Terra Nova Starlite 2 | Tested and reviewed

The Terra Nova Stralite 2 is designed to be super lightweight yet stable and suitable for 3-season use. Mission accomplished? For the price you'd hope so, and our man James Forrest has been testing it in the Lake District to find out.

from Terran Nova
RRP  £790.00
Terra Nova Starlite 2 pitched on a hilltop with LFTO star rating

by James Forrest |
Updated on

Many of you will probably be familiar with or at least aware of the Terra Nova brand because of its range of technical tents that compete with the best in the world. The Starlite 2 is a super lightweight, 3-season tunnel-shaped tent designed for backpackers and bikepackers.

With two hooped poles creating a long and thin shape. It has a relatively low profile and is aerodynamically shaped, meaning it copes well in strong winds and feels reassuringly stable and strong. The downside is you don’t get as much headroom or interior comfort as dome-shaped tents.

The Starlite 2 is impressively lightweight (1,563g) and made from Terra Nova’s premium materials, which have impressive waterproofing stats. For camping in wet and wild weather conditions, this tent is a far safer bet than many other lightweight options – it should keep you adequately protected.

But because of the tunnel shape, there’s only one door and one porch, both located at the front of the tent, so you’ll have to share with your camping partner. But, ultimately, this tent isn’t about best in class comfort and liveability. If that’s what you want look at the MSR Hubba Hubba NX or Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Plus. But for reliable weather protection and a low-profile, aerodynamic design, the Starlite 2 is a wise choice.

Terra Nova Starlite 2 pitched on a hilltopLFTO
Price: $790.00

Pros

  • Premium materials
  • PFC-free inner and flysheet
  • Good hydrostatic head ratings
  • Stable tunnel shape
  • True 3-season performance
  • Very lightweight

Cons

  • Not the roomiest inside
  • Only one door and porch
  • Very pricey

Shape, structure, pitching, and internal liveability

James Forrest pitching Terra Nova Starlite 2
©LFTO

The Starlite 2 tent is easy to erect. It is pitched all-as-one, with the inner and flysheet combined together, and only takes a few minutes to complete. All you need to do is slide the pre-curved red pole into the red colour-coded sleeve, taking care not to be overly aggressive and rip the material. Do the same with the slightly longer, pre-curved blue pole into the blue sleeve.

Both poles are secured into eyelets at the edge of the flysheet base. There are two eyelets for each pole, meaning you can fine-tune the positioning to slightly alter the tautness of the tent’s structure. Then all you need to do is peg out and the job is done – you have somewhere to sleep.

The inner is suspended onto the flysheet via hook-and-loop style tabs, while a tension band system ensures the inner retains good shape and structure. You get a reasonable amount of space inside the tent for two, sleeping with your heads at the door end, and there’s enough headroom to sit up straight (although if you’re very tall your head might skim the roof).

View into Terra Nova Starlite 2 entrance
©LFTO

But, in truth, the interior does not feel palatial and there’s noticeably less liveable space than in dome-shaped tents such as the MSR Hubba Hubba NX and Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Plus. The walls of the Starlite 2 are more aggressively tapered and there’s less head and shoulder room (the max interior height is 86cm compared to the Sea to Summit’s 105cm interior height, for example).

However, if all you’ll be doing is setting up late and bedding down, there is nothing wrong with the Starlite 2 and it’s comfortable enough.

Waterproofing

Front 3/4 view of Terra Nova Starlite 2
©LFTO

Terra Nova classifies this tent as suitable for 3-season use from spring to autumn. The hydrostatic head rating of the groundsheet is 7,000mm and the flysheet is 3,000mm. These are both high-end, premium ratings and should ensure you are kept dry, even in torrential downpours.

The groundsheet is Terra Nova’s 30-denier Waterbloc ripstop nylon fabric with a PU coating. This material has been designed to be “extremely water-resistant”, according to Terra Nova, with a highly specified PU coating to provide “maximum resistance to hydrolysis action”. The flysheet, meanwhile, is Terra Nova’s 20-denier Watershed Si2 ripstop nylon fabric with a silicone coating – a material “designed to be as light and as strong as possible”.

In a very important sustainability upgrade, both the flysheet and inner are both PFC-free. Both of these fabrics also feel very thin, which is a double-edged sword. While featherweight and packable, you have to treat them with care to avoid any accidental rips or tears.

The flysheet design of the Starlite 2 is excellent too, offering full coverage and protection. It pegs out flush to the ground, minimising the risk of water ingress underneath, and it retains a taut, tightly-drawn structure all night, which ensures it sheds rain well and doesn’t become saggy or flappy, thus avoiding the risk of water pooling on its surface.

Condensation

Terra Nova Starlite 2 flysheet vent
©LFTO

Condensation is notoriously difficult to avoid when camping in changeable climes like the UK, and it’s certainly tricky to avoid in the Starlite 2, particularly if the weather conditions are against you. However Terra Nova has made a decent effort at adding features to try and combat this problem.

