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Huli
03-09-2016, 20:40
I have been reading a bunch about sleeping under a tarp. I get the general idea. What I have not been able to wrap my brain around is this:

What do you do in a downpour so bad that the water runs under the tarp?

Am I to believe the pad or tyvek sheet is going to keepe dry?

Bivy? Sorry, I can't sleep that still, and dang are they expensive!

And what about hot and blackflies? Back to the bivy?

I just don't get it!
Thanks in advance!

Malto
03-09-2016, 21:07
Well, you pretty much summed up the challenges. While there are several types of tarps, all with pros and cons, most of your post deals with a floorless shelter. You can chose a bivy, ground sheet or even a bug inner net. For the west, I normally will go with a bivy. In the east it is the bug inner. There are few less pleasant nights than a hot buggy night. You have to chose between sweating in a bivy or getting eaten alive. the last time this happen I made the switch to a bug inner.

as far as water running under the tarp, site selection is key. But it is with floored shelters as well.

Wise Old Owl
03-09-2016, 21:26
I have been reading a bunch about sleeping under a tarp. I get the general idea. What I have not been able to wrap my brain around is this:

What do you do in a downpour so bad that the water runs under the tarp?

Am I to believe the pad or tyvek sheet is going to keep me dry?

No - it may keep the dirt off not much more.

Bivy? Sorry, I can't sleep that still, and dang are they expensive!

Find the one that is affordable to you.... They are there to extend the life of a expensive sleep system. More recent sleep systems do not require a bivy. And not everyone uses a bivy.

And what about hot and blackflies? Back to the bivy?

Huge mistake a bivy will at 70 and the right humidity will turn the night into an oven bag. - In Canada. It is up to you to find a suitable micro mesh that is not a head net that works for you. What may work in a pinch is sleeping on top of the bag inside the bivy - but it can be still a nasty night sleep. You may sweat buckets.

Cheyou
03-09-2016, 21:49
Site selection is very important . Bug problems are over rated. A head net works most of the time . Full bug net is only 4oz. Shelters have the same bug issue .

Huli
03-09-2016, 22:04
Great info all! Glad I am not completely off track.

My current plan includes bug head net, until it gets hot. If I don't figure this out I am just going to stick with standard tent. I will take the weight over the super complex any day.

Slo-go'en
03-09-2016, 22:04
On the At having bug protection is as important, if not more so, then protection from rain. In any event, you do need a ground cloth. There will be times when the ground will be very wet or even muddy where you have to set up. By the time you add bug protection to a tarp set up, simply using a tent is no more weight and less hassle.

That said, I will be using the MSD Gatewood cape and Serenity net combo on my next hike. My reasoning is thus: I will be doing the northern half of a Harper's Ferry flip flop and the shelters will be relatively empty, so I will use them more often. Having a bug net which can be set up in a shelter maybe very handy come Mass and Vermont in late May or early June. The down side of this combo is that it is very tight quarters.

Feral Bill
03-09-2016, 22:07
A tent in a puddle, unless maybe if it's brand new, will be wet inside. Often very wet. Places that flood are obvious, and usually at hardened sites.
A bug net is a cheap, easy, light ad on that can be left at home outside bug season.
A tarp over a hammock with a bug net solves both problems.

bigcranky
03-09-2016, 22:08
+1 on site selection - you shouldn't be tarp camping where water will run under you in a storm. Bugs are often not an issue, and a head net will work. Bivies can be useful if you choose a very small tarp, but with an 8x10 or larger they are not necessary.

Tarps were popular with UL hikers for years, but with solo tents in the 16-24 ounce range, the tarp+bivy option is less useful IMO. Still works for some folks.

Franco
03-09-2016, 22:11
Tarp camping, am I missing somthing?yes, you are missing an e
(sorry, I could not resist it)

On a recent thread I posted that as much as a 3" or so bathtub floor would seem very shallow to the 25" floor brigade it would also seem an overkill to the no floor fans.
In other words it is all about what works for you because of where you are, your knowledge and abilities and what you would call wet/cold/hot/humid/windy.....

Mountain Mike
03-09-2016, 22:14
Years ago I did a lot of tarp camping. A "light" tent then was around 6 pounds. With new tents weight isn't as much of an issue. More so when you have to add a bug screen or bivy. For me now, a tarp or a bivy are reserved for shorter hikes when they are appropriate, like post bug season where there is little chance of rain.

AlyontheAT2016
03-09-2016, 22:32
My tent (Big Agnes Fly Creek 2) weighs 42 ounces including rainfly, footprint, poles, and extra stakes. I had initially thought to go with a tarp, but my tent offers me more privacy.

RockDoc
03-09-2016, 22:45
Tarps can be OK as long as the storms are not constant.
I did most of VA with a Gatewood cape, camping almost every night including a night of a major frontal storm with high winds, tornados, and several inches of rain. It was fierce. In the morning my hiking friend looked out of his nice new tent and said "did you survive?". Yes, I did. Some dirt splash on the ground cloth but I did stay dry. The tarp was pitched very low, knowing that the storm would be a bad one. In 25 days, this was the only real bad storm. You have to know how to pitch a tarp for a bad storm!

