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Tarps: Square vs rectangle

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2019, 10:44:43 PM »
I have just purchased a Six Moons Designs Haven Tarp for an upcoming trip to the Wind River Range where I do expect afternoon storms that might include hail and or snow and certainly wind.

I'm guessing this is slated for September?  I can't imagine a tarp during prime mosquito season in the Winds. In fact, I can't imagine even enjoying a trip a trip with a full tent, headnet and DEET during mosquito season.

Yeah me too.  This is the last week of August, which usually means the mosquitoes are past.  I did get the net inner tent too just in case we need it and head nets.  All of our camps will be at or above treeline so I am hoping that we are good mosquito wise.

Envious.  Sounds like a great plan.  Looking forward to the trip report.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2019, 09:23:03 AM »
I used a Golite Poncho Tarp for a while years ago. It worked great in places like BB but sucked bad in Maine on the Appalachian Trail where it rained every single day and night.
I have since started using a Six Moons Designs Gatewood Cape. The shaped tarp is awesome. Also has the inner net of you need. Makes it very versatile. And the door provides great views when opened and 360 degree protection during bad weather.

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2019, 11:17:00 AM »
Iím quietly resisting the urge to buy a Mountainsmith Mountain Shade Tarp.  Itís not in the same league as the ultralight tarps made of sil-nylon or other exotic fabrics, but it seems well-designed and a great value. 

I resist on grounds of practicality.  The attraction of a tarp is its simplicity and elegance, the idea of making do in the wilderness with minimal shelter.  But what are the trade-offs?  In exchange for simplicity, elegance, lighter weight, and the pride of making do, you lose protection from wind, from wind-driven rain, from insects, from things that creep, crawl, slither or scamper in the night, and you lose at least to some degree the sense of privacy and enclosure a tent affords.  Itís up to the individual to decide if these trade-offs are worthwhile. 

What a tarp does best is provide shelter from vertical precipitation.  It might also provide shade from the burning sun, but many are translucent and wonít help much in this department. 

Where Iíve seen a tarp work really well is group camping in the forest where rain is a daily event and wind is not so much a problem.  Each group of four was told to carry a large heavy plastic tarp, which I thought was a crazy idea at first.  When making camp, the tarp was immediately rigged about 4 or 5 feet off the ground by tying the four corners out to existing trees.  The group could then quickly shelter under the tarp if necessary and wait for any rain to stop.  Stoves were set up and food prepared and eaten under the tarp.  Very cozy.  Come to think of it, I donít know why we didnít just sleep right there too, and leave the tent behind.  But all this requires a relatively large open flat spot with four suitable trees. 

The bottom line for me is that the negatives outweigh the positives.  A tarp is too limited in its usefulness to make it my preferred option. 
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline dprather

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2019, 04:26:56 PM »

I resist on grounds of practicality.  The attraction of a tarp is its simplicity and elegance, the idea of making do in the wilderness with minimal shelter.  But what are the trade-offs?  In exchange for simplicity, elegance, lighter weight, and the pride of making do, you lose protection from wind, from wind-driven rain, from insects, from things that creep, crawl, slither or scamper in the night, and you lose at least to some degree the sense of privacy and enclosure a tent affords.  Itís up to the individual to decide if these trade-offs are worthwhile. 

The bottom line for me is that the negatives outweigh the positives.  A tarp is too limited in its usefulness to make it my preferred option.

+1

To me, the calculus is among (i) price/quality, (ii) weight, and (iii) the "usefulness" that Backpacker56 speaks of.  To me, zip up = sleep tight.

Best wishes to all of the tarp guys on BBC! 

Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2019, 04:33:05 PM »

I resist on grounds of practicality.  The attraction of a tarp is its simplicity and elegance, the idea of making do in the wilderness with minimal shelter.  But what are the trade-offs?  In exchange for simplicity, elegance, lighter weight, and the pride of making do, you lose protection from wind, from wind-driven rain, from insects, from things that creep, crawl, slither or scamper in the night, and you lose at least to some degree the sense of privacy and enclosure a tent affords.  Itís up to the individual to decide if these trade-offs are worthwhile. 

The bottom line for me is that the negatives outweigh the positives.  A tarp is too limited in its usefulness to make it my preferred option.

+1

To me, the calculus is among (i) price/quality, (ii) weight, and (iii) the "usefulness" that Backpacker56 speaks of.  To me, zip up = sleep tight.

Best wishes to all of the tarp guys on BBC!

Indeed!  To each his own.  Tarp on!   :icon_biggrin:
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2019, 09:25:39 PM »
Thatís a good analysis of tent vs tarp, BP56. There are definitely significant trade-offs involved. I think tarps are really only suitable for two very-specific types of backpackers: 1) committed cowboy-campers, and 2) fanatic ounce-shavers.

Anyone even vaguely worried about things that creep, crawl, slither, scamper, or fly in the night should probably forego a tarp as a shelter. Those creatures wonít necessarily visit during the night, but they certainly could. Personally, Iím not bothered by those things, plus Iíve come to REALLY hate having a roof between me and the sky in all but the most dire circumstances, so carrying an extremely lightweight but effectively waterproof tarp is a very comfortable solution for me.

