View Full Version : Looking for tarp tips...

01-31-2006, 20:00
Some of you have me seriously considering a tarp or a tarp/hammock combo. It seems like a terrific idea for me but, of course, I have several questions. I'm so used to tents that this is a huge shift...but I think the inevitable next evolution inside my pack(one thing at a time, right?). Here are my concerns:

Insects: I have heard suggestions of a bug net, but how is this done, and is it practical? I'll kiss a mouse, but I hate spiders!

Tying off: I'm not the greatest with ropes and I wonder what kind of knot you might use(sounds silly but I'm worried about it). Also, how much rope do you tarp users carry and what type of rope. Also, how many points are there to tie off? How far should the tarp be place above the hammock?

Weather: If this is my only shelter, how does it stand up in really inclement weather. Thunderstorms, hail, high wind, etc...

Any input would be extremely helpful. Ony so much info can be gleened from retailers of tarps.

hammock engineer
01-31-2006, 20:11
Here are some good site's with tons of info:

Just Jefff's www.tothewoods.net (http://www.tothewoods.net)
Rocks www.hikinghq.net (http://www.hikinghq.net)
Risk has a good site, but I can't remember the address.

These guys have been in their's in all types of weather.

I got a HH, a little pricey, but worth it.

01-31-2006, 21:07
Sleepwalker,be careful,

I am still looking for one Past Thru-Hiker to recomend Thru-Hiking with a Hammock.

I am a hammock camper (but not like the super hangers you find here) and I carried a hammock for PART of my Thru-Hike, But it is NOT some cure all super shelter.

I would say if you hate spiders and have a tent you like, then carry the tent. I do not hate spiders (I collect pictures of them) but I can go on for an hour about all the bugs that tried to spend the night with me. The hammock helps with bugs, but not like a tent.

Tie the tarp right over the Hammock as when you climb into the bed it will sink down just right, I have not had much luck with after market bug nets, I like the hammock to come with a bug net. Weatherproof? Once you get good you should be fine in all but the worst of wind with rain (the H.H. tarp is the most skimpy that I know). I have had the rain blow up from below, but I sleep with a 9oz bivy sac (in the hammock) if there is rain with wind so it did not cause me a problem.

01-31-2006, 21:28
I'll heed that advice, for sure. Thank you Well said and much appreciated!

Just Jeff
01-31-2006, 22:31
Hammocks have one support on each end. Hennessy models also have tie-outs on the side...their sole purpose is to "open up" the hammock and they don't support any weight. They can be staked to the ground, tied to another tree, or ignored.

Hammockers generally have 9-12' of cord or webbing on each end....sometimes more depending on where they hike. Supports need to have a working load of about 600 lbs, and be low-memory stretch material (i.e. parachute cord stretches too much and isn't strong enough). Most people use Spectra (like the Hennessy line) or 1" polypropylene webbing (like on a Speer). There are a few others to choose from - as long as they're strong enough and don't damage the trees, anything can work.

Risk's site is www.imrisk.com (http://www.imrisk.com) - he posts here as flyfisher. Check his site for "Modified 4-Wrap" or something like that to see how to tie up with webbing like on a Speer hammock. Very simple...just wrap it around the tree, really...not even any knots.

Check Shane Steinkamp's www.theplacewithnoname.com (http://www.theplacewithnoname.com) for some good Hennessy info, including how to tie up with cord and tree huggers, like on a Hennessy. Some videos on there, too.

Tarps are varied as well...the amount of cord you need, how you hang your tarp, and the amount of protection you get from it will depend on what kind of tarp you have. There are many after-market tarps to choose from. This applies to both hammock and ground tarps.

Bug info is at http://www.tothewoods.net/HammockCampingBugfree.html and I've never had a bug inside my Hennessy. Haha...one time while I was tent camping I woke up with over 30 spiders in webs ON my tent...I counted. They spun their webs between the tent body and the fly. It was interesting packing that up!