Dogwood
03-10-2016, 00:13
Tarp camping, am I missing somthing?
YES, but most do. There can be a considerable amount to necessarily know to be a proficient happy tarp user. And, no one knows everything. BTW, you're missing an "e' too in something. :p

Literally, have 100's upon 100's of nights under a tarp. Spent many many a comfortable night dry not hot not getting eaten by bugs not getting myself or gear soaked in all night torrential downpours, under heavy bug pressure, with snow falling, wind howling, etc.

With proper site selection, which applies as several have indicated to fully enclosed tents as well, adequate sized tarps, appropriate tarp configuration for the conditions(rain, snow, wind), addition of a highly water resistant breathable bivy w/ a waterproof lower half w/ a nanoseeum partial(MLD Lite Soul for example) or full head net(Titanium Goat Ptarmigan for example) not enclosing myself in it(not always a need to and there rarely is IMHO when also using a tarp, in hot conditions the bivy can usually function as a sleeping bag and ground sheet), an inner net(sometimes referred to as a bug bivy, lots of examples, Zpack's Hexanet, Bear Paw's Pyranet, Outdoor Research's Bug Bivy, Antigravity Gear's/Six Moon Design's Serenity Net, Hyperlight Mountain Gear's Echo inserts, YamaGear's Cirriform net Inserts, Mountain Laurel Designs Bug Bivy are several examples), a groundsheet(I prefer cheap SUL window film - polycro), a bathtub raised edge groundsheet(I've made several out of different fabrics/materials - CF, polycro, silny, Tyvek, cellophane, etc, makes a doable MYOG cheap project), I'm fine as far as bugs and/or heavy downpours.

Many examples of different tarps that cause some confusion. Different tarps can possibly be configured in different ways which adds to a wider necessary knowledge and usage base to be a proficient tarp user. Not everyone wants to think much on trail about things like these. I get it. That's fine. Many types of bivies and their different uses that cause additional confusion. I disagree about the high cost of bivies. They have a wide dollar cost range from as little as $30-$40 to $400 or more. There's a table of reasonably up to date UL bivies with specs floating around on the internet you can look for if inclined.

I usually get away with just a flat wide enough ground sheet, which for me is about 32-34" wide. IF, by some event, which I can count on one hand, I get water running under the tarp will fold under a bit of the ground sheet creating a psuedo bathtub floor or place a water bottle or my shoes under the edge of the ground sheet to raise it up in the direction the water is flowing. If water is coming up from all around me under the tarp that's a sure sign my campsite selection was a mistake or I'm being swallowed up in a sink hole. That ideally shouldn't happen using a tent either.

If I erect a tarp on dry ground, configuring the tarp for storm conditions, and then during the night I experience all night downpours or snow I will take down my tarp in the morn and the ground coverage under the tarp will still be dry, water and/or snow free. That's an indication I made a wise site selection, used the right config., and used the correct gear for the conditions.

One of the benefits with some tents and certainly with most tarps is that they are modular. I can purchase components as desired in phases like when funds come in or my GF gives me back my credit cards or anticipated future conditions arise. I can add/remove components to tweak shelter characteristics based on what I've researched about anticipated trail conditions, my ever evolving hiking style, hike intentions, etc. For me, why do I want to carry the wt and bulk of bug netting when there is little or no chance of significant bug pressure? For me, why do I need a heavier more expensive bathtub floor, especially if it's made from CF, when a flat $ 3 sheet of polycro will address the conditions? For me, when I want to use a tarp in "tent mode" with an inner like a ZP Hexamid Solo + or a MLD Grace CF than I can have that too. No need to carry materials, wt, bulk, add to a gear investment cost, etc when I don't want to. Downside is there is more of a fiddle complexity factor that some don't want to be "hassled" by. Then again they aren't LD hiking with sub 15 lb kits which includes 8 lbs of consumable wt. ;)

Hope that helps.

Got to get back to finishing a sub $10 sub 3 oz polycro bathtub floor w/ shock cord tie outs now for a Solomid XL. :)

Studlintsean
03-10-2016, 09:17
Dogwood- good insight. Care to share some pics and materials used on that floor for the solomid XL? I currently own a duomid that I've used on a few trips (and plan to use tomorrow night) with a simple groundsheet. I survived a night of hard rain this winter but was smart enough to setup in the leaves (vs sites at a shelter). Heading to the WRR this summer and was thinking about making something with some raised edges for a bit more piece of mind if I get caught in a nasty storm (and make a poor decision) a few days walk from the trailhead. Thanks

Miner
03-10-2016, 11:16
If you have water running under or collecting under the Tarp, you choose your campsite poorly. You do have to put a little thought into where you camp with a tarp. And there is more of a learning curve then with a tent. So you will make some mistakes during the learning process. The first thing, don't camp where people have been camping for 20+ years. The ground will be compacted into a bowl and will collect water. The ground will also have the hardness of concrete so you'll need a thicker sleep pad to sleep there. So don't.

