The Tarptent Aeon Li is a one-person Dyneema trekking pole tent that weighs 15.8 oz. It’s basically a half-pyramid shape, modified so that it has more usable headroom and interior space than regular pyramid tents and tarps. It has a built-in bathtub floor sewn to the sidewalls with mesh for improved ventilation with an all-mesh front wall and door, along with a front vestibule for gear storage. The resulting structure is comfortable, if a little snug, and easy to set up with a single trekking pole, which can be offset on a diagonal for greater ease of entry.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 15.8 oz / 448 g tent body + 1.7 oz / 48 g stakes (included) – [16.5 oz tent body, actual on the SectionHiker scale]
- Interior Height: 47 in / 119 cm
- Floor Width: 30 in / 76 cm
- Floor Length: 88 in / 224 cm
- Stakes: 6 x 6 in / 15 cm Easton Nanos (included)
- Fly: Dyneema 0.51 oz/ yard (sq)
- Floor: Dyneema 1.00 oz / yard (sq)
- Hydrostatic head: 8000 mm+
- Packed size: 14 in x 4 in / 36 cm x 10 cm (Note: Pitchlock length is 14 & 1/4″ while the peak pole is 14 & 1/2″ long. See below)
- Minimum # of stakes to pitch: 6. 7 recommended
- MSRP: $569 USD
- For more information visit the product page at tarptent.com
The Aeon Li is made using Dyneema which is a super-strong, waterproof, and ultralight fabric that doesn’t stretch. While it’s quite expensive and more difficult to work with than traditional materials like silnylon or silpoly, there are backpackers who are willing to pay a premium for tents made with it because it is so much lighter weight than other alternatives. See the Dyneema Composite Fabrics FAQ for more information about this material which is being adopted by more and more backpacking gear manufacturers.
The Aeon Li is the first tent that Tarptent has ever offered that’s only available in Dyneema form. They also make a Dyneema Stratospire Li (2-person) and the Dyneema Tarptent Notch Li (1-person). Both of these tents are also available in much more affordable silnylon versions. We don’t know if Tarptent.com plans to make the Aeon Li available in silnylon at some future date, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t. There’s a lot to like about the Aeon Li, independent of the fabric that it’s made with.
Tarptent.com uses a common set of design patterns across their product line and the Aeon Li is no exception. If you’re not familiar with the tents made by Tarptent.com and this is the first time you’ve considered owning one because it is made with Dyneema, I’ll point them out since they make the Aeon Li what it is.
First off, the Aeon Li is a single-wall tent with a fully integrated bathtub floor to keep rain from running across the tent floor. Single-wall tents need to have better airflow than double-wall tents because any internal condensation is more easily transferred to gear if you rub up against the ceiling or walls. The front-facing wall of the Aeon Li is made with insect netting to help vent internal moisture and the front doors are cut high so that air can flow under them more easily. There are large vents in the rear-corner (called pitch-locks) than have optional covers that can be left open or closed to prevent rain or cold wind from blowing into the tent, while the floor is also attached to the side walls with insect netting for more airflow.
The insect netting connecting the floor to the walls also serves a secondary function, which is to allow the floor to float independently of the walls. This makes it possible to set the tent up on a less than perfectly flat surface and still get a good pitch. This is important if you camp in wilder, unprepared tent sites which have grass tussocks, gouges, rocks, or roots in the middle of them. A floating floor is a long-standing Tarptent.com design principle.
The back and sidewalls of the Aeon Li are vertical, which isn’t typical of a pyramid shape. The verticality is created by corner tripod structures that Tarptent calls Pitchlocks. If my memory serves me, they were introduced about 10 years ago in the TarpTent Scarp 1 and are used in many of Tarptent’s other tent models. They offset a problem faced by most pyramid tent structures which is low hanging fabric above your eyes and feet. I discuss this in an article I wrote a few years back called The Problem with Pyramid Shelters. The Pitchlocks prevent this issue by raising the corners of the tent so that the bottom of the ceiling begins higher up the tent sides and not from the ground. This creates much more head and foot room in the tent so your head, feet, and sleeping bag/quilt footbox never touch the ceiling.
The Pitchlocks are short carbon fiber struts that fit into sleeves and create a tripod in the tent corners. (Insect netting is hung inside them to create the corner vents.) Tarptent also uses a single strut, positioned in the middle of the back wall for the same purpose. You can take all of the Pitchlock struts out of their sleeves for packing, but it will complicate setup somewhat, especially if it’s chucking down rain. Most people leave them in place between setups and fold the tent around them.
The Aeon Li has a fourth structural element in the ceiling which runs from inside the inner tent, through the mesh front wall and into the top of the vestibule. If you look at the top ridge of the Aeon Li, there are three reinforced peaks. The two end ones house the ends of this strut, while the middle holds a grommet that you stick the tip of a trekking pole into when you erect the tent. That makes the Aeon Li trekking pole handle-independent, which is a very good thing, for us Pacerpole users. (You can also insert the trekking handle up – it doesn’t have to be the tip).
The peak strut serves to hold the vestibule doors off the front mesh wall and to create a higher volume vestibule in front of the tent for gear storage. It’s made with aluminum and not carbon fiber. It’s also removable like the Pitchlocks although it’s a little trickier to reinsert and not something I’d recommend doing often if you can avoid it. For instance, I’m not sure how durable the velcro pockets are at the end of the peak strut and whether they could survive long term manipulation.
