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Tarp for bike touring
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Jay Well
(jwell) - F

Locale: Willamette Valley
Tarp for bike touring on 03/12/2010 19:36:30 MST Print View

I want to either purchase a tarp or make one that I can use while bike touring. I don't want to use any poles. I would like to use the bike as the only support. Would like the weight to be under a pound and to pack very small so it will fit in my seat bag. Just looking for ideas. Thanks.

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
bike tarp on 03/12/2010 22:57:09 MST Print View

That's fairly simple. Almost any tarp you see in these forums will work for that. The best idea I have seen is to take off the front wheel and use the rear guyline over that for the back support, and use the frame with the forks on the ground to support the front guyline. Stake out the sides as normal.

There are many threads here discussing the merits of each brand and style of tarp. There are also many threads discussing making your own, which is a fairly simple process and inexpensive.

Most tarps are around 4 to 10 ounces, plus stakes and would fit in a seat bag quite easily.


Edited by gpl916 on 03/12/2010 22:58:43 MST.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Tarp for bike touring" on 03/13/2010 10:13:47 MST Print View

Greg,I have been doing allot of thinking about this. I'm trying to get the sac to do a solo on the Alcan in the spring. What type of bike and how loadad will it be? If you are bikepacking and have a small load a standard 8x10 can by draped over you bike. Just flip it over and use it as a structure. If your bike is laoded with bags and panniers this can still be done but it tends to be allot of work after 80-100 miles of peddaling. If you are pulling a trailer you can leave the bike upright and run guylines and stakes off the bars to stableize the bike. When I toured hawaii we had two bikes and used both of them as supports and had a sweet dry basecamp but our trap was huge. Ali

baz john
(baz) - F
mld Trailstar on 03/13/2010 14:48:21 MST Print View

a pretty versatile touring tarp that you could use in the alpine. i may use it for this purpose at some point.

i should add that i have`t tried this yet...


Edited by baz on 03/13/2010 14:50:54 MST.

Michael Meiser
(mmeiser) - F

Locale: Michigan
Re: mld Trailstar on 03/13/2010 23:49:57 MST Print View

A simple wing tarp with three stakes and a single line wrapped around your bike seat would be the simplest solution.

Someone also recommended something to me called a hooch.

I think it's a swedish and/or australian military style tarp. Still very UL.

It's more of a traditional rectangular design, but it has 3-4 tie downs on each side and the same down the middle.

In this way you can still use a single line around the seatpost but you could run it down the ridgeline to a tree for greater headroom.

I myself use the footprint from my MSR tent. It's just an ultrasimple rectangular tarp.

This works great with a bivy for all but the bugg months of the year. Great late fall through early spring. Especially for snow camping.

Am hoping to try a MYOG tarp tent this summer with some sort of mesh around the base to reduce the bug issue. Some sort of mid / pyramid tent perhaps.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Tarp for bike touring on 03/13/2010 23:55:20 MST Print View

How about a poncho/tarp, dual use. Tiny packed size.

Jay Well
(jwell) - F

Locale: Willamette Valley
Tarp for Bike Touring on 03/15/2010 11:32:04 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the suggestions. I have a couple tarps and I will experiment with set ups. For my next bike tour I am going to be using a bike friday with 20" wheels so it makes the tarp set up a little more challenging. Once I get a chance to play around with this I will post some pictures.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Tarp for bike touring on 03/15/2010 11:55:18 MDT Print View

forget about poles and think more generic: you need some vertical support (at least, one; usually no more than two). Many hikers tarp without specific poles or even hiking poles. Common solutions are tree trunks or fallen branches but you can use anything that stands off the ground at a minimum height that has enough structural integrity to stand the tension.

A bicycle is a good option. Just use it as a generic vertical support for a generic tarp. The only difference from using a dedicated pole may be that due to size and bulk you may need to offset the bike from the tarp to be able to get in and out. If you need two vertical supports and only have one bike (and nothing else), you can take the bike apart in two pieces (as Greg described, for example).

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Tarp for bike touring" Bike Friday on 03/16/2010 10:00:48 MDT Print View

You are going to love touring on your Bike Friday. I have done a bit on my fodling Dahon, actually it was one of my favorite bikes till I ran out of space, it wouldnt quite fit on my boat. I used a rack with two small Ortleib waterproof bags and was able to keep all my grear light and only on the back rack, nothing on my back. You will love how well they ride with a load. I used mine for 6 months as a grocery getter and miss that little bike daily. Have a great trip. AliDahon

Don Meredith
(donmeredith) - F

Locale: SouthEast
Tarp for bike touring on 03/16/2010 10:23:40 MDT Print View

I'm going to use DAC poles I swiped from an old TNF tent. I was able to mix and match lengths to make a pitch with my Grace Duo and they're plenty stiff (i was concerned that they'd be a little flimsy). They take up almost no space and they're fairly light. If you want to go completely pole free you can adapt the concept in this thread over at

Bike Tarp @

Don Meredith

Edited by donmeredith on 03/16/2010 10:25:50 MDT.

Jay Well
(jwell) - F

Locale: Willamette Valley
Tarp for Bike Touring on 03/16/2010 15:55:22 MDT Print View

@Alie e: I love my bike friday. I got it used and have used it on some overnight tours with panniers. It works great. It would be my everyday commuter, but I always choose the xtracycle because I can haul more. I ordered a seat bag and a harness from Eric at Epic designs. I want to get rid of the heavy racks and panniers and most of the time I have very little in them. Don't have them yet, but they should be here in the next month or so. I am very excited.

@donmeredith thanks for the link. That is a very interesting tarp idea. It is similar to what I was thinking. After seeing it I am rethinking. The advantages you get from using the bike as the only support really limits your ability to move in and out of the tarp. Also on tours long I will set up camp and then ride the unloaded bike into town to get something to eat or pickup supplies. This would not be an option with this set up. I took a well used Tarptent Virga on a tour of Baja. It worked great with little weight penalty. If I can get away with it I might use that. Won't really know until I get my bags from Epic. I was thinking about using my prototype patrol shelter with a bivy but I don't think the weight savings will make up for the convenience factor. I am hopefully going to get out in the yard this weekend and try out some options.

The tour I am planning is from Northern Oregon to Burning Man taking a yet to be determined scenic route.

Greg Lewis
(gpl916) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: "Tarp for bike touring" Bike Friday on 03/16/2010 16:41:31 MDT Print View

Ali e,

Is that your boat? It looks Kind of like a Pacific Seacraft Orion. I had a Flicka for awhile. Sure miss it. Do you keep it on the Duwamish there under the West Seattle freeway?