One dogmatic blogger claimed that anyone who takes more than 3 minutes to pitch a Trailstar is doing it wrongly. Another suggested a new type of Mid might be pitched in under a minute on a good day. I assumed that pitching my old Phoenix Phantom took 5 minutes until I timed myself at Chapel Stile. My friends got started before me and finished quite a long time after me because pitching the Phantom had gone very smoothly. But it had taken a full ten minutes. Usually, I’m much slower than that.
Here is a picture of my Akto at the stunning campsite just opposite Iona. You’ll be thinking that this will have been a speedy pitch. Nope. Just look at the choice. I spent more than half an hour trying to decide which bit of perfection to use. And then there is the mess in the car’s boot. Digging out the tent, poles and pegs are easy enough for an Akto as the bits are all in one bag but with a tarp I have seperate bags for the fabric and for the pegs as well as poles to set to the right length. The peg bag has usually worked its way to the bottom of my rucksack and, if I’ve been using them, carbon Makalu trekking poles can be quite hard to readjust. With the Akto in a car boot, assembling the bits could take from a minute to several. With a tarp, assembling and adjusting the bits never takes less than several minutes.
The Trailstar brings its own unique problem – finding the label. Presumably I’m the only one who spends a fair amount of time shuffling armfulls of fabric. Then there’s deciding where I want the long guy. Is it in the right place or should I move it? If I decide to move it, in the absence of one of those clever, mini carabiner solutions, undoing, moving and re-tying the guys consumes more time. Finally, we arrive at the bit which ought to take 3 minutes and for me never does at the start of a trip and probably doesn’t at the end of the trip, although I will have improved.
Faffing is the last act. The Trailstar probably won’t need much. I’ll have stopped and started several times, moving the main pegs on each occasion, during the pitching phase and will only have completed the pitch when the floor is a nice pentagon. If the Akto’s floor is more of a parallelogram than a rectangle, the tent will not pitch well. This means re-pitching one end of the tent and isn’t too time-consuming. My favourite hill accommodation, the Golite Cave 1 is an absolute swine at faffing time. Moving one peg invariably means moving others and, by the time I’ve finished, the headroom is almost certainly no greater than it was before I started faffing. I’ve got into such a mess trying to perfect the shape of the Cave that starting again has several times been the easiest option.
So brilliant achievement, I think, to pitch a Trailstar inside three minutes. Your shelter will be erect before I’ve decided where to put mine!