May 2, 2012 at 5:37 am #1289437
Here's a question for SUL hikers out there. If you were using a small tarp, say 5'x9'. Would you prefer it to be a flat tarp or an A-frame with a cat curve?
I was thinking of making myself a small tarp for summer use in the SE and was deciding between the two different possibilities.
The thought with the A frame is to make the head wider than the foot. So say something like this
I've used some large A frame tarps and liked it, but I haven't used a tarp this small or used a flat tarp before, so I just wanted to see what others have experienced.May 2, 2012 at 7:14 am #1873447
@xpatrickxadLocale: Upper East TN
For something that small I prefer a flat tarp for versatility. Its kind of fun to play around with different ways to set it up and find out what works. If you plan on pitching it A-frame all the time then I'd get a cat cut.
That thread is a great source of cool options to pitch a flat 5×8. I just feel with a tarp that size you can get better coverage if you don't pitch it A-frame style.May 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm #1874423
I've always been a tent camper until my last 2 trips when I've used a ZPacks Hexamid Tarp but it comes down pretty close to the ground on 3 of the sides, leaving a gap for ventilation. I see pictures of tarps 3-5 feet above the sleeping bags. Is it to block the sun in the morning? If I camped like that, I wouldn't bring a tarp, I'd just sleep out in the open. I liked some of the configurations that protected on 3 sides, but many of the configurations don't seem to protect from the rain. In Colorado, we can get rain every afternoon/evening. I think I'm missing something. Does it protect from dew in the morning?May 18, 2012 at 10:15 pm #1879144
Funny! I also camp at altitude in the Rockies…at or above treeline…and rain and high winds are a daily problem…
My primary shelter for 4 yrs. has been the "long" Campmor/Equinox poncho-tarp (58 x 104, 9.5 oz., $69.)
Erected in a half-pyramid, with three walls to the ground and the support pole set at 3.5 feet, this shelter has been a rock. I can sit up inside it, I have 8.5 lineal ft. along the back wall to sleep in, and, it has kept me dry through the most violent wind-driven rain-storms you flatlanders could ever imagine.
After sitting out one gale-force storm above Conundrum HS, I noticed that the rushing water had dug 8" deep gullies under my Mylar groundsheet, but my gear and I remained dry.)
Later, while walking up to the Hot Springs, I noticed campers in expensive ultralite tents who were outside literally wringing out their sleeping bags…
Just 9.5 oz. for my shelter AND rain gear that totally covers my pack.May 18, 2012 at 11:57 pm #1879166
I'll have to check it out. I've now seen lots of configurations of tarps, many able to keep out rain. Others seem to keep dew off or sun because pitched so high above the ground.May 19, 2012 at 12:07 am #1879167
what do you do to keep the bugs away?May 19, 2012 at 2:21 am #1879173
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Small piece of screening. Or, use a tent. There are two months bugs are BAD in the ADK's…May and June.May 19, 2012 at 10:03 am #1879245
@bruckyLocale: Central Cal
Some people will pitch a tarp high so that there is more room and comfort. Then just in case rain comes it is already up and only needs a few adjustments to become wind/rain worthy. Much easier to lower the tarp and re-stake guylines than it would be if you were cowboy camping, got woke up by rain, and had to completely set up your tarp in wind and rain.May 19, 2012 at 10:23 am #1879252
Thanks Brandon. That completely makes sense. Something someone coming from tent camping didn't think ofDec 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm #1937255
Kinda late on this.
On the subject of bugs under a UL tarp, many of us use a UL bug bivy or bug tent.
Not only does this protect against bugs, but also helps protect against wind blown rain and splash and can add warmth by reducing convective heat loss by reducing the breeze. Also, most act as your ground cloth.
As an example my SMD Meteor weighs 6 oz, which isn't much when you consider it acts as a ground cloth, adds warmth and the added protection means I can get by with a smaller tarp.
