Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1

    Default Tarp geometry question

    Hi UL tarp users, I have a 7x9 tarp that I can't seem to get right outside of the A frame. If I pitch half-pyramid, with the long way pointing into the wind, the 9' dimension means that the slope of the tarp is so low that a) it blows in rather easily, touching me, and b) my feet touch the tarp if I sleep feet first. If I pitch it with the 7' dimension into the wind, and try to sleep crosswise in it, my head and feet still touch the tarp since the angle of the pitch means that the outer 6-12" are useless. In either case, if any wind is applied to the tarp, it simply pushes in/down, and rests against my bag. A frame has its own challenges, but at least keeps the tarp off me. If I pitch it into the wind, the wind/rain blows in on my head or feet, and if I pitch it across the wind, the 3.5x9 side facing the wind turns into a sail and pushes in on me.

    What's the trick here? I pull all the stakes tight, and the guylines are tight.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    02-01-2016
    Location
    Chattanooga, Tennessee
    Posts
    921

    Default

    I don't think there's a trick; you're just encountering inherent challenges with small ground tarps. I have a 3mx3m (roughly 10' square) tarp and there are a myriad of cool shapes you can pitch it in. But, most of them have the sloping wall problem you note.

    The solutions I see for you are to either get a much larger tarp, or give up trying to pin down the sides of your small tarp, and elevate it, perhaps combining it with a lightweight bivy or some natural windblocks like downed trees. Evan Schaeffer (?) of Evan's Backpacking Videos (Youtube) demonstrates a number of tarp setups, incorporating the local conditions (topography, deadfall, etc). Evan is a UL guy too; he enjoys the challenge of a new puzzle every night with his tarp and bivy.

    Do a web search for tarp-shelters.pdf. Lots of great ideas in there, including info on area covered, peak height, etc. Short of a lean-to or elevated A-frame, at some point those sloping walls are going to get you. You're not going to win a fight with Euclidean geometry, but you can come to a negotiated settlement. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    11-01-2014
    Location
    Norwell, MA
    Age
    58
    Posts
    2,278

    Default

    There are lots of tricks to optimize different tarp pitches in different conditions. But, I'm sensing that part of your issue may be unrealistic expectations combined with unnecessary concerns.

    One unrealistic expectation may be that a small tarp can be pitched to the ground and not come in contact with your sleeping bundle.
    Another unrealistic expectation is that one might completely eliminate any amount of wind and/or rain contacting you head and/or feet while sleeping under a small tarp.

    Now the good part:
    One of the great beauties of using a well pitched tarp is that under most situations, there is enough air flow across the inside of your tarp that condensation is not an issue and therefore, having the tarp in contact with your sleeping bundle is not necessarily a bad thing. And, as a 6'4" person that more often than not sleeps under a 5'x9' poncho-tarp when the weather is too rough to sleep in the open, I will occasionally (in extreme conditions) slip the foot of my sleeping bag or quilt into my pack liner bag so that it stays dry while I crowd my head down further under my tarp, thus pushing my feet closer to being exposed at the bottom end. I will also occasionally pile my gear between me and the opening of my tarp to reduce any splatter or wind-blown moisture from contacting me or my sleeping bundle.

    And, a little bit of splatter, blown mist, or snowy spin-drift is completely fine in manageable amounts. One of the things I love about sleeping under a tarp in a storm is the occasional wind gusts that blow a bit of rain across my face so I get to be a part of the storm while still maintaining enough shelter that the moisture I accumulate is completely manageable. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, staying dry is rarely an option; backpacking is always moisture management, not moisture elimination. That being said, yeah, if you aren't used to it and or it doesn't just become a fun added dimension to your dreams, bits of wind and rain can certainly interfere with your quality of sleep. Personally, I find the wind and raid gives me enjoyable adventure dreams, so I really don't mind it.

    Keep tarping and have fun!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Time Zone View Post
    You're not going to win a fight with Euclidean geometry, but you can come to a negotiated settlement. Good luck!
    Well said! Literally, LOL. If I have to pair with a bivy, AND craft/improve a site so I can stay dry (LNT no-no) I might stick with a tent. But a bigger tarp seems like it would make the problem worse - the angles would be shallower, and more of the area would be unusable. It sounds paradoxical, but is it easier with a smaller tarp? Keep the angles steeper?

  5. #5

    Default

    For a small addition of weight you can add a pull loop or two away from the edge to pull the side out. This works best if you have a favorite go to configuration.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    11-01-2014
    Location
    Norwell, MA
    Age
    58
    Posts
    2,278

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    . . . If I have to pair with a bivy . . . I might stick with a tent. But a bigger tarp seems like it would make the problem worse - the angles would be shallower, and more of the area would be unusable. It sounds paradoxical, but is it easier with a smaller tarp? Keep the angles steeper?
    Lots of people use bivys under tarps. I find them superfluous most of the time. The very rare times when I want more bag protection than the tarp alone, I can pull my pack liner over the foot of my bag or otherwise cover of block up problems with my pack, or rain gear or whatever. I have several bivys, and at this point, I only use them on short trips when I don't expect weather, am carrying less sleeping insulation that might be best and I want to sleep under the stars, but I want an emergency shelter if things turn nastier than expected.

    Tents are so isolating and limited in their pitch variety and location and views of nature. I pretty much only use them when going with other people that are more comfortable in a "hermetically sealed" environment. . . or if I expect absolutely horrible bugs. I absolutely love snow camping under a tarp providing much more room and ambient atmosphere.

    A bigger tarp can be pitched higher and still come down to the ground. So, with the same pitch angles you have more head room, and more foot room so your sleeping bundle doesn't have to be as close to the edge and thus as close to the tarp (geometry not to be argued with ;-)) If you are dealing with flapping issues, that may have more to do with your pitching skill than the tarp (good knots, good angles & persistence). If you haven't already tried using elastic or rubber shock-absorbers on your guy lines, you may want to experiment with that. I find my tarp maintains a much tauter pitch, especially in high winds and heavy weather, if I pitch it out with rubber bands or elastic as part of the guy-out system.

    Good luck and have fun!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    For a small addition of weight you can add a pull loop or two away from the edge to pull the side out. This works best if you have a favorite go to configuration.
    Good idea, I should have ordered the tarp that way.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    08-19-2020
    Location
    Lynchburg, VA
    Age
    65
    Posts
    1

    Default

    I would recommend a YouTube Channel that has a fellow that is all about tarp setups. Pappa Hiker is his channel.
    That man can pitch a tarp 10 ways from Tuesday!

  9. #9
    Registered User Pastor Bryon's Avatar
    Join Date
    11-08-2014
    Location
    Buena Vista, VA
    Age
    45
    Posts
    273

    Default

    Papa Hiker and Evan both expanded my pitching options and technique immensely. Easy to follow and fun to play with the different pitches. Highly recommend both.

  10. #10

    Default

    Dumped the tarp and went back to the tent. Much easier to pitch, lower impact, and more stable.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    09-17-2020
    Location
    Smithsburg, Maryland
    Age
    65
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I find my tarp maintains a much tauter pitch, especially in high winds and heavy weather, if I pitch it out with rubber bands or elastic as part of the guy-out system.

    Good luck and have fun!
    I love the elastic idea! It's just as easy to have some elastic line along and use it in conjunction with standard line. Brilliant!

++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •