Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Any pearls on how to use a bivy/tarp setup?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Dennis Park
(dpark) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Any pearls on how to use a bivy/tarp setup? on 07/25/2011 00:15:33 MDT Print View

I've made the plunge and purchased a bivy and am almost settled on a tarp. Right now, I know that I want something smaller than an 8x10. (No challenge.) I'm leaning toward flat tarps for the learning potential. I'm thinking of a 6x10 and setting up either with a half pyramid or A-frame depending on the weather.

My question has mostly to do with rainy conditions. If an A-frame is pitched low, how do you maneuver yourself under the tarp and into the bivy without bringing in all the wetness on your clothes and getting your bag/pad wet?

Any pearls?

Also any thoughts on the tarp choice would be appreciated.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Any pearls on how to use a bivy/tarp setup? on 07/25/2011 01:41:32 MDT Print View

Get an 8 X 10 and you do not need a bivy. But you need rain gear.

Get a 5 X 8 poncho/tarp and you need a bivy. But you do not need rain gear.

If your clothes are that wet, take them off before getting into your bag/quilt. Damp clothes soon dry out if you get in your bag/quilt, but I find I get warmer quicker if I take them off. Actually that has never been an issue for me, but I do not hike in the PNW.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Some examples on 08/03/2011 13:12:14 MDT Print View

I have some photos of some pitches I have used with my Spinnaker Monk Tarp(5x9). I have used other pitches, but don't have photo examples of all.

To get in and out of a tight pitch, I undo a corner, get in and re-attach:






Arn Aarreberg
(aarrebea) - M

Locale: Northern Bay Area, CA
9 x 7 on 08/04/2011 11:39:01 MDT Print View

I am in the same spot as you. I am currently using a golite poncho tarp with a ti goat bug bivy. I have weathered some pretty nasty storms with this setup but it did require some tricky pitching and luck. So I am considering a slightly larger tarp. I think I have narrowed it down to zpacks 9 x 7 tarp. It is slightly longer than my golite and about 1.5 ft. wider. I mostly pitch my tarp in a half pyramid and I think the extra width well make it a little more comfortable should some weather roll in. The extra width well also allow a little more head room pitched in an A-frame storm mode. Seems to be a pretty versatile size for a tarp.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
9 x7 on 08/04/2011 12:46:53 MDT Print View

I think I agree on the 9x7 size. A rectangular poncho tarp can be very confining when pitched tight for rain protection.

The common standard for many long distance hikers is the 8x10, but I think a 9x9 with many tie points would be more versatile for just a little more weight.
The Oware tarps come to mind. I have used an Oware 10x10 for two people and loved the room, tie-outs and protection from the elements.

Edited by brooklynkayak on 08/04/2011 14:10:13 MDT.

Arn Aarreberg
(aarrebea) - M

Locale: Northern Bay Area, CA
RE: 9 x7 on 08/04/2011 13:58:32 MDT Print View

A 9x9 would definitely be a more versatile tarp. I know for me, a 9x9 would be pure luxury, and with a bivy no need to worry about getting wet. Having a square tarp would open up many more pitch options and probably (taking a guess here) allow enough room to sleep and dry any wet cloths if caught in some weather. If you don't mind a few more ounces and you are expecting rain, it seems like it would be a good option.

Edited by aarrebea on 08/04/2011 13:59:40 MDT.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Any pearls on how to use a bivy/tarp setup? on 08/04/2011 21:57:53 MDT Print View

I once had a Crazy Creek tarp but never had a chance to use it because my Six Moons Design Gatewood Cape performed so well, so I gave the former away. The Gatewood weighs only 10 oz and my bivy about 5 oz, and I always pack both. That way I can sleep under the stars when the weather's nice or hunker inside the Gatewood during a storm...I've even used it during a snow storm and was as snug as could be! This past weekend I was in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, where it's still February, and camped for three days on about 6' of snow at the still frozen lake using this set-up. It's plenty roomy for me and all my gear, and should it begin to rain while I'm on the trail I can wear it like a poncho that covers me and my pack. A sterling piece of gear, indeed!

Sean Staplin
(mtnrat) - MLife

Locale: Southern Cdn Rockies
Tarp on 08/04/2011 22:38:25 MDT Print View

When it is really nasty at tree line I pitch my BMW poncho tarp in a half pyramid as low as i can. When the wind swirls and tries to drive rain into the opening I just grab the handle of my pole and drop the front edge of the tarp to the ground. I had to do this about a week ago when I was out near tree line with my dog. I was able to keep both of us dry with heavy rain, lightning, and swirling wind.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"Any pearls on how to use a bivy/tarp setup?" on 08/05/2011 03:12:57 MDT Print View

A square tarp (roughly 9'x9') is pretty hard to beat. Here in the ADK's that seems about the minimum for good coverage of you and your gear. It also sets up as a lean-to for those nights that it is not raining. Bug nets, bivy, or screen tent are pretty much required for summer nights, though. Spring and fall you can skip them. But, I have run into mosquitos in September.

An A frame seems to offer good protection. But I have also set up single poled shelters. These work well in storms with a 42" pole. These types of shelters are very dry on well chosen ground. The worst is water running in along one edge or another in heavy rains. With a larger tarp than 5x9, you can often shift stuff around a bit to avoid the worst of the water. But, I will agree, generally a square tarp has much better pitching options.

billy goat
(billygoat) - F

Locale: West.
7' x 9' Cuben Tarp on 08/05/2011 15:40:34 MDT Print View

I happen to have a 7' x 9' handmade, Cuben tarp available for sale. It is a true rectangular cut tarp without cat cuts; intended to be pitched in "monk tarp" / half-pyramid configuration, but it can also be pitched in a traditional A-frame configuration. The ridge line is bonded, edges are sewn to keep them neat, and it has eight reinforced tieouts. Also has a cuben stuff sack that is about the size of a 16 oz bottle. The tarp weighs 5.4 ounces and the stuff sack won't register on my scale. Brand new, made by yours truly. Email me if you're interested in buying. I also have enough cuben in stock right now to make a custom tarp from scratch to your specifications.