Hey folks. Today on the blog we’re looking an unnamed, unbranded piece of kit from Ali Express. It’s modeled after the MLD Trailstar tarp shelter, so we’re just gonna go ahead and call it the MLD Trailstar Clone. This is one of the many decent-looking tarp options that seem to keep popping up on Ali Express, and we thought we’d give our two cents on whether it’s worth buying. Let’s have a look at the specs.
Design & Materials
This MLD Trailstar Clone is a pentagonal tarp, which can be propped up by two trekking poles to create a lightweight shelter. The basic design is well-regarded, having been used by Mountain Laurel Designs on the Trailstar for years. This Ali Express model apes that design but for a much lower cost. The Ali Express version of the tarp is made of 15D Nylon-coated Silicon.
Size & Weight
The MLD Trailstar Clone measures 3.7m across, which means plenty of space when pitched to starfish around. As long as you can work around the central pole propping up the inside, there should be space for both your good self and all your gear to be under shelter. The weighs in art just 520g, which easily puts you in ultralight territory – even when accounting for the trekking poles needed to pitch.
To pitch this MLD Trailstar Clone properly, you will need at least two trekking poles, guys ropes and some stakes. First, pick which way you want the tarp to face. Since it’s pentagonal, it actually works however you lay the tarp out anyway. But deciding which way you want to be facing tells you which end to start with (the back).
Start by pegging down your back corner. Next, peg out the two front corners. Now slide your trekking pole, extended to around 100cm (you can and probably will need to adjust this later) into the center of the tarp. Next, you’ll need a second trekking pole for the front – run a guy line from the front pole into the ground for tension. You can add more guys here if needed for extra tension too. Finally, peg in the remaining points of the tarp and adjust your trekking poles as needed.
Space & Storage
Sleeping so exposed and close to the ground may not be for everyone, but those who choose to do so get a lot of space for their weight. This Trailstar clone is case in point – for the weight, it’s roomy as hell. You can easily fit two people in there, and should still have room for gear if it’s well organized.
Wallet & Weight Impact
In terms of cost and weight, this thing seems like a no-brainer. Does it perform as well as the MLD Trailstar in extreme conditions? I highly doubt it. But this clone is about one fifth the price, and approximately the same weight.
MLD Trailstar Clone: Verdict
If you’re not squeamish about sleeping exposed to the ground – bugs and all – this MLD Trailstar clone is a great lightweight shelter option. If you’re expecting weather then I’d still plump for the real deal, but low-cost alternatives like these are great for more clement excursions!
Well folks, that’s it for now -I hope you enjoyed this review of the MLD Trailstar Clone. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more tips, tricks and gear reviews from the trail. Until next time!