StarGazer 2 with tarp

The ultralight StarGazer 2 is ideally accompanied by a 3x3m tarp.

Terra Rosa Gear StarGazer 2 Tent – $265

With the profusion of new materials and design technologies of the last decade, almost every hiker will at some point be looking to lighten their kit, and especially their shelter. Indeed, for some this is an ongoing obsession. With one-person tents routinely weighing in at around the one kilogram mark there are some good options out there, but the real gram gremlins are into hammocks or ground set-ups i.e. tarps and bug nets.

This is how Terra Rosa Gear started out: making good quality, lightweight tarps for the überlight crowd. TRG’s owner and sole employee, Evan Howard, is a self-styled retro adventurer who favours lumberjack shirts and a Yukon gold miner’s beard while working out of a garage in the Melbourne suburb of Fawkner.

Evan began by making a few bits of gear for his own personal use, cannibalising old equipment and stitching together Franken-packs with an old Singer 201k sewing machine from 1951 which he manfully dubbed his ‘thread injector’. With more and more interest from friends and web forum buddies in his custom work, he bit the bullet in 2010 and went professional with his tarps. Since then the business, named after a remote glacier in Canada, has grown to encompass old-school canvas packs, quilts, gaiters and all manner of shelters using the latest technical fibres such as Tyvek, Cuben Fiber and, um, japara.

StarGazer 2 ultralight hiking tent

Without included poles, the StarGazer 2 is best pitched with trekking poles and guyed out to nearby trees.

Which brings us to the StarGazer 2, one of his latest designs. The StarGazer is a two-person tent with nylon mesh roof panels which allow the user to gaze into the star-filled heavens and use the moon as a night-light. The idea is to carry a good-sized tarp to pitch above it, making a full shelter in case the weather doesn’t co-operate. The end walls are constructed of 20D sil-nylon and floor is 40D, which could be considered a little on the thin side for rough ground so a careful pre-pitching sweep or some sort of ground sheet might be advisable. Porch space is provided by the tarp, and inside there is ample room for two regular-sized sleeping mats plus storage space at the head and foot. The tent itself weighs in at only 670 grams, and with the recommended three-by-three-metre tarp, the whole set-up is a respectable 1.1 kilograms.

Part of the reason for this light weight is that the SG2 comes without poles; the ridge ends are designed to be held up externally by inverted trekking poles (or a couple of good-sized sticks) and the body pegged out by guy lines. Although trees aren’t strictly necessary, even for the tarp, they do make for a stronger set-up in the event of high winds, and depending on how well it has been pitched the SG2 should be able to withstand a reasonably rough night.

In summary, the StarGazer2 is an original and interesting design from a one-man Australian operation. Suitable for multi-season use, it is roomy, lightweight and above all, fun. However it also has limitations: it’s not ideal for snow camping, you wouldn’t want to stumble and fall on it and it wouldn’t keep out a hungry bear, but you could say the same of all lightweight tents. As such, this wouldn’t be the only tent in your armory, but for lightweight summer trips, it’s the one you’ll grab first.