Just got my first tarp... some questions come to mind
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Cody Croslow
(Graelb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Just got my first tarp... some questions come to mind on 07/27/2011 23:24:13 MDT Print View

Hello!

My girlfriend just got me my first tarp, it's an oware cat tarp 2.

I've pitched it a few times in the yard, so I'm pretty confident I can get it set up just fine, but I have a few questions...

Is this tarp big enough that most would consider not carrying a bivy as well?

Is there really only the one configuration (A-frame) that this tarp works well in?

How important is the seam sealing? I haven't sealed it yet, and am planning on taking it out this weekend, my girlfriend and I, and I don't want to be surprised with pretty bad leakage if we get a little rain.

Does anyone have this tarp? Can they give a short little "watch out for this" kind of tips?

I'll admit that I'm a little nervous taking it out for the first time, but excited at the same time =)

Thanks,
Cody

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Just got my first tarp... some questions come to mind on 07/28/2011 05:02:57 MDT Print View

Cody,

I use a bivy for two reasons. First of all I use my bivy to put up a barrier between myself and the flying bugs and the creepy crawlies on the ground. Second a tarp is basically a large umbrella. If any significant weather blows through a bivy helps keep you dry.

Pitched normally "aim" the foot end into the wind.

One other pitch option is to stake one side down, set the poles in the normal position and using conveniently located trees or available sticks "fly" the other side. This configuration will be much more open and airy. You may have to adjust the angle of the poles and guyline tension to get a taut pitch. What you will end up with is what I call a "modified lean to pitch". "Aim" the staked down side into the wind.

Do you have the silnylon or PU version of the CatTarp2?

For the silnylon version, get some Permatex clear Flowable windshield sealant and at the very least seal the ridgeline if there is any possibility of rain. Use a small disposable foam rubber brush to apply the sealant.

If it is the PU version I'd use McNett's Seam Grip.

If possible pitch your tarp on the leeward side of a hill or mountain to avoid direct wind. If this isn't possible try to pitch behind some sort of natural wind break.

Enjoy your new tarp.

Party On,

Newton

Cody Croslow
(Graelb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Seam sealing/groundwater? on 07/28/2011 13:17:04 MDT Print View

I thought about keeping the bugs and little critters out by using a Bivy, just haven't gotten there yet...

Mine is the Silnylon version btw. I'll have to get some sealant. Is it a problem if I use it in the rain once before sealing? Will that damage anything? Or is the sealing just to keep water out of the thread-holes?

I'm super excited to try it out this weekend, there's a possibility of small thunderstorms, so we may get to test it out a little more thoroughly than planned! =P

How about keeping groundwater from running into your bag? I don't have a bivy yet, so probably won't use one on this particular trip, but I'll be using a tyvek like sheet as a groundsheet, so shouldn't get any ground moisture, but I'm a little worried about water running over the ground into my bag... Does this actually happen?

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Seam sealing/groundwater? on 07/28/2011 13:33:36 MDT Print View

.

Edited by annapurna on 07/29/2011 11:26:47 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Seam sealing/groundwater? on 07/28/2011 14:16:21 MDT Print View

Cody,

"Or is the sealing just to keep water out of the thread-holes?"

The thread/needle holes will let rain water from those "small thunderstorms" through your tarp and onto you.

"Is it a problem if I use it in the rain once before sealing?" "Will that damage anything?"

Even one steady drip during the night could keep you awake and aware of just how much more comfortable and dry you would have been.;-)

If your ridgeline has a flat felled seam, which is four layers of silnylon sewn down flat, the water could infiltrate and enter this seam and get between the layers of material. It could take a very long time to dry out. It could also lead to staining of the fabric due to mildew.:-(

"I thought about keeping the bugs and little critters out by using a Bivy, just haven't gotten there yet..."

If there are flying insects in the area consider a bug head net. It may help preserve your sanity.;-)

If you sleep with the head net over a ball cap the bill will keep the net off of your face while you're sleeping.

"...I'll be using a tyvek like sheet as a groundsheet, so shouldn't get any ground moisture, but I'm a little worried about water running over the ground into my bag... Does this actually happen?"

