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Tarptent Dipole 1 DW Tent Review

Tarptent Dipole 1 DW Tent Review

The Tarptent Dipole 1 DW is an ultralight double-wall trekking-pole tent made with silicone-coated polyester that weighs 30.35 oz. It’s a spacious tent with two doors and two vestibules that can accommodate wide sleeping pads or tall hikers. The advantage of using a double-wall tent over a single-wall one is that internal condensation transfer is a non-issue since the mesh inner tent prevents you from coming in contact with moisture. In addition, you can pitch the Dipole 1 DW in pouring rain and the inner tent will remain dry. Tarptent also makes a single wall version made using Dyneema DCF called the Dipole 1 Li, which is similar in form but has several differences.

Specs at a Glance

  • Type: Double Wall
  • Weight: 30.35 oz
  • Vestibules: 2
  • Seam-sealing: Required (pay Tarptent to do this for you)
  • Minimum Number of Stakes to Pitch: 4; Recommended: 6
  • Trekking Poles: 2 (not included)
  • Required Trekking Pole Length: 45-48 in / 114.3-122 cm
  • Interior Height: 43 in / 109 cm
  • Floor Width (tapered): 36″ (91 cm) at the ends, 28″ (71 cm) in middle
  • Floor Length: 84 in / 213 cm (fully useable)
  • Packed size: 11 in x 5 in / 28 cm x 12.7 cm (foldable strut option)
  • Rainfly: 20D nano ripstop 100% silicone-coated polyester (HH 3000mm)
  • Floor: 30D double ripstop 100% silicone coated nylon 66 (HH 3000mm)
  • For full specs visit the Dipole 1 DW at Tarptent.com

The Dipole 1 DW is similar to the Tarptent Notch but has more interior room and better ventilation at the head and foot ends. The Dipole 1 has two doors and two vestibules which is very handy in a tent, both for covered gear storage and increased airflow. Two vents can be opened at the head and foot end to provide additional airflow when the vestibule doors are closed, even when it’s raining.

The Tarptent Dipole 1 DW has a pyramid shape with two peaksBeing a double wall tent, the inner mesh tent and the rainfly are separable, although you can keep them connected, making it easy to set up the tent in one go. While the tent has two peaks, guying them out and the side vestibules below them is, in fact, optional, since the tent can be pitched with just four stakes in the four corners.

However, the setup does require using four 9 in (22.8 cm) Easton Nanos tent stakes (included) with good holding power. This can be difficult in rocky soil conditions, however. For example, I had to move the tent above three times to get it pitched on a campsite at the top of a mountain because the soil was too rocky and I couldn’t drive the stakes in far enough. The design of the tent requires very firm anchorage and getting a deep bite with the tent stakes is essential.

Exterior struts increase the ceiling height at the tent’s ends
Exterior struts increase the ceiling height at the tent’s ends

The head and foot ends of the Dipole 1 DW also have external struts, which increase the headroom and foot room at the ends of the tent. The problem with many pyramids and A-frame tents or tarps is that your face and the tops of your feet are just inches below the sloping ceiling, something that the use of these struts addresses. Tarptent was the first tent manufacturer to incorporate these struts (also called PitchLocks) to raise tent ceilings many years ago and they make a huge difference in livability.

Closeup of the strut with fly looped over the top for added ventilation
Closeup of the strut with fly looped over the top for added ventilation – you can see my grey sleeping pad inside the inner tent.

In addition, the fabric at the ends of the tents can be raised and looped over the end struts to increase internal ventilation. I’ve found that the additional ventilation they provide is sufficient to keep any internal condensation at bay even when the side vestibule doors are shut in heavy rain.

The struts increase space at the foot end - note pockets in the corners of the inner tent.
The struts dramatically increase space at the foot end – note pockets in the corners of the inner tent.

