See how this shelter rates with others in our Comparison Review of Tarps and Other Floorless Shelters
Photo: Oware’s 6×8 Cat Tarp: The trim size and catenary cut ridgeline make for a super taut pitch with only 6 tie-outs. Stake out the middle-side tie-outs (not used in the photo), and this is one of the most stable tarps on the market.
Oware is one of a few companies to manufacture tarps with catenary cut ridgelines. In this review we’ll cover their very light one-person tarp (6×8 ft nominal size). It is a superb shelter for stability in high winds and above tree line. With an ultralight bivy and some basic tarping skills, it is enough shelter for 3 seasons (potentially 4 seasons for a hardy camper with experience weathering snow in a tarp). Not bad for only 7 ounces (198 grams)!
The 3-inch (7.6-cm) catenary cut ridgeline on the Oware tarp gives you a tauter pitch with less ridgeline tension (i.e. the tarp is easier to pitch). The reduced ridgeline tension means less guyline tension and therefore, less force on your ridgeline stakes. This leaves more of your ridgeline stake’s holding power available to hold your tarp in place in high winds. Say goodbye to flapping tarps and stakes popping out in big wind gusts. For more information about catenary curvature, read [page 00149]Catenary Curvature as an Element of Ultralight Tarp Design[/page].
The Oware Cat Tarp is a low profile, tapered design-perfect for shedding high altitude winds. It is 7.8 ft long and 5.5 ft wide at the head tapering to 4.5 ft at the foot (2.4 m long, 1.7 m wide tapering to 1.4 m). Pitch it with the low and narrow foot into the wind, and the tarp will shed strong gusts with ease.
The Cat Tarp has high quality construction. It uses 1.4 oz/sq yd (47.5 g/ sq m) silnylon ripstop fabric. Edge seams are rolled and sewn. The center seam is rolled and sewn with a top stitch (similar to a flat felled seam). Since the center seam runs the long direction on the tarp it also forms a very strong ridgeline. Combine this with the catenary cut and you can get some serious tension (super taught pitch) along the ridge of the tarp. All tie-outs are 1 in (2.5 cm) grosgrain webbing loops and tie-out attachment points are reinforced with patches of 200 denier nylon fabric. This allows you to crank down on the tie-outs with little fear of ripping the tarp. There are 6 side tie-outs and two ridgeline tie-outs. These are more than adequate given the small size of the tarp, the strong catenary ridgeline, and its wind shedding profile.
In the field, the Cat Tarp is one of the most stable tarps we’ve used. In tests on a ridge known for its exceptionally high winds it had some of the lowest deflections we’ve ever observed in a tarp. In addition, it is easy to pitch and is one of a few tarps that you can get by with a 6-stake pitch in moderate conditions. An 8-stake pitch is always a great option when you’re high up and exposed and the wind starts gusting.