I will be sharing my experiences with the Tarptent Motrail which I used on my 2017 Appalachian Thru Hike. I carried the MoTrail from Georgia to Maine. This will be my primary backpacking tent into the future. The Motrail is the two person version of the Protrail. You can find the direct link here for the dimensions and more for the MoTrail. The weight is stated at 34oz, mine weighed in with stuff sack and stakes at 37oz. It is 84 inches long and 52 inches wide.
The setup for this tent is one of my favorite features. Once I was used to it, I could have it fully pitched in about 3-5 minutes, depending on the soil and location. The requirements are the 4 stakes (I carried 7), the inner pole, and two trekking poles. You can also replace the trekking poles with any other poles if you don’t hike with them.
Now I’ll explain my setup process which I found to be the quickest. Start by inserting the pole back into its position, then setup both trekking poles at 48″ and the other as low as possible. Take the low pole and head to the rear of the tent, stake one side in add the trekking pole into the grommet, then stake the other side down tightly. Head to the front of the tent, use the anti-slip piece and add the 48″ trekking pole, then stake down each side tightly. I used three additional stakes, one for the front which is useful after your trekking pole tips wear out because the pole wants to slide out of the grommet. I also added on additional stake to each side with guidelines to provide more air flow and width in the tent. These stakes also help reduce the wind noise during high winds because the material cannot flap as much from sag. Tarptent adds easy to use pieces on each of the stake lines to adjust the bathtub floor and tightness of each of the stakes. Now you should have a perfectly pitched tent!
What I loved
The MoTrail was a perfect pick for me as jack of trades but master of none. Originally, I bought the two person tent as I expected to be doing more backpacking with two people and this tent provided good value, space, and weight. I used it as a two person tent many times and found that in most cases it works perfectly. The durability has been fantastic, I never used a ground sheet and have used this tent in terrain from desserts to the AT. There isn’t a single hole in the tent from this. I will likely be using this tent for many more years as my go to backpacking tent for when I want a full enclosed shelter.
What I hated
I can’t say that I hated anything particularly about the Tarptent Motrail besides maybe wishing there was a bit more ventilation. The MoTrail takes up a lot of space in backpacking sites. Enough so that during my hike we nicknamed the tent the Taj MaTarp. This caused issue for pitching some nights but for the most part it worked out.
The condensation could be bad depending on the pitching location but in some cases this was unavoidable, more a critique of single walled tents than this one in particular. I would say I experienced more condensation than some of my peers with single walled tents though.
The last critique is that when using the tent with two people during storms with high winds the material may end up touching you. This results in you getting a bit wet. The two additional stakes solved this problem for me. If you are only using four stakes this may be an issue.
In my roughly 100 nights with this tent, I still don’t have a disaster story. I never once woke up with half my tent sitting on my face nor waking up to a soaking quilt. The tent did its job well over the course of my hike. The criticisms I have are merely slight details which would take this tent up slightly more. If I were to thru hike again, I would use a tarp and bug bivy setup to save weight. For my overnights for now, I will continue to use my tent as it is an easy, comfortable, and moderately light setup.