Tarptent Notch – Long Term Review

TarpTent Notch
TarpTent Notch

The Tarptent Notch is a single-person, trekking pole supported backpacking tent produced by Henry Shire’s Tarptent. With lines resembling a stealth fighter, the Notch is a 3+ season tent capable of fending off harsh rains and winds and light snow conditions. Its double wall design offers excellent breathability.  The Notch has been my “go-to” shelter for the past 3 or 4 years.

Tarptent Notch Specs

  • Weight: 27 ounces
  • Floor Area: 15.2 square feet
  • Interior Height: 43 inches
  • Max Interior Width: 34 inches
  • Max Interior Length: 84 inches
  • Seasons: 3+
  • Type: Double Wall, Trekking Pole Supported
  • Sleeps: 1
  • Doors: 2
  • Vestibules: 2
  • Price: 285

Tarptent Notch Overview

The Tarptent Notch is not a tarp. It is a fully enclosed, double walled tent.  The Tarptent Notch is supported by two trekking poles at its mid-point and two sets of short carbon-fiber struts at its ends.  The use of trekking poles saves weight for those who already carry them. (For those who don’t carry trekking poles, Tarptent does offer a set of lightweight replacement poles or you can check out the very similar Tartpent Moment DW.)  The struts at the end points 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 Notch features two vestibules and diagonally opposed doors on each side. The narrow sleeping area is long enough for tall hikers and wide enough for most sleeping pads.

The Tarptent Notches outer vestibule doors provide full rain protection for the interior, even when the user is exiting or entering.
The outer vestibule door’s of the notch provide full rain protection for the interior, even when the user is exiting or entering.

Trekking Pole Support

Like many lightweight backpacking shelters, the Tarptent Notch 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 Notch is not self-standing. It must be staked out in four directions to stay erect.  This may be difficult in snow, sand, or on rocks.  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 Notch. These could be a good option i you like the idea of a trekking pole tent but want the option to leave it set up during the day.  Tartpent also makes a very similar model called the Moment DW that is supported by a single hoop.  The Moment DW has the additional advantage that it will remain standing with only 2 stakes.

Upright trekking poles don't bend or buckle under moderate snow loads. Steep side walls and a slick silicone finish allow most snow to slide off the Tarptent Notch
Upright trekking poles don’t bend or buckle under moderate snow loads. Steep side walls and a slick silicone finish allow most snow to slide off.

End Ports & Struts

The two narrow ends of the Tarptent Notch 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 Notch.  The A-Frame shaped end 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.

The Tartpent Notch features large end-ports that provide generous ventilation but can be closed in bad weather.
End view of the Notch with open end-ports.

Vestibules & Doors

The doors on the Tarptent Notch are diagonally opposed. This means the door at your feet is to the right while the door at your head is to the left. I really like this arrangement. With either narrow end pointed into the wind, 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. The vestibules of the notch aren’t huge, but offer just enough space for your pack, boots, and other belongings. I use an s-biner to hang my pack from a trekking pole inside the vestibule. This keeps the pack off the ground and allows me to reach it easily from the interior.

I use an s-biner to hang my backpack from the trekking pole in one of the vestibules.
I use an s-biner to hang my backpack from the trekking pole in one of the vestibules.

In its normal configuration, the Tarptent Notch is supported on its sides by guy-out points at the corner of the vestibule.  Newer Tarptents come with linlock fixed to each apex that can be used to support an optional guy-line. Using this guy line, the entire side of the Notch can be rolled back for superior views and ventilation.

The TarpTent Notch comes with linelocks to support optional guy-outs from the Apex. When used, the entire side panel can be opened for superior views and vetilation.
Adding a guyline either Apex point, the entire side panel of the notch can be rolled back for superior views and ventilation.


The Tarptent Notch 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 Notch Rainfly and both interiors can be set up on their own.  In normal configuration, the interior is pre-installed, maintaining a dry tent even when set up in the rain.   Each interior comes with a rugged bathtub floor.

