Poll: Tarp/Bivy vs. Tent

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Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Poll: Tarp/Bivy vs. Tent

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Viewing 25 posts - 26 through 50 (of 54 total)
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    Franco Darioli


    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    Is this a Henry Shires commercial ?

    I'm with Allison. I have the Contrail (a bit under 700g) and the Rainbow (a bit over 900g) , so if included the weight of my pole(s) the Contrail would be heavier. However I still use my poles when I have the Rainbow with me.
    On the other hand, if you only used the poles because you need them for your shelter ……….

    You are a man of good taste

    Brett Peugh
    BPL Member


    Locale: Midwest

    I have the Contrail also but realized that I am not taking my poles that often so I just picked up the optional pole for it that weighs 1.9oz and will use that.

    John G
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY

    I don't carry trekking poles either. Anyone tried using the "optional" tarp-poles as pack stays ? Does putting them along the back panel increase the load capacity & or comfort of the pack – or does the pack really need sleeves for "optional" stays to work ?

    Lynn Tramper


    Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna

    >I don't carry trekking poles either. Anyone tried using the "optional" tarp-poles as pack stays ? Does putting them along the back panel increase the load capacity & or comfort of the pack – or does the pack really need sleeves for "optional" stays to work ?

    It would depend a lot on what kind of pack you are using. You would need some way of keeping the poles in place.

    John G
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY

    I was planning on just placing the poles inside the pack, along the back – and letting the rest of the pack's contents hold them in place. Would that work ? If not, would folding a sleeping pad into thirds and inserting the poles between the layers work ? I suppose I could sow 2 sleeves inside the pack to hold the poles in place, but I'd rather not…

    BPL Member


    You can try inserting a folded sleeping pad first, then poles, then all the rest of your stuff. Cinching down into a tight bundle should hold the poles in place.

    Eric Fredricksen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Silicon Valley

    How's that sportsman's blanket work, Michael, if it rains? Do you tuck your head under? And doesn't water find a way to flow in?

    And surely you need pretty warm weather for such a setup…

    Derek Goffin


    Locale: North of England

    The mariposa rucksack uses CF stays that I believe are the same as the small end poles in my Terra Nova Laser tent. They are only 54cm long, surely you would have to join 2 together to get a tarp pole?

    John G
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY

    I was thinking of using the 45 in tarp poles that break down into 3 sections. Since the sections are connected by internal bungy cord, I imagine they won't fit into the stay pockets on the Mariposa.

    I was also hoping that using the 8 ft long poles from my SD Lightning tent as stays in a frameless pack would make it as supportive as a heavier internal frame pack.

    Peter Macfarlane


    Locale: The Scottish Highlands

    It's always wet in the UK, or if it's dry it's about to be wet.
    I use a bivy (Big Agnes thre wire) for a day or two, and a tent (Terra Nova Lasercompetition) for longer trips, exposed mountain camps or if the wether is iffy.
    It makes sense to have different shelters for different trips. The bivy is great on exposed mountain pitches as it has a low profile and a small footprint so you can pitch it anywhere, but you're cooking outside in whatever weather you've got.
    A tent limits pitching options but you've got more comfort.

    Aye, have both.

    Adrian B
    BPL Member


    Locale: Auckland, New Zealand

    I started out with a tent, because it was cheaper to buy a light tent than a light bivy+tarp.

    Dev Anand
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wanowrie

    Second that. contrail ~ 200 and decent bivy ~ 220 + 110 tarp. Me too started with a tent.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Oregon

    TiGoat Ptarmigan Bivy; 5.8 oz at $90.00
    Oware Cat Tarp 1.1; 8 oz at $76.00
    Tarp/Bivy Totals = 13.8 oz and $166.00

    Tarptent Contrail = 24.5 oz and $199.00

    I could be happy using either system but a nice quality tarp/bivy is hard to beat in weight and cost. There are even lighter tarp/bivy options (and tent options) but when adding in cost the TiGoat / Oware combo is a nice setup.

