I'm not trying to start a firestorm here, but I do have a question: It seems like I see a lot of TarpTents, usually used only a few times, offered for sale in the Buy and Sell Gear Forum. I'm wondering if anyone has any idea why this is so?
I can think of a couple of reasons, but have no clue as to whether they are valid.
There's the obvious: people aren't pleased with the quality. However, having owned a couple (and given them away because I just couldn't get the warm fuzzies, for no particularly objective reason), I can't imagine this being the reason. They seem to be well-made, and they pitch reasonably easily.
Is it durability? They are built with lighter fabrics, but I'm not sure the fabrics are any lighter than those used by Big Agnes or MSR - and I don't see many of those on the for-sale list.
Could it be that people are simply trying to find the particular model they like, and selling the old one when they find a new one they like better? Henry is incredibly innovative, and offers a number of designs that address different needs. So, maybe people are simply experimenting until they find just the right one?
Like I said, I'm not trying to cast aspersions on the TarpTent. I'm impressed with them, even though I've chosen not to use them myself. (Main reason: in the Ohio valley, I prefer an inner tent that is all-mesh because it's cooler in the summer. I can pitch it without the fly, and have 360-degree ventilation - I've found the TarpTents, in my back yard, were warmer because the fly was always pitched. Like I said, personal preference, not objective reasons.)
In a nutshell, tarptents turn over more because their owners are gearheads that just can't leave well enough alone. Also, they are more prone to try "envelop pushing" designs -- which would also have higher turnovers.
In contrast, mainstream tents are bought up by "normal" hikers/campers who don't fuss over their gear nearly as much.
A mate of mine is into web design and computer software so he has written for himself a little programme that gives him a specific product alert when it comes up for sale in the various forums . Recently a TT SUblite was advertised on BPL and sold in 3 minutes. I pretty much agree with Ben's points, for example the same friend had a Cloudburst and did not like it as he hasn't really liked any of the very many tents he has bought and sold , however after seeing my Contrail in action for only two days decided that the Sublite could be the one... In my case I gave away my 06 Contrail because I use the 08 version. Personally I am a fan of the Hubba, except that I don't like the colour and it is a bit too narrow for me and I keep seeing posts about the shelter dripping on people or letting too much sand in, but really there is nothing wrong with it. Franco
I think it is more a matter of folks thinking that a 20 oz tent is neat but when they get it and try it out it looks too flimsy and/or is too small. The lightweight folks expect to handle all of their gear with a little extra care and to be less than spacious but the general backpacker is reading Backpacker Magazine gear reviews and expect bombproof gear with enough room to handle the kitchen sink and the pool table. Light weight is a mindset as well as a set of gear.
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I have a Squall, quality is not an issue. I think it comes down to what you want, lots of space, perfect conditions or to save weight? If you have the money, you want the latest and greatest. I get the impression, that quite a few people who belong to bp forums have good jobs and don't find it an issue to turn over gear and try something else. I think something else that is going on, they are not liking the loss of comfort maybe and are willing to go back up with a slightly heavier item. In looking for a new backpack, the pack weights are going up.
Just for fun I looked up the last three pages of the Gear For Sale at BPL, the most likely place where to find TTs for sale. Glenn is indeed correct when he states that there are a lot of them for sale, however I see a maybe different slant to it than he does.
All tents for sale from the latest to the oldest ... 1)TT DR $ 200 sold in 1 day (needed the money) 2) Go Lite Hex +Kifaru stove. New $700 asking $450 not sold after 4 days TT Contrail $105 sold in 2 days 3) TT Cloudburst $165 sold under 2 days Mutha Hubba $260 as new unsold 2 days later MLD 07 tarp $80 unsold Go Lite Liar 1 $40 unsold 4) TT Sublite $125 ($159 recently from TT) sold in 3 min 5) Stephensons Warmlite 2R (new) $350 inc from $556 retail. Sold in 5 hours 6) TT DR $200 sold in 3 hours 7) TT Rainbow $135 sold in 22 min 8) Hilleberg Allak (used once) $545 inc from $670 retail. Unsold 18 days later 9) MH Waypoint 1 as new $90 ONO, unsold 10 days later
I omitted some tarps from this list except when for sale with other shelters as in post 3 Franco Grumpy Gord I haven't seen many solo tents with more usable space than a Rainbow or a Contrail, but some will find thje DR a bit small.
Good analysis, Franco - I agree with your findings: there are a lot of TT's listed, but they turn over really, really quick. I never doubted there was a big demand for them (new or used); I was just curious why more TT's seem to come up for sale. The responses so far pretty well line up with my original guesses: people are trying them until they find just the right one (and Henry keeps coming out with new "just the right ones" to tempt them!) I know I keep visiting the website, waiting for the one that finally grabs me (and I have to admit I almost went for the Sublite.)
This reminds me of some of my regular Canon and Nikon customers. Every year or two they upgraded to the new "bestest" and often accumulated several models not being able to let any of them go. Due to my incredibly tough moral standards ( as a dedicated minimalist) I have managed to let some shelters go and I am now down to just nine. Thank you for mentioning the Sublite, that one is bothering me a bit. I really like the Contrail but the Sublite design is stronger and lighter....(can I do without the vestibule ?) Franco
When (not if) you get a Sublite, let me know whether your shoulders rub the sides of the tent when you sit up. I know, in the Rainbow, there's plenty of shoulder room, which deals with the issue of brushing up against the inevitable condensation that develops (can't say the same for the Hubba - if any of the condensation gets to the mesh, or if you move a bit left or right as you sit up, your shoulders sop it up.) If the Sublite has enough shoulder room, I might still bite. (Aside from the all-mesh thing, the other thing I didn't like about the Rainbow was threading that pole through the sleeve.)
Of course, every couple of months, I still find myself looking at the pictures of the Rainbow...
Yes I know what you mean by "threading the pole.." the first time I tried it I could not find that slit and I knew where it was... The trick is to point the pole downwards as you thread it so that it can go under the mid strut without having to hold it. * I'm only 5'7" /150 lbs so an ideal size for most tents. Franco * this "obvious once you know" trick is one of the many bits that could make an "how to" video clip useful to new TT owners.
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
The only trouble I have had with my Squall, is if you aren't paying attention when you thread the pole thru the sleeve and do it sorta inside out and put the ends in the grommets, then discover what you have done, it is nearly impossible to undo it. You would think I would have learned after doing this once, but twice within a year?