I've been using a tarp since 2006 and have been in all sorts of weather. That and bugs have not been an issue. I have only experienced water running under my tarp once. And it was because I choose a poor campsite in the dark late at night. I knew it was less then ideal, but I just wanted to goto sleep and compromised too much on the site. Wouldn't have happened if I had stopped earlier instead of doing a forced march at night to make up some miles. What I did was pack up before things got worse and hiked on. It was close enough to morning to not be worth trying to find a better spot in the dark while it was raining. Took a very long nap at lunch to try to catch up on the lost sleep.

Huli
03-10-2016, 11:37
All good info!
Here is the missing letter --> e
😝

I get the idea of sight selection, have only had an issue once in my tent, because I rained for 3 days non-stop.

Usually I am in a hammock, I want to figure out this tarp thing so in case there is an issue with the hammock I can use the tarp with carrying a complete additional tent.

Lyle
03-10-2016, 12:29
Site selection is very important . Bug problems are over rated. A head net works most of the time . Full bug net is only 4oz. Shelters have the same bug issue .

Exactly what I was going to say. In 40 years of regular backpacking, I can count on one hand the number of nights where bugs were what I would call terrible. Maybe 15 or 20 nights when they were substantially annoying. By far, the vast majority of time they are a non-issue or easily controlled with a head net and long sleeves/pants. Very occasionally, a bit of DEET can also help, but my repellent bottles usually leak the repellent out before I get around to using it. I have been using tarps of one form or another for many years now, in the east and out west.

Pay attention to where you decide to pitch your tarp and you avoid the vast majority of bug issues.

Tipi Walter
03-10-2016, 12:57
A tent in a puddle, unless maybe if it's brand new, will be wet inside. Often very wet. Places that flood are obvious, and usually at hardened sites.


You may be right about most tent floors leaking. Look at the tent floor deniers and hydrostatic heads they are using---20/30 denier floors with low hydro head. Some floors never leak, even when sitting in a small lake with me on them. My Hilleberg tent floors may be the best on the market and they have never leaked in Lake Effect or Ground Sheeting, the two phenoms which happen in Southeast deluges.


If you have water running under or collecting under the Tarp, you choose your campsite poorly. You do have to put a little thought into where you camp with a tarp. And there is more of a learning curve then with a tent.

The policy of "proper site selection" is usually the sound bite which comes out from a discussion about ground water coming under a tarp, but as Miner said, he did set up once at night and got ground water---due to lateness of the day or being tired or getting dark.

But too many people use the "proper site selection" mantra to justify their use of substandard shelters like tarps or UL tents for the conditions at hand. In the Southeast mountains where I set up (think NC and VA and TN), ground water is always a possibility no matter where you set up camp. I have seen hard rain deluges cover an area in sheeting ground water in pristine campsites never used before; it all depends on how hard it rains.

I have posted this vid several times before but it's a good indication as to what can happen in the Southeast during a thunderstorm. This campsite was new and not packed down into concrete and was on top of a 5,300 foot ridge with adequate drainage, except all drainage must pass over the ground in sheets---


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10L6Y1FCnno

If it rains hard enough, this will inevitably happen no matter where you are camped. The tons of water hitting your tent or tarp must drain off the fabric and guess where all this water goes? Onto the ground and around your tarp and eventually it has to flow somewhere to get where it wants to go, i.e. under your shelter, as it makes its way off site. Even a tilted "well-drained" site will get this ground sheeting water.

I know what it's like to be under a tarp when ground water hits---Everything is piled high on my sleeping pad and I squat in the middle waiting for the pool to subside. Otherwise, you wake up with a wet sleeping bag because the water finds its way over your ground cloth.

SITE SELECTION
I'm a firm believer in letting your shelter dictate where you set up and not the site. Therefore a good shelter gives a person more freedom to camp wherever they want or must despite the lay of the land. (Within reason---you wouldn't set up in a creekbed before a flood or under a dead pine snag in a windstorm).

https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2014-Trips-152/24-Days-in-the-Cold/i-7fHxfjR/0/L/TRIP%20152%20181-L.jpg

https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2014-Trips-152/24-Days-in-the-Cold/i-nprCM7Q/0/L/TRIP%20152%20180-L.jpg
These are examples of what can happen in the Southeast if it rains hard enough. And this was taken on Whiggs Meadow at 5,000 feet in January 2014 after a 150 hour rainstorm. Yes, a long 6 day rain. A good tent floor will keep you and all your gear dry in such conditions.

Dogwood
03-10-2016, 13:46
If you have water running under or collecting under the Tarp, you choose your campsite poorly. You do have to put a little thought into where you camp with a tarp. And there is more of a learning curve then with a tent. So you will make some mistakes during the learning process. The first thing, don't camp where people have been camping for 20+ years. The ground will be compacted into a bowl and will collect water. The ground will also have the hardness of concrete so you'll need a thicker sleep pad to sleep there. So don't.

