MLD Announces The Initial Release of a Cuben Fiber TrailStar Shelter!

I just got word about two hours ago that Mountain Laurel Designs has formally announced an initial product release of a cuben fiber version of their hugely popular TrailStar shelter called the Cuben TrailStar!

This is some pretty sweet news for those of us that are SUL hikers because it takes the weight of this tarp (MLD calls it a ‘shelter’, I consider it a tarp, as it is not a fully enclosed “shelter”) from 482 grams (17 ounces) down to 283 grams (10 ounces). Ron Bell, the owner of MLD, noted that if you remove the 10 LineLock 3’s that it has you can save around one ounce, so you could end up with a very sweet 255 gram (9 ounce) tarp!

Online at:

The price on the Cuben Fiber TrailStar is $335 USD.

One of the many awesome features of this tent is that it is made up of five panels of the same length, and each panel is 7 feet long. Hikers around the world have been putting the TrailStar to a test over the last few years and every single report I have read about it says its the most rock solid tarp they have ever seen in the wind – and a lot of reports out there documenting its very strong in snow too!

Here at HikeLighter.Com I prefer to focus on gear that is SUL/XUL in nature, obviously, so it should be safe to say that MLD bringing the TrailStar into the Cuben Fiber world I do not think there are very many SUL hikers out there who are going to argue the fact that this new Cuben Fiber TrailStar is going to be a serious contender in the SUL tarp industry for a rather long time to come!

It is made, like all of the MLD Cuben Fiber tarps/shelters, using 0.74 cuben fiber. The 0.74 CF has been proven to be the sweet spot for tarps – it holds threads very well, it resists water permeation better than the 0.51  cuben fiber. It will last long, will probably never tear if a pine cone lands on top of it (with the possible exception of a Pinus lambertiana cone), and while most SUL hikers have gotten over a need for privacy, the 0.74 provides a little bit more see-through protection than the 0.51 does. Not that that matter of course, right ;)

The TrailStar gives you a whopping 50 sq/ft of space underneath it. The one chance I have had to see a TrailStar I was amazed at the room it provides. Another neat thing about the design is it gives you the ability to really set it up in some unique ways. I remember seeing some photos awhile back of a guy that had setup the TrailStar in some really unique configurations – possible because of the five equal sides. With enough guyline and a tall enough piece of wood you could have this be a raised shelter for a group, or you can put it all the way down to the ground for some serious protection in hard driving rain.

As you can see in the photograph above there is the ability to use one of the five sides as a raised entrance. Just use a second pole or stick and you got yourself a nice entry that can also give you some nice air flow to reduce condensation. Or, close the door for if you find yourself getting pounded by hard wind or driving rain or snow.

All in all, if you are looking for a tarp that will give you a serious amount of room that is under 284 grams (10 ounces) you should be giving this new Cuben Fiber TrailStar a serious about of consideration!

(disclaimer: I do not own this tarp, I was not paid to write this article. This is one uber sweet tarp and thus I am announcing it to my readers!)

5 thoughts on “MLD Announces The Initial Release of a Cuben Fiber TrailStar Shelter!

    1. Agreed! Throw in an InnerNet at under 10 ounces and a hiker could have themselves one of (if not the) largest fully enclosed shelter at under 20 ounces!

      Thanks for stopping by Ray!

  1. John,
    Great shelter for certain purposes. I have been in situations where the mosquitoes are so thick they are
    life threatening–still prefer a bug proof tent. The skyscape cuben x still wins.

    However, I have to admit, what great size and if no bugs around = palatial.

    Just as you are a self admitted wimp when it comes to sleeping bags and cold, I am so when the mosquitoes
    are thick.

    Charles Meyer

  2. John,

    Nice. IIRC, one of the guys that is planning to hike the WT with me later this year has just placed an order for one of these, so with some luck I will get to see one come September!

    I have a question for you though. When you made this statement:

    “The 0.74 CF has been proven to be the sweet spot for tarps – it holds threads very well, it resists water permeation better than the 0.51 cuben fiber.”

    Does this mean that you have had some water issues with your 0.51 cuben shelters?

    Chad “Stick” Poindexter

    1. I have never had water permeation issues while out hiking with any cuben fiber. In my 2010 winter test of a dozen different shelters to test durability and water permeation it took between three and six days for most of the nylon shelters to become completely soaked. I had one non-cuben fiber tarp last 22 days IIRC and that was the Warbonnet SuperFly which was just a monster of a tarp. I had multiple CF shelters up (tarps and tents) and the 0.74 never become permeated/saturated. Around day 28 the 0.51 started getting a build up of water on the underside of the tarp, at a point which if I had a HydroStatic tester I suspected it would have shown that it was saturated. But the key to all of this is to remember that these shelters were setup 24/7 for between 31 and 34 days days and it rained for 31 one of those days. This is well beyond any type of situation that a hiker would experience. Tests have been done with HydroStatic testers and there are a number of reports and whitepapers out there showing that 0.51 cuben fiber does become saturated much much quicker than 0.74 does. What I need to do is go out and setup my 0.34 cf tarp while it is raining to test how quickly it will become saturated… but it just scares me to much to leave it out there for days on end without me being near it if the wind comes up. I have to much invested in it at this point (research) to potentially have it go flying away. Maybe next winter I can do that, if I have not already destroyed it.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s