MYOG inner tent Trailstar 2p

Having borrowed a MLD Trailstar for a family trip to Iceland recently, I urgently needed an inner tent for this tarpish shelter. So I butchered some old homemade silnylon shelters and added some newly bought rip-stop for the nice price of £ 0.99. Here is step by step introduction for a not-so-good-looking but functional two person inner-tent.

By Jörgen Johansson

A cold and windy night on Iceland, with plenty of rain as well. Pegs had to be anchored with rocks, but after that the outer and innertent worked very well.

I had not been to Iceland before, but read up a bit and concluded that an inner-tent for Iceland should not be made from mesh. If you encounter high winds in the lava sand areas this grit will penetrate mesh and make your life and gear a mess. Or so the experts said, and it seemed reasonable. Particularly since I know first hand that wind-whipped snow in the Scandinavian winter mountains will easily penetrate a vent that is only covered with mosquito netting, thus covering everything inside the tent with a powdering of fine icy crystals, ready to melt into you sleeping bag and whatnot.

In my younger days I used to be cheap-skate, but fortunately times have changed even if I have not and now people consider my behaviour being very environmentally concious. To further encourage this I decided to use an old, discarded silnylon shelter that I had made, as a floor for my two-person innertent.

I then checked out one of my favorite sites for buying really lightweight fabrics, www.thru-hiker.com and almost pressed the button and bought the required amount of the extremely lightweight Momentum 50, when I saw the price tag. That's when I concluded that it would be more environmentally friendly and in line with my modern image to buy something maybe not quite as light, that did not have to be flown across the Atlantic.

Camp in an 'oasis' in lava land.

Some browsing for light ripstop (quite a bit, it is not easy to find on European fabric sites, which is why I usually go toThru-hiker) landed me on a new website, Fabrics-n-Stuff. It turned out they had some nice yellow ripstop weighing 40-45 g/sqm (not the lightest), but the price tag of £ 0.99 made it very easy to purchase this to lower my carbon dioxide footprint.

The construction I did choose was to make a 1,6 m wide rectangle with one end triangular. The pole in the middle then gave a 0,8 m wide sleeping space for the two tenants. The sleepers will lie parallell to the opening, as opposed to with their feet towards the opening, as they do in the Oookworks inner-tent. I prefer my design for cooking and storage space, but it does of course mean that the inhabitants on occassion have to crawl across each other. Which can be either a benefit or a disadvantage, depending on the sex of the crawler and your mutual preferences.

As usual I started on the kitchen table with a long ruler, a tape measure and a marker, outlining the pieces of fabric that I would sew together.

My prefered method of cutting any lightweight synthetic material is running a soldering iron along a steel ruler on the stainless kitchen sink. Before that I had spent a considerable, and enjoyable, amount of time figuring out the measurements of the different triangles that had to be weaseled out of the 1,3 m wide fabric.

It took me many years to get used to the fact that when 'sewing' anything you spend precious little time actually sewing. There is an awful lot of planning, measuring and cutting before you actually haul out the old machine.

Sewing the zippers for the opening in place is not that complicated if you don't care too much about appearances. I focus on function, after all I am usually the only one seeing my creations in the wilds anyway.

Of course, cutting the silnylon floor is also done with the soldering iron. And the heat keeps the fabric from unravelling. Otherwise you might cut it with scissors and then run the edge close to a lit candle to achieve the same results.

Fastening the floor to the walls was a bit tricky and did not always come out perfectly, particularly since I tried to achieve some sort of bath-tub floor. Function...

The bungy cords attaching the innertent to the hooks already present on the Trailstar did not come out perfectly neither, they should have been mounted a bit higher on the inner-tent wall. Well, I was pressed for time and it turned out theydid the job. Did I mention function? Anyway, the mistakes I made for the double were a good learning experience for the solo inner-tent that I have yet to make.

As can be seen there is plenty of room, even for a 1,91 meter guy as yours truly, and also room for another person on the other side of the pole. I considered making some sort of grommeted hole for the pole in the floor, but elected to keep the floor in one piece.

