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Cheap ways to try a tarp, bivy, or hammock?
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Jeff K
(jeff.k) - F

Locale: New York
Cheap ways to try a tarp, bivy, or hammock? on 07/27/2009 10:50:40 MDT Print View

I have been experimenting with different techniques and gear to try to reduce weight, but up until now I have been using standard dual wall tents normally with another hiking buddy. I want to try some solo backpacking with other techniques such as using a tarp and bivy combination or a hammock. As I don’t know what I will or won’t like I don’t want to invest a great deal of money in new gear until I have a better idea of what I like and what is important to me.

I currently have a REI Quarter Dome 2 person tent. I could just use the footprint, rain fly and poles. Bugs will be a problem, so I would use my headnet and sleeping bag for protection. This, isn’t that far out of my comfort zone, but it could be something I could try for free.

I also have a $20 non camping hammock and a Wal-Mart blue tarp. I could use the tarp over the hammock or just the ground cloth and again use the headnet for bug protection.

Neither of these options would save me that much weight, but it would give me some good ideas of what I should look for in a new shelter.

My motivations for this are mainly is I want to reduce weight (especially when going solo), try something new, and experience the outdoors a bit more (stargazing from my sleeping bag).

Does anyone have any other ideas? I am willing to try some very simple/cheap MYOG projects. I know renting or borrowing is an option. If anyone has a good source to rent lightweight gear please let me know.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Cheap ways to try a tarp, bivy, or hammock? on 07/27/2009 11:05:04 MDT Print View

I can't speak to hammocks, but two nice, cheap tarps that jump to mind are the Alpinlite 8'x10' for $75 or even the 5'x8' for $40. Even there are any left in stock, Oware makes great tarps and all are now 20% off (get code in Gear deals. I have the Cattarp2, but the Cattarp 1.1 would be fine and is less expensive.

For $50-60, you could even make the jump to Poncho Tarp with Golite.

While flat tarps are not all that difficult to pitch, (and offer more variety, like Lean to style) catenary cut tarps are idiot proof.

If that Walmart tarp has grommetted corners, I'd worry about the grommets tearing out in any kind of wind. I had that issue with a cheap tarp from REI.

As far as cheap bivy sacks, you probably can't do better than the Equinox Bivy. It lacks netting over the face, so you'd have to supply your own headnest.

Edited by jrmacd on 07/27/2009 11:06:02 MDT.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
cheap tarps. on 07/27/2009 11:27:52 MDT Print View

For experimenting with tarps, cheap options are the blue poly tarps from the hardware store 8x10 $5-$7, maybe 1.5 lb. Disadvantages: a bit heavy, noisy in wind, maybe not so durable.
Also, $19.95 at campmor, 8' x 9'5" Coated Nylon Tarp:
I just got one of these, but haven't tried it out yet. About 1.5 lb.

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
key things to remember for sleeping in a hammock on 07/27/2009 11:39:36 MDT Print View

* insulation on the bottom. Put a blue foam ccf in. You will need something for temps under 60F. Foam will be worlds more comfy in a hammock than on the ground, I promise.

* sleep on the diagonal, not end to end. Hang with enough sag to get "flat" this way. A 30 degree angle for the suspension on each end is the usual; if the trees are further apart you will need to tie off higher to achieve this.

* to conform to LNT use tree straps. to avoid making forest rangers and park staff angry with you, use tree straps. to keep the wilderness hammock-able for all, use tree straps, not rope. Tie the rope off to the tree straps. Did I mention use tree straps? Cheap hammocks won't necessarily come with them. You can order poly webbing for minimal cost at Nylon streeeeetches and keeps stretching, polypro will stretch initially and "settle."

* use the sleeping bag over you like a quilt, or get into it before you get into the hammock.

* do not hang from dead trees, or under trees with a lot of dead branches. The force exerted on the trees is much greater than your actual weight. Also, look down, too. I set up after dark in a patch of what turned out to be poison oak....

* for further hammock related questions, is the repository of all things hammock.

Acronym Esq
( - F

Locale: TX
Re: Cheap ways to try a tarp, bivy, or hammock? on 07/27/2009 22:44:55 MDT Print View

I'm trying to do the same thing. It has been very difficult to make the jump b/c everyone else seems to camp in a utopia I haven't found yet w/o biting crawlies (flies, fleas, ants, scorpions, mosquitoes, spiders, snakes, etc.)

Details here and here


I'm really having trouble getting rid of my bug tent and/or going backpacking solo.

acronym7/27/2009 11:43 PM

Edited by on 07/27/2009 22:50:16 MDT.

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Re: Cheap ways to try a tarp, bivy, or hammock? on 07/28/2009 00:08:47 MDT Print View

I had a friend who used this bivy for a long time unril i made him a bug tent tarp combo.

It isn't the lightest thing in the world and he likes to pitch a tarp over it instead o using the fly so he could get in and out in the rain.

As far a hammocks get 2yds fabric and tie the ends in knots and hang that B from the nearest 2 trees. Thats a hammock.

Sportsmansguide has a cheap 12x12 noah's tarp copy that i have used with groups and it's not bad.

None of my suggestions are meant to last forever or fill the gear head's needs, but they are cheaper ways to try new things.


Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Cheap MYOG hammock on 07/28/2009 07:22:17 MDT Print View

I haven't tried it yet, but here's Risk's $9 TestHammock:

Here's another MYOG hammock page:

On BPL, look up Bill Fornshell's posts on hammocks.

Ethan Kanning
(ruggedstickman) - F

Locale: Edmonds
another tarp option on 07/28/2009 20:10:29 MDT Print View

a 55 dollar sew-it-yourself tarp...solo or 2 man with bug protection.

i sewed this tarp setup in 2005 and have used it in spain, portugal, new zealand, montana, on the Colorado Trail, the Wonderland Trail in washington and cali. its endured some pretty epic storms and held up extremely well. its not the lightest tarp on the market (i prefer the gossamer gear SpinnTwinn)but definitely one of the cheapest/sturdiest/easy to assemble.