Tarps? Whadda ya think?

1:24 a.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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So what do ya think?  Is a tarp a bivy, a ground cover, a porch, a tent, a foot print, extra protection for your tent, any combo of the above.  What do you think?  What are your experiances with them?  What do you have and what have you used?  Are you for them or against them?  Why?  Got any pictures of them and the different configurations that they can be used in?  Is that enough questions, I can think of more?

2:02 a.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I don't know if I qualify for tarp status, but when it was really pissing we would string a poncho (hood goosenecked) with 550 or bungees.

The bungees had to be pretty heavy duty to work, and I just dug one out from my old military stash- it measures 24" by 3/8" diameter. We would just quickly hook them on to anything at 4 points...trees, rocks, whatever.

The "Poncho Hooch" was a luxury thing, and only used between missions, but they would keep you dry enough.

Bivys are super dependent on quality IMO, and if our Goretex bivys even got a hint of degradation (due to laundering/age etc.) they were worse than just taking your chances in the bag. We preferred synthetic bags, but down works just fine too, it has to be absolutely soaked (down bag) to really become a liability even though the conventional wisdom says otherwise.

We also ran a rip-stop spaceblanket of sorts that was supplemented with a nylon/synthetic insulation sheet that was extremely efficient in temperatures as low as 30F (if I remember correctly). The thin insulation was laced to the heavy duty spaceblanket with cord.

The US Issue poncho is basically a tarp, and it is very versatile. Lucky for me, I got that madness out of my system 10 years ago!  

2:41 a.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I still have a US military issue "poncho"  issue 1967 that I use for a ponch and a ground cover/foot print/floor in front of my tent.  It's the gig.  It is well worn and I use it well.

3:58 a.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I hope not to derail your thread, but have you seen "Nature: Christmas in Yellowstone"?  Middle of winter, and that guy is tarping old school.  A true minimalist.  Top equipment (except his tarp), but not a lot of it.  Using one of those noisy tarps with brass grommets you can pick up at a chain store for less than $10.

4:39 a.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Just the opposite, this is just one of the things I want to hear.  You don't need to spend oodles and oodles of bank notes on what, an expensive tarp.  For what is a tarp after all, just a square or rectangular (haven't seen any triangular or round ones yet) piece of water proof material with various perks that make it a livable, habitable space.

9:46 a.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I almost exlusively use tarps for 3 plus season treks.  I have a 5.5 ft x 9 ft tarp that I use for day hikes to get out of the wind / rain.  I have a larger 9x11 ft tarp that I have used outside of bug season as a simple A-frame in the snow (I was the only one that did not have any condensation on my sleeping bag in the morning, unlike the folks using tents).  And I have a shaped tarp Mid or pyramid type shelter that I can use above treeline.  If bugs, I either use a bivy with head netting or a 'inner' net shelter with bug netting and a bathtub floor.

The constant here is that I use my trekking poles for support (although can support from trees), not only saving weight in the process (dual use items) but also creating more strength.  Trekking poles are far strong in terms of tensional strength than any tent pole.

I still like tents but only for true 4 season use and / or areas that require a tight footprint.  Yet, I have been eyeing a couple of solo shelters for 3 season treks.

Tarps I use:

-Mountain Laurel Designs Monk Tarp. 10 total tieouts including two panel tieouts. - 5.5' x 9'. 

-Hilleberg UL10 Tarp - 6 total tieouts. 9' x 11' (recently stolen)

-Moutain Laurel Designs DuoMid (pyramid) - 2 person shelter with 8 ground tieouts and 4 panel midpoint tieouts which makes it absolutely rock solid in pitch.

9:46 a.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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What do I think? I've been using tarps for as long as I can remember, and they are so versitile that I pack my current tarp, an ID Silwing, on every trip where there's room in the backpack...which is nearly every trip.

I've used the green (or blue) rectangle tarps mostly, but I picked up the ID a couple years ago because of the catenary-cut ridgeline and sides, which help immensly to reduce flapping and noise in high winds.

