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Tarp Recommendations
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Ernie Elkins

Locale: North Carolina
Tarp Recommendations on 12/14/2006 09:07:13 MST Print View

I'm shopping for a tarp to combine with my new Vapr bivy, and I'm curious to see what others are using or would recommend.

I'll use the combo for solo trips in the NC/VA mountains in relatively mild, 3-season conditions. My trips tend to be short (2-3 days), and I can usually reschedule if the weather forecast looks unpleasant (lots of rain, etc.).

Since the bivy provides good protection from spray and bugs, I'm leaning toward something small (5x8?), simple (no beaks, etc.), and inexpensive (under $100). Nonetheless, since I'm somewhat new to tarp camping, I'd appreciate some suggestions from those of you with more experience.

Edited by EarthDweller on 12/14/2006 09:08:27 MST.

Daniel Goldenberg
(DanG) - M
Re: Tarp Recommendations on 12/14/2006 09:16:29 MST Print View

Hard to beat the Golite poncho tarp. Its only about $45. Durable material and of course it doubles as a poncho.

Mike Maurer
(maurer) - F - M

Locale: Oregon
Tarp research on 12/14/2006 09:32:23 MST Print View

You might want to start here - -
Then add in your own thoughts on the tarps on this site, Gossamers' site and Mountain Laurel Designs' site.

Mike Maurer

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Tarp Recommendations on 12/14/2006 10:12:55 MST Print View

I have 2 MLD tarps and love them. Previously, Ron had 5x9 flat tarps (no catenary ridge) in silnylon ($55, 8 oz) and spinnaker ($90, 5.5 oz). He has closed down the site until January to hire some more workers and revise his product line. I would guess he will be offering similar products. The tarps I have are very well made and I love them. Ron seems like a nice guy and he is willing to modify gear he has on his site as well as make custom products.
That's just my experience. I've heard good things about Oware and Gossamer Gear, but I don't don't have any experience with either of them.


Ernie Elkins

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Tarp research on 12/14/2006 10:34:57 MST Print View

After reading your reply, Mike, I realize that I framed my title and question a bit more broadly than I'd intended. What I'm really after is advice from other tarp/bivy users -- in general, do you find that a 5x8 flat tarp plus lightweight bivy provides enough protection for the conditions that I've described above? Or, in similar circumstances, do you find that you're more comfortable with a larger tarp, one with a catenary cut,a tarp with beaks (GG SpinnShelter, etc.), etc? The worst weather that I'm likely to see is a summer thunderstorm, but those can be pretty severe around here.

Also, thanks for pointing out the Golite Poncho/Tarp, Daniel. I was aware that they added one to their line in the last year or two, but I'd never taken a close look. The price is hard to beat, and the design looks nice (plenty of tie-outs, etc.).

Edited by EarthDweller on 12/14/2006 10:42:04 MST.

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: Re: Tarp research on 12/14/2006 13:36:28 MST Print View

I use a 5x9. I found 8' was too short for me at 6'2", but it may work for others. I had used a 7x10 tarp, but it felt to big to me. I primarily use the 5x9 without a bivy, but set the tieouts about 4-5" above the ground in A-frame style, so blowing rain isn't a problem. It fits snug, has easy setup, and is manageable to fold up neatly. I think a key to using them is a low, wide pitch. Like all tarping, site selection is important. I also use synthetic insulation with quilts that are only quilted on the liner, so they act like bivies in a way. Hope this helps

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Re: Re: Tarp research on 12/14/2006 18:45:55 MST Print View

I have the Equinox 5x8 and 8x10 flat tarps, and the GoLite poncho tarp. The GoLite is slightly longer and slightly narrower than the 5x8, maybe 4.5x8.5 feet. It's also made of a slightly heavier fabric, and seems very nicely made.

The 8x10 size is easy to use and pretty bombproof. I usually recommend this size to new tarpistas, because it offers more protection with a larger 'sweet spot.' But the 5x8 with a bivy sure works, and I've survived a surprise late March blizzard under it. Site selection is *crucial* with the smaller tarp, though.

I am thinking about making something similar to the 7x9 foot tarps sold here at BPL, which taper from front to back and have a catenary curve in the main seam. (I am even considering modifying my 8x10 tarp in this way.) This would provide more coverage and more headroom at weights approaching the 5x8.

I can't comment on the GoLite yet, since it hasn't seen any backcountry use.

Have fun.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Tarp Recommendations on 12/14/2006 19:04:58 MST Print View

I'm 6'2", but still use a 8'4" x5 poncho/tarp in a half pyramid or with a hammock. With any other configuration, I need a 9x5. However, I find the extra length makes a poncho or cape unwieldy.

Steven Hardy
(hardyhiker1) - F
Re: Re: Tarp Recommendations on 12/15/2006 11:02:56 MST Print View

Is the hole for the head in the middle of the Golite Poncho Tarp or is it offset to the front? I have an Integral Designs Poncho Tarp, which is 8 X 5 with the hole in the middle and I find that is does not quite cover my pack in the back.

Daniel Goldenberg
(DanG) - M
Re: Re: Re: Tarp Recommendations on 12/15/2006 12:32:55 MST Print View

The Golite poncho tarp has the hood offset to the front. It also has snaps that allow you shorten the back. I believe if you use the snaps and shorten the back the hood ends up more or less in the middle.