The Tarptent ProTrail Li is a single-wall Dyneema trekking pole tent that weighs 15.95 ounces. It’s basically a very simple A-frame style rainfly with a floating bathtub floor that is attached to the sidewalls and ends with noseeum mesh. This lets you pitch the fly “high” so that air can flow through the mesh or “low” to prevent windswept rain from being blown inside. Being a single-wall tent, this extra airflow helps to significantly reduce any internal condensation, even on hot and humid nights or in the rain. Tarptent also sells a silnylon model which is considerably less expensive (click for our review.)
Specs at a Glance
- Tent: 15.95 oz
- Stuff sack: 0.5 oz
- 4 stakes plus stake stuff sack: 1.25 oz
- Person: 1
- Type: Trekking pole tent: 2 poles required (accessory poles available)
- Construction: Single wall
- Material: Dyneema DCF, noseeum mesh
- Minimum number of stakes to pitch: 4
- Includes: 4 x 6″ Easton aluminum nano stakes
- Peak height: 45″
- Floor width: 42″-30″
- Floor length: 84″
If the ProTrail Li sounds like it’s one step up from sleeping under a tarp and in a bug bivy, that’s exactly how you should be thinking about it. It’s a single-person shelter that you can use for narrow stealth or pre-existing campsites. But it is a tent with a front door, front vestibule, and a rear window, so it provides more protection than a tarp/bug bivy combo. It’s also easier to set up and only requires 4 stakes to pitch. There’s a surprising amount of headroom, it’s easy to get dressed and undressed inside, and the bathtub floor is wide enough that you can sleep with most of your gear inside next to you.
Entry is through the front and there’s enough interior space that you can get in headfirst and still turn around inside. You’ll probably want to sleep with your head at the door end because that’s where the most headroom is, but you don’t have to. The front pole can be offset at an angle to make getting in and out easier. Unless it’s raining, I usually sleep with the front door open, but you can also close it for privacy.
When the front door is zippered closed, it’s flat and doesn’t form a triangular front vestibule like many other front entrance tents. While this is less aerodynamic, it provides more usable storage space and makes it much easier to get in and out of the tent. You can also unzip the front door, roll it up, and “tie it back” using a magnetized version of a door toggle that Tarptent first introduced with their Dyneema Aeon Li Tent last summer. These are much less frustrating to use than the dowels and elastic loops you find on other tents.
The ProTrail Li also has a mesh-backed back window which can be closed with solid panels or left open for ventilation. It also uses the same magnetic tie-tieback system as the front door, although you must be inside the tent to configure it. When it’s open, it also helps prevent condensation from forming on the footbox of your sleep insulation.
The Tarptent ProTrail Li fly is made with a spruce green 0.51 oz/yd-2 Dyneema DCF, while the grey floor is made with 1 oz/yd-2 Dyneema DCF. The fly is strong enough for use in protected campsites without high wind, while the floor is thick enough for use without a footprint if you’re sleeping on top of forest duff and not on sand or more abrasive surfaces. If you do manage to wear a hole in the floor, Dyneema DCF is very easy to repair with a patch (supplied free from Tarptent) or tape.
The fly is translucent and lets in a fair amount of light and heat if you set it up in direct sunlight. These can both be factors in your tent site selection. The primary advantage of using Dyneema DCF, besides its 38% weight savings over silnylon, is that it doesn’t sag at night or when it gets wet. For example, when I’ve used the silnylon version of the Tarptent ProTrail, I’ve found it necessary to guy out the center of the sidewalls to counteract sagging in wet weather. That’s not needed at all with the ProTrail Li sidewalls which stay drumhead tight all night and/or when it rains. The ProTrail Li also does not require seam-sealing like Tarptent’s silnylon tents and dries very quickly when exposed to sunlight after a night of rain.
The ProTrail Li is trivial to set up and you can do it in the rain without getting the inside of the tent wet. As a Pacerpole trekking pole user, I also really appreciate that trekking poles are inserted into grommets in the ceiling, tips up so that the tent can be used with any style of trekking pole handle. Tarptent has a lot of UK customers where Pacerpoles are popular and I wouldn’t be surprised if this design choice was deliberate for that reason.
Tearing down and packing up the tent is also quite simple because the ProTrail Li doesn’t have any additional carbon-fiber struts (called Tarptent Pitchlocks) incorporated into the tent body. The Tarptent models that have these struts can be impossible to pack horizontally into narrow backpacks because they have a fixed length that’s wider than the pack bag. But the ProTrail Li can be folded and rolled up quite narrowly, so it can fit horizontally in any backpack. That’s a big deal for me, which is one reason why I purchased this particular tent. I also really like this shape and style of tent for forested, more protected terrain.
Comparable Dyneema DCF Tents
Key: SW=Single Wall, DW=Double Wall
|Make / Model||SW/DW||People||Vestibules||Weight|
|Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2||SW||1-2||2||24 oz|
|Durston X-Mid Pro 2||SW||2||2||19.6 oz|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon||DW||2||2||22 oz|
|MLD Duomid + Nest (all DCF)||DW||2||1||26 oz|
|MLD Trailstar + Nest (all DCF)||DW||1||1||20.5 oz|
|Tarptent Stratospire Li||DW||2||2||27.7 oz|
|Zpacks Duplex||SW||2||2||19.0 oz|
|Zpacks Duplex Zip||SW||2||2||20.4 oz|
|Tarptent Aeon Li||SW||1||1||15.8 oz|
|Tarptent Notch Li||DW||1||2||21.5 oz|
|Zpacks Plexamid||SW||1||1||15.3 oz|
The Tarptent ProTrail Li is a 15.95 oz ultralight, single-wall, Dyneema DCF trekking pole tent sized for one person. It has a spacious interior, lots of headroom, and excellent airflow to offset the buildup of internal tent condensation that can plague single-wall tents if you’re not careful with tent site selection (See How to Prevent Tent Condensation.) I like the ProTrail Li because it’s easy to pack in narrow ultralight type backpacks, it’s absurdly lightweight, and it’s easy to find well-protected and forested tent sites for it because it’s relatively narrow. Those are pretty narrow and well-defined criteria for tent selection. If you’re trying to decide if the ProTrail Li (or the less expensive silnylon ProTrail) is right for you, consider the climate where you plan to use this tent, the size, and the characteristics of the tent sites there, and if you prefer a front-entry or side-entry tent. That will help you decide if the ProTrail Li is as right for you as it is for me.
Disclosure: The author purchased this tent.