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Making a tent / tarp for a desert
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alastair humphreys
(alastairhumphreys) - MLife

Locale: UK
Making a tent / tarp for a desert on 09/17/2012 15:23:24 MDT Print View

I am about to walk 1000 miles across a desert with a friend and would like to make my own shelter for this.
I am not just taking a tent for a few reasons:

- it needs to be very easy to erect in the day to rest from the midday sun
- a tent does not allow breeze through it so is too hot at midday
- we will be hot, sweaty and tired: we don't want a small, cramped, annoying tent
- as well as having 4 trekking poles, we will be towing a cart like this so I don't think we will need poles at all:

I am completely useless at designing anything like this (and have certainly never made anything like this!) so I hope I can throw it out to you guys, the experts, to ask for a few ideas about making something, in terms of design and materials.

A couple more points that will be useful:

- although it will often act as a tarp, I would like to be able to close 1, 2, or all 4 sides. (for sandstorms, and because it is a bit cold at night)
- tent pegs will not work. Instead we can use 20litre jerry cans or piles of sand/gravel on a valence.

I have posted a couple of things on BPL before and have always been amazed at the knowledge and enthusiasm, so I thank you in advance!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: desert tarp on 09/17/2012 15:52:54 MDT Print View

Speculation here on my part, the only deserts I've hiked in have been the high deserts of the Colorado Plateau.

A larger, low peaked square pyramid would seem to suit your needs. Say 4 meters a side and a bit less than 2 meters tall. Pitch it high (with sides well off the ground) for shade, tight to the ground for sleeping. Sod clothes (flaps on the side) are needed to truly seal all wind out. The more slanted design will shed wind better, and the four sided design will be easy to anchor to weights.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Making a tent / tarp for a desert on 09/17/2012 16:00:05 MDT Print View

MLD Trailstar?

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Making a tent / tarp for a desert on 09/17/2012 16:24:26 MDT Print View

MLD Trailstar +1

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Making a tent / tarp for a desert on 09/17/2012 16:47:03 MDT Print View

If you want protection from sun, an aluminized material would be best

like aluminized mylar space blanket - except those are too small

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Making a tent / tarp for a desert on 09/17/2012 16:59:30 MDT Print View

my suggestion was based more on keeping the weight down than other considerations but I see that weight is not all that important here so yes probably a large four sided (for ease of pitch) 4/6 person pyramid may work well.

Edited by Franco on 09/17/2012 23:08:37 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Making a tent / tarp for a desert on 09/17/2012 22:01:03 MDT Print View

Well there are deserts and then there are other deserts.

I have been in deserts with 90mph wind gusts with sustained 60mph wind. That calls for a serious tent or other solution.

I have hiked in wind storms that can strip paint off of cars in minutes. This kind of storm renders zippers and Velcro useless in short order. You cannot avoid sand in a sand storm.

I have hiked in extreme temperatures where you must stop in the middle of the day.

I would go for a large tarp. You must have stout tent poles. You need to practice setting it up in all sorts of configurations. Pyramid usually works best in high winds. Same theory if you were above treeline in the mountains. For the heat it must provide good shade and lots of ventilation -- think awning. Snow stakes work well in some sand. But then some desert terrain is as hard as cement. The tent material must be robust. I would take a breathable bivy for serious sand storms and plan on sand getting inside that too.

Deserts are not just sand.

Desert Rocks

Desert pavement

How hot will/can it get. Can you deal with it? What is the record highs and lows for the months you will be traveling?

iphone temp 118F

I live and hike year round in a desert. Generally I discourage people from hiking in the desert unless they have a lot of desert experience.