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  1. #1
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    Default [email protected]'ish by 10' tarp vs 10'x10' and whatever ththoughts and experiences.

    Mainly in and about the Appalachians, but definitely open for thoughts anywhere west or.........
    I done very well all along the AT years past w/ stock blue tarps up to 12'x20' , but want to get more into and learn tight tarp setups like "Papa Hiker" etc... maybe more preferably a tarp with all the tie outs like A DD tarp, etc. Especially a military type of those sizes with snaps...(mil type I came across a a touch to small for when the deer and bear want to snuggle out of the rain.
    If TeePee Walter did tarps he'd be in the know, barring a 10x10'

  2. #2
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    I have the 3m x 3m DD Hammocks tarp (roughly 10' x 10'). Had a couple Noah's Tarps from Kelty prior to that.

    It's fun to try the various configurations. One could go on quite at length (no pun intended) about them. Unless you had specific questions, I'd boil down some general feedback to a few key points.

    1) The square tarp is kind of "Jack of all trades, master of none". If you have a specific use in mind, consider whether you might be better off with a specific tarp size and design for that use. For instance, for hammocking ... a 10' square tarp is fine for mild rain protection when hung on the diagonal ('diamond"). But for wind-blown rain, you probably don't want the coverage at the ends to taper down so much. You might be better off with a rectangular tarp, e.g., 10'x12' or 9' x 12', etc.
    2) There are those who love using tarps (combined with a bug bivy in the east) and enjoy hunting for good sites to bed down. They consider tree cover, drainage patterns, downed trees as protection from falling trees, the presence of roots or shrubs which may provide better-than-stake holding power, etc. However, if you will be at designated campsites (frontcountry or backcountry), you can't just keep walking to find a good location. You have to use what they have there, and you may find it's not so great for tarps. Of course, there are tarp configurations that work in almost any circumstance, but if you're hammocking, you will either have the trees you need at the designated site (you may have to hang over the tent pad) or not. You can't just keep hiking til you find the spot, if you have to use designated sites.
    3) at elevation (say mile high plus), you're at risk of high winds, and a tarp can act as a sail. Again, perhaps can be mitigated with certain designs (like low tetra). But over 30-35 mph gusts you are probably are better off with a dome tent with extra guylines. Perhaps a 4-season one, even.
    4) bug & other pest protection - a bug bivy helps a great deal but you can't do much in them but sleep. They're also a pain to re-enter after a middle-of-night pee.

    FWIW I recently set up a tarp twice in the smokys at a frontcountry site for 2 different uses. One was rain cover for picnic table at site. One of our party was going to bring a canopy but didn't have room. I tried to set up the 10x10 tarp over the table to provide similar coverage. Guess what? The trees weren't quite in the right spot. I tried to move the table in line with the trees, but the table was secured to the ground with rebar. It couldn't be moved. Finally I realized all I could do was to suspend the tarp between the trees on the diagonal, prop up the other two corners with hiking poles, and do what we could under it. It provided rain cover for 2 meals (on dinner) and did cover a little bit of the picnic table. I couldn't get the tarp high enough to stand under it (I'm over 6') but we could hunch over and sit comfortably in our chairs with plenty of head clearance when seated. So it sort of worked.

    The other use was to make a pyramid tent (low tetra?) out of it for bathing. There aren't showers in the Smoky campgrounds, and I intended to just use the tarp as a privacy shield. However, there was a walking trail and horse trail right behind our sites. So I figured I needed something fully enclosed. Well, it was tight in there, esp. with the center pole, and it got rather warm since it was fully enclosed. The underside of the tarp eventually stuck to my wet back, and I was lucky it didn't collapse all around me while I was in my all together! Long story short, it worked, but barely, and I wouldn't bother with that setup again. Not for that purpose anyway.

    Bottom line, I find them more appealing in theory than in practice. If you have a specific use case you can probably do well if you get the right tarp for your needs. Short of that I'd say stick to tents.

  3. #3
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    I have found the smaller tarps to be a bit tricky, especially on the east coast. I had problems with shifting wind during heavy rain - I would start out dry, but after adjusting the tarp as the wind shifts through the night, everything would end up being damp/wet and I would be up through the night in the rain adjusting the tarp to compensate for changing wind directions. Bugs are also an issue - If you have a tarp set up with a bug net and a tub floor - may as well have a tent.
    I now use a tent.

  4. #4
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    I chose floorless tarp/tents with a good bivy for New England.

    Current favorite is an AliExpress knock-off of the MLD Trailstar. If it continues to work for me, I might spring for the MLD version.

    Others on my watch list are the BetaMid, Appy Trails, Mountainsmith tent, and the countless 4 corner pyramids. I used a MegaMid knockoff for many years and still use it for ski camping.

    My son just popped for a Gossamer Gear The Two single walled tent in prep for attempting thr AT next year. His rig and mine weigh about the same. I could shave 8oz by upgrading my bivy.

    Tent vs tarp becomes a preference issue. I feel trapped and cut off from the outside in a tent but that's exactly why my son prefers it.

    Regardless, I played with flat tarps for several years and they have their place. They offer less protection so you have to rely on a good bivy to keep your bag dry.

    I find the enclosed shaped tarps to be the better balance of protection vs weight.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by petedelisio View Post
    If TeePee Walter did tarps he'd be in the know, barring a 10x10'

    Couple extra thoughts -

    I think Tipi Walter has commented on tarps at least indirectly - via hammock campers. At higher elevations in the southern Appalachians, where he sometimes camps, winds are often too great for hanging a tarp over a hammock. It's just a big sail that catches a lot of wind, and will either pull out its stakes, or the material / tie outs will fail.

    This past week I was frontcountry camping in NW SC, and had both a tent and a hammock set up at my shared site. First two nights I tented, but the third and final night I slept in my tarp-covered hammock. I was reminded of two advantages of tarping when packing up. First, it's pretty easy to shake off most rainwater from a tarp before packing it up. You can often do so while it's still strung up. You're largely out of the dirt and/or gravel. It's nice to be above all that.

    Second (and this only matters if you have close neighbors I suppose) you can get up in the night to pee without waking your site-mates by unzipping your tent to get out.

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