Tarp 'n Bivy Combo

3:40 p.m. on November 9, 2013 (EST)
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Hey guys and gals,

Got tired of depending on the kindness of [hammock-hanging] strangers, and finally gave up tent camping.

The slight discomfort of sleeping in a cramped bivy is nothing compared to the strain a double-walled tent put on my bad back. It was an easy trade that pretty much made itself.

Poled bivy relieves a bit of that claustrophobia they can create, and the hammock tarp came from REI because, well...merchandise credit. Gotta use it sooner or later.

Decided to set it up in my backyard today. The homeowner's association has been on a deforestation kick lately, so the trees I could've hung the ridge line from are now up in tree heaven.

Have a set of trekking poles, though, and decided I'd use those.

1453286_353387808140991_1274383170_n.jpg

It wasn't easy.

Never pitched a tarp before in my life, much less without any trees to tie it off to. The wind outside kept to a sustained 22MPH with stronger gusts blowing in occasionally. Didn't help, either, that the soft ground didn't want to hold the stakes in place.

Note the bivy is a side-entry (and not entered from the front) and is deliberately placed off-center under the tarp to allow a bit of "living room" for cooking or the like.
1395264_353387834807655_2075910791_n.jpg

Eventually I pulled it off. Took a lot of tweaking, but pulled it off.

Any of y'all out there use a similar setup?

If so, any tips and tricks you'd be willing to share?

All would be much appreciated!

Heading to Forest Glen Preserve next weekend to hike the 11 mi River Ridge Backpack Trail with fellow Trailspace member, Joseph Renow. I'm more than sure he'll give me some pointers, but I wanted to poll the community, too, and see what y'all had to say.

8:39 p.m. on November 9, 2013 (EST)
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Been doing this for quite a while, though I generally prefer a tent if the trip is more than a couple days (like the month+ long expeditions to the Andes). Two suggestions I will make:

1. Pitch the tarp a bit lower to the ground - helps when there is wind blowing the rain or snow around.

2. Since your tarp appears to be about the same length as your bivy, move the tarp forward a couple feet (or the bivy back). I did note that your bivy is side entry, and this suggestion is more important for a front entry. But even with a side entry, it helps in keeping blowing rain or snow out of the bivy.

I would also note that the combined weight of most good bivies and a tarp (I use an Integral Designs silcoat tarp, which is very light) is close to the weight of something like the Hilleberg Suolo, which is a lot more rain, snow, and wind-proof than a bivy plus tarp (a lot more expensive, too!)

9:43 p.m. on November 9, 2013 (EST)
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Just the man to talk to! Great, Bill.

I'm a weekend warrior right now, with three-day treks at the most. 

1.) Definitely taking your advice and pitching it lower next time. The higher it is, the more the wind seems to pick it up, too. I extended my trekking poles out as far as they would go, and that's the height you see in the photos. Is it preferable to pitch both sides at the same height, or could I pitch one side lower (the one opposite the bivy) and one side higher (since the bivy itself blocks the elements on that side)?

2.) The tarp is smaller than I thought, and moving the bivy will also buy some more usable dry space beneath the tarp. Only downside I can see to the side entry design is that it leaves a lot more exposed when unzipping it. This is where your second point will come in handy, looks like.

Ha! Wouldn't take much arm-twisting to get me to use a Hilleberg, but it would take a lot more money than I've got now to purchase one. My "big three" (shelter, pack, and sleeping bag) combined cost half of what a Hilleberg would cost. Maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to test one, but until then, it looks like this setup's my best bet.

Thanks for the tips, sir!

10:40 p.m. on November 9, 2013 (EST)
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(mumbles to self - "hmm, don't really want to get embroiled in another 'tarp-tenting' 150 post-long thread" - mumbles some more, then cops out with -) .... There are many things to consider when pitching a tarp, such as wind direction, blowing precip, shading from the midday sun ("mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun", and not sane people), styling (diamond-shape, pseudo-pyramid, etc for a couple hundred more styles).

