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Thread: Tenting with a Tarp

  1. #1
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    Default Tenting with a Tarp

    Have any of you done any extensive tenting just using a tarp up here?

    Ive been seeing some ways to set them up in both my survival book and various other websites.

    Very interested in them for Lightweight mountain shelter. But they look like they would be hard to setup to make very wind resistant. Looks like you could make a very roomy one guys shelter out of a 10x12, and lighter weight than a commercial one man tent.

    But they look great for woods camping, maybe even better than a tent. Lighter, set them up as the situation dictates. Just a roof set high for fair weather or close them in for wet weather,

    Bugs getting in are about the only drawback I see with them if using in a wooded area.

  2. #2

    Default Yep,

    spent 11 days sheep hunting with a blue tarp. Worked just fine. Had 4 days of nasty rain, but stayed dry. Just set up tied to trees and slept on the ground with a thermarest.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    No extensive experience but have used a military poncho as a rain shelter a few times. Definitely best in the trees and barely big enough. I just picked up a Sil Tarp that I want to try sometime. I think as long as you have the right situation to rig the tarp and relatively little wind you should be good to go. Some of the old books like those by Angier have some good diagrams for rigging tarps, fire placement, etc.

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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    One fall while out on a week long caribou hunt I used a 10'x12' tarp setup as a 3 man tent. Decided on the tarp rather than my usual 8'x10' white wall canvas tent because of the frequency of rain we were having that season. We set it up just like a white wall tent, used a ridge pole and bi-pods for the front and back made out of long straight alder, these we placed on the inside of the tarp, for the corners I placed small round stones on the inside corners and wrapped my rope on the outside around them used that for my tiedowns. Probably a tarp would setup fairly easy if you used a tepee style setup, would only need one small stone place in the center if you were roping it to an overhead branch or a center pole if you are setting it up in a more open spot with the base staked down. Maybe even a Lean-To design with just a bi-pod and a ridge pole.

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    I have a Henry Shires Tarptent, bought it when I was back on the east coast. works very well. i haven't used it in alaska though. i don't feel it would hold up well on the open tundra or above tree line in the mountains, b/c of the wind. if you were in the trees i think you would be okay. i bought a commercial one, but you can make the same thing out of sil-nylon or a simple blue/green tarp for a lot cheaper.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    With some of the newer floorless tents I can't see any bennefit to using a tarp. My next ultralight shelter will be a golite shangri-la 2, all the protection of a tent w/ the weight of a tarp.

  7. #7

    Default Bugs ......

    ....... That's the deal breaker for me and ya'll know they can be horrendous.
    There are plenty of really light full enclosures.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by 68 Bronco View Post
    ....... That's the deal breaker for me and ya'll know they can be horrendous.
    There are plenty of really light full enclosures.
    Yeppers, thats why my new May-August backpack/packrafting tent is a Go Lite Shangrila 4 with a Shangri La 2 nest. Still have 70+ sq ft of vestibule you can stand up in part of and 25 sq ft of sleep area with a real floor and bug netting all for 5.5 pounds. Hard to beat that! By mid september the bugs are as much of an issue where I hunt usually and I can drop 2 pounds of the setup and just go with the SL 4. Be interesting to see how many bugs are on the SL2 nest inside the SL4 during the summer months.

  9. #9
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Seems less and less difference every year...

    Buck Nelson commented about using these light shelters: "With all ultralight tents and tarps it's important to find a site protected from high winds and with good drainage". Still, as shelters have evolved; from flat tarps, to fancy differential-cut tarps, tipis, "tarptents" and tents, shelters seem to blend into each other nowadays. If the sides reach the ground, or it has a floor or bug netting it usually gets called a tent. We used a tipi design - floorless - this summer - with bug netting. It was light, easy to pack, perfect for the cooktent yet kept bugs and wind out. I guess a tarp is still appealing for being light and versatile - along with limitations. Weight comparisons of some examples...

    Tarps: New sil nylon tarps pack small & light, 22oz for one by Integral Designs (http://www.backcountrygear.com/catal...ail.cfm/IN1300). Still have bugs, wind and blowing rain issues. Maybe you would also need a bivy sack? - but more weight.

    Tarptents: Buck Nelson, planning for his 1,000 mile backpacking trip across Alaska used a tent, Henry Shire's Tarptent, which has a floor and no-see-um netting I think (34oz). (http://www.bucktrack.com/Alaska_Back...st_Review.html).

