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Tarping techniques 101
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William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
Tarping techniques 101 on 09/14/2011 14:47:12 MDT Print View

I have been tarping for about 3 years "since I was 13" and know that I've learned some valuable lessons the hard way. So I figure lets make a simple straight to the point thread with pointers on using a tarp. Namely a small tarp without a bivy as this is a sul/xul thread. One awesome technique I've learned is to pitch a half pyramid up close to a big "live and heathy" tree that has lots of natural coverage this way the open side of your tarp is very sheltered from wind blown rain. Of course dont do this in the middle of a field during a lighting storm :P duhh. So what tips do you guys have ?

trees on 09/14/2011 19:42:24 MDT Print View

Trees are a great windbreak. Limbs above you have their own hazards though, especially so in stormy weather.

Edited by livingontheroad on 09/14/2011 19:45:41 MDT.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: trees on 09/14/2011 20:38:02 MDT Print View

It depends on the type of tree and season. Around here I would not sleep under a pine in a storm in the winter. If the branches didn't fall on me, the ice on the top of the tree would quickly melt and fall on me in great lumps. I'd sleep under a big oak though. The duff under oaks is often nice and thick too.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Tarping techniques 101 on 09/14/2011 21:10:39 MDT Print View

My friend does this against big boulders. He says it keeps him really warm and gives great coverage. He throws the line over the boulder to give the "tip" the lift it needs.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Tarping techniques 101 on 09/14/2011 21:49:56 MDT Print View

Here is what my friend did, in this video. He shows his tarp set up about half way through.

Ben Pitt
(buckets) - F
falling branches on 09/14/2011 23:51:38 MDT Print View

Mike Clelland! has tips in his book about choosing camp sites under trees but I would recommend being cautious about this in strong wind or even heavy rain under taller/old trees. Every time I walk through the parks near where I live after these conditions there are many fallen branches. Recently I saw a branch on the ground under a very tall old Eucalypt and the branch was bigger than a lot of trees are. Granted the ground was probably softened up by the rain, but the hole in the ground where the branch had hit must have been 30 inches deep. The leafier the branch the more water-weight is put on branches during rain, depending on the shape of the leaves. Newton's second law says don't camp under apple trees.
edited for post-beer spelling

Edited by buckets on 09/14/2011 23:54:48 MDT.

Richard Fischel
Re: falling branches on 09/19/2011 07:53:00 MDT Print View

lumberjacks don't call them widowmakers for nothing.

William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
agreed on 09/19/2011 16:54:35 MDT Print View

I agree be smart about what tree your under and weather condition's its not always going to be safe to setup under trees in certain conditions

John Julyan-Gudgeon
(Cyanide) - F

Locale: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
fastening a tarp to a line on 09/23/2011 23:23:12 MDT Print View

I chanced upon this technique as a bit of experimentation. It ended up working better than I ever could have imagined. I have used it extensively ever since.

This works best with tarps that have grommets in them, but I think many loop types would work.

When I am about to string up your tarp, I will typically bowline one end of my line to tree A, and then proceed to attach the line to tree B with a trucker's hitch, but loose for now. At this point all you have is a slack line between two trees at the right height. Then I lay the ridgeline of the tarp over the slack line, lining up the grommets (loops etc). Then I push a loop of the slack line through the grommet from below. The loop that protrudes above the tarp then gets fed a short stick of greater diameter than the grommet hole. I repeat this for each grommet. At this point I tighten the trucker's hitch to as tight as I can get it. Now the tarp is probably hanging relatively loose, hung over the tight line. But, if you now roll the sticks back and forth within their loops, this tightens up the tarp like pulleys pulling on it. And, this set up doesn't slip.

What you have is a rigid ridgeline that is taking all the tension. Further you have a tarp that is pulled tight but not overstraining the material. Its fully adjustable without fiddling with the ridgeline rope, and doesn't slip. Finally, when it is time to tear down camp, all you need to do is snap the sticks and the tarp is immediately removable. This set up can be torn down in seconds. This was of great advantage during military time, when you would commonly have to tear down camp and have you ruck sack on and marching all in less than 5 minutes.

Hope this is clear enough


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: fastening a tarp to a line on 09/24/2011 00:26:03 MDT Print View

John, your suggestion makes the assumption that there are grommets in the middle of tarp edges, and that may not necessarily be the case, and also that the tarp is going over the slack line symmetrically.


John Julyan-Gudgeon
(Cyanide) - F

Locale: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
fastening a tarp to a line on 09/25/2011 11:45:24 MDT Print View

Granted there are alot of assumptions there, and this is only suitable in some situations. But the times that this technique works, it works wonders and is IMHO a good little trick to keep in your arsenal. I have found that it also tends to work fairly well in some grosgrain loop situations as well.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Thanks on 10/02/2011 14:44:38 MDT Print View

Thanks John for the stick-in-loop idea. Great for fast setup, fast adjustment and fast takedown. Plus, as mentioned, it relieves the tarp of strain.

I'm sure it would work with light webbing or grossgrain ribbon tarp loops, even when wet. Just relieve the stain on the rope to remove sticks or break the sticks.