Iím not a fanatic ounce-shaver, but over the years Iíve definitely inched ever-closer toward the margins of that particular tribe. The first backpacking tent I actually purchased, almost forty years ago, was a late-70ís-era North Face Bullfrog, weighing in at almost 7lbs. After a decade or so, I graduated to the very similar NF Tadpole/Lunarlight which by then was a few pounds lighter than the Bullfrog. A year later, as my solo backpacking and climbing forays into the Rockies got longer and longer, I gave up tents completely and switched to nothing but cowboy camping with a now-discontinued 17-ounce REI waterproof-breathable bivy sack for backup. My wife called it ďthe body bagĒ, and thatís a pretty apt description. I used it for years, but do have to admit it was a wee bit claustrophobic when fully zipped up during prolonged rainstorms. Eventually the bivy sprung one too many leaks to be worth fixing and I replaced it with a Sierra Designs Lightyear 1-man tent for a summerís field work in Peru - where I expected the storms in the high Andes and the fauna in the Amazonian basin to overpower my love of cowboy-camping. The Lightyear was remarkably similar to the Eureka Solitaire mentioned above by Dprather. At 2lb 14oz, the Lightyear was almost three times as heavy as my bivy sack; and at 20sf, it was only marginally less claustrophobic. Plus it was fragile. It did the job in Peru, but by the end of that grueling summer, the Lightyear was toast. I returned to the states and promptly bought an Integral Designs Silshelter tarptent and that little gem has been my solo shelter for almost twenty years. I could hardly be happier with the endpoint Iíve arrived at.

To my way of thinking, my tarptent is an outstanding melding of the best features of a tarp and a tent. My Silshelter weighs not-quite 13 ounces. Itís supported by a single trekking pole (Though I prefer using two: Iím carrying them both anyway so thereís no additional weight penalty) and is held in place by 6-8 stakes at a combined maximum weight just under 4 ounces. I donít use a stuff sack: instead, I smush the tarptent down into the stretch mesh pocket on the rear of my pack where it easily dries when not in use. So, all-told, my total shelter weight is 1 pound, mŠs o menos.

Itís incredibly easy to unpack and erect (60-180 seconds) and absurdly easy to dismantle and pack up (30-60 seconds). It can even be suspended from overhead trees via tie-offs. My only caveat is that the Silshelterís footprint - like most tarptents - is pretty darn big, which means finding a suitable tent site can sometimes be tricky. Of course, thatís a direct result of the huge interior volume: easily big enough for one person and all his/her equipment with plenty of room to sit upright or change clothes, and just barely big enough for two very friendly people and their gear.

Iíve found its silicone-impregnated nylon fabric to be 100% waterproof 100% of the time in all conditions. Heavy snow loads can cause the roof and sides to sag precipitously, but Iíve never had the Silshelter collapse under snow. As many of you know, Iíve ridden out some hellacious storms (wind, rain, lightning, and snow) in this thing. The only time I nearly bit it (December Ď17 in Ernst Basin) was the result of a crappy choice of tent site (MY fault, NOT the tarptentís). Pitched properly, facing the correct direction, it sheds wind, even mighty gusts, incredibly well.  Staked well, my Silshelter has always kept me dry, warm, and safe.

The tarptent has a single entrance at the campersí head, which is covered by two overlapping flaps. My only real gripe is that the flaps are finicky, never really seal completely, and are difficult to open and close properly from inside the shelter. After twenty years of living with it, Iím now considering resewing them and adding a zipper or at least a few Velcro clasps. The extra convenience would more than justify the tiny extra weight.

Even in its unmodified form, the tarptent provides a very comfortable, cozy, private refuge when the door flaps are closed. It feels like a tent even though itís not. Like most tarptents, it can be pitched low to the ground for warmth or higher for improved ventilation. It is, of course, floorless. I donít use a ground sheet: I just toss my regular old closed cell Ridgerest pad onto the ground and crawl in. Being a floorless shelter with excellent ventilation, I can (with a little care) safely cook inside it if need be. However, being floorless, it is never truly sealed against stealthy interlopers. Insects and very small animals could find their way in, though Iíve never had a problem with them. I do carry an ultralight mesh headset in case mosquitos become a problem, but Iíve never had to use it inside my Silshelter.

Sadly, Integral Designs no longer makes the Silshelter. Several great companies offer somewhat similar tarptents, including cuben fiber models that are insanely light and insanely expensive. I know BBC-user Keepa has a really good one. For my money, the closest analogs to the Silshelter are made by Six Moons Designs. Their Gatewood Cape, (BBC-user Wrangler88 has one) is a very small version. Personally, I took a long look at their Deschutes which is a little larger than the Gatewood and very similar to my Silshelter (with some nice improvements like a roof vent and a zippered door) but I still found it too cramped for my tastes. Mule Earsí choice of their Haven Tarp (described in the thread above, and which I believe is fairly new to the market) is probably the option that comes closest to duplicating the things I love about my Silshelter, including the weight, roominess, simplicity, and price point.  If I ever retire my tarptent, thatís probably the  replacement Iíd choose.



