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Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 00:13:45 MST Print View

Hi all,
I know this is not a post about lightweight backpacking but I always get the best answers from the members here.
I just got back from a 2 week rock climbing trip in the Grampians, Australia. We generally take a 12v fridge powered by solar and the bare essentials on top of that as we have a tiny car and the fridge and climbing gear take up most of the boot.
We just used a 6x8 flat tarp between a tree and a trekking pole for shelter from the rain when we weren't sleeping in the tent and another 6x8 draped over our fridge, gear box, battery and a couple of other things. It was either wrapped underneath some items to hold it down or pegged to the ground during rain. The rest of our gear stayed in the boot.
While this got us by, it can get very hot this time of year and a tarp in direct contact with the fridge is not great for power efficiency. Also, it makes makes it quite a pain to access our gear in the evenings. The only good things about it are the protection from the rain/uv and keeping it out sight from other campers even though we stay very hidden away anyway.
I'm looking for something that will exhibit the following qualities:
Is suspended above our gear for ventilation to keep it cooler.
Can be pitched very low on the northern side as well as reasonably low on the eastern and western sides to protect gear from direct sun all day.
Can have the southern side raised for access in the evenings and lowered during the day to keep it all out of sight.

I wouldn't mind replacing our communal tarp either with something that will pitch with more protection from rain and sun than my flat 6x8.

Do I just need to learn to pitch these tarps better? Or are there better options?
I obviously don't need these to be super light weight. Durability and versatility are more desirable options for me in this instance. Hopefully that will keep the cost down a little also. The only options I have checked out this far are the Kelty 9x9 and 12x12. Maybe just a larger 8x12 or 8x10 would be better and definitely the cheapest option?

Thanks so much for your time

Benen

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 00:32:38 MST Print View

Not exactly what you are asking but a way to help your "fridge" to remain cooler is to use evaporative cooling.
in your case simply wrap your fridge with a cotton towel with its base into a water container.
Capillary action will draw the water up the towel and keep the fridge cooler as it evaporates.
BTW, I have used that at Halls Gap at 42c over an Esky, the natives were impressed.
(Aussie talk...)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 00:38:20 MST Print View

Blue poly tarps are really common for car camping in Washington. I've seen groups put up huge tarps and pitch their dome tents under. This is in forested state park campgrounds. If you don't have trees, the poles will cost more than the tarp. Other than that, some rope and fat tent stakes (do you call them pegs?) should do the trick.

Google "plastic tarp camping photos "

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 00:42:41 MST Print View

Haha, cheers Franco. The fridge is running just fine but I would rather draw as little on the battery as I can to get the best life out of the battery (and the compressor in the fridge.) It has an insulating cover over it with a velcro for the lid. (Waeco CFX 65)

Thanks for the reply :)

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 00:55:59 MST Print View

Hey Dale,
The two tarps I have been using are both just cheap heavy duty poly tarps. The one we used as shelter was set up in an a-frame style. I'm just looking for something much better than what we are using as we camp a lot.

Cheers

Benen

Peter Griffith
(petergriffith) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 09:52:22 MST Print View

Perhaps a pyramid tarp would work for you. Check out the Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar and Speedmid.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 10:30:26 MST Print View

We used a 10'x12' Coleman dome tent for car camping. It was 6' feet tall--- no crawling. It had a full rain fly, bug proof, good ventilation and palatial size. I paid $120 for it in the mid 80's and it lasted for 20+ years.

The Golite Shangrila series would be great and light enough for group hikes.

If going with a flat tarp, I would still use poly tarps, but I would add more tie downs and invest in some poles to allow pitching variations. There are all kinds of gadgets to clip on the edge for tie downs.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 11:49:03 MST Print View

Car camping tarps are relativly easy. You do not need to wory about weight.

We made up a 10x16 Wheelan tarp a lot like this:
tarp pic

We made three of these. The first about 7-8 years ago. The other two were given to our daughter's familys.

Due to the wings on either side, it is very good at shedding wind...up to about 30mph. It weighs about 5 pounds including two 7' conduit pieces for use as poles. With a little rerigging, the wings can be rolled up on nice sunny days for maximum ventilation. There has been as many as 15 people under it during a rainstorm. Fairly quick to set up, it only needs 9 stakes. It takes way less than 5 minutes with no wind.

We only use this car camping and for family reunions so it doesn't get a lot of use, maybe 14 days per year. I will note that it is starting to leak a bit around the front overhang, but I can reseal that.

Edited by jamesdmarco on 12/01/2012 11:51:25 MST.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 13:28:35 MST Print View

Re these requirements of "suspended above our gear for ventilation to keep it cooler. Can be pitched very low on the northern side as well as reasonably low on the eastern and western sides to protect gear from direct sun all day. Can have the southern side raised for access in the evenings and lowered during the day to keep it all out of sight" --

To "store" car-camping stuff (ice chest, grill, charcoal, fire wood, fishing gear, etc.) with protection from sun and elements, we pitch an Oware Alphamid (not the silnylon version, but the less expensive urethane coated nylon version).