On the subject of pitching a small tarp high: As stated, better ventilation on a hot night and easier to change the pitch than to start from scratch if the weather turns bad. But it also means that if you are only getting a light rain, it could be all the protection you need.
I know the NY, NJ, CT area often get light rains in the middle of the night in the summer and I am usually able to sleep through with a high a-frame pitch on my 5×9 flat tarp. If it should turn bad, I can readjust without getting out from under it.
Pitching a high tarp also reduces dew that you normally acquire on your bag when cowboy camping. This is important in areas with high humidity. It can be difficult to get you bag or quilt to dry.Dec 27, 2012 at 7:57 am #1938551
@redwood82Locale: Piedmont of the Carolinas
My vote is definitely for a flat tarp for the versatility. I can't imagine having a small tarp (5' width) and not being able to do pitch it in a half pyramid.Dec 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm #1938650
If you were using a small tarp, say 5'x9'. Would you prefer it to be a flat tarp or an A-frame with a cat curve?
Speaking only for myself and my style of using shelters… a 5×9 a-frame with catenary cut on the top and straight edges on the sides.
If the weather gets really bad you can always stake the foot end to the ground and still have a solid shelter due to the catenary cut.
Here is a video of my 80.24 grams (2.83 ounces) 9×6 tarp. While I do not under any situation recommend 0.34 cuben fiber material you can see that a 9×6 is more then enough room for all but the rainiest of seasons by seeing how much room this shelter has, so going with the 5×9 should be good.
My next tarp will probably be a 10×5 with catenary cut on the top and no cat cuts on the sides and 5 tie outs per side.
All that said, there is something to be said about a 10×10 square tarp… the amount of ways you can setup a square tarp is oh so glorious.Jan 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm #1940552
Chris, I use a 5 x 8 flat tarp I made on nearly every trip I take. In fact I just got back from a short overnight on top of Cowrock Mtn with mine. Clear skies where I was but everything around was socked in by low clouds. Site selection helps, but even with such a small tarp I feel confident anywhere. I would recommend going with 5 x 9 though, or even something like the cuben flat tarp Matt Kirk made with a seam in the middle to get the most out of the fabric width.
I'm planning a new tarp out of that Impetus Sil/PU stuff from DIYgearsupply that should be between 6-8 ozJan 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm #1941891
One of the problems I have with a 5×9 flat tarp is that it gets really difficult during torrential wind blown rain. There is very little room when you get it pitched tight to the ground and if you do pitch it with one side higher, you have to re-pitch when the wind changes direction.
If I know I'm going to have to deal with weather extremes, I go with a slightly larger MLD Patrol or GG Spinnshelter. They are both basically 7×9 shaped tarps.
The shaped aspect makes for a much more comfortable, weatherproof, tight and/or warmer pitch when needed, but still has the flexibility to be pitched high and open for summer heat.
In comparison to a say 7×9(or more common 8×10) flat tarp, you may have more options, but a weatherpoof pitch takes a bit more work to tweak and will have a tendency to flap in the wind, and believe me, after spending a night under a flapping tarp in a strong wind, this can be important.
The shaped equivalent is a no brainer to deal with and can be setup in 2 minutes. This gets kind of important if you are out for weeks at a time.Jan 11, 2013 at 8:06 am #1942827
"One of the problems I have with a 5×9 flat tarp is that it gets really difficult during torrential wind blown rain."
Having a DWR shell on your sleeping bag or a DWR bivy mitigates that to a fairly large extent.Jan 11, 2013 at 8:38 am #1942832
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
But if you have DWR shell, and especially if you have a bivy, it weighs more, so you may as well have a bigger tarp insteadJan 11, 2013 at 11:15 am #1942875
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
True but small tarp + bivy you get bug protection. I don't like bugs and most of the time it's not raining.Jan 11, 2013 at 11:28 am #1942878
@mikefaedundeeLocale: Under a bush in Scotland
"Most of the time it isn't raining."