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« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 10:32:09 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline GaryF

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2019, 05:58:46 AM »
For me, the fatal flaw of the Eureka Solitaire is that you canít sit up in it. My first tent ever was a Sierra West Gimme Shelter, THE ultralite tent of the early 1980ís.  Peak height was under 30 inches, and I can still remember the cricks in my neck from a few long winter nights, and the frustration of trying to change shirts in a lying down position. I did later have a Sierra Designs Light Year, and while a smaller tent, there was enough room to sit up just under the peak, which makes a huge difference.

Re tarps,  a major plus is that it leaves you a little more in touch with your surroundings, vs the sensory deprivation chamber of a tent.  And a rainy day under a tarp is a much better experience than a rainy day in a tent. Iím mostly a tent person, but in low insect conditions I do love to just use a tarp.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2019, 11:48:40 AM »

Re tarps,  a major plus is that it leaves you a little more in touch with your surroundings, vs the sensory deprivation chamber of a tent.  And a rainy day under a tarp is a much better experience than a rainy day in a tent. Iím mostly a tent person, but in low insect conditions I do love to just use a tarp.


Canít argue with that. Relaxing under a tarp-with-a-view during a gentle rain is a beautiful thing. My Silshelter - not so much. I can throw the door flaps open and look out, but itís not nearly the same thing.

However, because most of my solo trips last longer than any reliable weather forecast, I really need to carry a shelter that can handle virtually any weather that might come my way, and at as little weight penalty as I can reasonably get away with. The Silshelter fits the bill: ultralight, bomb-proof, idiot-proof (well, almost). On some trips, I could probably get away with just a tarp, but in the long run Iíve found it easier to just automatically toss the sub-1-pound Silshelter into my pack and be done. What I gain in peace of mind, I unfortunately lose in occasional camping pleasure.



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« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 12:16:06 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline roadtrip

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2019, 11:29:43 AM »
I've been experimenting with an 8x10 home depot tarp since I started this thread, like Mule Ears suggested. I have pics of the pitches but haven't figured out how to post them. A frames at varying heights and Aframe with the back staked to the ground.
I've camped under the A frame a couple of times. Weather was great so I could have cowboy camped. But it was good practice.
Here's my thoughts so far:
It's fun and rewarding to sucessfully setup a tarp pitch.
It's more work than a popup freestanding 2 wall tent.
There are a lot of stakes, lines and knots.
If the weather is good, no need for tarp or tent. If weather is bad, tent may be safer.
If I do go with a tarp, some kind of netting and floor, I basically have a tent.
Thanks for all the replies and information. The knowledge and helpfulness on the site is the best I've ever seen anywhere on this worldwide intertube thing.

« Last Edit: July 28, 2019, 11:38:09 AM by roadtrip »

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2019, 10:16:53 PM »
Here's my thoughts so far:
It's fun and rewarding to sucessfully setup a tarp pitch.
It's more work than a popup freestanding 2 wall tent.
There are a lot of stakes, lines and knots.
If the weather is good, no need for tarp or tent. If weather is bad, tent may be safer.
If I do go with a tarp, some kind of netting and floor, I basically have a tent.

That's the tradeoff. The tarp protects you from some degree of weather and creates a warmer bubble of air than you would get from having no shelter at all. If there's no weather and it ain't cold, then you can sleep under the stars. If the weather is stormy, some tarps can be pitched in a way to keep out most of the rain and wind, but a tent might make more sense. Once you decide you need bug protection, then a tent is the only real answer.

Everywhere other than Big Bend, I take a hammock as a shelter when backpacking. Lightweight. Protects from most weather. Protects from bugs. More comfortable than sleeping on the hard ground, but not as insulated. Unfortunately, they're against the rules in Big Bend, so the tarp/tent conundrum is always present there.
Jeff Blaylock
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"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline roadtrip

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2019, 04:26:01 PM »
I'm tempted to get this combo: Sanctuary Sil-tarp (https://www.pariaoutdoorproducts.com/products/silnylon-tarp-sanctuary-siltarp)  and breeze mesh  bivy (https://www.pariaoutdoorproducts.com/collections/camping-tents-backpacking-tent/products/breeze-mesh-bivy) from Paria outdoors, about $135. for the combo, but a voice in my head keeps telling me to remember "..you get what you pay for."
Apologies to Paria if it sounds like I'm disparaging your products, I don't mean to do that. They get fine reviews.

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Offline roadtrip

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Re: Tarps: Square vs rectangle
« Reply #26 on: September 03, 2019, 08:49:13 PM »
Well, I guess I'm a tarp guy. I purchased the 8x10 sanctuary siltop a couple of weeks ago. Just got through using it for a 2 night campout.  Barely missed a rainstorm Saturday which would have been a good test of the tarp and my pitch skills (or lack thereof). I may also purchase the net shelter or possibly a bivy for underneath. What's the mosquito/gnat situation in the Chisos and Dodson in late October?
Thanks

 


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