    Tents: GoLite Shangri-La 2; 29 oz -floorless - http://www.backcountrygear.com/catal...il.cfm/GO30760

  10. #10
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    I used a sil tarp on a sheep hunt for a few days and it worked great but there were no bugs, if there had been I might have packed up and gone home. I hate those no seeums and skeeters.

  11. #11

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    The ultralight hiker crowd likes tarps & ponchos, some of which are basically military ponchos that are made of thinner material. Most who opt for tarp camping will also use a bivy sack in case the weather gets wet; these can be really light since the bivy isn't the main shelter.

    Personally I've never used a tarp, but I've slept in the open during the summer. Mosquitos are horrid (ESPECIALLY near muskeg), but a simple headnet can make things bearable.

    I think a tarp and/or bivy would be good for a survival kit or those times when you want to really rough it. Add some spectra guyline & a few titanium stakes and you won't know it's in your pack.
    Tsimshian tribe, wolf clan, the house of Walsk.

  12. #12
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    Im looking now at the shangri-la Tipis. They are about as light and look a little more protective.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by rimfirematt View Post
    Im looking now at the shangri-la Tipis. They are about as light and look a little more protective.
    I like them alot for the weight and own 3 of their tipis and 2 nests. The shangri-la 2 is my new solo or ultralight overnight bivy tent for 2. Only 1.7 pounds with 50 sq ft of full protection from the rain AND wind which you can't do with a tarp as easily. Also setups up faster and easier than a tarp as well.

  14. #14
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default Siwash camp

    Old timers used to siwash camp often when pursuing game. I talked to a guy who used to walk from Homer to Seward to attend dances in the 30s and 40s. He carried only the bare minimums including a cruiser ax, and a tarp to roll up in.

    Blue tarps are miserable in the winter, as they do not breath and collect frost which falls down on you when bumped. The old canvas duck tarp, though heavier, made better tarps for siwashing.

  15. #15
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    "Siwash" is one I havent heard inna while......
    "Travel light, freeze at night" is a close second to that.

    Spent many many a spring/summer/fall under a tarp type tent with the family.

    We use Rope, poles and make a Teepee or a leanto or a wall tent type set up. I preferr the teepee style with plastic tarps in breezy places, as we circle the deal with a rope or two and hold it down, and its quiet.
    A plasict tarp set up as a tent or leanto will snap and crackle in the wind, and are so loud, they can be heard quite a ways, while you can hear nothing but noise while inside them.
    We often move to the coast in the summer looking for that breezy weather to keep the misquitos down and to dry the meat/fish without flys around.
    If its a breezy place a canvas tarp is far better. Its quiet, and with midnight sun, its dark and nice to sleep in. You can wax a canvas too, as well as repair it very easily, its just the increase in weight that the canvas isnt better than the plastic.

    You can build most any setup with willows tarps and rope

    Thus;


    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I spent one night under a blue tarp and had to wear a headnet because of the bugs. Unfortunately in the night the headnet pulled tight against my face and I had more bug bites than I could count. Now its a bugproof tent for me.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  17. #17
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    I spent one night under a blue tarp and had to wear a headnet because of the bugs. Unfortunately in the night the headnet pulled tight against my face and I had more bug bites than I could count. Now its a bugproof tent for me.

    Sorry, but that gave me a laugh!

  18. #18
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    Bugs suk.
    We use US military bug net tents , a bunch of clothespins and some string.
    With open sides,bugs are there anyway and 24 hour sun the daylight is cut nicely under a bug net, so a nice bugless/sunless sleep can be had.

    Also, every one can carry a good piece of tarp and some rope, with beach wood or long willows a wind proof house can be easily had, that is easily taken down. Good for a week and then move on, staching the poles for next time.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

  19. #19
    Member greythorn3's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Tarp Living style.

    tarp camping? well take it from the experts in wasilla that their homes are covered in tarps, its a tarp living lifestyle. go drive around wasilla then who ever has the best looking tarp house, stop on in and ask them some advice.
    Semper Fi!

  20. #20
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chisana View Post
    No extensive experience but have used a military poncho as a rain shelter a few times. Definitely best in the trees and barely big enough.
    You better be under 5'10" to fit under a military poncho hooch! Used those plenty of times and they worked best when you are your buddy snapped two together and were in the trees.

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