I've been using a tarp since 2006 and have been in all sorts of weather. That and bugs have not been an issue. I have only experienced water running under my tarp once. And it was because I choose a poor campsite in the dark late at night. I knew it was less then ideal, but I just wanted to goto sleep and compromised too much on the site. Wouldn't have happened if I had stopped earlier instead of doing a forced march at night to make up some miles. What I did was pack up before things got worse and hiked on. It was close enough to morning to not be worth trying to find a better spot in the dark while it was raining. Took a very long nap at lunch to try to catch up on the lost sleep.

+1 This. Glad another experienced more qualified to answer tarper is chiming in.


You may be right about most tent floors leaking. Look at the tent floor deniers and hydrostatic heads they are using---20/30 denier floors with low hydro head. Some floors never leak, even when sitting in a small lake with me on them. My Hilleberg tent floors may be the best on the market and they have never leaked in Lake Effect or Ground Sheeting, the two phenoms which happen in Southeast deluges.



The policy of "proper site selection" is usually the sound bite which comes out from a discussion about ground water coming under a tarp, but as Miner said, he did set up once at night and got ground water---due to lateness of the day or being tired or getting dark.

But too many people use the "proper site selection" mantra to justify their use of substandard shelters like tarps or UL tents for the conditions at hand. In the Southeast mountains where I set up (think NC and VA and TN), ground water is always a possibility no matter where you set up camp. I have seen hard rain deluges cover an area in sheeting ground water in pristine campsites never used before; it all depends on how hard it rains.

I have posted this vid several times before but it's a good indication as to what can happen in the Southeast during a thunderstorm. This campsite was new and not packed down into concrete and was on top of a 5,300 foot ridge with adequate drainage, except all drainage must pass over the ground in sheets---


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10L6Y1FCnno

If it rains hard enough, this will inevitably happen no matter where you are camped. The tons of water hitting your tent or tarp must drain off the fabric and guess where all this water goes? Onto the ground and around your tarp and eventually it has to flow somewhere to get where it wants to go, i.e. under your shelter, as it makes its way off site. Even a tilted "well-drained" site will get this ground sheeting water.

I know what it's like to be under a tarp when ground water hits---Everything is piled high on my sleeping pad and I squat in the middle waiting for the pool to subside. Otherwise, you wake up with a wet sleeping bag because the water finds its way over your ground cloth.

SITE SELECTION
I'm a firm believer in letting your shelter dictate where you set up and not the site. Therefore a good shelter gives a person more freedom to camp wherever they want or must despite the lay of the land. (Within reason---you wouldn't set up in a creekbed before a flood or under a dead pine snag in a windstorm).

https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2014-Trips-152/24-Days-in-the-Cold/i-7fHxfjR/0/L/TRIP%20152%20181-L.jpg

https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpack-2014-Trips-152/24-Days-in-the-Cold/i-nprCM7Q/0/L/TRIP%20152%20180-L.jpg
These are examples of what can happen in the Southeast if it rains hard enough. And this was taken on Whiggs Meadow at 5,000 feet in January 2014 after a 150 hour rainstorm. Yes, a long 6 day rain. A good tent floor will keep you and all your gear dry in such conditions.

While I agree a flat or even shaped tarp may not be the most ideal shelter in all situations for all people neither are they relegated as a substandard shelters as a matter of generality when employed in experienced hands.

I've slept atop Whiggs Meadow several times(just missed you Tipi on one occasion). Two times in downpours. Once on a BMT/AT Loop experiencing rain 14 days out of 17. It rained on that hike for four days straight with a 1/2 day morning let up just previous to that wind driven heavy nightly rainfall Whiggs Meadow stay. I know the site you set up your Hilleberg. I chose not to camp in that site because it was compacted probably by previous farm machinery, growing of crops, raising of livestock, possible automobiles or horses that visited the meadow in the past creating compacted ruts/depressions(It was once a farmed homestead!), and what looked to me like an old compacted heavily used campsite from the past. Plus, as you can observe in your last campsite photo, it's on a slight downslope. Notice where the water is channeling down to your site, in what is obvious to me even if there wasn't water, a slight compacted depression likely cause by horses, motor vehicles, livestock trail, etc. That little green island with the depression around the island holding water in front of your tent is likely an old camp fire ring. I recognized all these things even though there wasn't nearly that degree of standing water when I've last tarped on Whiggs Meadow in rain. Instead, on both rainy night stays I chose higher ground with ground sloping away on all sides closer to or in the treeline or opted on that non windy but rainy other night to tarp out in the open in an A frame battened down side config on the highest Whigds Meadow ground not directly in a highly compacted typical campsite that had grass growing. Beautiful!