In some places, it rains every day. It even falls vertically now and again. :-)Jan 11, 2013 at 11:36 am #1942879
Regarding a DWR bag or bivy. Yes, fully waterproof breathable is heavy.
I personally use a UL waterproof 6oz bivy when I use a 5×9 rect. tarp. Not only to repel most windblown rain, but also for bug protection and as a ground cloth.
One issue that I have with the 5×9/UL bivy combo is that it can sometimes get annoying dealing with some spray getting through the DWR in torrential rain and the spray getting in my face when I'm trying to sleep.
This forces me to have to get up often to re-position either you and/or the tarp.
A larger tarp, shaped or not shaped, allows for a better night sleep on those rare occasions.
I am not the only one that has complained about this issue with small tarps. Some people still deal with it and accept it as the price to pay to have a lighter pack. Others chose to go shaped and/or slightly larger.
For most, a 8×10 or 9×9 seems to be the sweet spot or a slightly smaller shaped tarp.Jan 11, 2013 at 11:48 am #1942884
In reference to what I am talking about, check out ice-axe's pix of the MLD Patrol:
Compare this to a 5×9 rectangular or even a cat cut 5×9.
The ability to block rain from all directions can be a plus and at probably only 2oz difference in weight compared to a flat 5×9, I think I may just use it all the time and only carry the 5×9 as a day-hike emergency shelter.Jan 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm #1948634
USA Duane HallParticipant
@hikerduaneLocale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
I've been doing a little research this last week or more. Looking at the ZPacks Hexamid, MLD Patrol and some bivies like the Borah. From what I can come up with is the Hexamid is lighter and cheaper, the Patrol may have a smaller staked out foot print, if it does, that would be nice but with the Borah standard bivy and tent poles comes in at almost a pound without the stakes added in. Any help? I am trying to get around 12 oz total if possible. I know one older than me UL/SUL bper I have done some trips with and he still uses the Gatewood poncho, switching for other shelters now and then, one of which is a 3 oz tarp without a bug bivy, bugs don't mess with him. Must be nice I currently use a TT floorless Squall in the summer at 1.5 lbs., so my friend is my inspiration to go really light.
Edit: I'm thinking of getting a EE cuben quilt, which would eliminate the need for a bivy, cutting out the weight of the bivy, its expense and saving more weight with the cuben material. Maybe that is my bivy solution, was not looking forward to hot nights in the Sierra. All I would need then is a light bug bivy/netting.Jan 30, 2013 at 6:06 am #1948749
When I lived out west, I never used a bugnet and rarely wished I had one. The exception being wet areas and then I often got swarmed.
Now I live in the northeast and bugs are everywhere, starting from when the snow starts to melt until the temps drop to well below freezing.
I also use a bugnet in cold weather to add warmth by reducing air flow and thus reducing the convection cooling effect caused by cold air circulating inside my shelter.
It may be that the extra weight could be used for increased loft in my bag/quilt, but I also like the way the net helps keep my face from getting so cold on winter nights.
You really notice it when you unzip it in the morning and feel the temperature drop.Jan 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm #1949035
USA Duane HallParticipant
@hikerduaneLocale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Mosquitoes are notorious in the Caribou Wilderness just to the east of Lassen Vol NP. In the High Sierra, I usually run into heavy numbers of mosquitoes, so a bug net is mandatory. On a mid-August trip just north of interstate 80 and Truckee, CA, I slept cowboy style as there seemed to be no bugs about, but by dark, a few mossies were out. I had my head net with me, so I just put it on. You are right, it does add warm.
DuaneFeb 12, 2013 at 5:11 am #1953456
"Regarding a DWR bag or bivy. Yes, fully waterproof breathable is heavy."
Fully waterproof may be heavy, but DWR not so much. My DWR sleeping bag is 17 ounces and it has served me well down in to the teens F and could go lower with a bit more clothing.
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