I could refer you to a few dozen other threads on Trailspace and even some "Pure Tarpist" sites. OK, so what I do, which will be roundly condemned by dyed in the wool (or is it dyed in the cuben/silcoat) tarp fanatics, er, I mean, enthusiasts, is to pitch the windward side at the ground, which lofts the windflow over the tarp. Of course, that doesn't work if the wind is shifting, which says you should find as sheltered a location as possible to start off with.

With that, I will let the "Tarpies" chime in and tell you the "hunnert 'n one correct ways to pitch your tarp." [hint - it's whatever way works for you].

11:33 p.m. on November 9, 2013 (EST)
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I recall a tarp post from around the same time I began reading the TS forums. I think there are Dickens novels that're shorter.

The ENO ProFly has catenary cuts and lacks center tie-outs, which does limit the number of configurations and shapes it can be pitched in.

I like your style, Bill. And I do find it's valuable to spend time on one's own experimenting with trial-and-error to find what works best. While I could have driven to a Forest Preserve and found some trees, I'm glad I stayed home and made it work with trekking poles. This at least breaks a dependency upon trees.

1:48 p.m. on November 10, 2013 (EST)
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Eric,

Please explain how the use of a tent strains your back. I have had good luck with a tarp set much closer to the ground and no bivy. I like to use boulders or downed trees on the upwind side as a wind break. A heavy stand of tree accomplishes the same thing. How do you keep condensation out of the bivy?

3:12 p.m. on November 10, 2013 (EST)
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Eric,

I have done some hiking this summer with a tarp for shelter, no bivy but I was not in iffy conditions.  Here are some things that I found to be helpful.

  1. As Bill said and many more will say,  Pitch lower to the ground.  I got some three sided stakes from REI and actually attached then to the four corners of the tarp.  Although they are easy to unhook as they are attached to little mitten clips.  (Not recommended for really high winds.)  I drive the stakes in first making the sides tight and about as wide as a normal set up.  Then I either adjust the hiking poles to bring the centers up, or tie off to something.  If you are tided off to trees or something solid then you can set up in reverse, ridge then stakes. 
  2. I would move the bivy to the side even more, use it as a wind block with the zipper facing in to the tarp.  Of course the lay of the ground may effect this, who wants to sleep with there head down a slope!  This will still give you lots of room under the tarp for gear and cooking.  Although it might be better to set the stove just outside the tarp.  But that is up to you.
  3. The main problem I had this summer was bugs.  With a set up like this you can be exposed to bugs all the time.  Your Bivy can solve that, but in the summer that may be a little warm and small.  I am thinking about getting a half bug net shelter, but I am not sure yet.  On the Coast I rarely have issues with bugs and that is where I used this setup.

One other note on the hiking poles.  If you use fixed poles or don't want to adjust them every time, you can run the guides through the handle loops and back to the ground for your center line, or it you want to go lower, use the joints on the pole and wrap the line several times above the connector and then down to the ground.  I don't remember all the names of the knot's, but I think it is a half hitch or a clove hitch?  Just something that will keep it from turning and that can be taken off easy.   I also run a cord from each center connector to the other, under the tarp and this make a great line to hang clothing or other stuff to be out of the weather.  On my tarp it is permanently attached and comes in very handy.  Of course I can't find any pics of it right now....

Wolfman

5:21 p.m. on November 10, 2013 (EST)
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Hey, fellas.

ppine - Using a tent doesn't have any adverse effect on my back, but the tents I can afford are usually more bulk and weight than they're worth. The bivy's getting its first test on a backpacking trip this weekend. I has two built-in vents, one that can be zippered shut at the head end, and one that's permanently open at the foot end: seems a little backwards, considering condensation's going to come from your breath before it'll come from your feet. I plan on keeping both open with the hope it'll create at least a little cross-ventilation.

Wolfman - 

1.) How low is "low?" This probably boils down to personal preference, but I'm wondering how low y'all pitch yours while still having enough height beneath it for cooking and whatnot. Went stakes then ridge - hoping to find some trees on my trip this coming weekend to practice the reverse.

2.) If there's no rain or chance of it, I'll probably turn the bivy into a wind block like you've suggested. Illinois weather being the tantrum-throwing child it is, we'll see what becomes of this.

3.) That bivy is made of solid walls, with two small vents. Definitely not a summer shelter. Definitely would substitute a mesh bug bivy.

