chance after an allergy attack that put me in the hospital the fourth day of the trip. The tent was so claustophobic I couldn’t sleep in it. What I believe will make this tent Workable is in the very first Picture the dual Vestibules and the ability to open it up with that inner net lining..Looks like something I will have to take a good look at, though I do enjoy my Squal and favor it over others of it’s size.

    • The Squall 2 was my first tarptent. Also a classic.Both excellent shelters. I like the fact that the Notch can be pitched fly alone, versus the Squall 2 where the inner and outer are sewn together.

  2. After all this time reading your blog, it never occurred to me that all your ultralight gear selections are merely a means toward bringing that huge bag of charcoal briquettes along!

    • I find that bag of charcoal to be a good simulation of a food bag in terms of weight and bulk. It is crazy to carry on my spring “training”backpacking trips, but it seems to be working.:-) It makes for a funny image though, doesn’t it?

  3. Philip,
    I use my Pacer Poles with my Notch, wrapping the ties from the bathtub floor around the cords attached to the Pacer Poles, not the poles themselves.

    • That would work. I don’t use the keeper cords on my pacer poles though and the two Shepard’s hook are not a big deal. They also penetrate frozen ground (springtime) much better than the big Easton 8″ pegs I normally carry.

  4. Nice review. I still only use 4 pegs. I simply tie the apex lines to the same peg used for the sides. Sets up Rick solid and no extra pegs.

  5. Interesting review. I have been using a Light Heart Gear SoLong 6 since the beginning of the year. (Christmas present to myself) It has a similar design except the inner nest is one piece with the tarp. I can see how having them able to separate would be an advantage when setting up. Mine is a cuban fiber version with a silnylon bathtub and comes in at 28 ounces but I think the foot print is a little bigger than the notch. They call it a 1+ size tent and you can fit two smaller people in it if they don’t mind being close. I do like how the notch has a wider apex than the SoLong 6 and the end vents look like a nice addition for extra air flow.

  6. Excellent report and as you know I have been using version 1 (no apex tie outs) of the Notch for quite a while. However, apex tie outs are currently being added to mine as I write. My notch has been used for about 50 nights in a variety of conditions and I remain convinced that it is a great shelter, which it will protect you in any 3 season conditions you are likely to come up against, even above tree line. During winter I use the part solid inner and it has made a real difference to the warmth. Similarly, I use Pacer Poles, and have reverted to the use of the ti stakes to anchor the inner, I have tried attaching the velcro of the inner around the cords attached to the handles, however, whilst it does work, I feel 2 extra ti hooks are probably worth their weight in the “what if” situation. Furthermore, I agree with your comments re attaching the inner, as a result I tend not detach the inner whilst in the field. All in all a great shelter.

    • “. . . I agree with your comments re attaching the inner, as a result I tend not detach the inner whilst in the field. . . .”

      Yes, and when you keep the inner attached (as I think most people do) the attachment hooks can be seen as a nifty added feature, not as deserving of a demerit for fussiness. When inner is kept attached setting the Notch up is even simpler, since inner sets up automatically as you erect the fly. But you still have option of detaching the inner, if for some reason you want to do that.

      • I was wondering about that. Wouldn’t keeping the the inner nest attached to the fly be better for setting up in the rain (as long as you keep the fly over the inner when unrolling, etc.)? I can see Philip’s point about setting up the fly in the rain and then attaching the inner nest under it, but wouldn’t the same result, with less work, occur if the nest was already attached? I’m curious and just want some input. Thanks!

      • Here’s a contrarian viewpoint and why I like to store the tarp and nest separately and assemble them when I set up the Notch. I hike in a rain forest (White Mountains/New England). On multi-day hikes, its important for me to manage wet and damp gear carefully so it doesn’t make all of my other gear wet. This is why I store the Notch Fly separrate from the inner nest.

        The fly always rides in an outer pack of my pocket in an inverted stuff sack with the opening facing down so water can drain out the pocket drain hole (Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack). If it starts to rain, the stuff sack will keep a dry fly dry and a wet fly from getting wetter.

        I store the inner nest in a separate stuff sack. If it is damp from the previous damp, it will remain less damp than the fly. If it is dry and the fly is wet, then it will stay dry. If it is damp, I can easily take it out and dry it in the sun without having to dry the fly too. If the fly is dry, then I can put it in the main compartment with the rest of my gear.

        There are no absolutes on whether you pitch the fly and inner together or not. It really depends on the weather where you are hiking and how long you are out for.

