Tarptent Notch Li partial solid w/silnylon floor review

The alicoop (Tarptent Notch Li ) is outstanding in its field.

The Tarptent Notch Li is a fantastic ultra light shelter for the solo thru-hiker looking for simplicity and durability, while not sacrificing comfort. Made of dynamee, the Notch Li is essentially waterproof. It sets up super fast with the use of trekking poles that remain outside the living space. The twin-peaked catenary ridgelines add rigidity in the wind and rain as well as create an enormous living space with two entryways and two vestibules. Notch Li is my choice for a home away from home.

I bought my first Tarptent when I walked the John Muir Trail in 2012. The single-walled Moment was the envy of all my hiking friends because it set up in literally seconds and was roomy with an enormous vestibule. I have since added an inside layer provided by Tarptent to alleviate condensation, but when I planned to walk on the soggy Coast-to-Coast, I decided to upgrade to something more reliably dry.

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Dynamee is the strongest fiber in the world. It’s lightweight, waterproof and feels like a cross between taffeta and rice paper, but you need to roll it rather than stuff it into your pack.

The success of the Notch Li begins with its fabric. Formerly known as cuben fiber, dynamee is considered the most revolutionary material used today to make outdoor gear. It’s technically classified as ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene. The fiber has low density that allows for high load dispersion. Fifteen times stronger than steel and extremely light, it is the strongest fiber in the world. But wait, there’s more! It’s also waterproof, resistant to UV light and chemicals, and is extremely durable.

But that doesn’t mean you can just stuff the Notch Li in your pack. You need to handle it with care by rolling it into its dynamee bag. The feel is a cross between taffeta and rice paper, but I endured absolute downpours and there was not one drop in my tent.

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The outside doors are held back with magnets.

I opted for the partial solid interior made of silnylon which saves a bit of money on your purchase but I had a few other reasons for this choice. While dynamee is strong and waterproof, it’s translucent and I like a wee bit of privacy. I also hike in places with blowing sand and heavy rainfall. The solid wall rises fairly high inside. It does cut down on views when supine, but it also keeps splash and detritus from finding its way through the no-see-um screen. The partial solid silnylon interior adds a few more ounces, but I felt it was worth it. I did not purchase nor have I used a footprint due to the floor’s ruggedness, but I do choose my sites carefully.

The Notch Li sets up like a dream. It is a non-freestanding tent with each corner supported by carbon struts that create a triangle. You simply roll out the tent, stake down each end with the provided Easton aluminum stakes, insert your trekking poles – which remain outside the living space, entry and exit – and stake down the sides. You should be able to do all of that without getting the inside wet because the two parts remain attached. The outer does not use zippers, which takes a little getting used to. I found I needed to slightly loosen the tension before attaching the poles into their loops and then ensuring the points of my poles stayed in place once I tightened up again. There is a little tab below the hook that helps when opening and closing the door but you do have to get the hang of it.

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The Notch Li sets up with trekking poles and the partial solid keeps out blowing sand and prying eyes.

The tent held up well in wind, though there is an option to attach another set of guylines. That being said, you will need two more stakes to make the tent more stable in inclement weather. The six-panel design has advantages as does the ridgeline which makes the Notch Li more stable when loaded, though I have yet to take it out in snow.

Did I mention there are two doors? The Moment only had one, and that seemed sufficient, but once you are spoiled with two, you will wonder how you survived. This gives you two vestibules for storage, organizing gear and hanging out. But if the midges are as bad as they were this summer in the UK, you will be staying tightly zipped inside the tent. But don’t despair because the inside is huge. Richard is 6’4” and crept in for a test and found he had enough room to lie down and sit up. I am smaller so had loads of room for my bod, my gear at both head and foot as well as room for a few items along the side. I use a Therm-a-Rest Xlite, which fit inside beautifully. There are also a couple of strategically placed pockets as well as a ceiling hook.

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The alicoop was pounded with rain at Camp “Spooky” in the Lake District, but not one drop came inside.

This tent is in one piece, the inner tent attached to the outer, but you can take them apart if you prefer to use one without the other. This requires more stakes and for my uses, it never made much sense to use the pieces separately. However, I needed to have them apart when I returned home because I had so many squashed midge carcasses inside it was the only way I could clean the tent. It was a breeze to detach and reattach parts.

I love this tent and I should mention that my Notch Li was named by a contest. She’s the alicoop and will happily be my safe little chrysalis on the Te Araroa.

