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  1. #1
    Registered User Creature Feature's Avatar
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    Default Tent and a tarp?

    In preparing for my first thru-hike attempt, Iím trying to decide if itís too much to bring a tarp, a poncho and a tent. I have a one person tent that is definitely coming but Iím concerned about dealing with persistent rain. I would prefer not to rely on shelters to keep (somewhat) dry and I like the idea of being able to quickly set up a tarp to get my stuff out of the rain and be able to prepare meals, etcÖ Also, my one person tent is rather small and confining and it seems that having the luxury of a tarp in conjunction with my tent would make the rainy season more bearable. Iíve experimented with using the poncho for a tarp but itís simply not big enough (5íx8í) to have any room to move around underneath. The tarp weighs 17oz, the poncho weighs 11oz and the tent is 40oz. All of your opinions would be appreciated.

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    Some hikers cut the handles off their toothbrushes to save carrying a few extra grams. Others carry heavy photo gear, electronics, elaborate cooking gear, town clothes, and even tubas all the way to Maine. The tarp is one extra pound. If you start with it and find you aren't getting its weights worth out of it, you can put it in a flat rate envelope and mail it home.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

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    Hyperlight Gear has a tent system that is tarp based with an inner netting tent with floor. Not cheap but superlight.

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    So, given your concerns, why bring either the tent or the poncho? It sounds like you want a tarp. Go for it. You'll love it. Leave the rest at home.

    If you don't trust just a tarp, go out a play with it. Pitch it in your back yard or a local park or near a local trailhead during the next big storm in your area. You'll likely be pleasantly surprised with how awesome a tarp can been in nasty weather, especially after a little pitching practice. In mildly crappy weather a tarp can take less than a minute to pitch and you have instant shelter, even for a short lunch break. Outside of extreme above-tree-line weather, I've got no use for a tent unless I want to relax and hang out (or cook and breath) during a horrible mosquito or black fly hatching. And, when I say horrible hatching, I mean those rare times when you can't breath without inhaling the darn bugs, that I only run into very rarely.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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    You might take a look at the SlingFin Split Wing bundle. Tarp +inner net+vestibule. 1.5 lbs , easy pitch and great single space

  6. #6

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    Personally I often backpack with just a tarp, a bug net, and regular rain gear.

    How big is the tarp, material, and how did you pitch the poncho? I will mention though that if the poncho is pitched you can't wear it to stay dry.

    You could get a small tarp to serve as an extended vestibule that is light but perhaps expensive.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Creature Feature's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    The tarp is one extra pound. If you start with it and find you aren't getting its weights worth out of it, you can put it in a flat rate envelope and mail it home.
    Thanks for the dope slap. I needed that. I've been focusing on this trip so much that sometimes I go down a rabbit hole.
    Thank you all for the sound advise.

  8. #8
    Registered User Creature Feature's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mverville View Post
    You might take a look at the SlingFin Split Wing bundle. Tarp +inner net+vestibule. 1.5 lbs , easy pitch and great single space
    Very cool. Thanks for the lead.

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    I carry a Tarptent Notch as my sleeping shelter and a lightweight tarp (8x10). The tarp is great for those days when the weather sucks. It makes cooking, eating, sitting and packing up much easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mverville View Post
    You might take a look at the SlingFin Split Wing bundle. Tarp +inner net+vestibule. 1.5 lbs , easy pitch and great single space
    That bundle looks excellent actually.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by morgan View Post
    I carry a Tarptent Notch as my sleeping shelter and a lightweight tarp (8x10). The tarp is great for those days when the weather sucks. It makes cooking, eating, sitting and packing up much easier.
    That looks pretty good too.

  12. #12

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    I carried a small (5x8) tarp for a while once. Used it like 2-3 times. Once for a lunch break in the rain, once to hunker under during a sudden heavy thunderstorm. It really wasn't big enough to sleep under and didn't help much with the bivy sack I was using for a tent.

    You may find a tarp useful early on in April and May, which are typically the wet months. After that, not so much. Lots of bugs on the AT, so having a tent you can hide in is important.

    If the poncho is your rain gear, then using it as a tarp isn't going to work out too well. Personally, I find ponchos to be really poor rain gear, but that's a whole other discussion.
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    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    I agree with the test it idea. I'm a weight weenie but sometimes you find extra weight is worth it.

