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Tarps and Bugs
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Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Tarps and Bugs on 12/13/2006 08:32:17 MST Print View

This might sound pretty wimpy, but one of my concerns about switching from a tent with an integrated floor to a tarp are the bugs. Now I'm not talking about the flying type, but more of the crawling type. I have never tried camping under a tarp, but it would seem to be open to anything crawling around such as ants, beetles, crickets, etc.

I also get a false sense of security that my few millimeter thick tent walls would protect me from whatever I hear scurrying around in the middle of the night. That might be another story too, but I guess it would be possible for rodents to crawl on you as well when sleeping under a tarp?

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Tarps and Bugs on 12/13/2006 08:58:24 MST Print View


I loaned my TarpTent to a friend on one of our hikes. I told him the tent would vent much better if he left the beak open. The only time the beak needs to be closed was in blowing rain. The first night I watched him carefully seal the beak. The next morning he mentioned that he had some condensation. I reminded him to leave the beak open. Long story short - leaving the beak open bothered him more than the condensation.

I have had mice run across my face. Once I woke up with a ringtail sniffing my head. Icky, but not a health or safety problem. The joy of sleeping under the stars and looking out at a valley bathed in moonlight more than compensates for the yuck factor.

HYOH, but don't expect me to sleep in a tent.

b d
(bdavis) - F

Locale: Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Re: Tarps and Bugs on 12/13/2006 10:06:05 MST Print View

The following BPL articles were very helpful to me in thinking through the tarp and tent issue, UL and SUL bivvies seems like the way to go if you don't want bugs:

Advanced Tarp Camping Techniques for Inclement Conditions at

The Poncho Tarp: Techniques and Gear Systems for Inclement Conditions at

Haven't gone back to tarp camping, yet. Did it when a kid. Worst experience was in the Desolation Valley, Sierras. Set up camp under some old very big trees. Half way through the night felt "things" moving and a couple brush across my face. Turned on the flash light and the most beautiful, delicate, long legged and fast wood spiders were pouring out of bark of the big beautiful trees. Closed up the top of the sleeping bag and slipped down inside so they couldn't get in, moved the sleeping area away from the trees next morning, solved the problem. We used to just sleep on a ground cloth, fold it over our sleeping bags, which were big puffy jobs and got wet and cold in the damp. Lo tech days and youth. No tents.

Edited by bdavis on 12/13/2006 10:13:49 MST.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Tarps and Bugs on 12/13/2006 10:15:33 MST Print View

In my experience, the most impervious shelter to bugs and the like is the Hennessy Hammock. You enter thought a small slit so it's even difficult for bugs to enter when you enter or exit the hammock. You are definitely in your own cocoon and therefore more separated from the environment around you. You are free to just use the tarp portion of the hammock if you want a more open feel or the hammock without the tarp.

E. A.
(yalacasa) - F

Locale: Cheeseland-Midwest
Re: Re: Tarps and Bugs on 12/13/2006 11:46:02 MST Print View

There are also plenty of MYOG resources WRT hammock-ing. I hope to try it during the winter (if you can call our weather here winter!), more likely during my summer break.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Re: Tarps and Bugs on 12/13/2006 12:01:36 MST Print View

Quote: Lo tech days and youth. No tents.

I can identify with that. Back in high school I used to go backpacking with some friends. We went out one time in November and brought tents, but found a big cave that looked neat so we slept just inside it and built a fire in the opening. I think I may have had a sleeping pad, but no one else did. The water in my Camelbak froze that night. Obviously we weren't too worried about LNT.

Another time we went out to one the kid's farms. We went down into the woods, built a fire and slept around it cowboy style, we just threw our sleeping bags on the grouns and slept there. Did I mention this was in December and it was really windy. Around 2 AM one of the guys woke me up and said they were going back up to house to sleep inside. We all just had cheap Wal-Mart bags at that time and that experience convinced us all to buy better sleeping bags.

I've also wrapped myself in a blue poly tarp and strung one across the bed of a truck and slept there too.

I decided that I wanted a tent and bought one and used it for a few years, but now I've come full circle and gone back to using a tarp. I actually kind of miss those simple days of using the stuff we had lying around the house and sleeping out under the stars. Although it is nicer to be warm all night and carry a light pack.


