Testing the Trailstar and myself

Christmas has come early for me: my new shelter, the Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar arrived in the post on Saturday. Rarely have I been quite so glad to greet our peculiar postman at the door. I didn’t even pause to curse him for making his usual flat-footed detour across our front lawn rather than walking the twenty or so extra paces around it to get to next doors. From ordering to delivery took a little over 4 weeks, escaping the Customs Lottery unscathed and also arriving in the colour I requested of Ron Bell at MLD the day after oredering rather than in the grey that I had initially ordered. This last was a surprise as I hadn’t received a confirmation email reply from Ron and I left it to chance rather than bugging him for a reply as it seemed a bit cheeky of me to do so. Both colours appear equally appealing but the olive green tips the scale in terms of stealth, atleast in the majority of landscapes in which I’ll set it. Needless to say the sunny yellow colour was out of the question for me. Quite a few people prefer brighter colours for their shelters as some kind of morale boost when the skies outside are less than sunny yet the interior of their shelter remains bright but I prefer to blend in.

On Saturday evening I sat down and cut the guyline supplied with the Trailstar into 9 lengths of 65cm for the tie-outs, 240cm for the door line, thread these through the Lineloks at the tie-out points and tied a water bowline loop in the end of each. On Sunday afternoon I pitched the Trailstar in the garden and was impressed by both its size and the ease of pitching, which was proven when I realised I had oriented the shelter incorrectly and had to turn it to allow me to tie the door line out (slide, swings and trampoline are usually only an inconvenience when I’m cutting the grass or pitching the Vango Tigris 800 family tent!). Following the advice of Martin Rye I mixed the seam sealant with white spirit at a rough ratio of 3 parts white spirit to one part sealant and applied it to the Trailstar seams. With that done I decided to read the sealant tube and saw that it said to apply above 16c :-/ On Sunday it was 5-6c. I hope that doesn’t cause any issues. Also I have since read that i should also have sealed the stitching around the tie-out points! Lets hope i don’t learn by my mistakes the hard way this coming weekend. If it survives then I’ll rectify my mistake on the next day of good weather.

This Saturday I’m off to the Peak District with the Trailstar on my first solo wild camp in over ten years. The weather doesn’t look too bad for the Peaks for this time of year but that really wasn’t a big concern for me anyhow, as nothing short of storm force winds and conditions would put me off what is likely to be my last wild camp trip out in 2013. Its also going to be the first of hopefully a lot more solo trips. The realisation hit me recently that I’ve passed up on a lot of trips simply because mine and my camping partner Marcus’ ‘free times’ have not coincided when I could have just as easily (if not more easily) gone alone. I work 2 alternate shifts, 5-6 days a week that alternate weekly and Marcus only gets one free weekend every fourth week so our trips come about maybe once every 2-3 months. I feel as though I have gained a new lease of freedom in the resolution to embark on more solo trips rather than organising them around the coincidence of free time in our disparate schedules.

To say I’m excited to test out both the Trailstar and myself would be a large understatement! I’ll post a trip report when/if I get back.



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