Review: Tarptent Aeon Li Tent

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

The Tarptent Aeon Li tent is an ultralight single-wall one-person tent that utilizes trekking poles and stakes for setup. This is my go-to tent for most backpacking trips due to the low weight – just 1 pound!

Note: I purchased this tent in 2019 with my own funds and receive no compensation from Tarptent.

Highlights

  • ultralight – weighs 16 oz. (2019 version)
  • sets up with one trekking pole and six stakes (an optional pole can be purchased from Tarptent for use instead of a trekking pole)
  • made with Dyneema fabric
  • waterproof without the need for coatings
  • front doors open fully for views
  • tent interior stays dry when setting up in the rain
  • small footprint

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

About Tarptent

Tarptent, based in Nevada City, California, is a cottage industry company specializing in ultralight and lightweight tents. Their products are not sold in outdoor retailers and need to be purchased directly from Tarptent.

Purchase the Aeon Li: Retail price for the 2020 version – $535

Specs

  • Interior Height: 47 in / 119 cm
  • Floor Width: 30 in / 76 cm
  • Floor Length: 88 in / 224 cm
  • Stakes: 6 x 6 in / 15 cm Easton Nanos (included)
  • Reflective guyline: 2.5 mm
  • Packed size: 14 in x 4 in / 36 cm x 10 cm

Note that the Aeon Li was updated in 2020 and now features a waterproof zipper on the vestibule doors (mine has a hook and velcro strips on the doors), as well as guylines on the PitchLoc corners for more adjustability.

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

Features

Setup

This tent uses one trekking pole and six stakes for setup. Since it is a single-wall tent, there is no separate rain fly – the tent walls and mesh side walls are sewn together to make a single layer. Due to having only one layer of fabric, the interior stays dry when setting up in the rain.

While I would not have wanted a single-wall trekking pole tent when I first started backpacking, now I wouldn’t want to take a heavier freestanding tent. I used to think that a tent like this would be too difficult to setup, but it’s super easy once you get the hang of it.

To pitch the Aeon Li, I like to use the method shown in this video: Darwin on the Trail – How to Get the Perfect Pitch.

Here is my set up method:

  • start by staking the PitchLoc ends (place the stakes so they lines up with the tent’s ridgelines)
  • place a trekking pole handle-side up (or use the optional pole) in the top awning, angled slightly to make getting in and out easier. While it can be pitched with the trekking pole handle on the ground, I prefer to place it handle-side up to keep my trekking pole handles out of the dirt.
  • stake the apex guyline
  • with both doors closed, stake the vestibule with the apex guideline using one stake
  • stake the two front corners (place the stakes so they line up with the tent’s ridgelines)
  • stake the middle back
gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

trekking pole placed handle-side up

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

back wall strut and stake

Ventilation

The Aeon Li has several features to provide good ventilation, utilizing two PitchLoc corners (one on each end of the back of the tent) that can be left open for ventilation, or closed with attached fabric when needed.  An apex vent above the doors also provides ventilation. And when even more ventilation is desired, adjust the height of the trekking pole to raise the front walls of the tent to allow more air to flow.

Single-wall tents have a reputation for condensation build up inside, but all tents can get condensation – the mesh of a double-wall tent prevents it from dripping in the interior while a single-wall tent doesn’t have separate mesh. If there is condensation inside, mesh sewn to the bathtub floor at the end of the walls will catch any moisture drips where they will fall through to the ground.

The best method to prevent condensation is to setup your tent in an area where it will be less of an issue. To learn more, check out this video by Tarptent: How to Prevent Condensation.

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

open the PitchLoc corners for ventilation

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

front walls set high for more ventilation

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

keep cold wind out by adjusting trekking pole height to lower the front walls

Durability

I’ve used my Aeon Li on over 30 nights of backpacking in the Pacific Northwest – and it’s still in like-new condition with no holes or tears anywhere in the fabric or mesh. I leave all of the struts installed and roll my tent, carrying it in a stuff sack on the outside of my backpack.

I use a footprint made from Polycro – the same plastic film used to seal windows – mainly to keep the bottom of my tent clean, but it also provides a layer of protection for the floor from abrasions due to sand or rocks.

Waterproof

Dyneema fabric is waterproof and doesn’t need coatings to stay that way. During a heavy downpour with 1.5″ of rain overnight in the Olympics, this tent stayed completely dry inside. Water somehow got inside my bear canister that night, but not in my tent!

Size/Comfort

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

at 88″ long, the Aeon Li can accommodate a full length sleeping pad with room for a backpack above it

This tent feels roomy to me, although I’m just 5’1″. However, it is longer than most one person tents and can accommodate taller campers. The interior height is 47″, much higher than my previous tents. The interior of the Aeon Li has a 30″ x 88″ rectangular floor that isn’t tapered at the foot end so you can orient your sleep system at either end.

I can use a full size sleeping pad (72 inches long) and place my backpack above the sleeping pad. I usually place the backpack so it’s partway under my sleeping pad to raise my head while sleeping, but it also fits horizontally without going under my pad (as shown above).

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

The PitchLoc corners raise the walls of the tent to provide more interior space, as well as to provide stability to the structure. I place my sleeping system close to the doors and there’s room on the side for my gear.

Additional features

The interior apex strut provides an advantage not listed on the Tarptent specs – it’s a great place to hang gear, both inside the tent and in the vestibule. On the outside, I like to hang my Kula pee cloth, and on the inside, I wrap my headlamp around the pole for inside lighting.

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

hanging my Kula pee cloth in the vestibule for handy access

One of my favorite features of this tent are the magnetic closures for the mesh and vestibule doors. No more fumbling with toggles when rolling up the doors!

gear review: Tarptent Aeon Li ultralight tent

magnetic door closures

While this is an expensive tent, if you backpack as often as I do, it’s well worth it to have a shelter that’s as thoughtfully engineered and as light as the Aeon Li.

Purchase the Aeon Li: Retail price for the 2020 version – $535