QiWiz
03-10-2016, 14:02
For a tarp + groundsheet shelter, finding a raised spot from which the ground slopes away in all directions is a skill to cultivate for keeping water at bay. You can use some kind of headnet, or "net tent" inside the tarp for bug protection. There are even shaped tarps that have bathtub floors and netting (like Zpacks Solplex), if you want to have all of the advantages and none of the disadvantages of simple tarps. Or look at poncho tarps like the Gatewood cape with NetTent. I love tarps.

Dogwood
03-10-2016, 14:39
Dogwood- good insight. Care to share some pics and materials used on that floor for the solomid XL? I currently own a duomid that I've used on a few trips (and plan to use tomorrow night) with a simple groundsheet. I survived a night of hard rain this winter but was smart enough to setup in the leaves (vs sites at a shelter). Heading to the WRR this summer and was thinking about making something with some raised edges for a bit more piece of mind if I get caught in a nasty storm (and make a poor decision) a few days walk from the trailhead. Thanks

Studlintsean offers another viable option I regular employ myself by choosing campsites that have a thick layer of duff, pine needles, thick dry leaves, etc. Sometimes, I'll spread dry leaves out under my tarp to create a dryer more raised campsite which helps the sleep and site conditions. This can raise one ever so slightly off the ground but usually enough that surface water is below the duff providing a softish, lofty, not muddy, dry bed. Dry pine straw under pines when the sap isn't readily flowing is excellent place to tarp.

You point out what I've also considered. There are times when I don't want or need a full bug inner net with bathtub sides. In wetter conditions I may want a little extra ground sheet protection. In this scenario a bathtub groundsheet by itself with netting makes some sense to me or for one who is gaining experiencing choosing good site selection as additional insurance without a great wt penalty. Again, I look at gear from a UL perspective and more from a modular component oriented perspective. I'll even break down the inner net approach to further smaller modules by using a separate MYOG bathtub floor and an overhead pyramid shaped nanoseeum netting. This way I can just take a flat groundsheet or a bathtub groundsheet without any netting, zippers, clasps, etc. I like having all these options. Greater options in regards to shelter may be perceived by some as greater complexity or "hassle" who want to flop down anywhere without thinking about such aspects. I perceive site selection as discussed here just additional thoughts to consider as one would choose not to sleep under a widow maker or in a dry rivebed in Utah during possible rainy weather or at the base of a possible avalanche risk.

To answer your request a DIY Bathtub ground sheet floor is one of the easiest most inexpensive gear projects to tackle. I initially overthought it. Lately, I've been making them out of Duck brand .7 mil window film costing $5 for a 84" x 120" piece I get two 42" X 100"(if layed flat) bathtub floors. About a 4-5" high bathtub wall around the perimeter with a folded over 1/2" double faced tape(tape included in the Duck window film kit, bought at Wally World) makes for an about 32" X 90" bathtub floor sized nicely for a MLD Solomid XL at 109' long. The hem, which adds about an oz to the project, although possibly being excluded, creates some rigidity to the top of the bathtub wall. .7 mil window film can be rather flimsy material and certainly needs some TLC. At the corners I cut out a slight V shaped notch to fold the corners. I don't cut the V notch 4-5 " deep though as that would possibly subject the cut to water seepage. I've been trying various tapes to tape the corners that stick well to polycro. Black Gorilla or clear Duck brand tape works for me. The tape not only seals the V notch but is dog earred to create a 1/16" shock cord attachment pt. It needs to be strong enough to do this. I embed a tiny strong fiber washer from Home Depot in the dog earred tape punching out a hole in the Gorilla/Duck tape with a paper hole puncher. I tie a 12-16" section of the 1/16" shock cord looped over with a micro cord lock(bought from ZPacks)to each corner of the bathub floor. Ron designed the Solomid with a grosgrain loop attached to each corner on the inside. It already comes with mitten hooks attached. This size bathtub works for every tarp/shaped tarp I have.

Dogwood
03-10-2016, 14:41
In this scenario a bathtub groundsheet by itself without netting makes some sense...

Tipi Walter
03-10-2016, 14:59
Plus, as you can observe in your last campsite photo, it's on a slight downslope. Notice where the water is channeling down to your site, in what is obvious to me even if there wasn't water, a slight compacted depression likely cause by horses, motor vehicles, livestock trail, etc. That little green island with the depression around the island holding water in front of your tent is likely an old camp fire ring.

Not visible in the pics but my tent was on a tiny rise just above the worst pools and so I avoided the lakes but there was a quarter inch of water on the ground under the tent which is inevitable in a deluge. The water you think is channeled under the tent is actually going around the tent in several different streams.

To me the most important criteria for a campsite is whether it is level or not, afterwhich I am concerned with possible ground water. Why? Because I have a tent with a floor that can handle such water. And having such a shelter gives me more freedom to make mistakes or to not have to "scientifically" analyze every campsite for drainage and ground water. And as Miner says, often on a long hike you want to crap out at dusk and use the first available campsite, like on the AT.

