View Full Version : Tarp size

Pennsylvania Rose
12-13-2005, 17:09
I'm taking my 12, 13, and 14 year old kids for 5 nights on the AT over spring break. Looking at our gear, I face a dilemna. When I take one kid, we use our 2 person tent. When the two oldest both go, I have a 3 person tent. And, when the whole family goes car camping (there are 5 kids all together), we pull out two huge 4 to 5 person tents. I DO NOT want to carry any combination of these options when I take the three "big" kids backpacking. My 13 yr old daughter is 5' 3" and weighs 70 lbs soaking wet, and it's my 12 yr old stepdaughter's first time backpacking. That leaves me and my pack mule 14 yr old son to carry the lion's share of the community gear. I want something lighter to sleep in.

So, I'm looking in to buying a tarp. What size should I get? It has to protect all four of us and our gear. And, what are the pluses and minuses of various fabrics (with all these kids, $$ is always an issue, but I don't want to be cheap and regret it).

12-13-2005, 18:07

I used a Equinox 10x12 on my thru hike of the A.T. in '03. So its durable and only cost $100. I still use the same tarp on my adventures.

buy here:

Galyans use to carry Equinox, but I do not think Dicks does.

I had 3 grown men w/ gear living in it, and 4 could have fit. There are a couple of ways to set up the tarp. The best being 10 - 12" off the ground and staked/tied off on all 4 corners and tie off the two ends. One of the initial problems with the Equinox- the tarp needs to have tie-outs in the middle for "weight sag". This can be fixed within minutes if you have a sewing machine. I just used the excess tie off loops from the tarp itself.

you can see how I did it here, and some set up pics:

12-13-2005, 21:07
if you can find a 12x12, that would be awesome, but if you can't a 12x14 would be fine as well. a little extra coverage, with a tarp, goes a long way. if you can't find what your looking for in a large tarp, i'll do you a sil/nylon, whatever size you want, for cost of material + shipping. i've got some scrap laying around. it's all med grey.

12-13-2005, 21:18
Campmor has a 10x12 sil nylon tarp with grommets on the edges and ties on the center seam, for $84.99. I would think that would be big enough for the four of you, but if it were me, I'd pitch it in the back yard and try it out for size before committing to the back country!


12-13-2005, 23:26
Oware USA (http://www.owareusa.com/) makes a 10x14 siltarp, the CatTarp 5.0. One advantage is that it has a catenary cut, which could simplify your setup at the cost of some flexibility. Only 25oz, and Oware quality is very high for the $140 it would cost. He also has a variety of flat siltarps for sale. One advantage of Oware over Equinox tarps is that the larger sizes come with center tie-outs, and also use tie-out loops instead of grommets.

I know Dancing Light Gear, and Integral Designs also make tarps into the 10x12 range, but might be a bit small for you.

I also recommend you consider using two 8x10 [or similar size] tarps to give you more flexibility with your campsites. They would also be more likely to be put to use in other trips [going solo, or duo, or maybe just as a tent vestibule].

Just Jeff
12-13-2005, 23:45
Depending on the vegetation where you hike, you might have better luck with two smaller tarps than one huge one. Two 8x10's might work better, and would only weigh a few ounces more than one 12x14, for example.

Just a thought.

Lanthar Mandragoran
12-13-2005, 23:49
12x12 Tarp (http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=128345), not ultralight, but not heavy either, plus it's only 25$. Neo (I think) has the digital camo 9x9 and loves it.

He raved about the 9x9 (21.8) here (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=11247)

You could extrapolate from his notes that the 12x12 is probably around 21.8*144/81=39 oz or so

12-14-2005, 13:34
I agree, a 12 x 12 should provide ample room. Have each carry their own ground cover (3' x 6' should do) & you should have enough room for a extra friend or two even.

First time I set up my 12 x 12, OMG!! After the first trip I cut it down to 9' x 9' which is more than enough for a solo hiker, I could (depending on how I set up) sleep 2 more in/under it.

Remember to practice setting up BEFORE you go on your trip. Have the kids help you learn, make it fun. Devide into teams: Who can set it up the fastest? Who can set it up the fastest while the other team throws water balloons at them (from a set distance? You WILL set up in the rain.) who / which team can set it up: in the most creative way, using the fewest props & etc, blindfolded (You WILL set up in the dark), have time limits (pressure: "there is a storm going to be here in 5 minutes, two or more of us have [illness/ injury] & cannot help). Award prizes. Change teams so everyone gets to work with everyone else.


12-14-2005, 14:42
blindfolded (You WILL set up in the dark), have time limits (pressure: "there is a storm going to be here in 5 minutes, two or more of us have [illness/ injury] & cannot help).

sounds like a competition we used to do in the army... take one of each type of weapon in the unit, strip it down to its smallest parts, jumble them all together on a tarp, and compete to see who could re-assemble them all in the shortest time. oh, and blindfolded too...

Pennsylvania Rose
12-20-2005, 15:11
Thanks for the advice. I'll probably end up making my own 10x12.

12-20-2005, 15:19
i love my 9x9 digital cammo tarp:cool: neo




12-20-2005, 16:54
Mountain Laurel Designs makes some nice ultralight tarps. I have a poncho and bivy that Ron made for me to my specs. Nice equipment at reasonable prices.


middle to middle
12-20-2005, 18:13
I use a tarp and I have a 10x10, think you can go smaller, just have to re adjust if the wind changes. Never had a serious problem. i like it a lot.

Pennsylvania Rose
12-21-2005, 10:06
i love my 9x9 digital cammo tarp:cool: neo

The price for this is right up my alley. Any tarp I use will be lighter than the tents I've been carrying, but how does the weight for this compare to a similarly sized silnylon tarp? If it's not too much, I won't bother ordering silnylon fabric and breaking out the sewing machine.

12-25-2005, 21:20
Yeah, whoever mentioned the footprint issue was right on. I've been using my solo tarp exclusively the past two years. It's only about 8 x 9 ft. but it seems finding space is always an issue, at least in the mountains; whereas my friends pitch their solo tents easier with a 3 x 7 print. Thus, two smaller tarps may make more sense depending upon terrain...