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  1. #1
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    Default Tarp / tarptent in a downpour?

    This last weekend I set up both a tarp and a tent - after two years, my girlfriend and I finally went backpacking together, and I wanted her to see what some of the choices are. It really rained hard, but I found a good site for the tarp, and no water came in from the ground.

    But little drops of water came through this brand new Etowah 10x10 tarp from the top, and not just at the seams. Not huge amounts, but we decided our down sleeping bags would be safer in my guaranteed-waterproof and guaranteed-heavy tent (which has been through many real downpours). We left our backpacks under the tarp, and in the morning they were definitely a little damp, not wet.

    Sigh. If I could just leave that tent behind and use the tarp, I'd be down to about 34 pounds with food and water. The tent is about 6. But she's going to have to feel really secure in a downpour or I'll be backpacking alone.

    Do I just have the wrong tarp?

    Jonathan

  2. #2

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    This is the backpacker's dilemma: How to endure harsh conditions with less weight. No shelter should allow moisture inside, except a bit of condensation which is inevitable. What's wrong with carrying extra weight for a secure 4-season shelter(like a tent??) Tarps are great for experimentation and yard camping and seem popular for organized trips with high school kids in mass. The leaders use them cuz they like to keep tabs on their students, etc.

    But for high winds and wind-whiipped rain(or in a high wind blizzard), I do not recommend using a tarp unless you like getting gear wet. Even if the actual tarp material does not leak, there's always the bounce-water from the ground and the irritating slapping back and forth that comes with 50-60 mph winds attacking the thing.

    Other drawbacks: Noseeums
    Black ants crawling over the body and biting when pressed
    The other usual insects, etc.
    Excessive use of stakes vs a free-standing tent

  3. #3
    As in "dessert" not "desert"
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    How about a bivy for you and a garbage bag for your gear?

  4. #4
    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    Silnylon will mist thru when in a heavy downpour. I've never had it wet-out my down bag, but I do tarp under firs when heavy rain is expected - they reduce the velocity of the falling drops considerably which reduces the misting thru. I've been caught by an unexpected storm a few times and have used my silnylon poncho hung over the clothesline under the tarp to block the mist from my sleeping and other needs-to-stay-dry gear.

    You can get a watertight, bug-proofed and roomy solution for two at well under six pounds - look into the double rainbow with the inner wall option.

  5. #5

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    i am currently using a bivy and am looking into a tarp to supplement my arrangement...it's no fun being stuck in a coffin, unable to pack in the a.m. because of downpours...watching boyscouts in the hut pack up and leave, until you're the only person left at gravel springs...so lonely...and sad, sniff...

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by sofaking View Post
    i am currently using a bivy and am looking into a tarp to supplement my arrangement...it's no fun being stuck in a coffin, unable to pack in the a.m. because of downpours...watching boyscouts in the hut pack up and leave, until you're the only person left at gravel springs...so lonely...and sad, sniff...
    I was camping at around 5000 feet once in the winter, I think it was February in the mountains of NC, and a guy came in with a fancy bivy bag. Since we were all pretty cold(around 10 degrees), we hit our separate shelters and the poor bivy guy had to get in his sac at dusk(5:30 pm)and stay put for 14 HOURS! I took a fotog of the poor guy before I retired into my spacious dome tent to read by candlelight and sip hot tea.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I was camping at around 5000 feet once in the winter, I think it was February in the mountains of NC, and a guy came in with a fancy bivy bag. Since we were all pretty cold(around 10 degrees), we hit our separate shelters and the poor bivy guy had to get in his sac at dusk(5:30 pm)and stay put for 14 HOURS! I took a fotog of the poor guy before I retired into my spacious dome tent to read by candlelight and sip hot tea.
    why do you want to be so mean? picking on a poor little inch worm like that...

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by sofaking View Post
    why do you want to be so mean? picking on a poor little inch worm like that...
    The next day when I packed up MY EIGHT POUND TENT, he was the one that was laughing.

  9. #9
    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    A bivy alone or a bivy with a really small tarp is just miserable IMO.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frolicking Dinosaurs View Post
    A bivy alone or a bivy with a really small tarp is just miserable IMO.
    i'm thinking at least 8 x 10, and i'm not using a bivy sac, it's a two pole bivy 'tent' with it's own fly...i just want a porch to chill out on.