It happens! Choosing your site carefully is very important. Finding a relatively flat and somewhat raised site is ideal but often not the easiest goal to accomplish. You could guy out and up the corners of of your ground sheet to the corners of your tarp. This would raise the edges slightly and possibly keep the water running underneath.

Be sure and keep the edges of your ground sheet 4" to 6" inside of the edges of your tarp. Otherwise rain water will collect on top of your ground sheet and under you!

You can also raise the edges of your ground sheet using available materials such as forest duff, leaves etc, to create a raised "berm" that will divert the water around and/or under your ground sheet. If you use this method weight down the corners/edges on the outside of your "berm" with some rocks.

The seam sealing should only take an hour or so. Let it dry for 24 hours. If it still feels a little tacky dust it lightly with some unscented talcum powder.

Enjoy your new tarp and your weekend adventure.

Party On,

Newton

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Seam sealing/groundwater? on 07/28/2011 14:38:03 MDT Print View

I usually agree with Newton, but

I never seal my seams on silnylon and have never noticed any leakage. With a flat felled seam, the water tends to just go down the seam, rather than going through.

You could try it without sealing and see what happens.

If it gets wet, let it dry for a week and then you can seal it, no big deal.

The one time I noticed a leak was when I sewed on some velcro. Then the water has nowhere to go but through the tarp and dripped down on me.

Or, if you had a flat felled seam oriented so that the water flows into the seam, like a roof shingle attached upside down, then you might have a problem.

Or if you had a horizontal surface and the water just pooled on top of the seam - even sealing that might not be sufficient.

On the other hand, sealing the seams is fairly easy and cheap so maybe you should just do it.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: Re: Seam sealing/groundwater? on 07/28/2011 15:12:49 MDT Print View

On a flat felled seam there are two rows of stitching. The first line stitching goes through 2 layers of the fabric. The second goes through 4 layers of fabric.

http://www.backpacking.net/makegear/tarptent3/flatfelled.html

Jerry is correct about the water having a better chance of running down the seam if it enters through the second line of stitching.

The first line of stitching that goes through just 2 layers of fabric is the one that has its needle holes stretched taut and most prone to leakage.

During manufacturing the smaller the needle used means the smaller the holes. The smaller the holes the smaller the chance of a leak. Chance!

"On the other hand, sealing the seams is fairly easy and cheap so maybe you should just do it."

I always seal my tarps. It's what I do.;-)

@ Jerry,

I use a larger needle so that my old eyes can see the hole to thread it.;-)

No one agrees on everything. I'm sure Cody appreciates your input as I do.

Party On,

Newton

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Just got my first tarp... some questions come to mind on 07/28/2011 18:16:39 MDT Print View

Cody, Congrats on the tarp. Sleeping under one is a great experience. First let me say I'm a big fan of using a bivy, mainly because I use a small tarp. Secondly as Newton points out is a nice way to seal out insects. But with a tarp larger than 5 x 8 you should be fine with just a ground sheet. I recommend trying it out for just a night first and see how it goes. If you get a little wet no biggy..you are going home the next day anyway.

As far as water coming into your site...bivy, tent, or ground sheet means less than picking the site. You really want to scan the area for slight drains. Put your shelter on slightly raised ground and you should be fine. Here are a few pics from a night where I did not expect rain. I first wanted to put my tarp closer to the fire ring (back about 20 feet in the pic). The ground was flat enough and would have provided a great view of the coals burning out as I went to sleep. A favorite of mine when hiking alone. I resisted the urge since this area was slightly lower and might turn into a drain if it rained hard.

Water next to tarp

Water in site

It did rain hard. The flow looks obvious in these pics but was not real obvious when I camped. Just take a minute and look around for how water will flow, then put up your tarp. Even with a ground sheet you will be fine. Again as Netwon suggests bring along a simple head net if in bug season.

Jamie

Edited by jshortt on 07/28/2011 18:22:29 MDT.

Cody Croslow
(Graelb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
So much help here! on 07/28/2011 20:05:23 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for the advice! I wasn't really expecting this many responses on here, seems to be a pretty good community =)

I grabbed some permatex auto glass sealer at a local car store thinking that was the correct stuff, come to find out it's not what Newton had suggested... Think it'll work anyway? He said it's tackier than silicone, yet still waterproof... I dunno. I don't want to put something on my brand new tarp just to have ruined it. thoughts?

