Tarptent Dipole Li Review
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Home › Forums › Campfire › Editor’s Roundtable › Tarptent Dipole Li Review
- This topic has 72 replies, 41 voices, and was last updated 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Sean T.
Jun 22, 2022 at 1:17 pm #3753391Scott BBPL Member
To me, the obvious comparison is the Rainbow Li to the Dipole 1. Initial thoughts for this comparison:
1) weights similar
2) Dipole better in wind (but is it really? Would a Rainbow actually be blown over when a Dipole would remain standing?)
3) Dipole better for condensation seems right with the end vents and two doors
4) Rainbow better for footprint; appears tigher
5) Rainbow better for interior space, especially headspace at ends; and is square without the hourglass shape
6) Rain protection? Rainbow better at ends, Dipole better on sides. Assuming that this end curtain works fine, … I’d probably give the nod to the Dipole – but I’m a bit skeptical about these ends and would feel a bit better if it had more overhang
Personally, if I were to make a suggestion, it would be to add a couple inches width to the Dipole1. I use a wide sleeping pad, and like to arrange my stuff to either side of my head; so that I can just grab during the night. I have to add that I’m a MYOG person, and I’ve occasionally sketched around about what my “dream tent” would be, and the Dipole1 is the closest thing I’ve seen to what I’ve been drawing… my vision was a width of closer to 38″-40″ though.
I LOVE THE TWO DOORS FOR THE DIPOLE1. For breeze, condensation control, and extra protection from condensation since if you shift to the side, you’re against the mesh and not the outer wall.
Well done, Mr. Shires and co.Jun 23, 2022 at 6:11 pm #3753531Michael MBPL Member
Could this be the 2P+ trekking pole tent I’ve been looking for that can accommodate my wife, me and our 60lbs. dog? If so, I think you might have a winner Henry!Jun 24, 2022 at 7:19 am #3753550Bill in RoswellBPL Member
@roadscrape88-2Locale: Roswell, GA, USA
Ryan’s breakdown of wind speeds aligns well with the sailing world. A full gale is 39-54 mph – not a pleasant place to be in boat or tent!
Thanks to Henry and Dan, I feel that we are in the Golden Age of UL tents. But new materials are being developed that will improve on DCF – and hopefully less costly, too.Jun 24, 2022 at 8:02 am #3753554Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I agree we have some amazing UL tent designs out there currently. For several years I used a Gossamer Gear SpinnShelter (made out of Spinniker – remember that stuff?) . At the time it was the lightest fully enclosed shelter in the world at just over 10oz and I used it with just polycro, or with a SMD Metor bivy, or a Custom made inner by Alpinelite (now Yama Mtn Gear). Lot’s of UL shelters today aren’t lighter, but they are a lot more livable and more stormworthy.Jun 24, 2022 at 8:37 am #3753558Jon Fong / Flat Cat GearBPL Member
@jonfongLocale: FLAT CAT GEAR
Yes, materials are important, but what both gentlemen have done is to think outside the box and innovative structures that have great interior space and improved the user setup. I myself, like the design of the Dipole and look forward to it when it is offered in an affordable material. Great job Henry & Dan, way to raise the bar!Jun 28, 2022 at 12:00 pm #3753891Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Liked the Dipole for adding the space and comfort to what would otherwise be just another A-frame or ‘pup’ tent that can be so confining. But think it foolish to expect trekking pole tents to handle high winds, which come in all directions and forms that make data collection a fruitless approach to severe weather . And the experiences related in the current thread about stakes provide a good indication that stakes also have their limitations.
So continue to agree with the observation about “… any condition appropriate for a trekking pole tent – which is *not* extreme winds or severe storms. Look elsewhere if you need shelter for those conditions!”
The problem is that “those conditions” can often nail anyone who is out in the high country for any length of time. And that includes even some not so high Eastern US peaks, as shown by the winds frequently recorded on Mount Washington.
For that reason, frame supported tents remain the answer for those who are going to be out long enough to make severe storms a real possibility. Sure, you can get away with mild weather for a few weeks if lucky; but it is all a crapshoot.
When heaven turns to hell on earth, what has worked for me is simply descent to more protected areas, even through it can require a significant detour from the projected route. And what also helps is a frame supported tent that depends far less on stakes for survival.
Unfortunately, the lust for lightness has encouraged the production of frames that are more like loose assemblies of struts that provide limited support when the wind howls. A good frame with no loose ends for a solo tent can weigh less than six ounces using best quality filament wound carbon. That is not too great a price to pay for not using trekking pole supports in tents that are inherently unstable.Jul 11, 2022 at 8:17 pm #3754946Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Roomy and extremely well ventilated, as are most Tarptents.
