What size/configuration for a kitchen tarp?

1:41 p.m. on March 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Reading through existing posts, I see that a number of folks carry a tarp to setup a wet weather kitchen. I have a large Kelty tarp that we use for canoeing for this reason (plus sun protection), but was wondering what size/material/setup people recommend for backpacking.

 

I have a SMD Lunar Duo tent, so my trekking poles are currently spoken for. I think I may have to purchase 1 or 2 poles from SMD for the tent, freeing up my trekking pole(s) for the tarp (or always cook around trees). I am leaning towards a 6x8 silnylon tarp, Campmor seems to have a nice price on one. Cuben would be nice, but its a bit pricey at this point in time.

4:35 p.m. on March 21, 2011 (EDT)
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I use these tarps for canoe trips, though I would only bring one backpacking with a large group.

http://www.cookecustomsewing.com/tundratarp.htm

 

The smallest size is 8x10 and it is a flat tarp, but you can rig these in nearly any configuration due to the numerous guy out points.  These are extremely well made.

10:30 p.m. on March 21, 2011 (EDT)
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For solo cooking, i use a 5x8 silnylon poncho in a high diamond configuration. It's also my rain gear on light trips. For 2-4 people i take an 8X10 silnylon in an A-frame. 4 people plus i use a 14x14 heavy nylon tarp with a reinforced center hoop and a central pole. A pyramid silnylon tarp would work fine too, but the many spruce trees and heavy undergrowth calls for something tougher here (Quebec). It's great for car camping above a picnic table (or 2 tables). It also rocks to make saunas in the winter snow pack or to quickly cover a group in a storm : just swing overhead and sit on the sides.

2:27 p.m. on April 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Get some material and have it sewn up to match the dimensions of your trekking poles positions on your tent.

 

For example increasing your vestibule area and either stake out further on the ground or tie to a tree and or us make shift poles (sticks) from the surrounding landscape (if available).  Add a couple or few other eyelets and it can be mulit purpose, e.g. emergency A frame tent etc.

 

Thus you have made something specific to your needs and usage.

7:30 p.m. on April 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Callahan, thanks for the prompt. I spent some time sketching and I have an idea for a larger vestibule!

12:13 p.m. on April 21, 2011 (EDT)
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I used two 6x8 tarps on my last canoe trip. It was really nice to have two separate ones which gave us HUGE flexibility. We were up on Ross Lake, WA during the BC forest fires, which fueled quite a lot of rain/thunder/lightening activity. l am not sure we would have lasted the nine days out because we were would not have been able to keep the tent and most of our gear quite dry. Had the tent wetted out, and we had to store it wet, I am sure we would have gone home after the first three or four days.

We found a hiking pole on a day expedition our first day out, so we took it along on on the trip.  At one point, I needed to tie off on  a corner with no tree, so I used the pole, which was perfect.  Several minutes later, someone happened by, stopped and looked at the pole, and commented "Well, I have never seen THAT use for a pole before."  It took all I had to not start laughing and comment--don't get out much, huh? But I thought better of it. :)

Reading your posts is moving me ever closer to building a 6x8 silnylon tarp for backpacking, esp for use basecamping or longer trips. (maybe even just a 4x6) so that it is mere ounces, but adds tons in usefulness for room to cook or shade under, or additional water-proofing for a tent disaster, or even backup shelter for the ol' daypack.

As an oversized bandanna is useful for the hiker in the myriad ways it can be used, so a small tarp is to adding flexibility to the shelter.

July 24, 2014
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