Daniel Benthal

Locale: Mid-Coast Maine
Bug Netting on 12/13/2006 20:13:35 MST Print View

Maybe one of these would ease the transition to a tarp.


Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: Bug Netting on 12/15/2006 11:27:59 MST Print View

Sew yourself a Ray-Way net-tent for your tarp.

The net-tent has walls made of netting with a silnylon floor. A bit heavy by UL standards, but not too bad. If you really want a big space with no bugs it is the best thing going.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Tarps and Bugs on 12/15/2006 16:19:21 MST Print View


It's not just bugs, but also rodents! It's why I will always stick with tents -- there are plenty of other places to cut grams...

Eric Carlsen
(cooleric1234) - F
Previous thread on 12/17/2006 15:35:20 MST Print View

In case you're interested I asked a similar question recently. I posted a review of all the options I saw available to combat bugs while using a tarp. The thread was pretty much just comments from me, but be sure to read down because I responded with new messages as I learned more, instead of just adding to the original like I should have done. The thread can be found here

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
MDL Serenity Shelter on 01/07/2007 19:16:01 MST Print View

Have you taken a look at MLD Serenity Shelter? seriously going to consider this after seeing a mouse come charging at a sleeping tarp mates head. Was able to fend the beast off with a shoe but it was a close call.
7oz for this enclosure beats my current 3 season set up, looking forward to this purchase once Ron gets his site back up in mid January.

Edited by florigen on 01/08/2007 08:44:57 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: MDL Serenity Shelter on 01/07/2007 20:13:35 MST Print View

Looks really good, Jim. Pray tell, what is your current set up? What kind of tarp do you plan to use with this bug shelter?

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
mosquitos in tarp on 01/07/2007 21:27:41 MST Print View

They crawl in through the tundra...
Just had to share this picture:

mosquitos inside tarp - southwest Alaska

We were protected from them in the sleeping bags, but the tarp was something else in the morning. I think the total weight of the shelter went up significantly with all the mosquito carcasses that ended up trapped inside.


Edited by mckittre on 01/07/2007 21:28:26 MST.

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
Re: mosquitos in tarp on 01/07/2007 21:43:19 MST Print View

Blech! Looks like an ad for "Off"... all you need is an arm in front of the camera!

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Re: Re: MDL Serenity Shelter on 01/08/2007 08:31:16 MST Print View

Hi Ben,
Have been using a GG Spin Solo with an A16 bug bivy & a sheet of Tyvek for ground coverage. Like the idea of having some type of enclosure for creepy crawies and mice during 3 season outings. Figured that with Serenity Shelter and GG Spin Solo I would have a tent like shelter for about 13 onces.
Erin that looks nasty! Where & when was that picture taken?

Edited by florigen on 01/08/2007 08:39:11 MST.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: mosquitos in tarp on 01/08/2007 12:30:35 MST Print View

Photo taken late June 2006, tundra flats near the Kvichak River, Bristol Bay region, Southwest Alaska.

Beautiful area. Many mosquitoes in June. I would say that more sane backpackers carry tents there, but I'm not sure there are any other backpackers.


Thomas Knighton
(Tomcat1066) - F

Locale: Southwest GA
Mosquito? on 01/08/2007 12:47:42 MST Print View

Heh, that pic looks like my arm outside on any evening here in South GA!

Seriously, that many mosquitos in one spot doesn't look to fun at all! I didn't even realize there WERE mosquitos in Alaska!


jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
mosquitos in AK on 01/08/2007 13:09:21 MST Print View

You have just confirmed that Alaska is worse then the Northeast in June, and I thought we had it bad. That picture alone is enough to justify why this thread exists.

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: mosquitos in AK on 01/08/2007 19:15:48 MST Print View

The Alaskan State Bird is the mosquito.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Re: mosquitos in AK on 01/10/2007 12:08:13 MST Print View

Yes - they're huge. This makes them somewhat easier to slap before they bite you, but also makes them more capable of keeping up with you on a windy mountaintop.

mosquitos surrounding hiker- southwest Alaska