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Tarp / SpinnShelter Paradox
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David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Tarp / SpinnShelter Paradox on 09/07/2006 19:23:40 MDT Print View

I've been thinking... one of the nice things about a tarp or a GG SpinnShelter (which is what I use) is that in fine weather you can use guylines to pitch the sides off the ground. This gives you better air circulation and more space. However... the thought always occurs to me... if the weather is fine... with no chance of rain... why do I even need a shelter in the first place? Seems like a paradox to me... i.e... it's great in fine weather... lots of air and tons of headroom... but what purpose does it serve in fine weather?! I guess it keeps the wind off you (although not so much if the sides of the tarp are 8 inches off the ground) and maybe keeps a little warmth in... but other than that...

Anyway... that's just something I've always pondered. I love my SpinnShelter... but I often think a bigger tarp would be better... since a big tarp gives you enough coverage that you could always pitch the sides off the ground... rain or shine.

BTW... I don't use or ever care to use a Bivy.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Tarp / SpinnShelter Paradox on 09/07/2006 19:33:39 MDT Print View

If the weather is fine I tend to sleep with no shelter (mind you I do bring a tarp or my Tarptent). Nothing beats sleeping under the stars.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Not using a bivy on 09/07/2006 19:39:46 MDT Print View

You indicate that you don't want to use a bivy, and you don't indicate that you use any kind of insert in the tarp. Are there any bugs where you camp? If so, what do you do about them? This is a legitimate inquiry - I'm not trying to criticize; for many years, when I was broke, I used a nylon tarp with no bug netting, in the Ohio River valley, and simply accepted the inevitable chewing. It's a viable option, though not one I'd choose now - thus my use of a bivy/tarp combo.

Elliot Lockwood
(elockwood) - F
Re: Tarp / SpinnShelter Paradox on 09/07/2006 20:17:51 MDT Print View

I head out without a tent/tarp by far more trips than not. Having said that, it doesn't rain as much here in So. Utah as it does in many other places. I often use a thermolite emergency bivy for waterproofness (I always have a lot of condensation on the top in morning, but it suffices.)

In light rain you can get away with just a bivy and cover your head with a jacket, or bring a small, cut down tarp. I find that I don't sleep well in the backcountry any way I try it, but I enjoy the nights much, much more when I can see the stars and enjoy the long night up. It's also nice to lose the weight and bulk of a shelter when makin those 4500' ascents!

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Tarp / SpinnShelter Paradox on 09/07/2006 20:24:48 MDT Print View

It has a lot more to do with humidity than whether it is raining or sunny. On nice nights I'll skip the tarp and sleep out -- unless the site is super-exposed to foul weather without giving me much warning or where pitching the tarp might be real tricky to do in the dark during a rainstorm.

On warmer, more humid nights I pitch the tarp higher. In colder, windier sites I pitch the tarp tight to the ground. Grassy campsites tend to be more humid too, so that's another place a venty pitch is a great idea.

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Tarp / SpinnShelter Paradox on 09/07/2006 20:55:39 MDT Print View

A couple thoughts: Here in the Southeast, more often than not I end up camping in some sort of forest. Open territory can be hard to come by, so it's not uncommon to have leaves, pine needles, pine cones, sticks, etc drop down on your camp. Really not that big of a deal though. Setting the tarp also helps 'define the area' where I'm camping and helps me keep from spreading gear out over the surrounding acres. Lastly, sometimes it's just fun to play with my stuff :)

I agree with your thought about the convenience of larger tarps--perhaps the weight trade-off is more viable now with the availability of spinnaker and Cuben materials?

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Not using a bivy on 09/08/2006 09:35:59 MDT Print View

Glenn... I have a bug canopy that I made for my SpinnShelter... but I've never had to use it. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada and my backpacking is almost exclusively coastal trails... and so far... I haven't had any bug problems. That said... I didn't do any backpacking in July/August... when the bugs would be the worst. TONS of day hikes... but no overnights. Once September comes... the bugs are all gone... at least on the trails I use. If I did any inland camping in deep woods... it would be a different story.

Edited by davidlewis on 09/08/2006 09:40:38 MDT.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
That explains it on 09/08/2006 10:33:49 MDT Print View

That makes sense - I've been to Isle Royale park in early September, and noticed that there weren't any bugs to speak of then.

I'm actually waffling between a plain tarp (White Lightning) and a shaped tarp (ID Silshelter.) I noticed that there's a bug insert now available for the Silshelter - if I choose that as my primary rain shelter, I may have to try the bug insert instead of a bivy sack.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Tarp / SpinnShelter Paradox on 09/09/2006 09:48:38 MDT Print View

I don't think there is a paradox. You don't need to sleep under the spinnshelter when the weather is nice. When I get to weare I am stopping I assess the odds that it will rain or snow. No risk, I leave the spinnshelter in my pack. Some risk I set it up, and initially lay down next to it, heavy risk, I will sleep under.

I use an A16 bug bivy which isn't a typical "bivy" to keep bugs off when they are really bad. In most locations I can push the bug bivy away and get a clear view of the sky as the night progresses as the bug pressure goes down.


David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: Tarp / SpinnShelter Paradox on 09/09/2006 10:46:08 MDT Print View

Hey Mark. Thanks for the comments. I guess what I was trying to say... re: the "paradox"... is that the SpinnShelter (or Tarp) is most usable, comfortable and roomy in conditions where is it not really needed.