Like the idea of running a line on the underside of the ridge. Would be great for drying-out some wet socks, or the like.

Thanks for the feedback, guys. As usual, I'll pound-out a trip report when I get back from next weekend's trip, and will be sure to include some shots of my shelter setup and say how well it worked out.

10:12 p.m. on November 10, 2013 (EST)
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Eric,

You might want to look at my review of ToughStakes to get some ideas for staking down in wet, or sandy, or snow conditions. I discuss some alternative ways of staking, as well as mainly reviewing the ToughStake gear itself.

10:42 p.m. on November 10, 2013 (EST)
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I actually have read your review, Bill - although using them hadn't come to mind until I pitched this tarp on a windy day. 

Always was curious about this photograph:

Toughstake_Title_Image_without_caption_b

So how in heck do you extract a stake pushed so far into the ground? I know this picture goes beyond using the stake itself and incorporates the line and ring, but I'm curious, nonetheless.

They're very appealing, I'll say, because it's way too tedious babysitting stakes and making sure they stay anchored until bedtime (if not through the night).

Are these available yet? Saw there was a link to them on backcountry.com. 

I will say that using trekking poles to pitch the tarp makes a lot of sense to me, and it's nice not having to rely on evenly-spaced trees. Once you're done hiking for the day, well, there's not much use for them otherwise.

Also have to ask, Bill - while these stakes ensure a tarp won't fail at the ground end, have you experienced a tarp failing at its connection/tie-out points because these are so solid?

8:56 a.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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Eric,

1.) How low is "low?"

Well I switched to the MSR Ground Hog stake when I got the tarp, or a REI version of them, they are about 7-8" long and metal.  I have not had any issues yet with pull out.  BUT, it was summer and weather was not really an issue.  I was in sand though. 

As you can see the stake has a small loop on the end, that it what I hooked to the tarp, so the corners of the tarp were either touching the ground or with in say 2" of it.  My tarp it a HH Asym Hex fly which is about 10' wide and 12' long.  So I have plenty of head room, sitting, when I set it up.  I would say the sides are about 6' or maybe a little more across.  This is the stake location so usable room is less, but plenty for one person. 

Although it seems plenty long, it reality it is not, in OK and even in rain, it would be fine, but if the wind is blowing the ends are very exposed and open.  Even if I set up so the tarp is across the wind it still blows in.  In iffy weather the site location become very critical.  Having something to block one end of the tarp is VERY helpful.  On the beach this was fairly easy setting up in the drift wood (Logs) but in a open meadow.... 

I really want this tarp, the HouseFly rain tarp, but I will have to wait, it's not exactly cheep, but it actually weighs less then my current tarp!

Best of luck and let us know know it goes!

Wolfman

10:52 a.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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Eric, Note that the steel cable on the ToughStake is attached at the bottom and has a ring in the end. To remove the stake, you just pull the cable back toward the top of the stake so that cable snd stake are aligned (the cable slices through the ground/sand/snow pretty easily, even if the soft snow froze overnight). Then pull the cable and the stake slides out pretty easily.

The stakes have been available for several years, but you have to order them on line. I have not seen them in stores. Just search on "Toughstakes". I got them on loan at the Outdoor Retailer Show, after having visited their booth during 3 or 4 shows. The small size should hold a tarp just fine in pretty strong winds.

As for the tarp itself failing, I can't say. I do not have a wind tunnel available and have never had a tent or tarp fail at the guy line attachment point, though I have seen more than a few failures on the seams and several tents get lifted by the winds with their occupants and gear in them on Denali. Some people do not know how to build wind walls properly.

Wolf, I have seen some MSR stakes get bent by people trying to pound them into hard, rocky ground (did it myself once). Most times it was using a rock for a mallet (hard to control the angle of the rock striking the end of the stake). Otherwise, they are pretty good stakes. They work pretty well as deadmen, too.

11:12 a.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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Never understood why some folks swear by the "use a rock as a hammer" way of pounding in stakes. Applying slight pressure with my shoe always seems to get the job done, and I've never once bent a J-stake doing it this way.

Gotcha, Bill, and now those make complete sense. I'll see how it goes this first time out, but if wind becomes a problem, those may be my solution.

