Pitching options for the Trailstar

During the last weeks Ivo Vanmontfort has made me a Trailstar. The shelter is an exact copy of the trailstar of Mountain Laurel Designs. When Ivo proposed me to make me a shelter, my choice was rapidly limited to two types of shelters: a pyramid or a trailstar. For those who don’t know the trailstar, this is a shelter made out of five identical triangular panels stitched together, as opposed to 4 panels in a pyramid. That way with a trailstar you get a thing that can be pitched as a tarp (not completely disconnected from the outside world) and sometimes a shelter (completely cut off from the outside world). Difficult to imagine what I’m speeking of now? It will be obvious in a moment.

After some test nights under a tyvek trailstar and a pyramid made of plastics, I knew it’s the trailstar I wanted. At first I was more leaning to the simplicity of the pyramid and its strong storm resistance, but after much contemplation the trailstar proved to yield greater benefits for myself. The pyramid is more sensitive for condensation, needs rather flat ground and rainfall falls into the shelter when the door is opened, while all this is less a problem with the trailstar and this shelter is also very stormproof when pitched low. Moreover, the trailstar has so many pitching options that you can pitch it anyway you like. You can even put the trailstar in the shape of a pyramid. These multiple configurations are what I want you to show here.

So yesterday I went to the Brechtse Heide, a heathy piece of land close to home. I pitched the trailstar in multiple pitches on the banks of one of the many pools. Here are 8 possible configurations, 6 tarp pitches and 2 shelter pitches. There are of course even more pitching options than these:

Standard pitch

When you put up a corner with a stick and keep the other four corners near the ground you get the standard pitch. This is perhaps the form in which the trailstar is pitched the most. If you put the stick at the corner very high, you’ll get a nice and quite spacious exterior view, or you can keep the pole lower in case of much wind.


Double standard pitch

If you can find a third pole or stick the possibilities will be greatly expanded. When you put two adjacent corners high each with a stick, you get a very big tarp feeling. This pitch is what I call the double standard pitch. The pole in the centre of the shelter should be put high for this pitch to keep tension on the panels.


Lean-to pitch

Two adjacent corners put high gives you the lean-to pitch. Again, you get a big tarp feeling with this pitch as the view from under the trailstar to the outside is spread over an angle of 180°.


Storm pitch

Instead of a corner, you can can put the center of the base of a panel up with a stick while you keep the five corners at or close to the ground. Although I’ve not been able to experience it myself yet, many users find this a very windproof pitch. Therefore I call this pitch the storm pitch. The view to the outside world is rather limited with this pitch and you need to get close to the ground to crawl under the shelter, perhaps less pleasant in wet weather.


Double storm pitch

Of course you can also put up two centers of two not adjacent panels so you have created two low entrances.


Pentagon pitch

The trailstar put to the ground with the base of all the panels is what I call the pentagon pitch. Of course you have no entrance with this pitch so you have to slide your body under the base of a panel to get into the shelter, or just easier is to temporarily loosen one corner. This pitch is probably the most stormproof, but is prone to condensation on the other hand.


Tilted pentagon pitch

When you keep the trailstar in the pentagon pitch but when tilting trailstar while keeping one base to the ground then you get the tilted pentagon pitch. This arrangement can actually be seen as a special case of the standard pitch. The difference with the standard pitch is that you just ensure that the base of the panels remain in the form of a flat pentagon. The corners adjacent to the corner perpendicular to the panel with its base near the ground, are now hovering well above the ground while they stay closer to the ground in the standard pitch. The tilted pentagon pitch gives you again a large tarp feeling.


Pyramid shelter pitch

Strange but true, you can pitch the trailstar as a pyramid. Make sure you have four corners put in a square. You double fold the free panel along an adjacent panel and keep the corner tightly against the panel with a peg.


With this pitch, there is no direct entrance to the shelter. To get in the shelter, you loosen the peg of the free panel, pull the panel over your head and step into the narrow opening that’s created between the two adjacent panels when you pull the free panel over your body (see video). To get a tight pyramid you have to put the centre pole rather high. The Pyramid shelter pitch is a lot steeper and higher and less stormproof than the more ideal form that I made with the plastic version and for example as the MLD speedmid. Furthermore, I expect much condensation with this pitch. Finally you need to sleep under the shelter diagonally while placing the pole inclined of the centre on the floor. In practice, I expect that this pitch will be rarely used.

I haven’t found the time yet to take the trailstar on a trip. Practical experience with the trailstar will definitely follow in the future.

4 thoughts on “Pitching options for the Trailstar

  1. Looks really interesting! I would like to try solo hiking and a tarp seems excellent for that purpose. However I don’t really know how to get started, what to buy and such.
    Time for an afternoon of internet searching I guess!

  2. Excellent. My trailstar just arrived, I’d never seen one pitched in anything but the ‘standard’ guise. I’ll be referring back to this post! Cheers

  3. dzjow, this is excellent – I’d been looking at videos and pictures of the trailstar. The configurations and shapes seemed so different I couldn’t understand if they were all using the same shelter. But you have explained this perfectly. Many thanks, tom

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