  11. #11
    Just Hikin' Along
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    I've been very happy with my MLD Grace Solo Bivy (Spectralite). There is absolutely no misting with Spectralite and I've been staying so dry under the tarp that I don't always take the MLD bivy with me anymore. At 4.5 oz, it can't be beat for dryness. In the heaviest rain I just set it up lower and stake the sides in and down.


  12. #12
    Registered User hopefulhiker's Avatar
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    Camp under trees...

  13. #13
    Registered User sasquatch2014's Avatar
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    I can't get past the fact that the Bivy sacks remind me of Body Bags. When I was part of the Sheridan County Wyoming SAR team we always had a Body Bag with us for the obvious reason but it was also to double as a bivy if we were to need to get shelter. I don't know but willingly getting into the body bag was a bit much for me. I don't want to go with out a fight I guess. Then again I hammock so I guess in some ways I am just an oversuffed bear bag.

  14. #14
    Geezer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    The next day when I packed up MY EIGHT POUND TENT, he was the one that was laughing.
    No offense, but I think an 8-pound backpacking tent is pretty funny, as well. But IIRC you like to camp, and hike as little as possible only to move between campsites, so massive amounts of gear that would be inappropriate for hikers would be perfect for you.

    That's the beauty of it. We can add CYOC to HYOH.
    Frosty

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty View Post
    No offense, but I think an 8-pound backpacking tent is pretty funny, as well. But IIRC you like to camp, and hike as little as possible only to move between campsites, so massive amounts of gear that would be inappropriate for hikers would be perfect for you.

    That's the beauty of it. We can add CYOC to HYOH.
    No offense my a$$, Tipi is too nice of a guy to tell you to kiss his so I'll do it for him. Tipi is a powerful looking dude, I wouldn't diss him.

  16. #16
    Geezer
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    Quote Originally Posted by take-a-knee View Post
    No offense my a$$, Tipi is too nice of a guy to tell you to kiss his so I'll do it for him. Tipi is a powerful looking dude, I wouldn't diss him.
    The open access of the internet has given me more gifts than I could possibly have imagined over the last ten or so years. Alas, the open access sometimes comes with a heavy price.
    Frosty

  17. #17
    ECHO ed bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty View Post
    No offense, but I think an 8-pound backpacking tent is pretty funny, as well. But IIRC you like to camp, and hike as little as possible only to move between campsites, so massive amounts of gear that would be inappropriate for hikers would be perfect for you.

    That's the beauty of it. We can add CYOC to HYOH.
    Well, he gets out often enough to consider his camp his home, so I'd be willing to wager his gear is the real deal stuff that gets the job done. 5lbs extra? Winter shelter? Not all that funny. Probably pretty serious and smart. The hike as little as possible part? I seriously doubt that. BTW, no offense.
    That's my dog, Echo. He's a fine young dog.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed bell View Post
    Well, he gets out often enough to consider his camp his home, so I'd be willing to wager his gear is the real deal stuff that gets the job done. 5lbs extra? Winter shelter? Not all that funny. Probably pretty serious and smart. The hike as little as possible part? I seriously doubt that. BTW, no offense.
    Holy Cow! Somebody dump some pissmeoffium in the water in GA/SC today? Or are you and take-a-knee just having a bad day?

    Maybe I have the wrong guy, but I thought Tipi was the one who went out into the woods for weeks at a time, living there, not hiking anywhere in particular. For camping like that, like I said, extra camping gear like 8 pound tents and a camp chair and coleman lantern to read at night with is perfect. For long distance backpacking it isn't. Different gear for different purposes.

    Reading is a wonderful art. Comprehending what you read brings the enjoyment to a whole new level.
    Frosty

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty View Post
    Holy Cow! Somebody dump some pissmeoffium in the water in GA/SC today? Or are you and take-a-knee just having a bad day?

    Maybe I have the wrong guy, but I thought Tipi was the one who went out into the woods for weeks at a time, living there, not hiking anywhere in particular. For camping like that, like I said, extra camping gear like 8 pound tents and a camp chair and coleman lantern to read at night with is perfect. For long distance backpacking it isn't. Different gear for different purposes.

    Reading is a wonderful art. Comprehending what you read brings the enjoyment to a whole new level.
    can I get an "Amen"?

  20. #20
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    Amen.......... lol
    Smile, Smile, Smile.... Mile after Mile

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