    I've been sectioning with a BA FlyCreek2 and find it to be an adequate size but definitely a bit confining if you like to keep some gear inside in stead of the vestibule. I ran across a real deal on a BA CopperSpur2 Hotel and purchased it for bike packing. I mistakenly thought the Hotel part was removable (it is on the 2020/1 model). So the original idea was that it also would be a replacement for the FlyCreek.
    Since I had it I was like I might as well test it on a section I was doing since I was done bike packing for the season as its only another pound of so. Well, turns out I loved the extra room which allowed my gear to be spread out and eliminated that constant digging in the pack for this or that etc.
    In the rain, I was even more happy as the hotel made a great exit and drying area which kept 100% of the wet outside, something impossible with the FlyCreeks single exit.
    My point here is an actual test gave me a much different result than "camping in my head". I would have never considered it if I had not tested it. Now I'm thinking a CopperSpur AND tarp(small) to gain the functionality of the hotel with a smaller weight penalty as the CS2 is already a tad heavier than the FC2.
    Last edited by Crossup; 01-25-2021 at 09:33.

  14. #14
    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    A 40 oz single person tent is quite heavy by todays standards. If you are worrying about weight you could easily cut 16 oz off of the tent enabling you to carry the tarp, poncho, and the lighter tent. There really isn't a right or wrong answer here. Carry what works for you.
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    If you really want the ability to be enclosed in a tent, and, if you are willing to use the poncho as your raingear (an excellent choice in my opinion), you can kinda get the best of both worlds. You get your tent, and for no extra weight penalty, you get a small tarp (your poncho) to use as extra rain cover. The down side, of course being that on those extra rainy days when you would want to extra cover from your poncho, you probably also want to poncho as raingear, at least until your settled into your tent for the night. I love my poncho as my primary shelter and raingear on most backpacking trips. But, on trips with extended, constant rain it's really nice to have another tarp (or tent) as shelter.
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  16. #16

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    I think a couple of the answers here pretty much show that it can be summed up as follows - try it out and see what works best for you. One of the posters here thinks rain ponchos are the worst, another poster think's they're great. It doesn't make either person right or wrong; they just have different priorities or experiences. It's just going to take some time for you to figure out if the extra pound is worth it. For the record, I took a tarp the first couple of trips for reasons similar to yours, but now I don't.

  17. #17

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    A tarp with a tent is a wonderful luxury. You can set up a windbreak and be outside the tent without getting froze/soaked/chilled. The extra weight is less than a quart water bottle. Be careful with your water management (don't carry water up to water) and you'll be ahead.
    But it depends on your pace. If you just want to eat/sleep/hike then you don't need a way to mill around outside the tent. I've done it both ways and enjoyed the heck out of tarps in bad weather, but never needed them in good weather.

  18. #18

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    I have a one person tent that is definitely coming but Iím concerned about dealing with persistent rain.
    For sure take your poncho and some candles to use as a means of taking the chill off when needed. Think "Palmer Furnace"
    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthr...=1#post2240295

    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthr...=1#post2253833


    https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/sho...=1#post2036504
    Last edited by zelph; 01-25-2021 at 21:03.

  19. #19
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creature Feature View Post
    Thanks for the dope slap. I needed that. I've been focusing on this trip so much that sometimes I go down a rabbit hole.
    Thank you all for the sound advise.
    Even better, if you use a lightweight blue tarps (they come in various thickness), you can just ditch it if you find you're not wanting it.
    BTW: When I do "weekend" hikes, if i know it's likely to rain, I bring along a blue tarp (haven't wanted to spend the money for something lighter) just so I have a place to setup and cook and/or toss gear just like you're describing.

  20. #20
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    I find setting up an additional tarp is not needed. In the rain on the AT, most people will cook at the small bench or the floor edge under the shelter whether staying in the shelter or not. You can also cook midday when shelters are "empty" especially if you plan to camp, arrive after dark, or the first crowded week. For extra warmth nothing beats a hot water bottle in your bag. Well worth the fuel weight for unexpected cold or wet issues. There are days that I am chilled before I arrive at camp while avoiding getting another layer wet and chill further by the time I dive into my cold bag with my cold dry clothes on.

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