Door and Front Vestibule
The Aeon Li has two doors that can be pitched shut to form a closed vestibule, rolled back singly or doubly, or connected flat against the front mesh completely (without a vestibule). I prefer to keep one or both doors rolled open for the ventilation when I can, but the nice thing about the Aeon Li door design is that the tent won’t fall down if one or both doors aren’t staked as a vestibule. This is especially useful if you have to set up the tent in a very narrow spot in a dense forest where it’s hard to find a large open place to pitch a tent.
The doors do not have a zipper to connect them, but overlap slightly and are held in place by a strip of velcro with a bottom metal clip, which I find a little clumsy to use. Zippers are heavy, hard to sew into thin materials, and they break, so I can understand why Tarptent wanted to avoid using one. But I’m not completely comfortable with the current vestibule closure set up because you never know whether the doors will set up close enough together to form a complete and sound seal.
Tarptent doesn’t recommend a set trekking pole length (they recommend 107-130 cm) since it can vary depending on how much of a pole diagonal you want or how close to the ground you want to pitch the doors and sidewalls in bad weather. That can require a bit of post-pitch tweaking, something you want to figure out before you get into the tent, it starts to rain, and you realize that the vestibule can’t be shut from where you’re sitting.
The inside of the Aeon Li is comfortable, but a little on the snug side. Length-wise, the living area is quite long at 88″, which makes the tent a blessing for taller hikers. There is enough width (30″) to hold a 20″ wide sleeping pad and a fairly minimal set of gear/clothes, but not much else. There is a mesh pocket in the front door, but it’s small and stuff falls out because it has a side opening, not a top one. You can also drape your wet socks over the interior half of the peak strut, but that’s about it in terms of hanging storage. Be prepared to store your pack under the vestibule and anything else you don’t need inside with you.
While the peak height is 47″, that’s just misleading. You have to crawl in and out of the Aeon Li. While the Pitchlocks really do lift the tent fabric off your face and feet and you can sit up in the middle of the tent, the ceiling fabric is still close enough to your nose that you can still count the number of legs on the flies that land on the outside of the near-transparent Dyneema fabric.
I don’t personally mind the snug fit or having to crawl in and out of the tent, but if you want a more spacious Dyneema Tarptent, I’d recommend the Tarptent Notch Li. It has much more room and only weighs about 2 ounces more.
Pitching the Aeon Li is really quite simple because it has a symmetrical rectangular floor. You basically stake out the perimeter so it forms a pentangle, insert your trekking pole into the vestibule vent, position the tip into the peak grommet, and then tighten the guylines. Tarptent has a great little video about the process, but I hate the new music they use to accompany it. Bring back the mandolin player!
The Aeon Li is fully outfitted with guylines and lineloc tensioners and includes six 6″ Easton aluminum stakes, a stake bag, and tent stuff sack. I’d recommend carrying a couple of extra stakes though, including some longer ones if you need to camp on dodgy ground and or need a longer stake for greater purchase. While the Aeon Li can be used without a separate front guyline running from the front peak (where there is a pre-installed lineloc) to the ground, it’s good to carry one if you need to camp in a windy and exposed pitch. While the Dyneema fabric that the tent is made with doesn’t stretch, the tent structure does relax when one or both of the front doors are open and un-staked. Packing that extra guyline gives you extra flexibility if you need to camp in a more exposed location.
When packing the Aeon Li, Tarptent recommends folding the structure rather than stuffing it, since it compresses better that way. You’ll be happy to know that it’s easy to fit in the tent into stuff sack that Tarptent provides with the Aeon Li, something that many tent manufacturers can’t seem to get right.
While they’re spec-ed at 14″ in length, the Pitchlock poles are slightly longer than that at 14 & 1/4″, while the aluminum Peak Strut measure’s 14 & 1/2″. Unfortunately, they’re long enough that they prevent horizontal packing in certain backpacks, like a Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 or 3400 (all models). I have a difficult time coping with this because my packing regime is decidedly horizontal in nature. Personally, I’m not willing to stop using my favorite backpack to use this tent. I’ve conferred with the tent designer (Henry Shires) and it is what it is. Bottom line, check the width of your preferred backpack before you invest in an Aeon Li or choose one with the right kind of tall side pocket like a Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 or an Elemental Horizons Aquilo 75.
Comparable DCF Tents
Key: SW=Single Wall, DW=Double Wall
|Make / Model
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2
|Durston X-Mid Pro 2
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon
|MLD Duomid + Nest (all DCF)
|MLD Trailstar + Nest (all DCF)
|Tarptent Stratospire Li
|Zpacks Duplex Zip
|Tarptent Aeon Li
|Tarptent Notch Li
This has been an in-depth review of the Tarptent Aeon Li Dyneema Tent and while I’m critical about certain aspects of the tent, I’d definitely use it if I could fit it horizontally into my favorite multi-day backpack. I think Tarptent has gotten a great many things right with the design of the Aeon Li, which is simple to set up, doesn’t require a lot of fiddling or extra panel guylines to pitch, and is well fabricated. Tarptent also makes several Dyneema tents beside the Aeon Li, which I’d also encourage you to check out. My preference would be to use the Aeon Li in more protected and forested terrain, where it’s difficult to find a wide-open space to pitch a tent and the Tarptent Notch Li, which I feel is a stronger and more weather-worthy tent in windier, more exposed locales where tent space is less of a concern.
I’ve written several other Dyneema Tent Reviews this year as part of an ongoing series that you may also find useful to refer to:
Disclosure: Tarptent loaned the author an Aeon Li for this review.
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