As I am always looking to lighten my pack load, it was a just a matter of time before I ditched the tent and tried sleeping under a tarp. Choosing the right tarp was a little exhausting, however it all came down to simplicity and price.
My first choice was a Mountain Laurel CUBEN FIBER DUO GRACE TARP. This tarp is a high quality tarp. But really expensive. You pay for the high end quality and the price was $255.00 bucks. Weighed in at 7.7 oz. I saw a great blog post on www.sectionhiker.com on how this tarp works and is used.
After debating price, I finally heard some common sense. “Practice tarp tenting until you really like it, and you get good at it”. Good at it? Setting up a Tarp isn’t just a shelter, it can be YOUR living space in the woods. There are many ways to set up a tarp that best fits your comfort level when in the backcountry. Having said all that, the choice was simple. I picked the Globe Skimmer Ultralite Tarp
The Equinox Skimmer (10×12) was only $90.00 and weighs only 18 ounces. Now I had to get some cords to tie on to the Tarp. I picked the AirCore NANO from BackpackingLight it’s a ultra-strong and ultralight tent and tarp guyline cord with a Dyneema (Spectra) core for strength and polyester sheath, for good knottability and less slippage than in 100% Spectra cord. Price was $16.00
Later I would find that he Nite-Ize S-Biner is a dual-gate accessory carabiner (not for climbing!) is a good piece of gear to have while setting up my tarp. However, I had 3 larger carabiners that worked fine.
One last piece of gear I needed was the guide line that I could hang my tarp from. Equinox sells a 50 foot cord that works quite well. You can buy this at Gander Mountain or order it from Equinox. Some good advise I got was to cut this into two 25 foot lengths. If you need more, tie the two 25 ft cords together using a hitch not.
After tying all the loops (Hitch not mostly) to the 6 grommets (4 on the side, 2 in the front and back), I was ready to set up my first tarp. I just needed a ground cloth. I used a 4×10 plastic sheet that was bought at a Hardware Store for painting cover. Taped at the 4 corners with duct tape.
As you can see this is my first tarp set up. The guideline stretched from two trees about 25 feet apart. I then hang the tarp by 3 carabiners from the three 12″ cotton twill ties on the top of the Tarp. I stake down 3 sides on the 12 ft side of the tarp, and 2 sides on the 10 ft side. Then I used my hiking pole (through one of the grommets) as a door entrance. I then stake down that section. Then sleep under the stars.
Here is another configuration I used when snow was in the forecast. An A Frame setup with a hiking pole that you can easily get in and out, but then remove the pole, so you have better protection, just stake down the tarp. You will have to look closely to see the hiking pole.
Both setups were great. These are just two setups among the many many different kinds. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Practice a good hitch knot and practice different configurations. Hopefully a video will be coming soon to show different configurations using this tarp.