Tarptent Contrail & Yama Mountain Gear 1P Cirriform SW Tent

My buddy Hiking Shoes came by my house this past weekend, and he just so happened to have his Henry Shires Tarptent Contrail with him. Now, the Contrail was a tent that I had wanted for quite a while, but never got around to getting due to my growing love of cuben fiber, and as we all know, the Contrail is not cuben. However, I loved the almost “A-Frame” like design of the Contrail, not to mention, at a listed 24 oz, it is rather light weight. The $199 price tag that goes with it was pretty attractive too, and despite that it is not made of cuben fiber, silnylon is still a tried & true material of choice for lightweight tents. 

The Contrail has been a widely used tent, especially here on the east coast along the AT. It seems that the Contrail is actually an AT thru-hiking icon (ok, so maybe not totally, but it is a popular tent). However, as many good things that I saw in it, there were also a few things that I kind of wished were a little different, obviously, one of them being the fact that I still wish it was made from cuben fiber rather than silnylon.

Why, you ask, am I so obsessed with cuben fiber? There are 3 reasons that I personally like cuben fiber over silnylon, especially when used in a tent. I understand others may not agree with me on these points, and that is fine, but this is my opinion:

  1. Less weight.
  2. Less stretch.
  3. More waterproof.

So, with that aside, I will carry on…

As I said, there were a few things that I wish were a little different about the Contrail. One has been covered, I wish it were made of cuben. Another thing is that, as much as I liked the design, I wish there were more room in the foot end. And last but not least, even though it is already respectably lightweight, I would have liked it to weigh a little less… even just a little…

Then, Gen from Yama Mountain Gear made this come true… at least for me.

Earlier this year, Gen released his single wall tent version of his famous Cirriform tarp, aptly named the Yama Mountain Gear 1P Cirriform SW tent.

In my opinion, the basic design of the Cirriform SW tent is rather similar to the design of the Contrail, which is what initially drew my attention to it. But what really made me focus my attention on the Cirriform SW tent is that he used cuben fiber on the canopy, and stuck with silnylon for the floor.  Now, I am a-ok with silnylon being used as a floor material simply due to the fact that silnylon has a higher tolerance against abrasion than cuben fiber does. But I loved that Gen decided to construct the canopy of the tent out of cuben!

As well, he also decided to use a less intense slope from the head of the tent to the foot of the tent, which resulted in a higher foot area inside the tent! Score.

And last but not least, even though Gen decided to go with 0.74 oz/sqyd cuben fiber (as opposed to 0.51 oz/sqyd cuben fiber), the Cirriform SW tent is indeed slightly lighter than the Contrail.

In the end, this sold me and I placed my preorder for the Cirriform SW tent as soon as was allowed. Which brings me to cost. As expected, the use of cuben fiber has drastically increased the price of the Cirriform tent over the price of the Contrail. When I preordered my Cirriform, the price was $390, however, now that the introductory sale is over, they are normally priced at a whopping $420!

So, when he showed up with his Contrail, I decided to do a little side-by-side video of the 2 tents. Please keep in mind though, I am not trying to say that either tent is necessarily “better” than the other, but instead just wanted to put these two tents (that I find to be quite similar, with some differences) right next to each other, and then discuss them.

Please take the following video as just that:

Anyway, I find both tents to be exceptional tents, and to be honest, would love to own them both. However, I know that if I did, one or the other would likely see very little use, so I can’t justify owning them both. In my case though, the Cirriform SW tent offered more of the features that I personally wanted in a tent, so despite the cost, it is the one I went with, and I can say that I am very happy to own it.

I would like to say thanks to Hiking Shoes for bringing his tent over and letting me set it up and do the side-by-side video. As well, thanks to everyone else who has stopped by.


Disclaimer: I paid the full (introductory) price for the Cirriform SW tent. I do not, nor have I ever, owned the Contrail. I am not affiliated with either of the companies listed above, and have no obligation to write about either of their products. The statements within this write-up and the video are of my own opinion after personally using the Cirriform, and checking out the Contrail.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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2 Responses to Tarptent Contrail & Yama Mountain Gear 1P Cirriform SW Tent

  1. Great quick review of these two shelters Chad.

    I have a single question:

    Are you able to get a 3″ air pad and a winter bag (zero degree) into the TarpTent Contrail without the foot end of the shelter hitting the top of the sleeping bag?

    (ps: proud of you for the sub 15 minute video!!)


    • Stick says:


      I did not personally crawl in and try it out. My buddy that brought it over though (Hiking Shoes – seen in the video) has used it with his large NeoAir All Season and his Marmot Helium and says he doesn’t hit at the foot end.



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