Granite Gear White Lightnin' Tarp (8x10)

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by the Product Review Staff | 2003-09-29 03:00:00-06

See how this shelter rates with others in our Comparison Review of Tarps and Other Floorless Shelters

Also available in 10x10 and 10x12 sizes

In the field, using 8 tie-out points (2 ridgeline and 6 side), the White Lightenin' is probably the fastest to setup and the most stable tarp for its size. Granite Gear has a number of design innovations in their White Lightenin' tarps all of which add up to a super taut tarp pitch with a minimum of fuss.

  1. Granite Gear uses 1.1 oz/sq yd (31 g/ sq m) sil cordura nylon fabric. [Other tarp manufacturers use a heavier 1.4 oz/sq yd (47.5 g/ sq m) silnylon fabric.]
  2. To take the tension off of the lighter fabric, Granite Gear sews tension tape (210 denier nylon laminated to tricot) into both the ridgeline and edge seams of the tarp. This tape takes most of the tension, relieving stress on the lighter tarp fabric.
  3. The edges of the tarp are cut into two catenary curves giving a tauter pitch to the tarp edges.
  4. All tie-outs are ¾ inch (1.9 cm) wide webbing straps with tensioning buckles. With the webbing straps and tension-taped seams one can tension the ridgeline at tight as a piano wire. Make sure you use some beefy stakes to hold all that tension! Quarter-ounce titanium stakes are probably too light.

Other features on Granite Gear's White Lightenin' tarps include:

  1. Custom 1.5 mm hollow-core nylon guylines (600 lb / 270 kg strength) that extend from the webbing tie-out straps.
  2. The tarp packs into its own stuff sack, which is permanently attached to the body of the tarp at the ridgeline. (Both guylines and stuff sack are included in the tarp's weight.)
  3. A trekking pole friendly loop system at the end of the guyline webbing straps.
  4. A center ridgeline tie-out to hang the tarp from trees

Granite Gear's White Lightenin' is probably the easiest to pitch of the flat 8x10 tarps that we've seen. The webbing and buckle straps make for easy tensioning of the tarp and less critical stake positioning. Also, like GoLite's hex (which uses a similar webbing an buckle system) you can reach out from under the tarp and tension a sagging panel without getting wet! With its catenary side cuts, bomber seam tape, and webbing and buckle tensioning system, it needs fewer tie-outs than other 8x10 shelters on the market to achieve a taut pitch. Also, with fewer tie-outs, Granite Gear's White Lightenin' tarp takes less time to setup. Even so, we'd like to see a few mid-side tie-outs on the White Lightenin' tarps to increase interior room, decrease the side deflection in high winds (we did observe this in strong cross winds), and allow for more pitching variations (including a few storm pitches).

In addition, the White Lightenin' tarp would be even better with a catenary cut ridgeline. We wonder with a catenary ridgeline if the webbing and buckle tie-out system would be necessary or weight efficient. The webbing straps are heavy, and in our experience, simple cord guylines work fine for tarps up to 8x10 ft. With simple tie-out loops and the attached Spectra guyline cords, we think Granite Gear could shave at least 4 oz (115 g) off their 8x10 tarp. The webbing and buckle system has more merit as a ridgeline for the 10x10 tarp and a lot of merit for the 10x12 tarp. The webbing and buckles may not be necessary for the side tie-outs on any of the tarps. (Manufacturers response: Granite Gear designed these tarps to be easy to pitch and to keep the tarp cost competitive and believe the 9 tie-outs and non-catenary ridgeline on the White Lightenin' tarps accomplish that. Granite Gear believes these are more than adequate for an excellent tarp pitch.)

For most field conditions, the 8 tie-out points provide by the White Lightenin' are more than adequate. But… if you are willing to use more than 8 tie-out points, you can achieve a better storm pitch with a lighter tarp like Oware's or Integral Designs' 8x10 tarps, both of which weigh under a pound (e.g. Oware's 8x10 tarp has 7 side tie-out points to Granite Gear's 3). The Oware and Integral tarps do require more skill, more time and more fussing to get a hummer (good) pitch. And of course, we would miss that bomber White Lightenin' ridgeline! Still, 20 oz (565 g) for the White Lightenin' is a very respectable weight when it includes all guylines and a stuff sack.


Citation

"Granite Gear White Lightnin' Tarp (8x10)," by the Product Review Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00169.html, 2003-09-29 03:00:00-06.

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