Quick and easy to set up with a single adjustable length pole and 6 stakes (one stake at each corner, a fifth stake for guyline running from top of pole, and the sixth stake for mid-panel tieout on rear wall).

The Alphamid provides three-sided protection with easy access thru full length, top-to-bottom zipper on the flat side.

For sun/rain protection while hanging around campsite, we use an REI Screen House with Fly -- pretty expensive, especially since the fly and the screen house are sold separately, but can be had for a whole lot less when REI has a "big" sale.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/01/2012 19:06:07 MST Print View

Thanks for the replies guys! Richard: I'll check that out. It sounds like something that would suit us.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/06/2012 19:27:34 MST Print View

I'm still hunting sorry guys. I'm definitely going to go with a regular tarp but I'm tossing up between square and 2:1 tarps. They seem to have the most pitching options. I'll probably just go cheap heavy duty poly tarp. How do you choose whether to go square or rectangle? One of each for the two tarps I want? I've been hunting for ways to pitch tarps for the 2 purposes I want them for.
It's more complicated than I hoped.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/06/2012 20:04:42 MST Print View

Hi Benen,

My family does quite a bit of front country car camping each year. I see a lot of the Kelty 9x9 and 12x12 Noah tarps pitched by folks, it's a very popular choice in my area. Probably because 1) they're cheap and 2) because the square tarps are easy to pitch and can be pitched in a number of ways. I don't think you would go wrong with them.

P.S. - Reflectix also works great as a insulator for coolers. R-value 4.75.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 12/06/2012 20:06:47 MST.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/06/2012 21:00:34 MST Print View

They're the first tarps I looked at but postage to Australia from REI is $40 :-(

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/07/2012 10:57:19 MST Print View

Yikes. Someone from BPL could probably help out if you found something you really liked. Looks like shipping through USPS is $17.00

Ryan

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Tarp for car camping on 12/07/2012 15:08:38 MST Print View

I never thought of that, Peter.
I've read a few reviews on the Kelty and there are quite a lot of people complaining that it is terrible in rain. I can't really risk that as we are keeping a fridge, battery etc. underneath so I'm going to have to find something else.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Tarp options on 12/07/2012 15:32:38 MST Print View

Can anyone comment on either Equinox Egret 1.9oz nylon tarp, Etowah Outfitters 1.9oz nylon tarp or Terra Nova 4000mm poly tarps? They are the 3 I have come across that look like they might be suitable for me. Probably in 10x12. The Etowah also comes in 10x10 though.

Edited by benen on 12/07/2012 15:42:02 MST.

Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
Of course... on 12/07/2012 16:12:36 MST Print View

This video shows a cheap blue poly tarp, 8x10, pitched as a pyramid.

Obviously the technique will scale up, so if you wanted a bigger tent ... just get a bigger tarp and pole.

Nothing fancy, no hex shapes, seems to fit your requirements.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8NdoM2bXoM

http://www.rei.com/product/628047/kelty-adjustable-tarp-pole?preferredSku=6280470011&cm_mmc=cse_froogle-_-pla-_-product-_-6280470011&mr:referralID=4e3adf16-40c3-11e2-97b3-001b2166becc ($40 USD 8'+ tent pole ... I'm sure you have something like it locally.)

-mox

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Tarp options on 12/07/2012 18:02:06 MST Print View

I heard all that about Noah's tarp leaking. I had mine covering two hammocks three weeks ago and it didnt leak. It rained for maybe 18hrs. a seam right above my hammock and everything. It was flat on top (covering two hammocks side-by-side) and it would pool up with maybe a gallon without leaking. Granted, it was the first use, but worked for me.

Its taped and all... maybe not the best DWR but... worked for me.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Tarp options on 12/09/2012 16:46:51 MST Print View

I've secided to just grab a couple of the heavy duty grey poly tarps. I've been looking at various pitches to help decide on dimensions for the tarps. Square and 2:1 seem to offer the most options for pitches. I was thinking maybe a 12x12 set up in an adirondack or half tetra wedge, or maybe half pyramid if they set up ok with a square tarp? And a 9x18 for us to escape sun and rain set up as mostly an a-frame.
Does this sound ok? Would those pitches on a 12x12 give the best 3 sided coverage? Would a half pyramid set up better with a slightly off square tarp like a 10x12?
I need a pitch that will give me excellent protection from sun and rain for the fridge, battery, charger etc.

Thanks

Benen

Edited by benen on 12/09/2012 22:16:43 MST.