I purchased my Tarptent Notch in December 2015 so I thought that it was about time that I published some sort of review.
The version that I ordered in 2015 was with a mesh inner. However, last year in 2017, I bought the partial solid mesh inner for it so now I have both types. When I purchased my Notch in DEC 2015 the below specs were listed on the Tarptent site.
Weight 27oz (770 g) includes 4 x 6” stakes
Max Floor Width 32 in (81 cm)
Floor Length 84 in (213 cm)
Interior Height 43 in (109 cm) adjustable
Floor Area 15.2 sq ft (minimum) (1.4 sq m minimum)
Stakes (included) 4 x 6 in
Packed size 16 x 3.5 in (41 x 9 cm)
Dual trekking pole support
Double wall, dual entry, and dual vestibules
Separate living compartment clips up to fly and is completely removable.
Separate living compartment sets up independently. Interior never gets wet during entry, exit, setup or takedown in storms.
Generous vestibules for excellent gear storage space
Taut pitch with PitchLoc foldable corners
Reflective spectra cord guylines
Fast setup — about 1 minute from sack to pitched
Integrated line tighteners
The Tarptent Notch is a one person tent and it is a 3+ seasons Silnylon shelter. I have used it in all types of weather all year round. It has been used in gusty storms, snow, winter temperatures down to minus 13℃, hard rain and summer hot weather.
It should be noted that when you purchase the Notch it is advised that the seams should be sealed with a silicone-based sealer in order to waterproof the tent. So the weight of 770 grams is before you seam-seal it.
I contacted Henry Shires, the founder of Tarptent, asking for advice on seam-sealing the shelter and what type of silicone based sealer I should use.
I emailed Henry in JAN 2016 and wrote:
“I can see that from your site you have a seam-sealing kit which is not on the Danish site. I want to seam seal my Notch and just need some advice from you. I have found a McNett Silicone Sil Net TM in a store over here. Photo attached. Do I need to mix this with mineral spirits or do I just apply it as is? Or do I need to find another silicone-based sealer if this is no good?”
Henry replied the very next day with:
“Silent works fine although it’s a little thick and hard to apply. There’s not much to do on the Notch so using it straight is fine. Do seal the two apex areas as well as the 4 vestibule tie-ups. On the inside, paint the center seam and add two more parallel lines either side of the seam to help limit sliding.”
So that is what I did. After seam-sealing the weight came up to to 836 grams which includes the partial solid mesh interior + two apex pullouts for vestibule tensioning. This weight does not include the stakes.
The Notch is very easy to setup. It only takes me a couple of minutes to do so. You just spread it out on the ground. Set your trekking poles to anywhere between 110-115 cm. Pull out one end of the canopy spreading the strut ends apart. Then insert a stake through the guyline loop and stake to ground. Do the same on the opposite end. Then insert a trekking pole, handle end first, through a vent opening so that the pole tip goes into grommet on underside of the vent. Repeat this on the other side vent. Then pull the ridgelines out until the canopy is taut. Adjust end tensions and vertical pole positions until the shape is symmetrical and the ridgeline is only slightly curved.
Sometimes my pitches tend to be curved a little too much. Practice makes perfect they say. I also found it best to adjust the height no higher than 110 cm so that I can attach the velcro fasteners at he bottom of the trekking poles from the bathtub floor. That way I can manage to keep the inner a nice distance from the fly. If the bathtub floor is too high then it touches the fly at the top and then, if there is any moisture present, the water can enter the inner because it is touching the fly. I know this because it has happened to me.
I added the two apex pullouts. I would recommend anyone to do the same because you can tension the vestibules and the result is a much nicer pitch with only a slightly curved ridgeline.
The fly end vents can be adjusted to suit conditions using the interior tie-ups. For normal mild conditions and maximum ventilation, you can leave them open. For more severe weather conditions you can untie them and close them using the velcro strips. When I use the partial solid inner I tend to have them open all the time.
More ventilation can be achieved by tying back the fly doors if the weather is good and there is no rain. Or you can open the zipper on the fly and just engage the buckle at the base of the zipper to hold the fly door in position.
You can also erect the inner compartment as a stand-alone unit if you wish and you are certain that it won’t rain and don’t require the fly. I have never tried this. It almost always rains in Scandinavia.
The best way to avoid condensation is maximal ventilation and not erecting the Notch in condensation prone areas, like valleys and close to water sources. I find it best to find a spot where there is a slight breeze present and on a rise maybe and a good distance from sunken, wet sites. Sometimes you don’t have much choice but the more ventilation you can provide for the Notch the better. Using these guidelines I have not had too many issues with condensation in the Notch.
Silnylon tents will sag no matter what. Before I go to bed, I tighten the guylines. Next morning the Notch is all sagged. This can’t be helped because, unlike my DCF “Dyneema Composite Fabrics” shelter, the nylon will stretch, sag and absorb water. You can however tighten the pitch a little from inside the Notch by lengthening the trekking poles. In the photo below you can see the sag on the Notch after a very wet November night back in 2016.
The Notch packs down into a long sausage type package. This shape is a little awkward to pack sometimes. If I have my smaller HMG Windrider 2400 pack I’ll just strap it on top like in the below photo.
When using my HMG Windrider 3400 pack, which is larger, I attach it to the side. See below.
You can however remove the four struts from the fly and stuff the Notch to make it smaller. I have never tried this method.
The bathtub floor is a nice size for me. I’m about 175 cm and there is still room for some gear placed at one end of the floor, usually above my head. I will normally leave my pack in one of the vestibules on the side that I’m not using to enter the Notch with. There is also plenty of room in the vestibules for your shoes and other gear like cooking items etc.
The mesh inner is suitable for mild 3 season use in good weather. I use the partial solid inner in more autumn-winter gusty conditions. I can still have the end vents open but the partial-solid inner will keep me protected from the cold Scandinavian winds. I tend to sleep very well in my Notch. It is quite cozy actually.
Things I like about the Tarptent Notch
- it’s narrow width and size is great for pitching in those small awkward sites where a slightly larger shelter can’t be pitched
- the Notch’s 836 grams is an acceptable light-weight shelter (weight after seam sealing)
- easy to enter and exit from both sides
- very easy and fast to setup
- not expensive
- with the 109 cm interior height there is plenty of room to sit up
Things I don’t like about the Tarptent Notch
- you could leave the doors open in slight rain however there is not much clearance from the fly to the inner so rain will enter the inner and you are more or less forced to close the fly doors in rain weather
- if the wet fly doors come into contact with the mesh inner sides, which happens every time I exit the Notch, then the moisture will enter the inner, so keep your down quilt or sleeping bag away from the side when exiting
- the Silnylon absorbs moisture and will pack away wet and heavy if you can’t get it dried out before you start hiking for the day. With my DCF shelter I just wipe it down and pack it reasonably dry as it doesn’t absorb water.
In conclusion the Tarptent Notch is an affordable, lightweight easy to use/setup shelter. I also have a DCF shelter which packs smaller and is lighter so it has been my go to shelter for some time. However the Notch is still a true favourite of mine and after the upgrade to the partial solid inner it has come back on my recent packing lists.
Thanks for reading