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Couples Tarping... Questions!
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Matthew Elam
(slashpastor) - F

Locale: Colorado now!!!
Couples Tarping... Questions! on 04/25/2008 13:46:11 MDT Print View

I want to get my wife into tarp camping. I have done it solo but never with someone else. My gear at the moment is a solo tarp and bivy. I don't care what the weather is I never leave with one and not the other. I don't use ponchos and neither does she.

What is the best set up for bug-less tarp camping for two? Not considering winter camping, just three season.
Should I try for a tarp and two man bivy? Or is a floorless tarptent the best way? Have I just answered my own question? Any advice for how to make it easier on her?


Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Couples Tarping... Questions! on 04/25/2008 15:01:41 MDT Print View

For bugless camping we always use a silnylon two-person tarp (Ray-Way design), large polycryo groundsheet, and a two-person quilt (Ray-Way design or similar). Never had a problem, although by luck we haven't had much rain.

It may not be the absolute lightest setup, but since I made the tarp and quilt it was affordable. And with two to share the load a few extra ounces makes no difference whatsoever.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Couples Tarping... Questions! on 04/25/2008 16:16:08 MDT Print View

The interesting question is whether tarps and goundsheets and bivy bags for two people weigh less than a decent two-man tent with insect netting. Think carefully about this, and focus on function (and your wife's comfort) rather than ideology.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Tarp Tent on 04/25/2008 17:23:25 MDT Print View

The big advantage of a tarp tent is that it provides both insect and rain protection. If you are sure that you don't need bug protection, then in theory, a two person bivy along with a tarp would save you some weight. That being said, I don't think you can find a combination of tarp and bivy(s) that will beat the Refuge X (which weighs about 16 oz.). For example, the MLD Grace Duo Spectralite .60 weighs about 8 oz. That only leaves you another 8 oz. for the bivies. The BPL two person bivy weighs 10 oz. I don't think there is a huge difference though, so I things like comfort and cost may be a bigger issue than weight.

Edited by rossbleakney on 04/25/2008 17:32:02 MDT.

Matthew Elam
(slashpastor) - F

Locale: Colorado now!!!
Not following Ideology... on 04/25/2008 17:49:03 MDT Print View

Roger, I get what your saying. Shortly after writing the original post I ran across the Montbell Cresent 2 weighing 2 lbs 9 oz. It is a tent! I might be better investing in that rather than trying to sell her on a whole new way of camping.

I looked at the refuge x. That is a crazy weight for two! Who has used that thing? Further more who has used the Cresent 2?

I will be using this gear in Colorado.

But I do so love to tarp camp...

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Not following Ideology... on 04/25/2008 18:50:22 MDT Print View

I looked at the refuge x. That is a crazy weight for two! Who has used that thing?
Only Ron Moak at this point. I ordered one and it is supposed to ship in early May. I think the main concern is that is may be a bit cozy for two (I actually got it as a one-man tent). Of course, the Montbell tent has a pretty small floor area as well.

In general though, if you really like to use a tarp, then I would encourage you to do so. You can probably rent another bivy and maybe a bigger tarp as well (if your existing tarp isn't big enough). Who knows, she may really like that too.

If you go the tent route, then I definitely recommend a tarp tent. You have almost all the advantages of a regular tent, without nearly as much weight. You sometimes have to handle condensation or wind properly, but that is (in my opinion) a small price to pay. My wife came from a standard tent background and is not nearly the gram counter that I am, but would not want to go back to a double walled tent (that exists as of this writing).

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Not following Ideology... on 04/25/2008 19:29:18 MDT Print View

I think that a tent/tarptent makes more sense for 2 people. The weight advantage is largly negated.
Plus the other advantages of a bivy/tarp like a small footprint are also negated.
But the feeling of openess you get under a tarp, like when you just have to open one eye and you can see the wilderness around you is hard to give up!

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
"Couples Tarping..." on 04/25/2008 19:32:32 MDT Print View

One of I'm sure many alternatives in a two person tent is the BD Lighthouse. At just slightly over three pounds and costing under $400.00 this may be a good option to look into. The Lighthouse is free standing, offers good head room and floor size and the epic canopy fabric has a fairly good performance record. The vestibule is not included but is available as an option, but this adds to both the cost and the weight.