    Martin Rye
    BPL Member


    Locale: UK

    Douglas was asking why people use tarps or tents. Cost has got mentioned and lots people use tarp tents. I have asked people who have used them in the UK about experience of them in bad weather and often they say they would only pitch them low down in sheltered spots due to stability in poor weather – and on reviews of tarp tents often comments are made about the need for more guy lines. Point I’m making is the extra weight of a lets say Hilleberg Akto, can be worth it as you can pitch higher in scenic exposed places, and it does not restrict your rout so much having to drop down in inclement weather to find shelter from the wind, as your choice of shelter is unsuitable in strong winds. Any tent has it limits in strong winds but will out perform most tarp/ tarptent structures. On tarps, I looked up the Oware Cat Tarp. All I see is a low pitched small tarp. It would offer scant protection in say Scotland in bad weather. Tarps are meant to be flexible in pitching configurations yet all I see is A frame configurations you have to crawl under to get in. A tent allows you to sit up and relax in bad weather and cook in the porch. How can it be enjoyable under a Cat Tarp laying down in a storm with the thing just above your head? Saying location, location is the key with using a tarp – reads restriction to my route and wildcamp spot. Also comparing tarp with tent and why I will use a tent. Bivy bags with tarps are a common combination and I can understand the thinking except being cocooned in a bivy inside a sleeping bag/quilt every night. How is that enjoyable compared to a tent with room to move about etc. Also there is condensation to manage with a bivy bag and stopping the sleeping bag from getting damp from it. A tent with an inner offers protection from condensation. Tarps are prone to it as much as tents – where at least in a tent I don’t have to manage condensation control with a bivy bag as well? That is why in the damp UK I will stick with a tent.

    Diplomatic Mike


    Locale: Under a bush in Scotland

    Tarping in Scotland is great fun Martin. Give it a try, you might be surprised. :)
    I use various shelters, and the tarp is the most enjoyable. If i don't want to chance getting wet, i could stay in the house. Watching heavy rain from under a tarp, whilst lying in a cozy bag, is fun.
    The last time out with a tarp, i was wakened early by a 'tearing' noise. When i opened my eyes, i saw it was a deer cropping grass about 10 yards away. You don't get that experience locked up in a tent.

    Martin Rye
    BPL Member


    Locale: UK

    My tent has a door that opens out the whole length of the tent Mike, so I see lots from it – I cant see tarping as comfortable on say, a two week TGO Challenge with bad weather most likely over several days. Plus the wind is a constant factor to consider in the UK hills. That and the fact I like camping high if I get a chance means tarps just don't offer me what I need from a shelter in the UK. Another consideration for me is: I live hundreds of miles from the hills. I need to book time to go so I don't always get to choose a good weather weekend – hence the need for good reliable shelter from the wind and rain when I get to Scotland as an example.

    Diplomatic Mike


    Locale: Under a bush in Scotland

    That's fair Martin. I'm lucky i live close enough to the hills to just go when i feel like it, and choose the most suitable shelter.
    As i mentioned before, i had hoped to use a tarp for a 2 week trek this summer in the Highlands. Unfortunately, injury has meant no walking for me this summer. Probably lucky, seeing how wet this summer has been! :)

    Martin Rye
    BPL Member


    Locale: UK

    Hope you mend soon Mike and sorry that you have had an injury – read your comments (well i think it was you) and good ones too in the TGO on trail shoes. Lets hope you have a good reunion with the hills soon.

    Jason Brinkman
    BPL Member


    Locale: Idaho

    Depending on weather, trip length, season, etc I use a tent, a bivy/tarp, or just a bivy. Have never used just a tarp.

    My preferred method in just about every circumstance, is an WPB eVent bivy. It won't win any weight contest, but it's small, simple, and provides a great close-to-nature experience.

    My next choice is a WR Ptarmigan bivy with tarp or poncho-tarp. More fussy, but more flexible. Still don't own a tarp that I am perfectly satisfied with.