Howsomever… with those large ends I’d say this is really a “forest tent” and not suited to high winds.
I’d rather endure a windstorm in my TT Notch Li than in the Dipole Li. Or better yet my TT Moment DW with the shortened X-ing pole run beneath the fly as I have done.Jul 11, 2022 at 8:29 pm #3754948Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Well, I have to say this about the Dipole in high winds – it completely surprised me.
Chase and I backpacked in the Indian Peaks last weekend, and camped above treeline in a severe thermal current corridor.
I had my anemometer with me and it recorded steady winds for 6-8 hours in the 25-35 mph range and a peak gust of 55 mph.
Early in the night, because we were lazy (it was calm when we went to bed), both of our tents (he was in a Khufu) blew down in gusts of 40-45 mph (stakes ripped out). At midnight, we restaked everything, secured with big rocks, and all was well for the rest of the night.
The Dipole (I was using the Dipole 1 Li) was impressively solid, even in broadside winds (which causes more issues than when pitched ends-into-the-wind). It was more stable by a fair margin than than my Notch Li. The end struts/guyline config on the Dipole makes it quite stable. There was almost zero movement in the trekking poles or struts at these gusts. Caveat: end and pole apex guylines were deployed (8 stake pitch).
The Dipole isn’t a winter blizzard tent, for sure, but neither is it limited to below-the-treeline use. I have way more confidence in it now than virtually any other 2-trekking pole tent I’ve used.Jul 11, 2022 at 11:53 pm #3754957
This is really useful information, Ryan. Especially the measured wind speed and height. It’s nice to see measured wind speed becoming part of the conversation. The photo is also helpful because it gives an idea of panel deflection and, indirectly, some idea of noise caused by flapping and deflection.
Low noise and high measured wind speed resistance are two things that I’ve come to increasingly value. To see discussion and measurement of these qualities on the agenda in UL shelter evaluation is great.
That’s why I’ve settled on a small 8-sided mid for alpine walking. While I’m still in the early stages of evaluation, experience so far has me thinking that these octagonal mids completely redefine, if not blow away, our expectations of high wind resistance and low noise in a low weight trekking pole supported shelter.Jul 13, 2022 at 12:53 am #3755008simon tBPL Member
What an interesting discussion.
If someone had way too much time on their hands, I’d love to see the dipole and xmid sketched up and run through cfd software.
I’ve been trying to train my instincts in such matters and would guess the X mid has the advantage on the diagonals by presenting a smaller area and being more slippery whereas the Dipole design looks like it would have the aerodynamic advantage side on and head on with good angle changes that could keep laminar flow.
I guess that if you were to test 8 wind directions at 45 degree angles, the dipole would come out on top in 4 directions (head on/side on) and the xmid in 4 directions (diagonals)
The pic of the dipole taking high winds side on is interesting. When I first saw the dipole I thought the vestibules might be vulnerable to cupping in the broadside wind but it appears that the less material and sharper angle means the upper trekking pole acts as a back stop and there is no sign of cupping. Nice.
The Dipole certainly is giving me theoretical confidence for high winds but I’d love to see it fully guyed out and taking a beating (with instrumentation for measuring wind speed).Jul 13, 2022 at 2:42 am #3755009
Somebody with the right connections needs to talk to DAC about using their wind tunnel for comparative testing. :DJul 13, 2022 at 7:23 am #3755013simon tBPL Member
pay per view wind tunnel tent off.
I bet there is at least 6 people who would pay to see that.Jul 13, 2022 at 7:37 am #3755014
But if you could get an influencer to start popularizing the idea of measured wind resistance and quietness in the wind, the number of views would skyrocket…Jul 13, 2022 at 8:20 am #3755016StumphgesBPL Member
Seventh right here!Jul 13, 2022 at 10:41 am #3755026Iago VazquezBPL Member
@iagoLocale: Boston & Galicia, Spain
Not the same, but I have seen Kevin Timm in a video or two use a leaf blower…Jul 24, 2022 at 3:19 pm #3755733Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Ryan, that story about the Dipole’s wind-worthiness is amazing. Better than the Notch Li? Also amazing.
That means the 4 fly hem loops (with reinforcements) I put on my Notch Li were well worth it. I carry 2 Ground Hog spiral stakes as a “just in case” measure with both the Notch Li and my Moment DW.