If your set on a tarp then either a gg spinntwin or MLD Grace Duo used with a double bivy would work very nice.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Couples Tarping... Questions! on 04/25/2008 20:58:33 MDT Print View

Several years of marriage tells me it doesn't matter what YOU want to get your wife into. What does SHE want?

If you go the tarp camping route I would be looking for something like this bug shelter in a two person model, with an 8'x10' or 10'x12' tarp for weather protection.

If you decide a tarp setup isn't the thing (my wife wants privacy, not a view) then you've got a lot of tent's and tarp tents to choose from. Go light for your sake, but not at the cost of too small for hers. A small tent may seem cozy at first, but when it's all stuffy or you are brushing against condensating walls, you might think different.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Not following Ideology... on 04/25/2008 21:02:45 MDT Print View

If you two want ultralight and unbelievable luxury, try the Tarptent Rainshadow 2 -- it is truly big enough for 3 people (I went on a 9 day hike with 2 other hikers and we slept in it for 9 days -- my only beef was that one of the other two hikers snores like mad), so last year only two of used it and it was like living in a Taj Mahal -- we kept our gear (minus smelly stuff which was in a bear cannister 150 feet away) inside the tent too, down the middle aisle. Only 2.5 pounds, but the roominess is so fantastic, so fantastic.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Re: Not following Ideology... on 04/25/2008 22:55:07 MDT Print View

Ditto on the Rainshadow II. We had 5 playing cards in it with room to spare during a rain shower. Mine weighs about 3 lbs. The other thing I like is it vents very well.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Not following Ideology... on 04/26/2008 01:43:00 MDT Print View

I've used the Refuge- the silnylon version. It is comfy for two. Not huge, definitely livable for 2 and more interior space to sit up than a Tarptent Squall 2. My wife and I love the Refuge. I'm really impressed with this tent. However, if you want a bigger tent, the Lunar Duo is an option too.

You should read our review of the Montbell Hex- it's the same as the Crescent 2 except it's a double wall (as far as I understand after studying the two of them). That tent was pretty small for two people.

I agree with everyone that a tarp tent is best. Check out Gossamer Gear, Tarptent, and Six Moon Designs for your best options. Mountain Laurel Designs has some interesting choices too....

Matthew Elam
(slashpastor) - F

Locale: Colorado now!!!
All about her... on 04/26/2008 06:11:51 MDT Print View

I realize that its what she needs and not what I like. I do. I am not trying to force her into anything.

It has a lot to do with our 5 lbs two man tent. Then theres the views I have enjoyed and the warmth and easily managed condensation of a tarp/bivy combo. I had a Squall 2 but camping with it on the east coast, I could never get it to stay dry, even a little! It was always soaked and had to be aired out by morning. Since I am moving to Colorado I would think condensation would be more of a problem. Am I wrong?

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Tarptent on 04/26/2008 07:37:43 MDT Print View

My wife also likes privacy more than veiws. Plus she was VERY intolerant of spider bites, and after we saw a few snakes during the day, she didn't want to sleep under a tarp at night any more. She finds bivy's too claustrophobic, and an 8x10 tarp + 2 bivies were heavier than tarp tents and some double wall tents.

Regarding condensation; we mostly camp in northern VA and I agree it's almost impossible to keep dry in a single wall tent in our 95% windless humidity unless it gives you room to move around without brushing the walls when sleeping, dressing, etc. I think the Rainshadow or Lunar Duo would probably be enough room - especially with a little gear between the sleeper and the wall.

ps: I've only been to Colorado a few times, but on those trips they didn't have the high humidity we have in VA - and they had more wind, so I'd guess that condensation would be much less of a problem even though the night time temperatures are lower.

Edited by JohnG10 on 04/26/2008 07:39:05 MDT.

Matthew Elam
(slashpastor) - F

Locale: Colorado now!!!
Couples Tarp camping... on 04/26/2008 21:58:39 MDT Print View

Well, I may have to buy another tarptent then...

Thanks everyone!!!!!

I'm sure my wife would say thank you too!!!


Andrew :-)
(terra) - F

Locale: Sydney, Australia.
Another one for Tarp tent on 04/30/2008 02:14:43 MDT Print View

My fiance and I use a SixMoon Europa05 for just about everything.
I highly recommend it for a light retail tent that will keep 'the other half' happy.

Save the tarp for solo adventures.