I'm running up against a time constraint on sealing it for this particular trip, since we're leaving saturday, and it's already thursday night (if the sealer takes ~24hrs to dry...) I may try it out the one night without sealing, and hope it doesn't rain any more than a sprinkle... 'Course it's the Pacific Northwest, so you can't really EXPECT anything, much less great weather 100% of the time.

@Jamie
Wow! that looks like a disaster to wake up to! did it catch you in the middle of the night, and did you have to move your camp?

I've pitched this in the front yard a few times, and read quite a few articles and posts here and there, and you end up with lots of people with lots of opinions (which is usually a good thing!)
Other questions:

In a Cat Tarp, is it better to pitch the ridgeline as one continuous line from pole/tree to pole/tree? or two individual guy lines?

I've measured out my six main guy points at about one and a half wingspans, (roughly 6-8 feet?) Is this long enough?

What are most people using to tension their guylines, and keep them tensioned? I'm planning on using a tautline through a little hole in my stakes, seems to work at first, but I'm not entirely convinced it'll keep when/if the wind gets a-blowin.

I've read a little about auto tensioning guylines too, using surgical tubing or shock cord... Thoughts here?

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Just got my first tarp... some questions come to mind on 07/28/2011 20:20:40 MDT Print View

Cody, No I slept great that night. I was high and dry. The location in the pciture is where I made my pitch. Had I pitched it where I wanted to (near the fire) I would have been flooded out.

I think you are fine with a slighter larger cat tarp. I usually use a cat tarp. MYOG or a MLD grace cuben. I don't do anything fancy with the guys lines. I use kelty trip tease. I run one from front and one from back. Each corner has a guy line and then one one each side for a total of six. I use shorter line than most people and pitch close to the ground. I tension only by placing my stakes. I use simple line tied with bowline knots with ti skewer stakes.

Here is an example of my MYOG cat tarp with me beside it to see how close I will pitch this tarp.

Cat Tarp

Jamie

Edited by jshortt on 07/28/2011 20:22:18 MDT.

Cody Croslow
(Graelb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Not Going to lie... on 07/28/2011 20:31:34 MDT Print View

Hmm... interesting! How long typically does it take to pitch? I imagine you could throw a pretty quick clove hitch around the stakes too instead of a bowline, but I haven't tied enough bowlines yet to do them very quick (or correct the first time for that matter...)

That's a pretty slick looking tarp to be home made, looks like a tight pitch too. So on yours, you don't have any guyline points in the center of the sides other than the opening and end?

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: So much help here! on 07/28/2011 21:56:02 MDT Print View

Cody,

The item number of the Permatex Flowable Silicone Windshield & Glass Sealer is 81730. It comes in a 1.5oz tube and is clear.

http://www.permatex.com/products/Automotive/adhesives_sealants/sealants/Permatex_Flowable_Silicone_Windshield_and_Glass_Sealer.htm

The package says that it dries in 1 hour but is fully cured in 24 hours.

I used it on my MYOG shaped tarp when I added a zipper to the beak and it worked really well.

Silnylon MYOG shaped tarp with zippered beak

Auto tensioning guylines.

Auto tensioning guylines using shockcord

Pull the guyline until the shockcord and the guyline are tight and stake the end of the guyline. During the night things may get a little slack but the shockcord will maintain a tension on the tarp. If the shockcord fails the guyline is still there even if it is a little slack.

Party On,

Newton

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: So much help here! on 07/29/2011 04:56:20 MDT Print View

Cody, Helping each other is what makes this site so great. I have learned alot from this group so always glad to share. Thanks for the tarp compliment. Here is a link to my site which has a bunch of other projects, gear lists, etc.

LytW8.com

Both Newton and I do a lot of MYOG gear, but there are many others too. Here is a pic of the tarp showing the side lines, so yes I have lines on the side, they are just hard to see in the first pic. If it is not windy though I don't need to use them.