      • I agree with you Philip that separating the fly and the inner has its advantages, and I have done it in the past with the Notch. But when I start a trip I carry them connected and pack the shelter outside of the rucksack, with the opening of the stuff sac facing down. After a wet night (rain and condensation) I am more likely to keep the inner and outer together as I have also found that the inner will dry quickly at the end of the day especially if I wipe the excess moisture from the inner (and outer) before packing up. However, another benefit of the detachable inner is that it can be disconnected at the midpoint (ridge line) thereby providing a dry space in which to sit out a storm during the day. This option alone is the reason I prefer the Notch with its mid like characteristics to the hooped shelters, such as the TT Moment DW.

      • Thanks for the answer, Philip! I guess that’s one great thing about the Tarptents: They give you options like this. I was curious, as I’m hopefully going to purchase a Tarptent next winter (have to save up). It won’t be the one you reviewed, but a larger one that will also house my wife and teenage daughter on backpacking trips. I’ll probably get the Hogback, as that much room for that weight is just amazing to me.

  7. Love my Notch. I get asked about it all the time on the AT. 28oz with room to move a little inside, awesome for bugger areas where just a taro won’t cut it. Bugs love me. Nice write up.

  8. Nice review, Philip. Tarptent makes so many interesting shelters. I haven’t seen a Notch out on the trail yet, seems like yet another good design. I chuckled about the bag of Kingsford when I saw it posed by the tent there… at first I thought it was just done for fun. Makes sense now though. I do the same thing when I go running, carry a bunch of extra weight that is :)

  9. Passer Poles,,are these the same thing as Hiking Poles?? Is that what the Marketing Maggots came up to call them..Boy I bet they spent all nice long on that one..LMAO… A Bag of Charcoal, that is a good idea, back in 1970 I practiced with a 50 lb bag of cement in my old green Camptrails Alumium frame pack..(wish I still had that pack it fit so well) because back then it was not unusual to find your pack weighing in between 50 and 65 pounds..But today, on my Treadmill, and when walking about the neighborhood, I just carry my Pack with all my Regular Gear in it, except for Water. These days since some of the newer Foods are less Salty and I love, just love the Chicken & Noodles over the old Rice & Chicken, I keep a weeks worth of food in my Pack and when the mood hits or a friend calls, just like dinner, All I have to add is a Quart of Water and I am ready to go….But I am seriously looking at that tent and counting the pennies in my Backpacking Fund jar..If I do, this will be Tent #14 that I have purchased over the years…In fact I have bought so much Gear the Companies should just start giving me gear free of charge…LMAO

  10. I am looking at getting my first UL tent and the Notch is one of the finalists, but I have never seen one in person. So my number one question is “How is the notch for tall people?” I am 6’3.5” and find that in many of the lightweight/UL tents that either my feet or my head will touch one end or the other when fully stretched out. Also, my son’s Scout troop is looking at getting a few UL 2 person tents to replace the classic Eureka Timberlines that they have had for years. Any opinions on how well Tarptent designs would hold up to a bunch of 11-17 year olds?

    • I think the Notch will be a tight fit for you. Call Tarptent and get their advice. Of the tarptent models, the Squall 2 and Double Rainbow are probably your best bets for scouts.

  11. Have you considered a Stratospire 1? I recently acquired one and am considering selling my notch now. It’s only 5 oz. heavier than my notch, which for some reason weighs 31 oz., but I can literally change in the the zippered up vestibule and slide into the tent dry, and the head room is phenomenal. And I’m not a small bendy dude either. I’m 6′ 1″ 220lbs. It’s a palace for 1 person, abeit the footprint is a little larger though.

  12. You have an enjoyable and informative blog. Thanks for the review!

  13. Did I read somewhere you’ve been trying out the Solplex and Duplex, and in particular being stuck in the Solplex for so long during a rainstorm you vowed never again? I was interested to know the evolution of your tent odyssey and how these two compared to the Notch. And whether you’d been eyeing the Stratosphere more as a result too?

  14. Are the end triangle struts removable for easier packing?

  15. In the Notch, can you read on one elbow on a Neoair XLite without your head touching the net ceiling?

  16. Steven "Glogg" Kasow

    I used my Notch (older version without apex tieouts) on 1200 miles of the AT in 2012, with my Pacerpoles, and with no trouble. In rainy weather I’d simply wipe down the exterior of my Notch to avoid carrying the water weight, carefully fold the tent in half and then again to fit in the stuffsack, and roll it up around the folded struts as usual. The inner stayed dry enough that I never bothered disconnecting it.

    I simply attached the velcro ties of the inner nest around the shaft of the pacerpole just above the handle. It made a slightly higher ‘bathtub’ but worked fine for me.

    I’m 5’11” and could read with no trouble. :)

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