    For bad weather in early/late season I will go to a tent. I've really never done much winter camping and no mountaineering, so haven't had to solve that dilemma (yet).

    Mike Nielsen


    Locale: Pacific North West

    I really like my Gatewood poncho. Went through a 5 hour rain and was totally dry. No bivy, just my montbell bag with a decent dwr on it. Worked great.

    I have just brought along a big piece of no seeum that I drape over my head and attach to the poncho with a snap it has. Not the most elegant but simple and easy.

    I am debating on adding the netting skirt or making an entire inner mesh tent, converting my Gatewood into a full on 2 skin tent.

    Love the weight and ease of setup. Nice compromise for me as a solo with plenty of room to sit up and move about a bit.

    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCAL

    I never tent anymore but always take a tarp (well except maybe in mid winter). Mainly because of weight and because I find it quicker and easier to set up then a tent and its more flexible when camping in less then ideal tent platform conditions which opens up more potential campsites over a tent.

    Depending on the time of year and weather, I bring the tarp and either nothing, a UL bivy, or a bug bivy. Unless the weather calls for it, most of the time I don't even set up the tarp and just camp out in the open or just in the bivy/bug bivy. I'm too lazy to set up something I don't need and much prefer just throwing my bag down on a small ground cloth and going to bed (which means I can use a really tiny campsite).

    The 1st time I brought just the tarp and no bivy (because I expected great weather and no bugs), I encountered every weather condition in one night and wondered what I had been thinking. First had hard wind driven rain that latter turned to sleet and snow only to turn back to hard rain. I had to get up and reconfigure my tarp a few times for the changing conditions (a low flat tarp for wind driven rain doesn't seem to work when you are collecting ice water). But as my down quilt stayed warm and pretty much dry, I have more confidence in tarping even without a bivy. In fact, I much prefer dealing with hard rain in a tarp then a tent now (though I would prefer to have a bivy with me).

    Dave Weston


    Locale: NW

    I currently have a 2 person tarp tent that I love. I am going to buy the new Sublite 1 person next spring. It only weighs 18oz. I hate bugs, so a tent is the only answer for me.

    David Long
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    to Mike Nielson:

    I, too, have a Gatewood Cape and used it for a 5-week hike during Summer 2007, as well as other shorter trips last summer. Love it!

    As to your pondering adding a netting skirt, here's my advice: Having used double-wall tents, single-wall tarptents, tarps, and bivies, I think that completely surrounding a tarp or tarptent with netting really exacerbates the condensation issue.

    It's much easier to manage condensation if the netting is just a mozzie headnet or a hanging bug bivy that surrounds your head&shoulders. That way, air is freer to flow into the shelter and move moisture out.

    Once you add netting around the perimeter, condensation rises dramatically. Thus, ironically, Henry Shires' TarpTent instructions say to leave the mosquito netting open whenever possible. I have 2 TarpTents (original Squall and Cloudburst) and love them, but they really do get a lot of condensation when closed up. Not a problem with one person, but with two in the tent your bags brush against the sidewalls and get really wet, in my experience. That's why I think his newer Double Rainbow design is so brilliant because it's configured so your bags are up against the mosquito netting, not the silnylon sides. Ron Moak at SixMoonDesigns has achieved similar breakthroughs with his Europa, Lunar Duo, and (I think) Refuge tents.

    My 0.02,
    David Longwalker

    Jason Griffin


    I chose a tarptent contrail for a compromise between weight, bug protection, and price. It's a very practical choice. I haven't got to use it yet, but I like the idea I can set it high or low depending on how much ventilation I want. It gives me bug protection and a small vestibule to store gear/cook under in the rain. Did I mention the price.

    BPL Member


    Planning to do JMT in early October. Need to decide between MH Gore-tex pac-lite bivy or MSR Hubba 1 HP tent. Don't have the tarp business figured out yet. Choice for me is bivy (alone) OR tent.

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