The Dipole has two vestibule doors with peaks and water-resistant zippers. The peaks come pre-guyed out with line loc tensioners, and I stake them out of habit. This isn’t strictly necessary though (since the tent can be pitched with just 4 corner stakes) which can be handy if you have to pitch up in a densely forested tent site where long guylines are inconvenient. The peaks are reinforced inside and have a grommet to capture the tip of your trekking poles. You can also insert the handle end into the peaks if you like, too.

The vestibule doors are joined by a water resistant zipper
The vestibule doors are joined by a water-resistant zipper

You can roll back both vestibule doors on one or both sides of the tent for maximum airflow and views. The L-shaped zippers on the inner tent are mirror images of one another so you can pick which is easier to get in and out of without having to orient the tent or turn your sleeping pad around.

You can roll back both vestibule partially or fully for maximum ventilation.
You can roll back both vestibules partially or fully for maximum ventilation.

Both of the vestibule doors on each side of the tent have magnetic tiebacks which are much easier to use than the dowels and loops still found on most tents. Tarptent uses one guyline to stake out the peak with a small plastic hook to secure the bottom of one of the vestibule doors, but not both. Unfortunately, that plastic hook is really hard to use and see and I’d recommend replacing it with the double hook apparatus that Zpacks sells which is both more functional and visually higher contrast.

Both vestibule doors have a small webbing loop at the base. Threading this small hook through one is difficult. A dual hook would be much easier to use.
Both vestibule doors have a small webbing loop at the base. Threading this small hook through one is difficult. A dual hook would be much easier to use.

The end struts are two 18-inch carbon fiber rods that slot into top and bottom retainers during setup but are removable when packing the tent. They are available in a fixed length or a collapsible folding form with a maximum segment length of 11 inches which makes it much easier to pack the tent horizontally in a narrow ultralight backpack. Women’s backpacks are also narrower than men’s.

The struts fold making it much easier to pack the tent horizontally in narrow ultralight backpacks.
The struts fold making it much easier to pack the tent horizontally in narrow ultralight backpacks.

The packability of these struts was an issue I raised when reviewing the Tarptent Aeon Li several years ago. The struts on that tent are slightly longer than 14″, which made it impossible to pack the tent horizontally in the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest packs I was using at that time. I now use a Zpacks Arc Haul 60 and the Dipole 1 DW with folding struts fits horizontally inside it without any issues.

The dual vestibules are a real luxury in terms of gear storage, ventilation, and wilderness immersion.
The dual vestibules are a real luxury in terms of gear storage, ventilation, and wilderness immersion.

The livability of the Dipole 1 DW in between the two vestibules and the end struts is superb. The inner mesh tent has four corner pockets suspended over the bathtub floor walls that are great for storing all your essentials. There are additional mitten hooks in the peaks, which are good for suspending glasses up and out of the way, although they could also be used to suspend a clothesline or gear loft (sold separately).

There’s still lots of headroom even though I’m sleeping on a 4 inch thick air mattress and a pillow.
There’s still lots of headroom even though I’m sleeping on a 4 inch thick air mattress and a pillow.

The width of the inner mesh tent is 36″ at the ends, tapering to 28″ in the middle, which is more than enough space for a wide 25″ sleeping pad. The length is 84″ and fully usable, making the tent suitable for quite tall hikers.

A solid inner tent is also available as an option and is suitable for cooler and windier conditions. The inner tent can be set up by itself for insect protection using trekking poles and the end struts, as can the rain fly when a more tarp-like configuration is desired. The rain fly can also be pulled back halfway to expose the inner tent for star-gazing (see Tarptent.com for pictures of these additional configurations.)

Recommendation

The Tarptent Dipole 1 DW is a spacious double-wall trekking pole tent that is compatible with wide sleeping pads and suitable for tall hikers. It has two doors with vestibules and struts at the ends that raise the ceiling providing more headroom and foot room inside. Made with siliconized polyester which resists stretching when it gets wet, the Dipole 1 DW has a 3000 mm hydrostatic head which far exceeds the waterproof rating of most tents made with more conventional fabrics like nylon and polyester. Its spacious interior and height make it easy to change clothes inside the tent and pack your gear, even if it’s raining outside. If you’re looking for an affordable and spacious double-wall trekking pole tent, suitable for 3+ season backpacking and camping, the Dipole 1 DW should be on your shortlist. It is a really sweet tent.

