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Paul Burke
(elpeebee) - F

Locale: Too far south of the Pyrenees
First time out with tarp on 08/09/2010 16:10:42 MDT Print View

Things I learned on my first outing with a tarp:
1. Silnylon really is slippery as hell
2. I need more guylines
3. Stout sticks meant to hold the peaks of your A-frame enjoy falling over when you're at the other side of your tarp
4. Titanium stakes don't always stay in the ground when you're staking out the opposite side tightly
5. I need to learn more knots

I ended up tying one corner to a tree (girth hitch around tree about 5' off the ground, bowline to tie-out at corner), staking out each corner pretty tight and then adding a few more stakes at other tie-outs. Wasn't pretty and the trial-and-error with the A-frame took a good while before I gave up on it and switched to the tree.

Despite my floundering it worked pretty well (clear night, slight breeze) and I loved not being in a tent. That said, any advice to help make this humble newbie's learning curve a little steeper is much appreciated.

Questions:
1. Do you always use guylines or does anyone sometimes stake the tie-out directly to the ground?
2. How do you get the sticks to stand up when pitching an A-frame (maybe mine were too heavy?)
3. What do you do when the wind is changing directions?
4. Any way to keep dirt from sticking permanently to the seam sealer?
5. What are your preferred knots at each end when tying a guyline from tie-out to tree?

Thanks for turning me on to tarps, and thanks in advance for the advice!

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: First time out with tarp on 08/09/2010 16:49:30 MDT Print View

"What are your preferred knots at each end when tying a guyline from tie-out to tree?"
I learned my knots, remembered them for one trip, and then forgot them. Next time around I bought a set of six of these tensioners. They come with a little slip of paper showing how to use them, which I kept with them so I wouldn't have to remember anything. Worked great. The added weight is 0.12 oz for six tensioners, which I consider negligible.

"How do you get the sticks to stand up when pitching an A-frame (maybe mine were too heavy?)"
I don't carry trekking poles, and I gather you don't either, but I've never used natural, found sticks for this. If I'm below tree line, I usually pitch my tarp by tying it to one or more trees. If I'm above tree line, then I may not be able to find sticks; for this purpose, I bring along a 1-oz carbon fiber pole. (Bought it from fibraplex, who are infamously slow about filling orders.)

"Do you always use guylines or does anyone sometimes stake the tie-out directly to the ground?"
Sometimes I do that if I'm pitching the tarp just on the off chance that it will rain, but I don't really expect it to rain. It takes a little less time, but if you do end up having to sleep under the tarp, it puts the tarp closer to your face, which will be less comfortable. In the Sierra, where conventional wisdom is that it never rains at night, I put in a varying amount of effort depending on my perceived risk of rain. From lowest to highest level of effort, this is: leave the tarp in my pack; put the tarp (in its stuff sack) next to my sleeping bag; stake the tarp directly to the ground on one side, next to my sleeping bag, but leave it rolled up; erect the tarp in a sloppy way, and don't actually sleep under it, but be prepared to get under it in case it does rain; do a good job of pitching it.

"What do you do when the wind is changing directions?"
Curse my fate.

"Titanium stakes don't always stay in the ground when you're staking out the opposite side tightly."
Sometimes if the dirt is shallow in certain areas, you can tie to something else besides a stake: tree, log, rock, ...

Personally, what I need to study up on is better ways of keeping the middle of the tarp from drooping a lot.

Edited by bcrowell on 08/09/2010 16:55:13 MDT.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: "First time out with tarp" on 08/09/2010 17:29:00 MDT Print View

I can 2nd what Ben said especially regarding the tensioners and changing wind LOL. I have staked my tarp directly to the ground before. Usually on one side if the wind is particularly strong on that side. I got my tensioners here in the BPL Shop. They great.

As far as getting the sticks to stand up. I use BPL Stix. What I do is estimate what the with would be on the corner guy lines. Then grab the ridge line with my hands and keep it taught as I'm walking back to work on the other end. Most of the time my hiking pole on the opposite end will stay up once I stake it down, long enough for me to work on those corners. I readjust all 4 corner guy lines and get them tight, then I stake out the sides. Sometimes it still falls over when it's windy, but you've got a good start and it only takes a few seconds to get it back up.

Most everything else Ben said I agree with, especially when it comes to staking alternatives when the ground is loose. Boulders and trees work well also.

Edited by socalpacker on 08/09/2010 17:43:24 MDT.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
want a course on 08/09/2010 18:08:25 MDT Print View

I would be blissfully happy to pay someone like Mike Clelland to take me through tarping boot camp. It's the most difficult backpacking skill I've had to learn, and I don't feel that I've mastered it at all. There are lots of descriptions online and in books, but I feel they're seldom applicable to what I want to do, because usually what I'm doing is controlled so strongly by the random specifics of the campsite I'm at (tree over here, dirt too shallow for a stake over here, ...). Also, a lot of the techniques that other people use assume two trekking poles, but I don't use trekking poles.

