Forum Index » GEAR » Wrapping a tarp around you.

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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Wrapping a tarp around you. on 01/29/2012 20:41:48 MST Print View

I am wondering what your experiences are in putting a regular tarp over you like a blanket to protect from rain and wind.
I have never done this, but sometimes I am too lazy to set up a tarp shelter. I am wondering if it gets a little windy, am I better off letting the wind hit me or throwing the tarp over and dealing with the lack of breathability?
How bad would the condensation really be if it wasn't too cold out during the day and it had a chance to dry? I use a synthetic bag, and don't plan on getting a new bag any time soon.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Wrapping a tarp around you. on 01/29/2012 20:46:53 MST Print View

Justin, do you know what a tube tent is?

Rig your tarp up like a tube tent. There will likely be a cord tied between two trees that supports the top of the tube tent into a steep angle, and your sleeping bag is at the bottom. That steep angle keeps the rain rolling off, and it creates an air space directly above the sleeping bag which cuts down on condensation.

It isn't elegant, but it works.


Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Wrapping a tarp around you. on 01/29/2012 20:48:08 MST Print View

No experience with that, but I wouldn't want to do it. Even with a synthetic bag, condensation would be an issue, damage to the tarp could occur, and keeping it wrapped around you could prove to be a pain.

Basically, you're looking for a bivy.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Re: Wrapping a tarp around you. on 01/29/2012 20:55:05 MST Print View

Well, I'm not saying I plan on doing this. Obviously I would set up a shelter if I needed one.
I am just wondering if I decided to cowboy camp, and the wind suddenly picked up in the middle of the night if it would work and not create catastrophic condensation. It's more of a "just wondering" kind of thing for future reference.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Wrapping a tarp around you. on 01/29/2012 20:58:00 MST Print View

My number one survival/bad night out scenario-- pile on the clothes and wrap up in my poncho under a tree. An AMK space blanket bivy is doing about the same thing.

A long time ago, somewhere here or elsewhere on the web, there were a series of photos showing how to use a tarp as rain gear.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Wrapping a tarp around you. on 01/29/2012 21:34:17 MST Print View

Well, that would be a poncho, right?

Yes, absolutely, keep in mind that your tarp could be an additional water-proof layer.

If the conditions are that cold and windy, you're probably not worried about breathability - you're trying to stay as warm as possible until the weather abates, you get down off the ridge, or you make camp and get into your bag/quilt.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Re: Wrapping a tarp around you. on 01/29/2012 22:17:23 MST Print View

The reason I ask, is because a couple of nights ago me and some friends got lost at night in dense and steep chaparral. It was only floppy brush around, so nothing to pitch a tarp off. The wind was blowing pretty good.
Anyways, my friend threw one of those reusable "all weather" space blankets over him. He was using a down bag and wearing all cotton, yet he woke up toasty warm and didn't complain about being wet.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
A tent, not a tarp. on 01/30/2012 00:22:19 MST Print View

When a storm threatened to destroy my single hoop tent, i deliberately dropped the pole, and wrapped the tent around me. I stayed mostly dry, but the main thing was, my tent survived. I wouldn't make a habit of it.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
folded over on 01/30/2012 00:56:32 MST Print View

only experience I have (and it was a fun one) was a "worse case scenario" type deal with search and rescue. It was a white out, and I just laid the tarp on the ground and folded it in half over me, with the fold toward the wind. this kept me dry and allowed me to regulate airflow pretty well. Never found myself in that situation again, but i'd do it again if needed.

As mentioned above, being below treeline (at least in the PNW), just leaning against a big cedar or the like can provide amazing protection. I've thrown my ridgerest against a tree and taken a nap in the rain, stayed completely dry.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Wrapping a tarp around you like a burrito on 01/30/2012 02:41:07 MST Print View

The Complete Walker described something like this in the shelter chapter under tarps - taunt tarps (Visqueen) and the "Visqueen burrito". Breathability and even breathing can be issues depending on the weather. Then again I've tied a poncho close to, but not touching, my bag, and it hasn't been an issue. Resting on the sleeping bag, I've never have done but too close, I imagine it becomes a non-breathable bivy. Something I should test as I use the E-bivy for emergency shelter for snowsports.

Edited by hknewman on 01/30/2012 02:45:07 MST.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
sometimes on 01/30/2012 08:32:48 MST Print View

I do it sometimes but then again I usually do it in the warmer temps without a bag wearing my insulation layers which are fleece and my rain layers which cover everything but my face.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Wrapping a tarp around you. on 01/30/2012 10:56:53 MST Print View

I forgot my tent fly on one trip. Didn't notice until I was setting up camp on the first night.

So I laid my tent on the ground upside down with the waterproof floor on top of me like a tarp.

No rain. Slept well. Don't recall a lot of condensation.

Returned to car for the fly the next day.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
yuuuummmm on 01/30/2012 11:02:57 MST Print View

its called the burrito roll .. rather common for emergency applications

you lie on the tarp and roll, ending up with the oustide end on the bottom

it works ... but i dont advise wearing down as the last layer when doing it .... obviously condensation is an issue ... but most people who use it are more concerned about living at that point i would suspect

its also useful to know should you be unable to set up yr shelter for any reason ...

note ... on trees ... be VERY careful against sleeping against trees in the coastal rain forest ... it is not uncommon to hear or watch a large branch fall off during heavy rain or wind ... the size that will kill you (we have big trees) should it hit you ...

Edited by bearbreeder on 01/30/2012 11:05:05 MST.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
branches on 01/30/2012 11:11:58 MST Print View

Just curious, do you see the risk of being hit by a falling branch as being higher when reclining against a tree than when sleeping on the ground between trees? I'd almost view it as less likely.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
trees on 01/30/2012 11:21:51 MST Print View

in a dense coastal rain forrest ... it honestly doesnt matter ... there are fallen branches everywhere ... id personally find somewhere away from those trees ... a clearing, etc ... if its conditions are such that yr life is in danger and trees are the only "shelter" ... then its a judgement call ...

im generally more worried about falling branches than rockfall fall on many climbs ... branches from BC trees are big in those rain forrests ...

Edited by bearbreeder on 01/30/2012 11:26:04 MST.