But yeah, I’ve often had to resort to heavy rocks on top of stakes to hold through a very windy night. Also, tying guy lines to logs or trees when possible is another way to insure a windy night’s good sleep.Aug 20, 2022 at 2:40 pm #3757745Michael MBPL Member
Anyone have an idea of when the Dipoles might be available to order?
mikeSep 13, 2022 at 2:25 pm #3759940Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
Well, despite Ryan’s warning about the storm-worthiness of trekking pole tents there are lightweight designs that can take big winds – the TrailStar (famously), the Kifaru Paratarp/Supertarp is an A frame design that has survived 70mph Alaskan gusts, plus of course the 8 sided teepee designs already mentioned. And they can all cope with a bit of snow as well, within reason.
But you are giving up a LOT of liveability compared to these Shires and Durston designs, and in general they require many more stakes in storm pitch.
So you pays your money and takes your choice. For the great majority, the more liveable designs are probably the better option.
In my case, I’m often camping on exposed terrain with little option to run for shelter so storm-worthiness has to take priority.
But I am certainly envious of the liveability offered by the Dipole design – especially after Ryan’s promising experience in the wind. If they ever release a more affordable silpoly version I’d be sorely tempted…Oct 16, 2022 at 9:20 am #3762021
I plan on purchasing a Dipole 2 when it is released. That said I wonder if Ill have to make the same modification to it that I had to make to a competitors 1 man tent that employs the same mesh gap from outer tent to bathtub as a means to prevent water migrating inside.
in brief, that design does not function as intended all of the time.
Not every pitch is perfect because not every surface is as flat as s pool table, as was the surface in this video review. Gear, bag, pad, etc sometimes press against the wall of the bathtub.
Either of those factors can introduce compression of the mesh or a slope inward of the mesh. When that happens water does not drip off the edge of the outer to the ground, surface tension causes the water to follow the mesh and pass through it into the interior of the bathtub wall. As anyone who’s spent hours in a tent in the rain can attest. A little water goes a long way toward making life less pleasant.
The solution for the tent I own was to purchase dyneema fabric, double sided PST on a roll and single sided dyneema PST repair tape. A two inch wide strip was added to the entire perimeter of the tent so that the ‘drip edge’ of the outer tent extends beyond the joint of the outer tent and mesh gap. Problem solved 100%. Water wont flow uphill on non absorbant dyneema.
I hope Tarptent recognizes this limitation of the mesh-gap design and adds a drip skirt. If not I’ll probably have to do it myself.Nov 9, 2022 at 1:48 pm #3764104Josh BBPL Member
@jbalisteriLocale: Western New York
Great review guys, thanks! I’m excited to try out my Dipole li 2. Should be arriving tomorrow.Nov 14, 2022 at 11:03 am #3765048
I received my Dipole 2Li and set it up during a break in rainy, windy weather here in MA. For what its worth, these are my thoughts:
1) Light, light, light, even with the carbon poles i ordered and 4 extra groundhog stakes.
2) Because the lines at each end of the tent are permanently attached, if you are not super careful unrolling, as I was not, you will have a real rats nest to untangle. It takes a bit of care to unroll the tent, sort out the lines and then create that “perfect rectangle” required for a proper pitch. Note that the instructional video on Vimeo is of a Dipole 1Li, and so the width can be managed with spread arms. Not so with the 2. I had to move around quite a bit, working on the stake placement, and then my first pitch was pretty poor. My suggestion is to partially insert all stakes until you are certain of a tight pitch. I moved my quite a bit.
I would not want to set this tent up in a rain, unlike the Notch. There was just too much fussing around to get it set up correctly.
3) The tent comes with four stakes. It should come with 8. Based on the price I really doubt the choice to send 4 is economical, perhaps it is to achieve a lower packed weight in the specification, but in truth, you do need 8 stakes. After working on the pitch for some time with just four stakes, I retrieved a few more, unrolled the supplied ridge lines and staked out the vestibule and ridgeline. A much better pitch was achieved.
4) The short ends present quite a catch to the wind. There were gusts to 20, the ground was soaked, and the tent was pitched in a “wind tunnel” created by some trees and a building. Perhaps the wind was gusting to 30. Having left the tent up to see how it would fare I returned to find it was down. The two corner stakes had pulled out by cutting through the turf then pulling up. 8″ stakes, so there was some kind of force exerted on them. That flat end presents a wall to the wind, and also a means for wind to get into and under the vestibules.
5) I made ropes for the straps supplied attached to the top of the short poles and re-staked the tent, using another pair of groundhog stakes to secure those lines. After that the pitch was drum tight and did not come loose. Winds continued and rain came.