Don't think - knock on wood - I'll ever experience Denali-quality winds, but if that's the amount of force it takes to push them toward failure, things should be alright.

1:21 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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Crazy that the HouseFly tarp costs almost twice as much as a standard one from ENO! At that point, I'd probably just invest in a MLD DuoMid. Do those end flaps zip together shut, Wolfman? I'm guessing they must have toggles, too, so you can keep them pulled back when the weather's nicer.

Long as I've got enough height to sit up, and enough space for myself sitting with a JetBoil in front of me, that's more than enough.

Don't think rain's in the forecast - knock on wood - this weekend, and winds only are around 10-13MPH. Maybe Mother Nature will go easy on a first-timer and I won't have to concern myself with finding windbreaks right out of the gate.

3:02 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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1.) How low is "low?" This probably boils down to personal preference, but I'm wondering how low y'all pitch yours while still having enough height beneath it for cooking and whatnot. Went stakes then ridge - hoping to find some trees on my trip this coming weekend to practice the reverse.

By having a big enough tarp to start with!

This is why I got rid of my Spinn Twinn -


image.jpg

I found the setup to be a pain in the butt, it just took me to much fiddlin' about to get the pitch I liked.

Yeah it was light, but no way was it a two person shelter for bad weather. Although, to be honest, it did rain a bit the night that photo was taken, and my wife and I slept dry.   Note that we do not use bivys under, so we have less margin of error than you will with that fancy bivy of yours. When the rain hit I did open an umbrella and set it up to sorta close the open end and keep the rain drops off my nose as I slept.

As you can see, to get decent shelter we pitched it awful low, and had to crawl in under it. To me this is less than Ideal. I like a shelter I can sit up under.

But that entire shelter, tarp, lines, stakes and ground cloth, was less than a pound!  As a solo shelter, it would probably be fine ( although still lower than I'd like it to be).

As usual, everything is a compromise.

In heavy wind, the way to pitch an A frame tarp is indeed as Bill S wrote. Stake one long side of the tarp right to the ground or very close to it, perpendicular or "across"  to the wind.  Then go about raising one end with a handy stick and staking that pole and corner down.  The lee side can be left quite high, so you'll have room under. The wind will blow over the tarp, not through it as it would if you had pitched the long axis parallel to the wind.

Of course, you should ideally be looking for a sheltered spot! This is more important with an open tarp than a tent, but then again, with your super-bivy  which looks to be a micro-tent, you may not be as concerned.

As to stakes, I find I tie off to trees and bushes a good bit, and I always carry a single one ounce aluminum snow stake -
snotentstake.jpg

This makes a great magnum anchor if I have a ridge line stake that threatens to pull out. The side stakes don't need to be heavy duty and anything will do, but the ridge line is critical.

This stake is also my potty trowel. Indeed, I first started carrying it because it was significantly lighter than any potty trowel on the market! Such stakes are carried by REI and are cheap. Ya might want to pick one up this week before your trip.

I can certainly appreciate needing to save a coin on gear, and I can also appreciate the need for as lighter pack!

Most of my tarp camping has been with ordinary woven poly tarps. They work very well, but are not very light.

In this tarp thread I show how to make super light yet surprisingly tough tarps for very little coin -

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/beginners/topics/120382.html

I have come to prefer a larger rectangular or square tarp that offers more variation in pitching than a dedicated A freame kinda tarp.

One last bit of advice, if you are the sort of feller that enjoys a good book, find a copy of Ray Jardines "Trail Life". You'll find much detailed info on his method of A frame tarp usage and stealth camping. It's an excellent book, highly recommended, and Jardine is all about saving coin by avoiding all the hype and expense of the commercial big dollar gear "You Simply Must Have".

 

   

 

 

4:15 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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Although it's not unlike watching the Food Network while eating, Bob, I don't mind bringing along a backpacking book while I'm out there - it's a nice way to wind down at night. Another friend suggested I look into Jardine's school of thought, and well - you both can't be wrong. I'll pick it up off Amazon when I've the chance (they've some dynamite prices on used books).

We'll see how I like the bivy/tarp combination. 