Dipole 1 DW Setup Video

Disclosure: Tarptent donated a tent for review.

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12 comments

  1. Bill in Roswell GA

    Thanks so much for reviewing the Dipole DW, as it fits the needs of a large group of backpackers. I’ve been a Tarptent owner since 2004. Been a Dan Xmid fan of his DW tents. But Henry keeps coming up with new ideas well thought and executed. Your review covered all the main points of the Dipole quite well. One concern Ive seen on the Li version is the short end rain covers. Ppl “feel” they might leak in sideways rain. You were forest camping, but from all reports the end rain covers work very well. I would think this tent appeals to UK and Scottish hikers as they demand DW tents, and wind driven rain is expected on the grassy moors and peaks. Any hiker in wild weather will appreciate the fly panels reaching the ground.

  2. Hope are hiking pole supported tents used on wooden platforms like those in the Green Mountains without using stakes? Platforms were quite wide.

  3. I always found/find my Tarp Tents (Stratospire and Rainshadow 3) to be quite fussy to set up. Maybe I’m too impatient! Pretty happy with Duplex + Flex Kit (to deal with hard ground and sand). But condensation is such a pain — so I carefully read and enjoyed your review. Thanks again.

    • Another great review/article.
      An interesting time. The evolution of light backpacking equipment is rapid. FYI- I was able to easily consult with Henry Shires re: my needs and wants re a solo tent. This Dipole DM1 model was the final recommendation. Custom approach. The same holds true faith for Dan Durston re his models.

      Would be good to see reviews re northern “shoulder seasons” also. Any comments on same appreciated

      thanks for thorough review

  4. Great review. Deciding between the Dipole DM2 and Durston mid1. Which has greater headroom supine?

  5. ” I had to move the tent above three times to get it pitched on a campsite at the top of a mountain because the soil was too rocky and I couldn’t drive the stakes in far enough.”

    My biggest concern with this tent is the time it takes to find an acceptable pitch. Not only for the stakes, but having enough area for the fly. TT claims “can be pitched in under 1.5 minutes”…unless it takes 30 min to find an acceptable spot. But, all trekking pole tents need tension. Is the Durston X-mid 1 any less fussy to set up? Some have commented that aligning the inner tent on level ground is extra work.

    I agree with an earlier comment that reading reviews from use in northern shoulder seasons would be helpful. Particularly the solid inner options at higher, more exposed terrain.

    • When the Durston X-mid came out I noted (since I measure all tents because mfg measurements are misleading) that it had quite a large footprint making it less suitable for forested pitches. That’s still true today. As for finding goodpitches, its a skill, and in the NE you really can make your life easier if you have a freestanding tent or tarp and an inflatable pad. :-)

      • Those totally make sense in the NE. Especially for platforms! Above tree line in the NW Rockies in early Sept it’s a bit different needs. UL freestanding like Nemo, BA (even MSR) have issues in heavy wind. Not sure I’d be tough enough to deal with wind-driven snow and sleet or rain/hail in a tarp though those are great for the mildly claustrophobic. :)

        That’s where your reviews of many tents are so helpful to narrow the choices. The SMD Trekker (pentagonal) with PEX crossbar has done really well, but that condensation drip & sag in that single wall is a pain with just a little snow/ice.

        X-mid and Dipole have narrower (sitting) semi-rectangular interiors and rely even more on good staking tension. TT Moment DW is heavier, tighter and lower. LHG Firefly has great interior space (pentagonal) and a top vent (w/mesh?) but still has that pesky single wall (head and foot). LHG gave up on sil-poly and went back to sil-ny (stronger) so there’s the sag issue as well. Rats… Running out of good options.

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