The inner door is one-third midge-proof mesh to encourage air flow and improve ventilation. The flysheet also has an integrated vent at the rear, towards the top of the tent at the roof, which helps a little. There is also a pretty good gap between the flysheet and inner, and the flysheet can be pegged out in a manner to allow a touch of airflow underneath it, if needs be.

Stability and wind resistance

Side view of Terra Nova Starlite 2
©LFTO

As we mentioned in our introduction, this tent copes well in strong winds – it feels sturdy and stable. The tunnel shape has a low-to-the-ground profile, ensuring wind flows over it nicely in an aerodynamic way, while the five guylines enable you to peg it out securely for added stability.

The maximum height of the Starlite 2 tent is only 86cm (the Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Plus is 22cm higher at 108cm, for example), which means the shorter walls are less like to “catch” the wind (like a sail) and thus less likely to buffeted around.

Weight and packed size

Terra Nova Starlite 2 carry bag, poles, and pegs
©LFTO

On our scales the Terra Nova Starlite 2 weighs 1,563g, broken down as follows: the combined flysheet and groundsheet with 5 guylines (1,090g), two poles (296g), 15 pegs (140g), pole and peg bag (10g) and the main carry case (27g).

This is impressively lightweight, considering how protective the tent feels. The low weight is achieved through the use of very thin, ultralight materials, and of course the clever design. By ditching some of the carry bags and packing fewer pegs, you can easily reduce your trail weight to below 1,500g, which feels like a big milestone to surpass for a reliable two-person tent. For comparison, the Starlite 2 clocks in at 139g lighter than the MSR Hubba Hubba NX.

Terra Nova Starlite 2 carry bag
©LFTO

Once packed inside the ultralight carry bag, which has a drawcord closure, the Starlite 2 is sized 35x18cm by our measurements, which fits nicely into the bottom of a backpacking rucksack. Although fitting the tent into the carry bag involves a little bit of wrestling, mainly because the tent’s flysheet is so shiny, light and slippery to the touch, it’s a rather elusive beast to control.

Features

Terra Nova Starlite 2 peg
©LFTO

The Starlite 2 is supplied with 15 of Terra Nova’s Terra Firma Mini pegs. These pegs have a tri-angled, Y-shape for enhanced grip and penetration, and feature little “pull loops” of cord. Each peg weighs approximately 9g. The tent’s two poles – one blue, one red – are Terra Nova’s exclusive TN Reflex extruded aluminium poles with an 8.64mm thickness.

They have pre-bent sections to suit stress conditions in the wind and have received “superior anodising treatments” to reduce breakages and improve durability. All of the pegs and poles fit into a single carry bag, which has one sleeve for the poles and a smaller, Velcro-secured sleeve for the pegs.

The flysheet comes with five pre-attached guylines – two on each side, and one at the rear end. The guylines are made from reflective Dyneema, which “provides very low stretch for stability in all conditions”, according to Terra Nova.

Terra Nova Starlite 2 guyline
©LFTO

Internally you get two small mesh pockets, one on each side, close to the tent entrance, for organising your camping gear. Little toggles enable the internal door to be rolled away and kept open, if so desired. The flysheet door has a small, awning-style canopy roof above it, and the door itself can be rolled away and secured open when required.

Behind the door is a reasonable-sized porch, which does its job, but it’s not the biggest. Its shape and location are a little awkward too. If stashed with two sets of wet boots and two 60L backpacks, it makes getting in and out of the tent a rather convoluted process.

The Starlite 2 also comes with a “pole doctor” (also known as a repair sleeve) – a little metallic tube with indented holes and perforations, which can be used to repair a broken pole. In the very unlikely event of a snapped or shattered pole, you can fit the sleeve over the broken pole section and secure it for a temporary, on-the-hill repair. The pole doctor tube weighs 12g.

Front view of Terra Nova Starlite 2
©LFTO

It’s also worth nothing that this tent comes with Terra Nova’s reassuring guarantees. The Starlite 2 is guaranteed to the original owner against defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product, while Terra Nova Equipment will replace alloy poles for any reason, including accidental breakages, within two years of the purchase date.

Moreover, Terra Nova provides a full out of guarantee tent repair service as well. It also has a tent trade in scheme that aims to recycle as much of your old tent as possible while giving you a discount on your next tent purchase.

Verdict

Terra Nova Starlite 2 pitched on a hilltop with LFTO star rating
©LFTO

Terra Nova's Starlite 2 is a very lightweight, tunnel-shaped tent with good wind stability and Terra Nova’s usual premium design approach – but it’s very expensive and you only get one door and one porch.

It's not exactly a tent designed for mass appeal, rather a focused, high-end 3-season tent for avid backpackers and bikepackers.

How we tested

James Forrest testing gear for Live for the Outdoors
©LFTO

The Terra Nova Starlite 2 tent was tested and reviewed by James Forrest. James is one of the UK's foremost outdoor writers, and wild camping and gear experts. He is based in the Lake District and tested the Starlite 2 in spring alongside a number of other two-person tents.

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