Trailstar and inner-tent united for the first time in my garden.
The inner-tent worked well for sleeping two people on Iceland. There was also quite a bit of roofed space for gear and cooking outside the yellow bubble. Since the inner tent is basically rectangular the rear wall of the Trailstar creates a triangular area of some size. The Oookworks solo inner dutifully makes use of this area but I wanted to save weight and felt my inner was big enough anyway. However, this means that there is quite a big area that can used for storage between the rear walls. You can tuck things in from outside or a zipper could be added to the rear wall of the inner tent to make it more accessible.

Space for some gear and cooking.

One night there was a hard wind (I am guessing around 15 meters/s) and plenty of rain. The Trailstar stood up without problems and the inner tent was comfortably wind-proof. The innertent weighs 620 grams and the Trailstar 570 grams and the pegs 100 grams, giving a total of 1290 grams för a spacious two person tent that gives every impression of handling really poor weather pretty well.I will test this further this fall on a solo trip.

11 comments:

Dennis said...

Nice handcraft! Looks like I need some sewing skills. I think it's a good way to save some money and you can sleep inside a tent made by your own hands.

Hendrik M said...

Looks fantastic Jörgen! Great tutorial, too =)

Where are you going in autumn?

dzjow.com said...

Good work Jorgen! And thanks for the link to the new fabrics website.

Nielsen Brown said...

Once again thinking outside the box, a rectangular inner providing space for storage outside the main access/cooking area. I also like the parallel to the opening concept, that is the way I slept in mine.

MARIANNE said...

Well done, Jorgen. When I read on facebook you had made one, I wanted to contact you for the measurements, not knowing you would publish this tutorial. I made a one person cuben fiber/mesh tent, which I can use lengthwise or widthwise. So now I can try my hands on a 2person innertent. Width is 160 cm and length about 220 cm?

Anonymous said...

Nice design, did you consider using mosquito netting to lower the overall weight of the inner. At 17g/m2, you might be able to give up that lust for lightweight momentum 50 ;)

Anonymous said...

Forgot to put in the link.. http://www.extremtextil.de/catalog/Mosquito-Net-polyamide-140-mesh-qcm-17g-sqm-superultralight::1565.html

Jörgen Johansson said...

Anonymous: Yes, I will use that netting for my one person version, but it was not an option for Iceland, where I wanted/needed a fabric that would keep lava dust out.
Hendrik, In autumn it will be Sarek for a week or so :-)
Marianne, I will e-mail you my scribbles with the measurements.

Johan said...

Used a trail-star for the first time in Lappland (SE/NO) this summer for two weeks. The shelter stood up to pretty annoying winds/rain, one night one of my (big) y-stakes pulled out (first night without stones, but the ground were very firm... not enough), swung back, penetrated the canopy and landed next to me in the other end of the shelter (!). Wind speed I have no idea but standing up was sort of as a wet friday night with one too many beers "innanför västen". Aside from that incident I felt very safe in the trail star. It was very easy to relocate the opening aswell, unfortunately I had to do so a few times... I used a SMD serenity as my inner, not optimal but it worked. Unfortunately it worked pretty bad when pitching the shelter low. I'm thinking now of making my own inner. Please post your work on your one-man inner, I'd like to duplicate :)
Since there's no guy-outs the staking is key in this shelter.
I prefer to have a inner which is movable within the trail-star. Especially when the ground goes one way, the wind goes another and shifts during night so the inner suddenly blocks the entrance! Biggest draw-back is that the view often is the opposite wind-direction and therefor has to be blocked.

hampus said...

Really like that design! I recently made my own too, starting out as a tarp project... added doors, added bug net... https://www.flickr.com/photos/hampusjageland/albums/72157657513217518

Jörgen Johansson said...

A very elegant tarptent you have made, Hampus. The model is a favorite of mine, very windstable. I made something similar in Cuben fiber a couple of years ago, but got the front end to small: http://www.fjaderlatt.se/2010/09/west-of-virihaure-shelter.html

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