The Tarptent Stratospire Li is a two-person, trekking pole tent produced by Henrey Shire’s Tarptent. The unique geometry of this tent makes it capable of fending off harsh winds and rain and moderate snow loads. The double wall design and numerous venting options offer excellent breathability. Dyneema fabric makes this tent extremely waterproof. The Stratospire Li is my go-to tent for solo trips when don’t expect campsite space to be an issue or when I may need to share, or if I want the option to linger.
Tarptent Stratospire Li Specs
- Weight: 28 ounces
- Floor Area: 26.8 square feet
- Interior Height: 45 inches
- Max Interior Width: 45 inches
- Max Interior Length: 26 inches
- Seasons: 3-4
- Type: Double Wall, Trekking Pole Supported
- Fabric: Dyneema Composite Fabric
- Sleeps: 2
- Doors: 2
- Vestibules: 2
- Price: $689 to $709 depending on options
Tarptent Stratospire Li Overview
The Tarptent Stratospire Li is not a tarp. It is a fully enclosed, double walled tent with a bathtub floor. The Tarptent Stratospire Li is supported by two trekking poles placed diagonally across the midpoint and two sets of short carbon-fiber struts placed at opposite corners. The use of trekking poles saves weight for those who carry them. (For those who don’t carry trekking poles, Tarptent does offer a set of lightweight replacement poles.)
The corner “pitch-lock” struts serve to raise the height of the roof over the floor, increasing usable space. They also form “end ports” which can be opened or closed to enhance ventilation or keep out harsh weather.
The Tarptent Stratospire Li features two extremely large vestibules and diagonally opposed doors. The vestibules are large enough to store wet gear like boots and snowshoes. I feel safe cooking in the vestibules, but you should always be very careful about this.
Trekking Pole Support
Like many lightweight backpacking shelters, the Tarptent Stratospire Li is supported by trekking poles. I really like the idea of using trekking poles to support my shelter because I already carry them. I think it is a shame to carry purpose-made tent poles all day that do nothing for you except at night.
There are some circumstances when trekking pole support may not be ideal. Using trekking poles, the Tarptent Stratospire Li is not self-standing. It must be staked out in four directions to stay erect. This may be difficult on very soft or very hard ground or on tent platforms. Consider carrying platform anchors if you think this might be an issue.
Trekking pole tents also don’t make ideal base-camp tents because they cannot be left up while you go out on day-hikes. Tarptent does offer optional lightweight poles for the Stratospire Li. These could be a good option if you like the idea of a trekking pole tent but want the option to leave it set up during the day. If you want a tent that can be left up with no trekking poles, consider Tarptent’s Double Rainbow.
Corner Ports and Struts
Two corners of the Tarptent Stratospire Li are supported by removable carbon-fiber struts. These struts serve to increase usable floor space by raising the ceiling over the sleeper’s head and feet. The struts are light, but they prevent the tent from being stuffed into a sack. The struts can be removed for those who want to stuff the Tarptent Stratospire Li. The A-Frame shaped ports can be opened or closed using Velcro to increase ventilation or block out weather. I keep my end ports open in nearly all conditions because I prefer the cold breeze over a stuffy interior.
Vestibules & Doors
The doors on the Tarptent Stratospire Li are diagonally opposed. I really like this arrangement. Regardless of which direction the wind is blowing, at least one door can be opened without exposing the interior to the weather. This is superior design to many tents with symmetric door arrangements.
One feature of this tent that I do not like are the door retainers. The outer vestibule doors are held open by small magnets, but they come undone easily anytime the tent is jostled. I would prefer Velcro or a clip.
The vestibules of the Tarptent Stratospire Li are huge! They provide ample space for storing gear that you don’t want inside the tent: boots, snow shoes, etc.. I consider these vestibules large enough to cook in, but be warned! Cooking in your tent poses many dangers. You may light your tent on fire and then you’ll have no place to sleep. You could fill the tent up with toxic carbon monoxide gas and die. Cooking or storing food near your tent may also attract animals.
In its normal configuration, the Tarptent Stratospire Li is supported on its sides by guy-out points at the corner of the vestibule. The tent also comes with linloc line tensioners at each apex. These can be used to support optional guy-lines on either side of the tent. Using these guy lines, either side of the Stratospire Li can be entire rolled back for superior views and ventilation.
The Tarptent Stratospire Li can be ordered with full-mesh or partial-solid interiors. The full-mesh interior provides excellent ventilation and bug protection during warmer seasons. The partial-solid interior has white fabric that covers the wall about halfway up the sleeping area. This white fabric serves to block the wind and reflect radiant heat back at the sleeper. the Tarptent Stratospire Li Rainfly and either interior can be set up independently. When forced to camp in a buggy lean-to, I like to hang my mesh interior from the rafters to form a protective bug bivy.