I think it's a definite perk to be able to set the bivy up independently when the weather's nice. This Friday, jrenow and myself are making camp in a tent campground before hitting an 11-mile loop trail the next day. If there's no rain, I'm just pitching the bivy and that's it.

Think I understand the method y'all are suggesting so the tarp cuts wind (akin to the way you've it pitched in your picture). I'll take the back end's trekking pole as low as it can go and try that (I've both my poles full extended in the pictures you see).

5:24 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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If you have a big enough tarp another great way to pitch it to block high winds is to simply tie one corner to a tree, back into the wind and stake down the opposite corner real good. Then simply stake out the sides and maybe add a pole or something for extra head room.

Because if the speed and utter simplicity, this is probably my favorite pitch. As long as you have a handy tree you can have bomb proof shelter in just a few seconds - 


P7130055.jpg\

It can be pitched high or low, depending upon conditions and tarp size.  

This is so fast and easy to do it makes a great lunch time shelter on windy, rainy days!


SA72002b%20017.jpg


SA72002b%20018.jpg

You'd probably need a pretty big tarp for this to work with your bivy though.

In fact, the reason I haven't adopted a Ray Jardine style A tarp with "beaks" is my love of this pitch.

I do recommend Rays books, great stuff there. 

I think the best way to pitch an A frame is with a rope between two trees, if you happen to have any! Takes all the fiddlin' out of it.

In this photo the tarp is pitched low for maximum weather resistance, staked right to the earth on both sides. An umbrella is handy for closing off one end, and I sometimes carry a space blanket or extra large polycryo ground sheet to close one end. I have also used a backpack on its side to help close an end in very bad weather.


P7130057.jpg

No way that tarp is gonna get blown down!  

I mentioned cheap polycryo tarps. A patio sized window insulation kit makes a surprisingly decent 8' x 9' A tarp. Mine weighs 7.2 ounces with its line set, including a 21' ridge line! 


SAM_1640.jpg

Anyway, have a great trip!

 

6:34 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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EtdBob said:

....As to stakes, I find I tie off to trees and bushes a good bit,.....

Ah, yes, someone who never camps above timberline, especially when there is lots of snow.

I see a lot of those SMC stakes abandoned in campsites, bent into fanciful shapes.

10:02 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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Alright - blame the draftsman in me - but sometimes I find it easier to draw something than to explain it in words.

Here's what I'm thinking, based on the aforementioned advice:

photo-1.jpg

(Click on the image to enlarge it)

Since it has catenary cuts, do I have to keep the corners of each side level with another?

Or can be compensated for by pitching the foot end wider/narrower than the head?

Believe it measures 10' - 6" L x 6' - 4" W

Yep...on the smaller side, as far as tarps go.

For reference, here's a link to the item page on ENO's site:

http://www.eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com/product/PROFLY.html

10:24 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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Eric...just because it doesn't rain does not mean you should abandon the idea of pitching the tarp...it will cut-down on the wind while cooking and the convective heat loss to the outside of your bivy (which is single-walled I am presuming?) and yourself while you're sitting underneath your tarp...only in fair-weather do I not pitch my tarp:-)

As EtdBob demonstrated...you should try pitching your tarp directly to the ground...and see what space you're working with...since your bivy is a side-entry you will likely be a little cramped (this is why side-entry bivies need a larger tarp in my opinion than front-entry bivies). I would definitely pitch it this way before our trip at the end of the week...just so you're prepared to work with this pitch (you may need it!). As EtdBob also said...trees can be a wonderful object to pitch to..I use them whenever I can...they are quicker...serve as natural protection to the front or rear of my tarp...and never come loose due to soft-soil (as long as you picked a living tree!). If your tarp is too small to pitch directly to the ground in the flying-diamond that he demonstrated above...just use a little bit of guy-line to raise the rear of the diamond enough that your bivy will fit snugly inside....this is one of the pitches I use most often with my winter-bivy:-)

In regards to stakes...I think it is best to have an assortment with you...to accommodate for the different ground-types you can encounter with changing terrain and weather. For my kit I use 4 small titanium shepard's hooks for stoney and clay-packed soils (I also hammer them in with stones...but with care). For softer ground-types I bring 4 Y-stakes or V-stakes...there are lots of manufacturers..I simply prefer the lightest and cheapest I can find. For my ridge-line I bring 2 long nail-stakes. As you know I have been using a tarp for about 8-10 years...and this combination has never had me wanting. It does require that you bring 4 extra stakes (only 2 extra for me since I have additional tie-outs)...but the shepard's hook stakes weigh very little and provide some much needed advantage against hard ground-types.

