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What to focus on when pitching a tarp?
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Logan Bowling
(bowlingl25) - F

Locale: Almost Heaven
What to focus on when pitching a tarp? on 09/29/2012 15:49:20 MDT Print View

I just got back from a few hours of practicing setting up my new 7x9 flat sil nylon tarp. I was pleased because I was able to get pretty decent pitches for my first attempts, but there was usually one crease in the tarp I couldnt get out. I have a feeling this would create some flap in higher winds, and is not aesthetically pleasing.

So, my question is what is the most important thing to focus on to get a nice tight pitch. Is it taughtness of guy lines? Angle of guy line from tarp to stake? Height of tarp? Symmetry of the tarp?

I know it will come with practice but any useful information would be greatly appreciated.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: What to focus on when pitching a tarp? on 09/30/2012 06:51:33 MDT Print View

It's going to be difficult to get a completely taut pitch in a flat tarp that doesn't have catenary cut edges. That's just the nature of the thing -- pulling in one direction to get it taut makes it loose in the other direction (say, with a corner stake.)

I have a 6x10 foot flat tarp that I cut down from an 8x10 for solo use, and the best pitch that I have found is the half-pyramid. It provides good coverage and seems to be the least flappy pitch (if that's a word...) Not sure if it would work as well with a 7x9, but it's worth a shot.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: pitching a tarp on 09/30/2012 07:30:00 MDT Print View

I think that getting the ridgeline taut and straight is the most important part. After that, you simply readjust corner stakes to eliminate wrinkles. In my experience, when there is a wrinkle that won't come out, usually it is because there is a line of tension running from one of the ridgelines to an opposite corner.
Hope that helps.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: What to focus on when pitching a tarp? on 09/30/2012 16:16:20 MDT Print View

The ridgline needs to be tight, followed by the 4 corners. The sides need to be less taught than the corners, just enough to get the wrinkles out and hold it in place. Thats about it.
the biggest mistake I see over and over again is too tight side pulls that mis-shape the tarp. Think of the ridgline and 4 corners as the the only ones that need to really hold and the side pulls are just supporters.

Clint Wayman

Locale: East Tennessee, US
Tight pitches on 09/30/2012 19:04:38 MDT Print View

Agreed with Ike,

A tight ridgeline is money and the corners are simply micro-adjustments.

Also ,mentioned earlier, as 'perfect' pitch is gonna be difficult without cat cuts--at least for minor MINOR wrinkles. Not impossible, though.

Andrew Weldon
first attempt on 10/01/2012 16:06:10 MDT Print View


That was my first attempt at setting up my 5x9. It took a good 10-15 minutes of screwing around with the guylines and kicking the poles around to get a good looking pitch.

The second and third attempts were faster, but I still definitely need work to approach anything you could call fast.

The key seemed to be to use the corners and ridgeline to actually pitch the tarp. The side guys really were barely taught, just enough to keep the sides from flapping around.
I think I'm going to always bring ~20 feet of spare guyline to set up a true ridgeline to pitch overtop. Should make things faster when I've got trees nearby.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: first attempt on 10/01/2012 18:14:57 MDT Print View

Tight ridgeline does the trick...takes a little practice

Logan Bowling
(bowlingl25) - F

Locale: Almost Heaven
Re: What to focus on when pitching a tarp? on 10/01/2012 20:57:23 MDT Print View

Thanks for the input everyone. It sounds like to consensus is get the ridgeline set, guy out/stake down corners and then worry about the sides. If it doesnt rain to much here tomorrow Im going to go back out and practice again. Maybe I can try to take a few pictures as well.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Not always important on 10/12/2012 15:20:00 MDT Print View

I find that in most cases it doesn't matter fi you have an ugly pitch, but if the wind should pick up in the middle of the night you may have to get up and readjust, especially with silnylon non-caternary tarps.

I know I have very quickly just setup a hasty flying diamond or a-frame in the dark because I was just too tired to mess with my shelter and just wanted to sleep.
This has worked out for me most of the time, but wind did pick up more than once and had to get up to tweak things.

For an a-frame pitch with a silnylon rect tarp:

1)A tight ridge. Re-tighten just before you retire.

2) Corners tight, but not as tight as the ridge.

3) Side ties should be just barely tight enough to take up any slack.

Caternary tarps, especially cuben or spinnaker ones, are great for a-frame pitches, but are a one-trick pony. It is a very good one-trick though:-)