Plus, LNT dictates we set up at established campsites if possible---and many of these campsites are established for a reason as they are the only spots available due to land features. If a person wants to camp on Hangover Mt, for instance, there are only a few tents sites available. These sites will get ground water if it rains hard enough.

Dogwood
03-10-2016, 16:30
In this scenario a bathtub groundsheet by itself without netting makes some sense...

One of the things you want to do if you use window film for a bathtub floor is not stress it unduly because it can stretch so the shock cord length is important in that it is long enough to not overly stress the polycro hem. The shock cord is only there to provide some slightly stressed rigidity to the top of the bathtub wall. One can buy elasticized cord and even larger cord locks at craft stores, Wally World(in the women's hair bungee products) if wt isn't an overriding priority. For a pic model one after Joe's necely done bathtub floors that he does in CF. http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/bathtub_groundsheet.shtml

Interesting to read Ron Moak's(Six Moon Designs) ideas on history of tents and bathtub floors. http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/blog/72-bathtub-floors.html

Dogwood
03-10-2016, 17:13
Not visible in the pics but my tent was on a tiny rise just above the worst pools and so I avoided the lakes but there was a quarter inch of water on the ground under the tent which is inevitable in a deluge. The water you think is channeled under the tent is actually going around the tent in several different streams.

To me the most important criteria for a campsite is whether it is level or not, afterwhich I am concerned with possible ground water. Why? Because I have a tent with a floor that can handle such water. And having such a shelter gives me more freedom to make mistakes or to not have to "scientifically" analyze every campsite for drainage and ground water. And as Miner says, often on a long hike you want to crap out at dusk and use the first available campsite, like on the AT.

Plus, LNT dictates we set up at established campsites if possible---and many of these campsites are established for a reason as they are the only spots available due to land features. If a person wants to camp on Hangover Mt, for instance, there are only a few tents sites available. These sites will get ground water if it rains hard enough.

Both your last two pics Tipi depict you choosing a tent site down slope in areas very near where obvious traffic from something in the likely past has created slight compacted depression like ruts in the ground that water will find that is going to channel water towards you in a heavy rain or with spring run off. Those openings in the treeline are obvious signs of exit/entrance pts that have been well used. No science degree needed to observe this! :pYou did not have to choose this site on Whiggs Meadow. Plenty of other possible sites at Whiggs Meadow, both established and not, I would say are better, in regard to drainage than where you chose to set up where LNT Principles could easily be applied. As QiWiz simply suggested, which makes sense in rain, "for a tarp + groundsheet shelter, finding a raised spot from which the ground slopes away in all directions is a skill to cultivate for keeping water at bay." Not all that hard IF one thinks about it.
Once, I pack up after tarping/sheltering/tenting/cowboy camping LNT Police Officials would be hard pressed to know I was ever there whether I camp in established campsites or not. I would say this applies to tarpers who generally tend to adhere to UL and LNT Principles.

Let's examine the LNT Principle you refer to in context of all that is being suggested by this LNT Principle.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces (https://lnt.org/learn/principle-2)

Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.

In popular areas:

Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
In pristine areas:
Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.



I will add durable surfaces include, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, established campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow. This is a well thought out guideline not a rigid absolute or all that can be observed in practicing LNT Principles. If you are implying that picking up some dry leaves to place under a tarp is breaking from this LNT Principle that is up for debate. :rolleyes:

Harrison Bergeron
03-12-2016, 18:34
Keep in mind that on the AT, you're probably not going to have the luxury of picking the perfect campsite, at least early on. You pretty much take what's left when you get there, unless you don't mind camping by yourself a mile from the water and privy. You could consider it an emergency shelter, but the shelter is likely to be full pretty often and you'll find yourself using it a bunch even if you didn't plan to. There's not even much actual difference in weight between a tarp and a tarptent. Unless less you're a hardcore "Rayway" guy, I don't see the point, either, at least for the AT.

Huli
03-14-2016, 19:26
Keep in mind that on the AT, you're probably not going to have the luxury of picking the perfect campsite, at least early on. You pretty much take what's left when you get there, unless you don't mind camping by yourself a mile from the water and privy. You could consider it an emergency shelter, but the shelter is likely to be full pretty often and you'll find yourself using it a bunch even if you didn't plan to. There's not even much actual difference in weight between a tarp and a tarptent. Unless less you're a hardcore "Rayway" guy, I don't see the point, either, at least for the AT.

That's my take on it too. I just need a new tent of some form.

Dogwood
03-15-2016, 19:13
I have been reading a bunch about sleeping under a tarp. I get the general idea. What I have not been able to wrap my brain around is this:

What do you do in a downpour so bad that the water runs under the tarp?

Am I to believe the pad or tyvek sheet is going to keepe dry?

Bivy? Sorry, I can't sleep that still, and dang are they expensive!

And what about hot and blackflies? Back to the bivy?

I just don't get it!
Thanks in advance!


