Tarptent Notch Tent Review

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

Tarptent Notch Tent

Comfort
Ease of Setup
Weather Resistance
Durabilty
Weight
Packed Size

Well Designed

The Tarptent Notch is a 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.

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The Tarptent Notch is a single person, double wall 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, 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 easy to pitch in very dense forests with few suitable tent sites between the trees.

Ventilation

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 the tip of the 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 that 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 the 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-wall 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.

Comparable Trekking Pole Tents

Make / ModelPeopleTypeMaterialWeightPrice
Tarptent Notch Li1Double WallDyneema DCF18.7 oz$599
REI Flash Air 11Single WallSil/PU20 oz$249
Gossamer Gear "The One"1Single WallSil/PU20.6 oz$299
Tarptent Protrail1Single WallSilnylon26 oz$229
Six Moons Lunar Solo1Single WallSilpoly26 oz$230
Dan Durston X-Mid 11Double WallSilpoly28 oz$200
Sierra Designs High Route1Double WallSil/PeU28 oz$300
Zpacks Duplex2Single WallDyneema DCF19.4 oz$549
Tarptent Stratospire Li2Double WallDyneema DCF26 oz$689
Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline 2P2Single WallSilpoly35.3 oz$395

Recommendation

The Tarptent Notch is a very flexible one person double-wall tent that can be pitched as a standalone fly or a complete double-wall 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

Likes

  • 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

Dislikes

  • 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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6 comments

  1. The TT NOTCH is the hiking pole supported version of the TT MOMENT DW which uses a sectioned aluminum pole arch in a sleeve.

    I have the MOMENT DW with the ripstop interior and have used it in all 4 seasons very successfully. For winter I use the optional CROSSING POLE except I shortened it about 5 ” and ran it under the fly. Much more stable that way and gives more support to the fly in high winds.

    Now Tarptent has the NOTCH Lithium of Dyneema fabric. SPENDY!

    • UPDATE: I recently bought a 2020 Gen. 2 TT Notch Li (Dyneema fabric) tent and at $600. it Is “spendy” but also likely THE highest quality Dyneema solo tent on the market. I say this because Dyneema fabric, although strong, requires special reinforcement at stress points to have the necessary durability. Henry Shires has designed his Dyneema tents with redundant reinforcements at all stress points. No other Dyneema tent maker does a better job at this.

      That is why, when I decided to sew on 4 stale loops on the fly hem, I added a Dyneema circle (wrapped around the edge of the hem) PLUS a larger Tenacious Tape circle overlapping the first reinforcement. I wanted to recreate Tarptent’s attention to reinforcement detail and I think I succeeded.

      Since TT changed all their Dyneema tent fabrication to China due to loss of a lot of qualified labor in the Us the quality has actually improved to what I’d call Hilleberg standards.

      • How does the Notch do in windy conditions? I like to backpack in Iceland where there it’s windy and there’s very little cover. I’ve taken the Stratospire 1 to Iceland. It works well in the wind but I find it a bit difficult to put up when it’s windy. The Notch seems like a potential solution.

      • The Notch is good for wind, but it will flap more, including if you use an external support pole. I think the Stratospire 1 is much more wind worthy.

  2. I have modded my Notch Li with 4 fly hem stake loops sewn to circles of Dyneema tape folded so 1/2 the circle is inside the fly and 1/2 outside. Then I layered slightly larger Tenacious Tape circles over the Dyneema tape circles. (Belt and suspenders). I added these loops to stop flapping in high winds.

    The Stratosphere 1 could also use fly hem stake loops, BTW.

    Next will use RIT Dyemore synthetic fabric dye for the “solid” panels of the inner tent, dyeing them green for shade and privacy.

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