Though it makes a really good vestibule for almost any tent, I like setting up the Silwing separately, as a cooking shelter, dining fly, or just a secondary sheltered space. It also can be fashioned into a bivy with fairly decent coverage, used as a ground cloth...

11:46 a.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I often take a just a tarp to sleep on, use as a simple tent or lean-to cover, use under my tent, use as a awning where shade is minimal.

When I once stayed in the Grand Canyon during a snowy season, I took a 10'x20' Golite tarp (weighed less than a pound), laid it out lengthwise, layed myself on it and pulled the half I was'nt laying on over me. I tucked the edges under me and it kept me dry all night.

I keep loops of parachute cord tied to the grommets for stakes and helping to tie it out when used as a lean-to cover or awning.

Sorry no pictures of techniques.

12:09 p.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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Zeno Marx said:

I hope not to derail your thread, but have you seen "Nature: Christmas in Yellowstone"?  Middle of winter, and that guy is tarping old school.  A true minimalist.  Top equipment (except his tarp), but not a lot of it.  Using one of those noisy tarps with brass grommets you can pick up at a chain store for less than $10.

 Zeno, that is a great show.  I saw it on PBS a few years ago and parts of it used to be on the PBS website. Not sure if they are still there. Yep, saw the tarp. He also had a Western Mountaineering bag, probably a Bison or Puma. It did not look comfortable.

I did a trip to Yosemite a few years ago, my first winter outing. Two of us were in a TNF Mtn 25 and the other guy had a tarp of some kind. We got snowed on, but he said he was fine. For me, I have an old EMS 2 person winter tent-5 poles, two doors and vestibules (one big, one small), weighs a lot, but for one person it is great, two would be fine too, of course even with winter gear.

A lot of UL people use a tarp with a hammock. I'm not sold on it, but have seen winter setups that look pretty good.  A guy named Shug Emery has a whole bunch of well produced videos on YouTube about hammocks and winter camping.

For me, a bivy is a bad alternative to a small tent. I can see them for climbers, but for regular camping, you can find a UL tent with far more space than a bivy at about the same weight and not that much difference in cost.

1:16 p.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I've never used a tarp, not beacuse I don't want to, but because I am completly uneducated on set-up, configuration, etc... especially dangerous as I prefer winter camping. I'm interested to see some opinions, tips, advice from the devoted tarp users, and I'm sure there are many.

1:48 p.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I take a second footprint with me but from another tent.  It is the same (similar) length as my tent but quite wide and I use it as a ground cover at my tents entrance.  I used to use a tarp but now with the footprint replacing the tarp I have saved over half a pound.

4:02 p.m. on September 3, 2011 (EDT)
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@ Zeno Marx:  I think I remeber seeing "Nature: Christmas in Yellowstone"? in passing on PBS but wasen't really paying much attention at the time to the gear.  If it's the show I'm thinking of the potography was so outstanding an wonderful that I didn't pay any attention to the peripheral stuff, the gear in this case.  I will have to try and seek it out again for viewing.  Thanks for reminding us of that film.

Right now I have two tarps, a Garuda/Dana designs Hat Tarp and a 19 ft Moss Parawing which I picked up yesterday form the same guy I got the Optimus Cook-stove from while in Seattle yesterday.  I have not used either as of yet.  The Hat Tarp is really cool as it has a zipper length wise so that once can zip up to be a one or two person bivy as wall as having many, many tie outs rather than gromets.  I will post picts some day when I use either of them.

1:06 a.m. on September 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Tarps..... The Swiss army knife of cloth.

What is in a name? A tarp by any other name would still be as versatile.

7:09 a.m. on September 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Winter in the PNW = rain. This is when I do alot of solo hikes (less people). I carry a Noah 9 with me. I use it as my camp kitchen. I have only put it over a tent once. In this area one must know how to stay dry.

2:16 p.m. on September 4, 2011 (EDT)
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So does any one have pictures of their tarp(s) setup(s) in different configurations in differnt situations? 