Paul Burke
(elpeebee) - F

Locale: Too far south of the Pyrenees
Wanted: One SoCal tarp expert on 08/09/2010 18:34:51 MDT Print View

I was thinking the same thing about some expert hands-on training... Particularly since the three of us on this thread are all in Southern California.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: First time out with tarp on 08/09/2010 19:20:22 MDT Print View

1. Do you always use guylines or does anyone sometimes stake the tie-out directly to the ground?
-Depends on whether you want the tarp to be pitched to the ground or not.

2. How do you get the sticks to stand up when pitching an A-frame (maybe mine were too heavy?)
- the tension in the line will keep it in place- but I would imagine some sticks could be too heavy.

3. What do you do when the wind is changing directions?
- Find a wind break/ wind protection for one or more sides. tarps are not best in windy conditions with shifting winds anyway- there are better choices if no wind protection can be found.( a bivy can help here too)

4. Any way to keep dirt from sticking permanently to the seam sealer?
-use baby powder on the sealer when it becomes tacky to get the tackiness out/
5. What are your preferred knots at each end when tying a guyline from tie-out to tree?
- slippery clove hitch. But that is personal preference.

Tarpping is actually very simple you just need a little practice and time to figure out what configurations / knots you personally like. there is is no real single right way to use them. If you are sheltered from the rain and its reasonably taut against the wind/breeze you are doing it correctly. That is The beauty of a tarp.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Wanted: One SoCal tarp expert on 08/09/2010 19:33:06 MDT Print View

That would be nice. Right now I would hate to have to make adjustments to a flat tarp in the rain.

Morgan Sherman
(morganpsherman) - F

Locale: Central Coast, CA
knots on 08/09/2010 20:13:09 MDT Print View

Hi Paul,

that's funny, I just tried to pitch my first tarp two weekends ago. When I got back on Sunday I spent about 3 hours watching youtube clips of people tying knots and putting up tarps.

What I've learned: you can go a long ways with clove hitch, bowline, and tautline hitch. Also its easier to learn knots by looking at diagrams then watching videos of people tying them!

Also of all the videos I saw of people putting up tarps (say A-frame) no two seemed to use exactly the same system.

Getting a hands-on crash course would be great. I'd drive down to southern California for that!

Morgan

george carr
(hammer-one) - F

Locale: Walking With The Son
Re:First time out with tarp on 08/09/2010 20:17:22 MDT Print View

I'd come out and demo if someone wanted to pick up the airfare, lol. Actually, I have a tarp video I hope to have out by next week that will demonstrate 4 basic pitches, with a few basic tips and tricks thrown in. The pitches are done with trees for the non trekking pole crowd, but it's obvious how poles could be substituted. I'll post it here as soon as I finish editing.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
try these knots on 08/09/2010 21:04:31 MDT Print View

I've been using a tarp for a couple seasons now, but this season I've really been refining my (a) knots, (b) pitches, and (c) site selection.

I've found that having a firm grasp on various knots makes a world of difference. The past few years I've relied on tensioner, but this year I took the time to really learn a bunch of knots. For my ridge line, I use a bowline and then a trucker's hitch to really tighten the line up. On the guy outs, I pre-tie 6 18-inch lines with Adjustable Cawley Hitches, which I found at Natural Bushcraft UK. I think this guy has the clearest description of how to setup a tarp I've seen online and I like the Cawley Hitch he uses better than a tautline hitch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEpagec4fQI

It's also helped me to practice other knots, like the square knot. A few times I've needed a slightly longer piece of line, and knowing how to connect two pieces of line has really come in handy.

As far as pitches go, I've focused on the lean to, a-frame, flying diamond, and a few modifications of each of those pitches. Practice may not make perfect, but it makes me better. Same seems to be true for site selection.

Edited by vinovampire on 08/09/2010 21:05:07 MDT.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Tarping on 08/09/2010 23:57:39 MDT Print View

1. I always stake directly to the ground on one side to block wind, sometimes for privacy too.
2. (easier than it sounds)stake one end of your tarp down, but not taut, leave room for pulling the center up into an A-shape. On the other end, tie in your ridgepole and stake it down, it will stay up if done this way. then go back to the first end and tie in your ridgepole. finish staking the whole thing down.
3. For windy conditions, point the foot end into the wind and stake all sides down directly to the ground except for the entry ridge pole. (I use an 8x10 tarp so it has room)
4. I dont know
5. I love knots but you really only need two half hitches to secure either ridge or corner or whatever.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Tarping on 08/10/2010 00:05:14 MDT Print View

Are you guys using tarps with Lineloc 3 tensioners and grommets or cups for trekking poles? I don't have those on my tarp, but my limited experience with it makes me think that I'd be able to set up my tarp much faster if I had those features.