There are actually only a few "general" pitches (A-frame + Flying Diamond + Lean-to + Half-Pyramid + Tetra [three-sided full-pyramid] + etc.)...but there are countless variations of these (if you do a you-tube search you will find countless videos of people demonstrating them...though the tetra is often wrongly referred to as a pyramid). All this is to say...YES!!!...pitch your sides at different lengths to maximize the protection and ventilation you desire...this versatility is why tarps are superior to tents (also the square-footage for weight...but I gather discussing this sets off a storm of debate). To be clear...you do not necessarily want to have all 4 corners pitched at different heights (though you can)...but generally speaking I have one of the sides higher than the other (porch-mode)...or the rear and the front pitched at different heights (i realize these names might be problematic for you...so assume a front-entry bivy). The only time I pitch all 4 corners at the same height is if I want full ventilation or full protection from weather.

It looks like we are staying in a designated camping site...which are usually terribly hard-packed ground and over-run with mammals that like to chew through expensive packs tied to trees PCT style...but maybe we'll get a good view and some picnic-tables out of the deal! If we were wild-camping I would show you how I look for potential camp-sites that have natural protection (this is a must for using a tarp in my opinion...but I would do it with a tent if I found myself in the mis-fortunate position of having one)...and though we both use bivies I ALWAYS gather soft ground debris to soften + level and insulate my bed...to prevent sharp objects from puncturing the floor of my bivy...and to help with drainage (water runs under the leaves...not over them). I do this instead of preening...it takes about the same amount of time...but is a bazillion times more useful!

11:08 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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They really do that good a job of keeping the heat in, Joseph? I only expected this kind of system to serve as a wind-break, but if they can warm things up a little (or keep them from getting colder), I'm all ears.

Yep, single-walled, side-entry, with two vents: one at the head end (that can be closed) and one at the foot end (cannot be closed).

Could I buy myself a few inches by pitching the one side of the tarp only as high as the bivy, and staking it down so the tarp runs along the top of the bivy and forms the rest the wall? Or is it best to keep the bivy completely inside/under the tarp (i.e., using it as a windblock would negate any attempt to prevent heat loss with the tarp)?

Got 4 DAC J-Stakes. They're not the longest, but they're durable. They fail me, well, I'll go get some new ones. For now I'm trying to avoid spending any money and trying to work with what I have. That's just something I need to be better about in general.

Believe we'll have a fire ring and at a picnic table.

Guess we'll pick up where we leave off here on Saturday, Joseph!

Looking forward to finally kicking the tent habit!

And if we're staying in the walk-in tent campground, hell, I'm locking the pack in my car on night #1. Ain't no critters munching on my new Mountainsmith!

11:40 p.m. on November 11, 2013 (EST)
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Yep...cars are almost critter-proof:-)

I don't know if I would say keep heat in exactly (though the tetra is fully enclosed...so it does trap some heat. What it really does is minimize the convective loss of heat from wind against your body and the wall of your tent...and YES...it is dramatic in cold and windy conditions...plus it just helps withe the whole stove efficiency issue.

As always...I suggest making do with what you have...I only let you know what I use so that when you do buy stakes you can think about adding versatility to your collection. BTW...if I remember I will bring you twp long nail stakes for your ridge-line...little stakes just aren't sufficient for the load that a tight pitch places on it:-)

Saturday it is...you should be a master of the Trucker's-Hitch + Bowline + Slippery-Half + Clove-Hitch + Taught Line-Hitch + etc. by the end of the weekend:-)

12:04 a.m. on November 12, 2013 (EST)
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Knots are my kryptonite, brother. Well...only from now until Sunday.

One advantage and disadvantage of being a tent camper - never a need to learn 'em. Thread some poles and pop on some clips, and that's as much assembly as there is to it.