Specs at a glance

  • Sleeps: 1
  • Seasons: 3+
  • Weight: 21.76 oz.
  • Interior Height: 43 in
  • Floor Width: 20 – 34 in
  • Floor Length: 84 in
  • Minimum number of stakes: 4
  • Packed size: 16 in x 4 in
  • Doors: 2
  • Vestibules: 2
  • Materials: dynamee and silnylon
  • Support: trekking poles

Disclosure

alison young purchased her Notch Li from Tarptent.

Reader Comments

  1. Thanks Allison. Very thorough review. I am almost certain to splash out on a Li very soon. I was glad to learn the partial solid interior helped with privacy.

  2. Thanks for the excellent review. I have a number of shelters but am trying to find my ‘go to’ for the future and the Notch Li with the part solid is my probable option. You have reinforced that view so am grateful for you taking the time. One question: I have read various reviews of Dyneema being less prone to condensation. Any thoughts given your experience?

    1. I still have experienced a lot of condensation, but not when raining, just dew. It can drip onto the tent portion and sometimes pool on the netting. Never a huge deal though.

  3. Thanks for the UK review. I’m thinking hard. 😊

    I walk and cycle but do not use walking poles though I hear they can supply poles. I wonder what this adds to the weight and would it stil be worth the dosh? 🤔

    Need do a little research regards the extra cost and weight. And customs will want a cut too🤨

    My Fjallraven tent and hilleberg Salou are great tents ‘heavy’ and big time overkill for what I really require.

    1. I also own a Tarptent Moment, though single wall. You may want to check out their double wall edition. Also Notch comes in sylnylon for a lot less dosh 😊 My fav things? Dry in pounding rain, no faff set up. Not incredible in wind tho. Keep in touch!

      1. Ordered today 😊 so that’s another Notch on my guitar. 🎸. I defo could live with an all mesh inner here in Scotland / Uk.

        49879 Notch Li – Partial solid wit… SKU: 219.4, Interior style: Partial solid with Dyneema® floor.

        I already have the same thermarest X lite and a nice wee pillow so should be super comfy in my wee ‘Tam O Shanter’ tent.

        I also have a Xlite big wide extra long one thermarest which I will try for in it to avoid the prayer position but I doubt it will fit.. 😂

        Thanks again for a great review.
        Tam. ✊

  4. Hi Alison, dont you find it tricky closing the clip and Velcro on the doors from the inside ? I’m worried about this in wind, having just set up this tent in the park prior to a long trip. Can you let me know how you got on with the closure. Thanks

    Clare

    1. hi Clare! My system is to keep my mini thermarest handy so I can lean on it, then loosen the tie down, clip and tighten. The velcro just sort of seems to lay down and attach.
      I would definitely place rocks on the side stakes in wind. It shifted one night and crashed my poles into me. Let me know if it works! 🐥👣🎒

  5. Curious about the name you use for dyneema fabric? Also wondering about any updates to your experience with this tent.

    1. the alicoop was named in a contest. I’m ali-son, so it stuck! I’m pretty happy with it. Mostly the ease of set up and that it is more than a tarp. I think the dynamee is wearing out on my third thru-hike. I may buy just nylon next time. I am happily using no ground cover.

  6. Hi Alison, I see you’re currently on the PCT! Nice, slightly envious am I! 🙂 Anyway I’m weighing my options for a new shelter and the Notch is definitely coming up trumps versus the likes of the MLD Duomid/Solomid XL. I have a Tarptent Stratospire 1 so I know how good 2 doors and 2 vestibules can be. My one concern though is the durability of the DCF material that Tarptent use as it is a little less durable than the heavier DCF used by MLD. I note that you think the material is wearing out in a Comment above and was wondering how it’s holding up. How much use and how much weather has it seen?

    ATB. Elton.

    1. hi Elton! I have used the ‘alicoop’ for Lakes/Coast to Coast, the Te Araroa (although stayed in huts mostly in the South Island) and now 79 nights of the PCT. I think that dynamee stretches some and it sagged a bit in Washington’s rain. I needed to ensure I kept the roofline flat so it didn’t collect water and drip. She just endured a snow/sleet storm and huge wind, and I was bone dry even set on snow. But there are some tiny stressy tears, tho they don’t seem to be getting worse. I guess my next tent will be nylon -cheaper and more durable and only a bit heavier. My favorite thing is the easy setup and roominess. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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