Weather - Sgt Rock went through a Cat 2 hurricane in his Hennessy. I went through snow and 50 mph winds in mine. (The next night I had to bail because the snow was coming under my tarp and onto my PeaPod, but the winds were pretty high. http://www.tothewoods.net/HikingPicturesWinnemucca.html ) Many folks here have been through some pretty severe storms in hammocks. Just like any other gear, once you learn the skills it'll work well for you.

Any other questions, you know where to find us!

01-31-2006, 22:31
I'm experimenting with the campmor 8x10 sil tarp.
I make up knots as I go. I haven't had a real problem yet. I use guy line adjusters all around. Rope and nylon stretch and sag in the rain.
I use an OR bug bivy because it 100% seals me in. I hate ticks more than anything.

I have been fine in heavy rain at low elevations. At high elevations I often have fog roll in and condensate directly on my and my down bag. Condensation also forms right before rain and then the rain knocks the condensation off the tarp and onto you. It's like a fine spray/mist. It had withstood some decent 6000ft wind, but it will flap and keep you awake. This would be solved with a tarp with lots of tie outs, like and Oware.

I'm going to keep playing with it. I'll perfect the art one of these days.

02-01-2006, 02:55
The hammock helps with bugs, but not like a tent.

i've got a Hennessy Ultralight Backpacker Asym, and have never had a bug get inside. being 2' off the ground helps with the spiders and mice too. if you can't make it out from the web sites, think of a canoe, and you're laying in the bottom of it. the mosquito netting is like a lid over the top, sewn in all the way around the edges and held up along the center axis by a really strong piece of line. there's a slit between your legs that goes from your crotch to the end of the hammock, that closes with velcro. no bugs can get in. and if they do, they freak out like wasps in a trap and fly up to the top, where you can see them and kill them... you get in and out through the slit... a little odd at first, but way better than getting up off the ground at my age...

for a longer trip (more than just 2 overnights/weekend trips), i take a larger tarp, simply because it gives me more options, but i've been though some pretty wild storms with just the stock tarp. as long as the rain's coming down at between 90* (vertical) and 60*, you're fine... once it gets to 45*, you start getting a little spray... but the wind has to be really wild to do that. and if the wind is coming directly at the side of the hammock, you're fine no matter what... it's when it sneaks around to the ends of the hammock that you start having spray... hope that makes sense. bottom line is that if you go back far enough into a grove of trees to break the wind, you have effectively defeated that problem, and now only have to deal with the rain falling off the trees directly overhead, and won't have a spray problem. experience/site selection... not really any excuse for getting soaked...

the hammock knot is easy... it's just a figure 8, almost like you tie up a boat with... looks harder than it is. try explaining (without demonstrating) to someone exactly how to tie their shoes... you can't do it... same with the hammock knot... it's way easier than tying your shoes.

i've got about 6' of line on each tarp tie-out. with the stock tarp, i just need the two lines (vs 8 for the 8 x 10), which are about 8' long. you sort of have to bring more tent stakes along too, but there are usually bushes to tie some off to as well... you tie off to the same trees you hung the hammock from. height is a matter of weather/preference... i'm experimenting with a set of lightweight bungi cords that wrap around the tree and attach to the tie-out line, which enable me to quickly slide the tarp up or down the tree, depending on the weather. if you use a rectangular tarp, you can also pull the ends together with a bungi cord, using the center tieout point, to keep rain from blowing in... endless variations...

the other thing you need to have, which you've not mentioned, is bottom insulation. this comes either as an underquilt or a pad inside... underquilt is easier, but more expensive. pad inside can be just a cheap blue foam pad, but it's a bear to keep it underneath you, and some people sweat all over it, getting a little damp...

final note-i use a hammock because i'm to old, grouchy, and achey to sleep on the ground anymore. overall, my hammock and underquilt and 8 x 10 tarp come to about 70oz, or 4 and a half lbs. for the comfort and room i get, i'd need a huge thick heavy thermarest and something bigger than the average bivy... i DON'T carry a hammock to save weight.