Upgraded to a JetBoil PCS - testing so far shows it sheds wind a lot better than any of my MSR canister stoves did. Not saying it's windproof, but it does improve my odds. Also a lot safer to use cooking under a shelter - no scary exposed flames. Going to take a cue from my last trip and sleep with the canister inside my bag at night.

Would appreciate those long stakes if you can swing 'em. If I can find some trees, that'll solve the problem, but if not, never hurts to have a backup. Learned the hard way this weekend what wind force can do to a tarp!

Versatility. I like using things that have multiple uses and are adaptable. Hence, the tarp. You're stuck with the tent, but at least tarps leave your options open.

7:46 a.m. on November 12, 2013 (EST)
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And us tent campers lose another one to the dark side....... :)

9:41 a.m. on November 12, 2013 (EST)
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Eric Labanauskas said:

 You're stuck with the tent, but at least tarps leave your options open.

 Maybe a little too open -- in blowing rain or heavy bugs.... Been there.

11:09 a.m. on November 12, 2013 (EST)
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That's where I'm hoping the bombproof bivy comes into play.

May be a different story in the summertime with a mesh bug bivy, but for the cooler months, I'll at least have that to retreat to. Not something I'd want to spend all day in, but better to spend it there than out in the elements!

12:18 a.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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Tarp & bivi is a good way to go light however if you wish to save more on weight get a bivi bag, the lightest you can find and use that. Pitch the tarp as low as practical, a couple of feet is what I find OK and if wind and rain is a problem a wedge shape pitch with the back at ground level in as much shelter as you can find will sort that out. I find that in summer a 20 lb pack weight will give me 5 days in alpine New Zealand; this includes food, fuel, spare clothing, ultra light fishing gear and shelter. "Good to go Bro"

1:10 p.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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Looking at the weather for this weekend's trip:

Fri: H51/L39, Partly Cloudy, 0% Chance of Rain

Sat: H58/L53, Showers, 60% Chance of Rain (Overnight Scattered T-Storms)

Sun: H66, T-Storms, 70% Chance of Rain

Rain being a likely possibility, probably going to take all y'all's advice and keep it as low to the ground as possible: staking the back end to the ground and propping the front up with my trekking pole on its lowest setting (BD Z-Poles fold rather than telescope, so it's probably a little higher than a couple feet - just enough to sit up in). 

Going to have Joseph help me scout for natural wind breaks and make sure my shelter sheds the weather, and doesn't invite it inside.

6:22 a.m. on November 15, 2013 (EST)
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Congrats on making the switch! I went to a tarp and hammock setup and never looked back. Setting a tarp up without trees can be a challenge indeed, it just takes practice as its not quite as intuitive as a poled tent. Just experiment with different configurations and keep practicing and it will become 2nd nature

6:01 p.m. on November 17, 2013 (EST)
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The bad news? I didn't wind up sleeping in the aforementioned tarp-and-bivy combo. The good news? I was picking up my FD meals from Dick's, saw the last ENO hammock they had in stock for the year, and called it a payday treat to myself. Spent both nights on this weekend's trip in it. And...looks like there'll be one less tent camper in the world. More on the subject in the upcoming TR. I'd write it now, but spent the entire drive home being chased by tornadoes with sirens blaring on the highway and tornado warnings for every county I passed through. Great trip. Not a fun ride home. May as well have driven through a car wash for the amount of visibility I had.

8:42 a.m. on November 18, 2013 (EST)
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Well Eric...  Welcome to the really Dark, Dark-Side!  :D

10:07 p.m. on November 20, 2013 (EST)
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I use tarps, tents and hammocks but I like tarps (flysheets) and carry one on most of my trips. It is not unusual for us in New Zealand to get 50-100mm of rain in 24hrs sometimes, yet I have only gotten really wet once, way back when I was a young hiker and didnt understand how to pitch a tarp. When you use a tarp you need to configure it according to the weather conditions.

 

High, and open for fine weather, low and tight for bad weather.

 

In fine weather I pitch mine about 5 feet off the ground, in a A frame style, this works best with the net tent I use. But if the weather is looking threatening, I'll stake the windward end onto the ground, and pitch the open end closer to the ground as well.  You will get wet if you pitch it too high in rain, so go low.

July 30, 2014
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