6) I expected to see rain infiltrate the inner tent via the mesh ends. I had the vents half open and although there was a fair amount of water dripping down the mesh from the seam with the tent (there is no overhanging drip edge from the tent roof), there was no water in the tent. A small amount did collect between the mesh and the inner, though none entered the tent because the vent flap prevented it.
7) End poles should be tilted inward at the bottom. This is not shown in the setup video and Henry will likely tell me I’m wrong, and I may be, but if you don’t tilt them then rain will fall directly onto the mesh and I think it would eventually get in the tent. Tilting the stakes might prevent that so I will.
8) The vestibule is maybe a tad small. My pack would not fit in there unless I pulled the tent inner toward the inside to create room for it. OK, fine when alone, but would not work for two. It is big enough for boots and a few small bags.
9) The interior is HUGE. This is the Dipole’s single greatest feature in my opinion. See pictures of me sitting erect at one end. I am 5’11” 165. Also me laying down with my head touching one end and my feet a foot or more from the other. I love the size. There is plenty of room to move around dress, pile gear at one side or end, spend time recuperating or waiting out nasty weather.
10) Its cold. The mesh doors are always mesh, and the fly has a lot of ventilation coming under it in a breeze. The ventilation is good because it is a single wall tent, but a breeze will cool you off so if you use this in cold weather, like we are having here, bring that warmer bag, a good hat, and perhaps even a hard shell bivy to wrap the bag in. Being inside the Dipole is about a close as you can get to sleeping in the open.
Will this tent replace my Notch Li, which is by far my all-time favorite tent for virtually any trip? No. I’m still a fan of supplying my companion with their own Notch (I have two) rather than sleeping in a tent with two people in it. For a while I wondered why I’d keep the Dipole, running through trips and how I’d use it.
For trips in warm weather, in buggy circumstances, I think the Dipole would be superior. It has a lot of room inside and when the bugs get horrible after dusk and you need a place to be comfortable, relax, read and then sleep, this will be it. For those who don’t mind a tent mate, or have a pet, this tent because of its size vs. weight is unbeatable.
Here are some pictures.
First pitch before moving stakes around to square off.
A better pitch without ridgelines.
Vestibule with size 10 moccasins. They are just inside the drip line of the tent.
Me sitting at one end upright, not touching the sides or top.
Me laying down, head at one end just touching. Lots of room beyond feet.
Mesh from above when pole not tilted
Rain on mesh, but not in tent
My final perfect pitch, with 8 stakes. Hey, carry them, use them. In wind you’ll NEED them.Nov 28, 2022 at 10:16 am #3766408
OK, now I’ve had the tent setup for three weeks through all sorts of weather, some very hight winds and heavy rain. It never blew down, barely needed retensioning on the guy lines. No water inside other than that first event.
I did have to replace the webbing buckles on the short pole ends with a line lock. The buckles were not able to hold their position in sustained high winds and gusts. The webbing slipped.
After I put on the line locks and staked down that small pole peak with the pole angled inward there was never another water accumulation in the tent. Angling the pole does not appreciably reduce the tent interior area and greatly improves the ability of the tent to withstand driving rain.
As for stakes. I’ve replaced the stock stakes (4 at 1.7oz totoal) with 8 groundhog 8” stakes at 4.2oz total with pull ropes attached. I do not believe this tent would be reliable in other than calm conditions without 8 stakes, so the net gain using the 8 groundhogs is 0.9oz, assuming 8 of the stock stakes at 3.4oz total. Well worth the 1oz on my back.
The experience of watching this tent withstand some very heavy rain, freezing temps, winds gusting to 50kts, I am thoroughly impressed with the design. With time available in December I’ll be taking it out and experiencing the condensation, or lack thereof, and will report back. I very highly recommend this tent.Jan 20, 2023 at 11:42 am #3770921Sean TBPL Member
I am looking at this tent to replace my Stratospire 2 which I think is my favorite actual design but can be hard to manage in loose rocky sandy soils in the Mojave where I live. We have constant winds and regular gusts to 30mph. I find myself really working to get a solid pitch as I must rely on boulders, sand anchors etc which always end up shifting or taking a while to get set. I only use the tent when I am with my partner and medium sized dog but it would be nice to have a simplified setup while retaining the wind shedding capabilities.
My concern with the Dipole is blowing sand coming up under the vestibule and filling the tent. With the Strat 2 we have the solid inner to prevent this. I wish the Dipole had the same strip of nylon covering the bottom portion of the door as the sides have.
With strong winds am I not really solving the issue of less reliance on numerous stakes? I usually run 8 on the Strat. The reduced weight is a clear advantage of course.
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