The Tarptent Notch can be set up without an interior nest to save weight or add usable floorspace.
Notch setup without an interior nest.


Setting up the Tarptent Notch is easy and can be done in less than two minutes with practice:

  1. Spread out the tent body and loosely stake out he two end guy-out points.
  2. Set your trekking poles to 115 centimeters or 45 inches.
  3. Slide a trekking pole into one of the open top vent-ports and place the point into the grommet
  4. Loosely stake out that side of the tent
  5. Slide the other trekking pole into the open top vent on the other side
  6. Stake out that side of the tent
  7. Walk around the tent, adjusting the positions of each stake and the tensions on the guy lines
  8. Open the doors to adjust the position of the trekking poles and spread out the interior
  9. Velcro the interior to the bottom of each pole.
The Tarptent Notch's narrow profile allows it to be set up in small spaces around crowded backpacker sites.
The Notch’s narrow profile allows it to be set up in small spaces around crowded backpacker sites.

High Wind Setup

In its normal configuration, the Tarptent Notch only uses 4 stakes. This, combined with its steep walls, make it vulnerable to high winds. While I have slept soundly in my Notch in winds up to 40 mph, others have had issues when the winds really start to blow.  For these conditions, the Tarptent Notch can be pitched with extra guy-out points.  Each Apex on newer Notches is equipped with a linelock that can support an optional guy-line. Guy-lines can also be tied to the tops of the trekking poles and slipped out the top-vent for additional support.  Preferably, a narrow end of the tent should be pointed into the wind and these extra guy-lines should be angled in that direction.  Additionally, profile of the Tarptent Notch can be lowered by reducing the height of the trekking poles.

Tarptent Notch set-up showing extra guy-out configuration.
Notch set-up showing extra guy-out configuration.
Tarptent Notch configured for strong winds that are changing directions.
Tarptent configured for strong winds that are changing directions.


The Tarptent Notch is an excellent, full-featured tent capable of providing superior weather protection in most 3 season conditions and light snow. While the interior is small, the full mesh walls make it very livable.  Side vestibules place gear storage in easy reach of the sleeper. The Tarptent Notch 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 Notch for most of my Appalachian Trail Section Hiking trips, covering over 600 miles from Pennsylvania through Vermont.  I used to rely mostly on flat tarps, but I discovered that the Notch is actually a lighter solution after considering the weight of a tarp, stakes, and guy-lines.


I would recommend the Notch to anyone looking for a lightweight tent for fast and light backpacking trips. Using traditional materials and US Labor, it is an affordable tent that will make you proud while not breaking the bank.  If you 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 Moment DW or Double Rainbow.  Likewise, if you plan to occasionally share the tent or like some excess space, consider the Tarptent Stratospire.  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 for cuben-fiber options.  If you’re only planning to car camp, consider less expensive options with more interior space.

Tarptent Notch at Pharaoh Lake in New York's Adirondacks.
Tarptent Notch at Pharaoh Lake in New York’s Adirondacks.

5 thoughts on “Tarptent Notch – Long Term Review”

  1. hi Jay – I never thought about removing the struts. if you do that, what would be the potential issues? just less ventilation in the tent?

    1. They’re intended to be removed for stuffing, but carried on the side. If you chose not to carry them, you need to use a stick or something to hold up the top corner of the end port and you may need to stake out the two bottom corners. Doing this might require you to carry 4 extra stakes and would slow down pitching. I’ve never actually tried it. I imagine that its possible just holding up the top corner the correct length and staking out the normal endpoint might hold everything mostly rigid. Its worth trying in a park or yard someplace.

  2. I love my Tarptent Notch. It’s served me very well over 1000 miles of backpacking. Henry Shire has put a lot of thought and experience into designing it.

    The only issue I’ve ever had (which applies to any trekking pole-supported tents) is if you are using it to base camp, you have to hold up the tent with sticks or something so you can take your trekking poles with you. I left the camp site in a rush once and forgot my poles…

Comments are closed.