As some once once said "a picture is worth 982 words". Then of cource had to amend it to sound cool.

11:29 a.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I use a Superfly tarp from warbonnet outdoors with my blackbird hammock also from warbonnet. I can pitch the tarp flush to the ground A frame style and close off the doors if its really bad, or pitch it high in A frame with doors closed. High and wide, doors open, or in porch mode. there are many variations off of those as well.

I am very happy with my tarp/hammock combo.

Here is a pic from this past weekend of my WBBB 1.7 hammock, and Superfly tarp rigged high and wide in porch mode.


High.jpg

 

2:15 p.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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@ TheRambler :  Thanks for the good pict.  Does this set-up take the same time, more, less than setting up a tent of the same size?  I'd guess you would want to compair it to a tent and a tarp set up, that is.  I toss and turn all night so I don't think a hammock would work for me.  Someday if I can score a super cheap good one I may give it a try though.

2:47 p.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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If we are talking purely setup(no site selection) it is dramatically faster than putting up a tent. Obviously if your just putting up a tarp it would be faster.

It takes me roughly 2-3 minutes to hang my hammock and tarp(this includes getting said items out of the pack), and adjust for proper angle of hammock. The setup is much easier than i originally thought it would be.

When i used to use a tent, if i wasn't going to a designated site it would usually take me at a minimum about 10-15 minutes to find a good flat site if not longer. With a hammock it usually only takes 5 or less to find 2 trees about 11-15 feet apart.

I used to always toss and turn when sleeping on the ground, even using a nice comfy neoair pad. Using my hammock I sleep like a baby and barely move at all. I could not be happier with my hammock/tarp setup.

9:50 a.m. on September 10, 2011 (EDT)
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CWF said:

Tarps I use:

-Mountain Laurel Designs Monk Tarp. 10 total tieouts including two panel tieouts. - 5.5' x 9'. 

-Hilleberg UL10 Tarp - 6 total tieouts. 9' x 11' (recently stolen)

-Moutain Laurel Designs DuoMid (pyramid) - 2 person shelter with 8 ground tieouts and 4 panel midpoint tieouts which makes it absolutely rock solid in pitch.

I've really been considering the MLD DuoMid. How do you like it?  It looks like the venting would work better for our humidity if the bottom gap was set right.

10:29 a.m. on September 10, 2011 (EDT)
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I like it VERY much.  You can pitch it almost straight to the gound but still have the upper vent (closable).  However, it can also be pitched much higher to allow maximum ventilation. Really easy to set up.  Peg out all 4 corners at 90 degree angles to each other so that you effectively create a fabric triangle.  Then open the front zippered door and set up your trekking pole vertically.  Done.  Then add pegging as required.  There are additional mid point perimeter pegging points (4) and mid panel guyouts (4).  So you can lock it solid with 12 pegs.   If you have any specific questions - fire away.


IMG_3599.jpg

11:37 a.m. on September 10, 2011 (EDT)
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CWF, sometimes I get into ground where I can't use stakes.  If I get creative with rocks, do you think I could still get sturdy enough for a good pitch even if the wind gets up there?

Also, how would one tie off a mosquito net(s) or bug bivy, that will not interfere with the function of the pyramid?

1:20 p.m. on September 10, 2011 (EDT)
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Guyz - I think that might be tough as the tight pitch that this shelter attains is due to the pegging (and the guyline runners).  It can be pitched absolutely rock solid.  On the other hand, if you were to deadman some stakes between rocks it might work just fine.  I will be out with it again in 3 weeks so will try some creative pitching.

Inside this pyramid are 5 hanging loops - two at each short panel about a third up or so and one in the centre.  These are for tying off bivvies or inner bug net tents (MLD sells both a solo and a duo version).  Works really well.  You can see the tie off at the top of this bivy.


IMG_3601.jpg

5:50 p.m. on September 10, 2011 (EDT)
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I like that.  I'm getting really close to pulling the trigger on this one.

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