Setting up the Tarptent Stratospire Li can be tricky, but with practice you can set this tent up in just 2-3 minutes. I follow a different approach to setting up the Stratospire than those recommended in Tarptent’s video. I also ALWAYS use the optional apex guy-lines for added strength.
- Spread out the tent body and loosely stake out the four corners. Do not stake out the vestibules corners.
- Set your trekking poles to 125 centimeters or 49 inches.
- Slide a trekking pole into one of the open top vent-ports and place the point into the grommet
- Loosely stake out the apex guy line on that side of the tent.*
- Slide the other trekking pole into the open top vent on the other side
- Stake out the apex guy-line on that side of the tent.*
- Now stake out the vestibule corners or roll back the vestibule flaps.
- Walk around the tent, adjusting the positions of each stake and the tensions on the guy lines
- Open the doors to adjust the position of the trekking poles and spread out the interior
*The apex-guy lines may be tied off to nearby objects like trees or roots. I have even used them to “hang” the tent from overhead branches. If you hang the tent, you don’t need to use the trekking poles.
Dyneema Fabric Issues
There are drawbacks to everything. The Tarptent Stratospire Li is constructed of extremely lightweight Dyneema Composite Fabric. While DCF saves a lot of weight and is extremely waterproof, it is also flimsy. It is very easy to poke holes in this tent. DCF won’t tear, and the holes can be easily patched with repair tape, but who wants holes in their $700 tent?
I have poked a few holes in the top of this tent where the trekking pole tips lock in. I have been using the similar Tarptent Notch (made of silnylon) for years and never had this issue.
DCF also doesn’t stretch. When the wind blows hard or you tension down the tent too hard, something has to give. I find that something is the mesh interior. Over prolonged use, I am finding small tears in the seems of the mesh fabric near all of its attachment points with the DCF fly. I’ve never had this problem in a nylon tent.
Dyneema’s lack of stretch also impacts the way you set this tent up. When setting up a similar tent made of silnylon, you can crank down on the guy-lines and adjust the tension to achieve a tight pitch. I find setting up the dyneema tent requires much more exact stake placement.
The Stratospire Li came with 6″ Eaton stakes. In heavy winds or soft soil, these stakes didn’t provide the holing power required to support this tent’s large side panels. I have since replaced all of the stakes with 8″ pegs and had much better results. In very heavy winds, I still have to reinforced all the anchor points with large rocks.
Likes and Dislikes
- Large interior space
- Light weight
- Large vestibules
- Extremely Waterproof
- Easy to Repair
- Interchangeable Interiors
- Magnetic Door Holders
- Flimsy Dyneem Fabric
- Short OEM stakes
- Fabric doesn’t stretch – requires exact stake placement
The Tarptent Stratospire Li is an excellent, full-featured tent capable of providing superior weather protection in most 3 season conditions or moderate snow. The large interior can sleep two or one person who likes to spread out. . The generous vestibules provide ample space for gear.
The Tarptent Stratospire Li sets up quickly and remains dry even when set-up in the rain. High vestibule walls and open end ports provide excellent ventilation, but can be adjusted if weather is severe. I have used the Stratospire Li for many of Appalachian Trail Section Hiking trips in the northeast.
Before the Stratospire, my go-to tent was Tarptent’s Notch. You could consider the Stratospire to be the Notch’s bigger brother. The designs are very similar. At 28 ounces, the Stratospire Li offers twice the livable space for only 1 extra ounce.
I would recommend the Stratospire Li for experienced backpackers looking for a lightweight with more interior space than most other shelters. This shouldn’t be your first or only tent. You may also consider these alternatives:
- Hikers who don’t use trekking poles or are looking for a tent to primarily serve in base camp, consider one of Tarptent’s other models like the Double Rainbow or Cloudburst 3.
- Solo hikers who don’t need the ample space of the Stratospire, consider the Notch, Notch Li or Aeon Li.
- If you like the design of the Sratospire Li but not the cost, consider the sil-nylon Stratospire 1 or Stratospire 2.
- For a tent hat can withstand harsher weather conditions, consider the Scarp.
Tarptents are light, but not the lightest. I believe they strike the best compromise of function, weight, comfort, and affordability. If you’re looking for the absolute lightest tent and are willing to pay for it, look to other manufactures’ DCF options. If you’re only planning to car camp, consider less expensive options with more interior space.