View Full Version : tarp or not?

12-15-2008, 22:34
Just wondering how many people use tarps as their primary means of shelter.

Also, for those of you that do use tarps, please explain why...

For those of you that do not use tarps, please DO NOT explain why, i've heard all those reasons already.


12-15-2008, 22:37
I use tarps with either my hammock or a bivy sack (when the temps get down to single or negative digits).

Nearly Normal
12-15-2008, 22:40
I use one sometimes. Depends on when and where.

Feral Bill
12-15-2008, 23:20
Excepting bug season and winter, I prefer tarping. More space and air. Also light.

12-15-2008, 23:24
I'm seriously considering trying a Gatewood Cape with a superlight bivy sack in the shoulder seasons when I don't have to deal with bugs, which would shave over a pound from my Lunar Solo tent setup.

12-15-2008, 23:33
I do not use a tarp as my PRIMARY means of shelter, but I pretty much always have a tarp.

12-15-2008, 23:42
I use a small and simple tarp. I think its a Zen thing.

12-16-2008, 09:03
My primary shelter is a 6x10 foot silnylon tarp and a homemade bivy sack. Why? Flexibility, weight, views, space, comfort.

In summer I like a hammock with a different tarp over it. That's all about comfort and rain protection. I've sat out some real frog-stranglers in my hammock, under a Maccat tarp, and been warm and dry and happy.

12-16-2008, 09:19
No tarp used but but on one or two occasion with winter hiking I have tried it.

Jim Adams
12-16-2008, 10:32
I use a 10' x 12' silnylon tarp as my primary shelter all year long.
Reason: totally weatherproof, lots of room, can stand in the open side, 16oz.


12-16-2008, 12:00
I use a tarp over my hammock. Size varies from a 9.5x5 MLD silnylon poncho-tarp (summer weekends) to a 10x12 Equinox silnylon tarp (fall and winter - can be set up as a "hammock tent"). Occasionally, If I'm camping near treeline in the White Mts. I'll carry my poncho-tarp and ul bivy. Sometimes I'm surprised that I can still sleep on the ground (or tent platform).

12-16-2008, 23:47
Tarp with a bug net when needed. During cold weather a tent is still better.

12-17-2008, 00:39
I have used a .90 spinnaker tarp as my primary shelter in all seasons including torrential rains, light snowfalls(less than 6 inches), and at the height of bug season(mosquitos, gnats, black flies, luna moths, vampire bats, etc,). It weighs 7.5 oz. With the dedicated carbon fiber tarp poles(don't normally use trekking poles), titanium stakes, guylines, and stuff sack my shelter weighs in at 13 oz. It compresses to the size of a large grapefruit. Don't have to expound further do I?

Long feet
12-17-2008, 02:57
Right now I'm trying out a Gatewood Cape, but have not had any weather in it yet. In the past I have used a tarp with a hammock. So as to the question of wither to use a tarp or not, I say use it. It sure beats cowboy camping on a rainy night ;-)

12-17-2008, 08:04
hammock guy here, so, of course I use a tarp.

Tarp tents are also looking interesting to me.


12-17-2008, 10:34
My primary shelter is an MLD Grace Solo (http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=33&osCsid=3ccd7796650f6c6410aa0384cd58e629) tarp in .60 Spectralite. Weight is under 6 oz which is one of my main reasons for using it. Being open to all that surrounds me is the other reason. When I know I'm going to often be in either very cold, wet, or windy conditions I'll often add a lightweight bivy (MLD Soul Sidezip (http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=38&osCsid=3ccd7796650f6c6410aa0384cd58e629)) to the mix.

01-07-2009, 22:42
Tarps are great shelters and lightweight. The Gatewood Cpae is spacious and well protected like a tent. If you want bug protection, look at the Wild Oasis.
I use a SpinnTwin from Gossamer Gear, but I added a full beak for wind protection. For two I have a homemade silnylon tarp with lots of tie-outs.
If you store your tarp in a "snakeskin" used for hammocks, you can set the tarp up betwenn two trees above you, ony open it if it rains. This can be done right from your sleeping bag! In winter I use a Golite Hex.

Tipi Walter
01-07-2009, 22:53
I do not use a tarp as my PRIMARY means of shelter, but I pretty much always have a tarp.

Tarp with a bug net when needed. During cold weather a tent is still better.

I always use a tarp inside my 8 pound tent as a second floor to protect my thermarest and to sandwich any leaking rainwater between the floor and the tarp.

01-08-2009, 08:39
I use a tarp with my hammock.

Why (tarp only):
Ease & versatility of set up. I can set up the tarp on a rainy day wile all my gear is still protected in the pack. Pull out my DRY ground cover* & then pull out my gear in a dry area. With my tent, & I have a great tent, I always needed to dry out the inside if I set up during a rain storm, & the tent had minimal room.
My tent with ground cover weighs the same 2.25 lbs as my tarp & the same ground cover. The floor area of my tent is 3’ x 10’ but usable space is about 2’ x 6‘. Floor area of my 10’ x 13.5’ tarp can be 13.5’ x 10’ or any variation in between, & usable space can be whatever I make it, depending on how I set up the tarp.
If set up right, I can sit up in my tent, JUST. If set up right, I can stand up in / under my tarp, and walk around, and cook, etc.
My tent sleeps ONE. My tarp can sleep 4.
When I want, my tarp covers my hammock TOTALLY. Yes, I can enclose on 4 sides, my hammock set up. Likely, I could to the same when on the ground.
My tarp & tent have done duty as “4 season shelters”, but my tarp closes better & as stated above, allows me more move around in room.
Set up times: For the tent 1min 35 seconds. For the tarp about 2.5 min
IF I ever decided to go back to ground**, Ill still use the tarp, even though I really like my Nomad tent.

My tent does keep out the bugs, my tarp doesn’t (& neither does my hammock).

* My hammock now can do double duty as a ground cover as it is made of coated nylon.
** About 3 weeks after H**l freezes over, if that soon. :p

08-12-2009, 18:14
Tarps are more versatile and lighter.
1) A tarp can be pitched high with lots of ventilation for warm days. Cooler than most other shelters.
2) A tarp can be pitched low and tight for cold weather and/or to block horizontal rain. Some tents allow horizontal rain in.
3) Carry a bug net or bivy during bug season. Leave it home if not needed.
4) More reliable, not reliant on zippers, vents and other complexities.
5) Condensation is not as big a problem as other shelters. Condensation runs down the walls and goes into the ground. Other tent designs have the water gather either on the floor or between the double walls.

A tarp can be a really true 4 season shelter. Pitched as a tipi/pyramid and snow will slide off. Pitch it high and open for true summer season performance.

08-12-2009, 18:36
I use a Spinnaker or Cuben fiber tarp with/without a bivy on most of my 3 season thru-hikes. If thru-hiking with a high probability of extended(days on end) rainy or snowy weather I may switch out to a UL tarptent(Sublite Silny) or Gossamer Gear "The One", or Hennessy UL Exped hammock.

Why do I use a tarp. The oversized Spinnaker .9 oz tarp weighs 7 oz. without Ti stakes, Spectra Core guylines, dedicated fibraplex tarp poles(I normally don't use trekking poles), or Spinnaker stuffsack. Total wt. with all this - 13 0z. If I use a bivy w/ a tarp I go to a smaller even lighter tarp. Most of my bivies and tarps are made by Mountain Laurel Designs. The oversized Light Soul Momentum top highly water resistant bivy weighs 7 oz. The oversized Side Zip Event top Waterproof bivy weighs in just a tad over 11 0z. Personally, I would rather cowboy or bivy all the time if weather allows.