Lines on sides of tarp

My approach to pitching is the simple mans version, but it is light as well. I typically use no more than 18" on corners or sides. I tie loops in the end (bowline or double figure eight). Here are some pics showing an easy way to attach.

step 1

step 2

Step 3

A simple sheppards crook style stake will slide right through the hole in the end of the guy line. You dont need to tie the line to the stake.

Steps to pitch a tarp
1 pick location for tarp (slight elevated)
2 clear it of sticks and stones
3 layout tarp flat
4 stake out rear corners close enough so that peak can form
5 stake out rear center line w/pole or stick (peak should form but be loose)
6 stake out front corner close enough so that peack can form
7 stake out front center line w/pole or stick (tarp should fully form)
8 adjust tension by restaking (if you did previous steps well this wont need much)
9 stake out side lines

I'm practiced but it usually only takes maybe 5 minutes to setup (just guessing). It takes about 2 minutes to take down.

Jamie

Edited by jshortt on 07/29/2011 04:59:44 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Tarping on 07/29/2011 08:29:41 MDT Print View

I would agree with others that site selection is important with your tarp. Any little rise is usually good to keep water away.

I used mine without sealing the first time out and it didn't leak at all. I seam sealed before my next time out because most people seem to think its important.

I use the plastic line tensioners and like them well. I think they are about as light as extra cord and probably lighter than stretch cord. I just find them easier to deal with too. I am just more comfortable with them than with knots.

Happy tarping.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Tarping on 07/29/2011 08:56:50 MDT Print View

"I used mine without sealing the first time out and it didn't leak at all. I seam sealed before my next time out because most people seem to think its important."

Ah ha!

I agree, almost everyone seals their seams, but I think it's more because they have heard everyone else seals their seams, not that they leak.

On the other hand, it's so cheap, easy, and adds little weight so maybe it doesn't matter.

But, you have to get the seam sealer, it takes maybe an hour to do, you have to set the tarp up first and leave it set up in a non-rainy environment for maybe 24 hours to cure. If that isn't convenient, don't worry about it.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
seam sealing on 07/29/2011 09:29:05 MDT Print View

It also helps to protect the stitching more so in stressed areas

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Tarping on 07/29/2011 09:31:54 MDT Print View

I freely admit to following seam sealing advice blindly. But I bet very little leaks and any water that does come in will roll down the inside of the tarp and safely drip at the edge. But I still seam sealed, so don't trust my word.

Cody Croslow
(Graelb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
After the weekend! on 07/31/2011 15:37:20 MDT Print View

Tarp set up beautifully... didn't realize that there was a hill where I set it up until I put the ground sheet out... and at that point was too tired to rearrange, so we put our heads at the smaller end.

Didn't end up getting any rain, but the tarp was set up in 5 minutes or so, and kept the wind down.

Problem we had last night were the bugs! I realize that you're in a tarp, not a tent, but man was I surprised. once the temp dropped to the mid 60's, they pretty much died off, but when we first went to bed they were a-swarmin.

I'm almost thinking next time if my girlfriend doesn't go, I'll just take my hennessey and hang with my new tarp.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: After the weekend! on 07/31/2011 17:00:21 MDT Print View

Cody, Sounds like all went well. Each time you try something new you will learn a bit. In my instructions I should have said "pick out site and lie down". I always lie down before pitching my tarp. This way you can tell if there is a root in your back or if it slants too much. A number of folks suggest sleeping with your head lower than your feet to reduce swelling. I've never been able to do this.

Yes bug management too is a skill. Some things to consider. I tend to use a bivy. If it is below 45 degrees at night I use a breathable nylon bivy with a net window. If it is above 45 (higher temps mean more bugs) then I bring a MLD bug bivy (seen in my picture with me in the orange jacket). It has a simple waterprrof bottom to it and bug netting all around. It is so easy to crawl into and zip out the bugs. It weighs about 6 oz. Another option is putting DEET on your head, not my favorite. Another thing is bring a yard of bug netting and lay it over you tucking it into you bag. Likewise a bug head net can be used over your head. This can be used while in camp too so it is multi functional. A brimmed hat will help keep it off your face.

Glad you joined the club of tarp packers. Keep at it, I think you will find you really like it.

Jamie