Tarp

3:58 p.m. on January 13, 2020 (EST)
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Hey gang, I need your help with a good tarp system for an up coming Spring desert trip to SE Utah. I am an experienced hiker and backpacker but am embracing a lighter backpack out of necessity and freedom.

It looks to me an absolute barebones minimum might be a 10x12 opaque white Visqueen sheet and some cords. These can be configured numerous ways depending on requirements. I especially like the commentary our old Friend Colin Fletcher waxes so eloquently in his "Complete Walker" book. I'm familiar with the area in question and plan on utilizing overhangs and similar if things get real bad. No worries. Snow, ice, freezing rain is a possibility, though we always hope for the best. I'm no stranger to the springtime desert weeklong trips, a winter parka, and a swimsuit are both strongly recommended. It's just that I have to pare the weight back mercilessly, and ditching the tent will save both weight and bulk. What do you think? I'm not looking to spend a lot of money, I have all kinds of gear already - another angle is to utilize trekking poles and a poncho.

12:26 p.m. on January 14, 2020 (EST)
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Sil nylon tarps are great. 

I have gone to a Mountainsmith tarp that can be zipped up like a tent, or left open  I use my hiking poles to support it. 

I only bring a tent for wet country. 

2:10 p.m. on January 14, 2020 (EST)
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Cletus, tell us a little more about the trip. Like, is it solo, or will you have company? If you will have company, will they have as much experience as you?

I recommend tarps as a rule. I find that even if they don't get used as sleeping shelter they are often welcomed by groups of people sitting out rain or sun.

2:52 p.m. on January 14, 2020 (EST)
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if you're using a hammock, worth the $ for a dedicated tarp.  

7:01 a.m. on January 15, 2020 (EST)
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In the desert I like to have a cotton bed sheet as a shade tarp. 

Shelter:
Tarps are a great weight saver.  They often require more skill to erect, but are worth it.  I use a personal bug net that has a small dome over my head, with a skirt that goes over the sleeping bag.  Much lighter than the bug net liner that often accompanies tarps.  A ground cloth keeps me off the dirt.  A pyramid tarp for rain shelter completes my desert set up, I but I mostly sleep under the stars, covered by the bug net.

Ed

4:48 p.m. on January 15, 2020 (EST)
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The gnats of southern Utah are my main worry. I’d need something like Ed uses to make a tarp work. Some folks become covered in gnat bites. But sometimes you don’t see any. 

5:27 a.m. on January 16, 2020 (EST)
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It will likely be solo. Not my favorite way to go, but that's how things go sometimes. Not too concerned about bugs, they just aren't a problem in that area, at least not that time of year. I have a heavier synthetic sleeping bag, and a surplus down bag from military liferaft kit. I'd like to take down for weight savings but that's probably pushing my luck. I'll probably bring extra gear and make a final determination right before heading down the trail after looking at weather. 

I think I've been a little too cautious over the years, and while a tent is really nice in extended bad weather - it isn't often enough to justify the weight and bulk for something not really needed. Sleeping under the stars is much nicer. I will say a lot of the tarp setups I've seen online - the pictures - won't be much utility in driving rain or high winds. The only way they will work is setup very low to the ground, and are nothing if not claustrophobic. I've also toyed with the idea of just taking the tent poles and fly. 

9:48 a.m. on January 16, 2020 (EST)
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A hammock is of little use in the desert. 

I will be in Death Valley in Feb.  We sleep on cots to get off the rocks and use no tent or tarp. 

12:26 a.m. on February 10, 2020 (EST)
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I've been using Cooke custom Sewing tundra tarps for a few years now.

He used silnylon fabric exclusively in both 1.1 oz. and 1.9 ounce weights.

Several colors and sizes are available.

He sews each piece of equipment request he gets to order, so a little patience is a virtue...

The only thing is, you must seal the seams yourself.  He provides the silnet. Along with 80 feet of cord.

They're pricy, but then again, you get what you pay for.

If you're interested, just do a search for Cooke Custom Sewing.

5:40 a.m. on February 10, 2020 (EST)
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Phfat cat said:

I've been using Cooke custom Sewing tundra tarps for a few years now.

He used silnylon fabric exclusively in both 1.1 oz. and 1.9 ounce weights.

Several colors and sizes are available.

He sews each piece of equipment request he gets to order, so a little patience is a virtue...

The only thing is, you must seal the seams yourself.  He provides the silnet. Along with 80 feet of cord.

They're pricy, but then again, you get what you pay for.

If you're interested, just do a search for Cooke Custom Sewing.

 You have good taste in tarp makers :) I have several smaller and lighter tarps I prefer for three season use, but when it comes to a winter tarp the Cooke Custom Sewing 1.9oz Silicone Tundra Tarp is the one I carry.

April 4, 2020
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