Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pimp my Tarp

I've really taken a liking to the tarp and bivvy set-up recently. The weight saving is obviously attractive but I'm finding I really like the exposure. The simplicity of just gazing up at a star studded night sky, watching passing satellites and occasional meteors until drifting off to sleep is a truly magical experience. Of course this is all well and good if the sky is clear and the weather is calm and dry. Any suggestion of a dodgy forecast and I will take the tent or the trailstar. Anyway, in anticipation of some nice balmy summer nights I have been trying a few different tarp configurations in the back garden. Here they are :-

I have used the 2 'lean-to' configurations a few times now and they work well but with both set-ups there is a large area of unsupported silnylon which has a tendency to sag as it collects condensation. Using the 2 lifter points solves this problem and so the last time I camped out I looked for suitable sticks along the walk, but as is perhaps typical when hiking in the high fells, I didn't come across anything suitable. A fellow 'twitterer' had previously suggested taking 2 bamboo canes as they are light & fairly strong. So I recently spent an hour in the garden fiddling with my 3 favourite tarp configurations but with the addition of two 3 foot bamboo canes as lifters. These 3 short videos are the result and although I've yet to test these 'pimped up' tarp set-ups in the fells I reckon they should do the job nicely.

The tarp can be pitched in a whole variety of different ways to suit the conditions and using hiking poles, trees, sticks, boulders etc as anchor points for the guy lines. The 'A-Frame' set-up seems popular with many folk but that blocks my view of the sky and doesn't provide much wind protection from the side. As I do most of my camping in the high fells, it is wind resistance that is of most importance to me and the 3 configurations above provide adequate shelter, with the 'flying V' being the most sturdy.

The tarp is the 'solo tarp' from backpackinglight.co.uk It is 9 foot x 5 foot silnylon, weighs 278 grams and has lots of attachment loops around the perimeter (16 in total) plus the 2 lifter points.  

Here are a few videos of the bivvy (and tarp in 2 of them) set up in the Lake District mountains.