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View Full Version : Considering Tarp+bivy.... Your thoughts? Rain/storm protection?



OhioHiker
11-21-2021, 10:26
I currently use a SMD Lunar Solo and really like it. It is my first single wall tent. I am looking to lighten my base weight and I also miss sleeping under the stars by setting up the net only in my previous double wall tent.

I have wanted to try cowboy camping but very nervous about bugs and rain. Ive learned about free standing bug nets and "inner nets" for tent designs similar to my SMD LS.

I really like the TT Aeon Li but it is almost $550!! yikes and with the carbon struts it isn't very packable/stuffable.

That brings me to tarps and bivies. I feel like this is something I want to try. It leaves me many many options!

Right now top of my list is the MLD Grace Duo DCF 8.5'x7'x9.25' (front x rear x ridge length) 7.5oz paired with a Borah Gear UL Bivy roughly 6oz.

I like the Grace tarp because it has clip on the inside to support a bivy.

Anyhow I am most nervous about blowing rain and how to setup for that. most of the time I am a fair weather weekend warrior but I am trying to get out for longer trips and not let the weather hold me back.

What are your thoughts? how is the transition from tent to tarp?



(links for reference)
https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/mld-grace-tarp
https://borahgear.com/ultralightbivy.html

Kittyslayer
11-21-2021, 12:08
Been regularly using a tarp and bivy the last three years and really happy with the setup.

With regards to bugs I have been lucky in Indiana on my nights out without overwhelming swarms so listen to others with more (bad) experiences. Often times the netting is a safety net for fears as opposed to a need. I find the mesh face area of the bivy let’s me zip up and be safe from my fears while sleeping (mosquitos, spiders, snakes, werewolves…). Although when hot breathing inside is a bit warm so I usually take about 15 minutes after getting in to slowly zip up and let my body cool. Many times I will sleep with the head/chest unzipped. Don’t obsess with the MLD clip as you can tie off elsewhere or sleep in a brimmed hat to elevate the mesh. As a side sleeper I just let the mesh lay on my head.

I would always want a tarp or pitchable poncho with a bivy for rain. Even with the super enclosed bivy bags you still need to get in and out without soaking yourself or inside. Also a dry place for your gear is nice. Without an ideal site it keeps the spot of ground you are sleeping on dry (not muddy). Condensation always needs to be considered with bivy bags and a loosely pitched tarp above you in really humid conditions can keep your bivy and bag dryer.

The transition from tent to bivy was easy for me. Started on really nice nights. Was camping with my wife who would be in a tent so I could always get in the tent if my setup failed (although I would have to ask really nice). The bivy (and tarp) gives you lots of options as you don’t need a perfect site and you can choose a really small site. The MLD you have on your short list looks nice and light however at that price I would suggest buy a sub $100 tarp and be sure that a tarp/bivy combo works for you. If you like it then buy the MLD DCF tarp.

I have the Borah bivy and am thrilled (it is my second bivy). Definitely get the side zipper as it is generous length and makes getting in/out really easy. I do not always zip the face/chest fully closed. Go a bit oversized so you can stash a little gear inside the bivy where it is handy to get to. With the mesh face/chest area a tarp is a must.

My tarp is a Warbonnet GT (Ground Tarp). Well made and I like the design. Can be pitched low and tight like a military A frame pup tent, close the doors and you can sit out a heavy storm. Can also pitch higher with plenty of ventilation under the sides. Works well as a canopy in light rain for 2-3 people to hang out in for cooking, eating, packing up…

I’ll post a few pics from another device. Cowboy camp setup from four straight nights out. Tarp next to an REI Half Dome. Tarp pitched with hiking poles if no trees.

Here is a link for my tarp. Also a link to a moderately priced tarp that is well made and reasonably light if you want to test out the concept before diving in deep with the MLD DCF.

https://www.warbonnetoutdoors.com/product/gt-ground-tarp/

https://bushcraftoutfitters.com/coyote-tarp-10x7/

Kittyslayer
11-21-2021, 12:29
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Kittyslayer
11-21-2021, 12:37
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OhioHiker
11-21-2021, 14:18
Thatís awesome! I am really excited to try out this combo now. I probably have similar weather and bugs as you.

It seems very versatile. I mostly 3 season backpack. I have a 20* quilt and 50* diy apex quilt, and a woobie! I love the woobie but itís pretty heavy.

After a bit more reading on MLD site I found the Trailstar. Itís a little expensive but it would be more like I am used to with my tent and has doors and more protection. Might make the transition easier.

https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/trailstar/

cmoulder
11-23-2021, 11:35
That’s awesome! I am really excited to try out this combo now. I probably have similar weather and bugs as you.

It seems very versatile. I mostly 3 season backpack. I have a 20* quilt and 50* diy apex quilt, and a woobie! I love the woobie but it’s pretty heavy.

After a bit more reading on MLD site I found the Trailstar. It’s a little expensive but it would be more like I am used to with my tent and has doors and more protection. Might make the transition easier.

https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/trailstar/
Just be advised that the Trailstar has a very large footprint (MLD rates it as 3-person) and it requires a lot of stakes.

OhioHiker
11-23-2021, 11:43
Just be advised that the Trailstar has a very large footprint (MLD rates it as 3-person) and it requires a lot of stakes.

Grrr.

There is no easy answer.

Under 20oz, single wall or some kind of hybrid with on door flap that open open all the way to the other side to sleep under the stars. With one pole setup and one door.

Iíve been looking at the TT Protrail Li but I donít know how I feel about the front entry. But other than that I think it checks all the boxes, as far as that traditional tent option goes

yaduck9
11-23-2021, 13:22
Consider "test driving" an inexpensive 9 x 9 foot tarp to get the feel of it.
If you don't like it you can always sell for something else.
If you do like it you can then go for the expensive DCF version of the tarp

The trick is to avoid decision paralysis.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7la282Y_Y

Alligator
11-23-2021, 15:54
Consider "test driving" an inexpensive 9 x 9 foot tarp to get the feel of it.
If you don't like it you can always sell for something else.
If you do like it you can then go for the expensive DCF version of the tarp

The trick is to avoid decision paralysis.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD7la282Y_YThis, before jumping into a shaped tarp.

I use hanging netting for bugs, lets you sit up. The right configuration and size and no worries really on rain splash. When you have a shaped tarp like you posted originally, you get locked into a configuration. That one has two open ends. You can bring the sides down and the peak lower but you still have two open ends. Beaks are helpful for that shape, I think a front beak is perhaps all that's needed but I haven't used one. I do set my tarp up A-frame style though but it is large. In my opinion, if you have to go to a bivy because of rain splash then the tarp is pretty much too small because the weight cost of increasing the tarp size is less than the bivy. It's also not all about weight cost however, there are other factors to be considered as part of your whole decision about what will be best for you. Personally, I've never really considered getting a shaped tarp for ground use.

If you need a clip on the inside at least one cottage industry makes little sticky patches with attachment points that you can customize your tarp with. I have some but I keep misplacing them. Then I spot them when I don't need them thinking I will remember where they are. I'll concentrate as I can and maybe I can at least remember where I bought them:datz.