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Tarping in the snow?
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Tarping in the snow? on 10/24/2011 03:21:15 MDT Print View

I am wanting to start winter camping this year. How well do tarps work as winter shelters in possibly high winds and heavy snowfall? I would be pitching off a tree(s). What would be the best tarp configurations? I would probably have a bivvy with me as well, but would it be doable without a bivvy? I will be camping in mid elevation sierra's. Thanks

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Tarping in the snow? on 10/24/2011 17:53:04 MDT Print View


David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Tarping in the snow? on 10/24/2011 19:09:11 MDT Print View

Justin I know you like your campfires and little Nordland Hudson's Bay. So I have to suspect you might enjoy an old school 9' x 12' flat tarp you can fold into a tarp tent. You may already know all about these but they are a lot of fun in the snow with a little camp fire out front. The northwest woodsman site has them for sale but the design has been around for a hundred years.

They would be too heavy in canvas for going afoot and the plastic ones he has for sale will get holes near a fire. But I think you could make one up out of a cheap harbor freight tarp using clear shipping tape for guy loops. Sure it will get ember holes but it should keep you mostly dry and for 10 bucks who cares.

I made one in light cotton with wax waterproofing but its a bit heavy and once a drip starts...

Not great in wind but it's fine as long as you stay down in the trees. Definitely want to test it out in the backyard first.

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Pyramid on 10/24/2011 22:34:15 MDT Print View


How about a lightweight pyramid shelter? An Oware 9x9 weighs about 26 ounces and is huge for one person, nice for two and warm with three. I wouldn't start a fire inside, but would, and have, lit a couple of candle lanterns. We have also used a butane lantern inside and that does a great job of warming things up before bed.

Pyramid Camp

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Tarping in the snow on 10/25/2011 09:05:18 MDT Print View

Tarping in the snow works just fine, if you are of the mindset to enjoy it. I usually go out with the intent of snow caving or trenching, but bring a tarp to serve as roof or shelter in the event of insufficient snow (or time). I'll usually built a full snow wall at the foot end and a wind block at the head end to decrease drafts. Spindrift tends to be a problem and will blow in from even small openings. A bivy with a mesh hood does a good job of keeping this off your face, but may increase the amount of condensation around your hood.

I suspect most people would be happier with the coverage of a pyramid as Joseph mentioned above.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Tarping in the snow? on 10/25/2011 13:20:41 MDT Print View

Yes, any sort of shelter that is steeply angled is a good start. Pyramid tents have this, and some smaller shaped tarps as well. The snow block wall for wind is very important, and that requires a good snow shovel.

We combine those two together, and have a tarp fastened though the walls and held up with extended ski poles.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Tarping in the snow? on 10/27/2011 15:03:11 MDT Print View

Thanks for the input guys.
I suppose if I was really worried about heavy snowfall collapsing my shelter, I could always build a frame with wood for a shelter.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Lighten Up" on 10/27/2011 21:47:06 MDT Print View

Read the paperback "Lighten Up" on lightweight backpacking. Mike Clelland illustrated it and on p. 13 there is a great example of a 10' X 10' tarp set up for a storm.

With the use of guy lines on the side tie-outs snow load should only be a problem in a heavy snow if it builds up along the bottom sides and presses in, reducing space. Some night shoveling trips may be needed with over one foot of snowfall.

Of course having a snap on "door flap" might help in a spindrift situation. Let the door's peak open for venting.

Edited by Danepacker on 10/27/2011 21:48:27 MDT.