Keep in mind that on the AT, you're probably not going to have the luxury of picking the perfect campsite, at least early on. You pretty much take what's left when you get there, unless you don't mind camping by yourself a mile from the water and privy. You could consider it an emergency shelter, but the shelter is likely to be full pretty often and you'll find yourself using it a bunch even if you didn't plan to. There's not even much actual difference in weight between a tarp and a tarptent. Unless less you're a hardcore "Rayway" guy, I don't see the point, either, at least for the AT.

Did I make the mistake of assuming tarp solutions and proficient use were being sought or is the thread largely about complaining about tarps or finding fault with them?

"Keep in mind on the AT, you're probably not going to have the luxury of picking the perfect campsite, at least early on. You pretty much take what's left when you get there, unless you don't mind camping by yourself a mile from the water and privy."

I disagree with what amounts to a gross exaggeration regardless if one is using a tarp or not on the AT. First, tarping on the AT or anywhere is not about finding "perfect" campsites or applying "science." These are tired excuses for unconscious behavior by those that don't even tarp. As stated again it is about conscientious campsite selection just as one ultimately should be conscientious of campsite selection if employing a hammock, tent, cowboy camping, etc. which is what knowledgeable campers do already. Second, it is ridiculous to assume on the water abundant mega H20 analyzed well documented water sources of the AT one has extreme difficulty finding existing campsites or LNT campsites near the trail but out of sight of the main tread that could be but don't have to be directly at water sources. The idea that one has to camp at a water source on the AT is mostly done for convenience sake and out of ignorance of a wider camping and environmental perspective. It is widely observed on the AT over used trodden down sometimes environmentally trashed campsites because hikers have ignorantly habitually relied on camping adjacent to water sources. Camping at water sources or very near them results in contaminated water! It's why some areas have wisely instituted specific minimum distance requirements one can legally camp near water. Third, does one who is a conscientious camper/hiker who knows how to safely dispose of personal human excrement really NEED to camp at or near a privy?

"There's not even much actual difference in weight between a tarp and a tarptent." Please elaborate by backing up that opinion. Specifically how are you defining tarptent because there is some obvious confusion occurring. I want to be on the same page as you. :) FWIW, most of my silny and CF oversized flat and cat cut 1.5 p tarps (extra coverage, not a minimalist sized gram weenie tarp!) come in at about 7 ozs with some under 6 ozs. With a sub 2 ozs for stakes, guyouts, and ridgeline tie outs AND a polycro groundsheet I'm at a sub 11 oz. Adding 2 oz for dedicated carbon fiber tarp poles I'm at a sub 13 ozs. Please specify what tarptents are a modular sub 13 ozs? Although it's debatable IMHO Zpacks shelters are not tarptents. They are more so shaped tarps. Henry Shires constructs a more representative tarptent design IMO.

Dogwood
03-15-2016, 19:20
All good info!
Here is the missing letter --> e


I get the idea of sight selection, have only had an issue once in my tent, because I rained for 3 days non-stop.

Usually I am in a hammock, I want to figure out this tarp thing so in case there is an issue with the hammock I can use the tarp with carrying a complete additional tent.

If you want ground or hanging options in one shelter simultaneously choose your tarp size for adequate on the ground coverage. IMO, some of the UL Asym hammock tarps don't provide enough coverage on the ground in heavy wet situations. You might want to look into a UL hammock hex shaped tarp that you can use if desiring/needing to go to the ground.

You might also explore setting up a hammock on the ground. Vids are available by those that have done it well.

Harrison Bergeron
03-16-2016, 09:57
Sorry, Dogwood, I didn't mean to slam your hiking style. I thought I was just confirming what seemed to be a newbie's suspicion that it's probably not worth messing around with tarps for an AT hike.

Yes, no doubt you can find good tarp sites on the AT far from the designated water sources and privies, if that's what you want. Most people don't, and I was merely pointing out that if you're most people, you'll probably get stuck with an overused muddy tent site that's not suitable for a tarp.

And, I don't doubt that you can easily configure a tarp system for 11 ounces if you leave out the bug net. Again, MOST PEOPLE wouldn't consider the bug net optional on the AT. I'm looking at the SMD web site right now, and I see they offer a 13 ounce tarp. If you add the bugnet, it's 24 ounces. If you flip over to the tent page, you'll see that the Skyscape Trekker is 24 ounces -- which seems pretty close to 24 ounces.

But I will agree. If you don't like camping with other people, you think the designated water sources are dangerous, the privies are a travesty, and you don't mind sleeping with ticks, mosquitoes, and mice, then a tarp system can definitely save 11 ounces on an AT hike.

nsherry61
03-16-2016, 11:12
Sorry, Dogwood, I didn't mean to slam your hiking style. . . If you don't like camping with other people, you think the designated water sources are dangerous, the privies are a travesty, and you don't mind sleeping with ticks, mosquitoes, and mice, then a tarp system can definitely save 11 ounces on an AT hike.
No Harrison, I think you are pretty much slamming Dogwood's hiking style. And, it shouts pretty loudly that you have never really learned the finer points of tarp use.

