Tarptent Dipole 1 DW Tent Review
The average long trail thru-hiker will spend between 1,000 and 1,500 hours inside their tent. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that choosing a tent is one of the hardest gear decisions. Many ultralight tents compromise between weight, price, or comfort. Tarptent’s new double wall Dipole 1 DW appears to walk the line between all three, while also considering factors such as ease of set-up, weatherproofing, packability, and livable space.
Who is Tarptent?
For two decades Tarptent has been bringing clever and innovative tent designs to lightweight backpackers. Henry Shires and his wife Cynthia launched Tarptent in 2002, a few years after Shires thru-hiked the PCT with a homemade A-frame shelter of his own design.
The company started with two shelters, the Virga and Squall. Sales were better than they’d anticipated and after being featured in Backpacker Magazine, Shires decided to leave his career in physics and focus his energy on tent design. Within a decade Tarptent had a dozen unique offerings, ranging from one- to four-person capacity, manufactured in Seattle with as many US-sourced fabrics and materials as possible. In 2017 they hired an engineer and introduced their first Dyneema tent.
In recent years, Tarptent has made a flurry of new tent releases and redesigns of previous models. Today Tarptent works with global manufacturing partners but still maintains its homegrown roots in Nevada City, CA, selling directly to customers.
Tarptent Dipole 1 DW At-A-Glance
Shelter Type: Non-freestanding, trekking pole shelter
Weight: 33 ounces (with mesh interior, folding struts, and four stakes)
Stakes Required: Yes, minimum of 4
Materials: 20D nano ripstop, 30D silnylon, bug mesh
Capacity: 1 person
Number of Doors: Two
Floor Dimensions: 84” long x 36” wide
Peak Height: 43”
Packed Size: 11” x 5”
The Dipole 1 DW is a one-person, lightweight, double-wall trekking-pole tent designed with optimal interior living space in mind, as well as excellent bug and weather protection. It’s designed for quick and easy set-up in any weather conditions.
Tarptent also offers the Dipole 1 in a lighter, single-wall Dyneema design.
Circumstances of Review
I used the Dipole 1 DW on a two-week, 115-mile section hike of the Great Divide Trail in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. I pitched it on a variety of terrain from meadow to forest duff, river bank, and gravel. Temperatures ranged from the mid-70s to the freezing mark and in sun, wind, and rain.
Tarptent Dipole 1 DW Features
Useable Interior Space: One of Tarptent’s design goals for every tent is to maximize usable volume. They had an additional goal for the Dipole 1 to accommodate taller people and longer, wider, thicker mattress pads. The tent floor is hourglass-shaped. This means that the middle of the tent is slightly narrower than the head and foot, leaving plenty of room to stow gear. Each end of the tent has foldable 18” external struts that bring the roof higher and away from your sleeping bag and gear.
Dual Doors and Vestibules: The Dipole 1 DW has a door and vestibule on each side and doesn’t have a designated head or foot to the design. The interior doors are offset from each other (not mirror image). This means that no matter which way you sleep you’ll have a door at your left arm and the other at your right leg. While not particularly large, the vestibules can be guyed out for more storage space.
Easy and Fast Pitch: Unlike many trekking pole tents, the Dipole 1 DW only requires four stakes for a full and stable pitch. Long guy-outs are not required for the corner stakes which means the tent can be pitched in tight spots, and opening both vestibules does not compromise the stability of the tent. It is also possible to set up the fly independently of the interior.
Ventilation: The double wall design of the Dipole 1 DW promises less struggling with condensation transfer and more options for ventilation. The fly includes closable apex vents at the top of each vestibule and zippered end vents at the head and foot. The Dipole 1 also pitches fly first keeping the interior completely dry when setting up in the rain, further reducing moisture build-up.
Tarptent Dipole 1 DW Pros
During thru-hikes, our tents become home for months at a time and liveable space becomes really important. I want to be able to sit up, change clothes, organize gear, write notes on my phone, stretch, read, rest, and sleep comfortably. For the past couple of years, I’ve been sleeping under a two-person single-wall tarp. For this reason, I worried that I’d feel a bit claustrophobic in a one-person space.
That isn’t the case with the Dipole 1 DW, which gives me all the space I need. There’s plenty of room to stash all of my gear, including my pack, even when using a wider sleeping pad. I also like that each interior corner of the tent has a pocket that is tensioned to act like a small shelf and can perfectly fit an e-reader, my phone, and glasses.
I particularly appreciate how the ends of the tent are lifted away from my face and my feet, which makes the tent feel even roomier. With the double-wall design, I don’t have to worry about getting condensation drops on my quilt or wetting through the fly as I try to get dressed in the morning.
The Dipole 1 DW is highly engineered and designed to last. Seams are well-stitched and all attachment points on the tent are reinforced with extra fabric and stitching. The zippers are of excellent quality with reinforced stitching. The floor of the tent is made of siliconized 30D ripstop nylon (SilNylon) which is strong and able to handle constant use even without a separate groundsheet.
The fly is made of 20D silicone-coated ripstop polyester (SilPoly) which is lighter and has better UV resistance than SilNylon. More importantly, SilPoly doesn’t sag and stretch out when wet meaning better tensioning and tent stability. While produced overseas, all Tarptents are hand-checked, tested, and approved at their Nevada City, CA office before being shipped out.
Tarptent’s Dipole 1 DW is very competitively priced when compared to other double-wall tents weighing around two pounds.
Tarptent Dipole 1 DW Cons
Weighing about two pounds with stakes, the Dipole 1 DW isn’t the lightest option on the market. The double-wall design, extra interior volume, and a more stable setup drive this compromise. If you’re an ounce-hound, Tarptent offers the Dipole 1 in a single-wall Dyneema version which weighs almost eight ounces lighter (and costs $350 more).
The price of the Dipole 1 DW does not include seam-sealing. Tarptent sells a seam-sealer kit or you can pay an additional $35 to have Tarptent do the seam-sealing for you.
The word “elegant” kept surfacing while I researched Tarptent and the Dipole 1 DW. Shires has said in numerous interviews that studying physics gave him a strong appreciation for elegance and the power of simplicity. Elegance is a unique descriptor for a shelter with the seemingly basic purpose of providing a weatherproof place to sleep, and yet, it’s an apt word for the Dipole 1 DW.
This tent incorporates much of what Tarptent’s designers have learned over the years, offering a wonderfully simple yet elegant living space for long-distance hikers, without compromising too much on weight, price, or comfort.
Comparable Ultralight Tents
DurstonGear X-Mid 1
Weight: 31 ounces (including 6 stakes)
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1
Weight: 32 ounces
Tarptent Stratospire 1
Weight: 36 ounces
Zpacks Plex Solo
Weight: 14 ounces (not including stakes)
The Tarptent Dipole 1 DW was donated for the purpose of review.
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