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  1. #1
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    Default Tarp Recommendation

    I am planning a 5 person, 5 day trip to GSMNP in April 2016. We'll be bring a BA CS UL4 & a UL3 as our shelters. I figured on rain, at least part of the time and was leaning towards purchasing a large flat tarp. We could use it as a common area for cooking and socializing while around a campfire. I am toying back and forth between cuben fiber and silnylon, kinda leaning towards CF since it's so darn light, but so darn expensive.

    I thought a 8.5x11 would be adequate for the task and have been looking at Zpack's version. In the meantime, I am contemplating a CT thru hike in June/July 2016 and started thinking about a tarp as a primary shelter. I have no tarp experience other than painting, but I love to tinker with new gear/skills.

    I read in another thread a recommendation for a shaped tarp for an inexperienced user. Pretty sure it wouldn't be great for my group application.

    So, is the 8.5x11 too big for a single person shelter, especially in a high alpine environment? Is the art of pitching a flat tarp overly difficult or more a function of practicing/site selection etc? Any other vendors I should be looking at?

    And, anything else I am missing.

  2. #2
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Default

    Well, first of all, you don't want a tarp near a campfire... especially an expensive cuben fiber tarp... to much of a chance that embers get loose and burn/melt a hole in the tarp.

    My suggestion would be to get a WallyWorld blue tarp. Cheap. Yea, it might be heavy, but between 5 guys and only 2 tents, it would seem like you could handle the weight.

    And even if weight is an issue, you can still get the WallyWorld tarp and practice setting it up between now and April. Then when your trip is closer and you've had some practice, you'll better know what size you want and what you can handle and be in a better position to select a light weight tarp.

    BTW, I don't bother taking any sort of ran tarp when I camp in GSMNP unless I know there is a really good chance that it might rain. Then, I take along an ultra thin tarp that is available (perhaps at WallyWorld, but I've also seen some at cheap hardware stores similar to Harbor Freight). The ultra thin might only be available in small sizes (like 6x8).

    Another reason to go with the cheap tarps... wait until you get the chance to see the weather forecast for your trip, and if little major rain is expected, leave the tarps at home. Buy purchasing the cheap tarps, you are not out $$$ when trip time rolls around and you decide to leave it at home.

  3. #3

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    First of all, depending on where you plan to go in the GSMNP you may have to stay in the shelters. This is true if your going to spend any night on the AT proper. As for a tarp, 8.5 x 11 is about the smallest you want to go. You need a lot of coverage if you don't want to get wet from splash or wind driven rain since you can't seal the thing up tight. A shaped tarp would have ends which are easier to close up then a plain flat sheet tarp.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4
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    You're putting a real damper on my gear collection.

    Did my wife email you?

  5. #5
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosh View Post
    You're putting a real damper on my gear collection.

    Did my wife email you?
    Yea, she did, and she said to remind you to take out the trash.


    Realistically, I've found there to be little need for a tarp in GSMNP. It seldom rains for long periods of time. It does occasionally happen, and like I said, I have carried a tarp. But the times I've carried and used a tarp in GSMNP, it has been to either grab and toss over my head (and gear) to stay dry(ish) from a sudden down pour while on the trail, or set it up as a lean-to in camp to have some place to toss my gear to get it out of the rain. I don't think rain has ever forced me to stay in my tent for more than an hour.

  6. #6
    Registered User Mtsman's Avatar
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    Default

    HooKoo has some great points. The natural acclimation process for tarps are walmart > Sil > CF. I would seriously contemplate using my CF tarp for anything but over my head and a proper setup. Not that the CF couldn't take a calculated amount of abuse but more that my heart couldn't take getting a hole in such a precious-to-me piece of gear.

    Also, If you do plan on going CF I would order it very soon. Certain CF tarps are in high demand and could take awhile to actually get to you. My non custom made camo tarp took 8 weeks to get to me.

    YMMV HYOH

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post

    Realistically, I've found there to be little need for a tarp in GSMNP. It seldom rains for long periods of time.
    Have been there in April? It rains a lot in April, at least every time I've been there. I did luck out once and had 5 sunny days in a row, but that was unusual. Usually it's like the last time I was there were it rained almost non-stop for 5 days. We'd get a little break around noon, but that was it.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
    Boots
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    Seldom rains in GSMNP....... How about 7 out of 9 days.... The trails were rivers. We stayed in the shelters.

  9. #9
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    Hosh,

    While Cuben fiber is indeed light, it is twice as bulky in your pack. It is loud under even a modest sprinkle and useless as shade. I had a Hammock Gear CF Standard for several years but, preferred the characteristics of Sil-nylon.

    Warbonnet Outdoors, located in Fort Collins, builds a high quality, reasonably priced product. I have 3 of their tarps and two of their hammocks. Consider the Edge; http://www.warbonnetoutdoors.com/edge/
    The Edge is light enough and compact enough that you won't regret carrying it if it does not rain. It is big enough that if needed, you'll get your dollar's worth in weather protection.

    Save the WalMart tarp for covering your patio furniture this winter.

    Good Luck

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OCDave View Post
    Hosh,

    While Cuben fiber is indeed light, it is twice as bulky in your pack. It is loud under even a modest sprinkle and useless as shade. I had a Hammock Gear CF Standard for several years but, preferred the characteristics of Sil-nylon.

    Warbonnet Outdoors, located in Fort Collins, builds a high quality, reasonably priced product. I have 3 of their tarps and two of their hammocks. Consider the Edge; http://www.warbonnetoutdoors.com/edge/
    The Edge is light enough and compact enough that you won't regret carrying it if it does not rain. It is big enough that if needed, you'll get your dollar's worth in weather protection.

    Save the WalMart tarp for covering your patio furniture this winter.

    Good Luck
    Thanks
    I will check them out. I was aware of Bear Paw Wilderness in FOCO, but wasn't aware of other suppliers.

  11. #11
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    You or your wife or whatever know how to sew? $42 and you can make your own silnylon tarp of that size. Just sayin.

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