I appreciate lots of different opinions, but, opinions being put forth as knowledgeable when the opinion provider clearly does not have the expertise to actually have an informed opinion is not very helpful.

Yes, tent's are lovely. The newer ultra-light tents are easily as light or lighter than many tarp, ground sheet bug net or bivi combinations. But, many tarp systems are lighter than any tent systems. And, tents are not nearly as versatile in where or how you can pitch them in different settings. With the exception highly exposed alpine areas in stormy weather, that can be easily avoided, I would argue that you could not find a reasonable camping site along the AT where pitching a tent is intrinsically better or easier than pitching a tarp, if you have even a modicum of tarping experience!! Tent's isolate you from the world around in what many of us feel is a sealed little box that spoils our appreciation of the night. As an extreme and unwelcome analogy, Why not just drive a car from Georgia to Main?

Tarps are beautiful, creative, simple, elegant, flexible, and profoundly effective shelters. Tarps are not for everyone, but neither are tents.

If you are scared of ticks, mosquitoes, and mice, and haven't thought though alternative and effective solutions to managing them at night, a tent is probably your best option.

If you love the outdoors, are willing to spend an afternoon or two playing with tarp pitching in your back yard, and you like the sense of being out in nature, even at night, tarping may be the most appropriate shelter solution for you, even as a backpacking beginner.

Oh yeah, and, in general, tarps are way the heck less expensive that tents. I've done many week-long backpacking trips with nothing but a blue (or greeen, or camo) plastic $10 tarp as my shelter. I think it's safe to say there has probably been more than one very successful thru-hike of the AT with people using only a cheap plastic tarp as their shelter.

Miner
03-16-2016, 11:23
You can get a heavy Tarp system that is as heavy as a light tent, just the same as you can buy a heavy tent that weighs as much as a large rock. But comparing the heavy end of one type of shelter to the light end of another isn't meaningful nor fair. And yet non-tarp users love to do just that since I see it in every thread on Tarps.

I've essentially have been using the same Tarp + bivy system since 2008 that weighs just under 12oz for everything (stakes, line, stuff sacks, etc). And yes, the tarp is cuben fiber , but for lasting 8 years, it's been a great value. I use 2 bivy types based on weather; one is a bug bivy that is mostly netting and one that only the head area has netting.

My point here is why do people conveniently ignore the lighter end of tarp shelters when claiming that they are as heavy as UL tents? Show me a UL tent as lightweight as my shelter; let alone one that has been around for 8 years. There are valid complaints about tarps and they are certainly not for everyone. But let's not deliberately distort some of the facts to make your choice look better.

Dogwood
03-16-2016, 12:49
Why does one absolutely NEED a bug net on a AT hike from Oct to late March/April? Could there be other ways to avoid ticks or mice on the AT without a "supposed need" for a bug net especially in those months? What are mice risks to open campers such as those that cowboy, bivy, and open tarp away from beaten down AT campsites, protect their food, keep a clean campsite, etc ? As Nsherry stated, "if you are scared of ticks, mosquitoes, and mice, and haven't thought through alternative and effective solutions to managing them at night, a tent is probably your best option." COULD it be a bug net and enclosed shelter is perceived as necessary more for psychological reasons than dramatically over hyped threats from the Natural World?

You're not slamming my hiking style, which really is just one style I employ anyhow, you're slamming a shelter system while IMHO lacking in some respects about tarps. I don't mind someone coming at me disapproving what I do in the context of what's right for them. People should be making their own choices. After all this isn't a Kurt Vonnegut dystopian Harrison Bergeron world. ;) I have the goal to assist making more informed choices. I have no malice towards nor am I offended by different opinions...:) Some of us are trying to bring up solutions to the most common tarp issues inquiring prospective tarpers have considered. Miner is 100% correct, "there are valid complaints about tarps and they are certainly not for everyone." I'll add again a tarp shelter is not my style or choice of shelter on all hikes on all occasions. A tarp shelter is just one of several shelter options at one's disposal.

Lyle
03-16-2016, 14:16
With over 40 years of regular and sometimes intense backpacking experience, my go to shelter for both the AT and JMT, Rocky Mountains and everything in between has been a Z Packs Hexamid plus tarp (7 oz) for the past few years . For several years before that is was a Six Moons Wild Oasis or a GoLite Cave. All of these are shaped tarps. I have seldom had any problems with insects that a head net wouldn't handle quite easily. When I do expect lot's of insect problems, like black fly season in northern Minnesota, I will carry my Gossamer Gear The ONE. I also use tarps quite successfully for winter camping while backpacking, not base camping. I have never found a bivy necessary when using a tarp.

It doesn't take that long to learn to use a tarp efficiently, and I find it no more difficult to find a good tarp site as it is to find a good tent site.

Both tents and tarps have their advantages, use which ever you are comfortable with, but I think you owe it to yourself to honestly try both. Either will work just fine.

Harrison Bergeron
03-16-2016, 20:03
Good grief!