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Tent to Tarp Transition
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Christopher Kuzak
Tent to Tarp Transition on 03/03/2013 13:47:39 MST Print View

For quite a while now, I've been using a 1-man tent on my trips, the latest being a 2 lb Easton Kilo. The main draw for me is bug protection. Just seems like tarps would not offer me the same mosquito protection as a tent.

However, for this summer, I am thinking about going to a tarp, or at least trying one. I seem to have hit a 6.5 lb "big three" base weight with my bag (Marmot Helium, which I love dearly), backpack (Exos 58), and tent. Unless I (re)invest in a new bag, backpack, or both, looking at a tarp seems like the easiest way to drop some weight. Does anybody have any suggestions or ideas on tarps that may be less than $100 for a tarping newbie to try?

Just for reference, most of my trips are in the Sierras, but I'll sprinkle some coastal and Henry Coe trips in the mix as well. Oh, and I also use a Bearikade Weekender canister--hence the size of the backpack.

Edited by KC on 03/03/2013 13:51:16 MST.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Tent to Tarp Transition on 03/03/2013 14:11:01 MST Print View

Borah Gear


Outdoor Equipment Supplier



Karl Myers
(kmyers1234) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
RE: Tent to Tarp on 03/03/2013 14:11:37 MST Print View

If you're looking for a new tarp, Equinox Globe Skimmer is a good (and cheap) silnylon tarp they make in 3 sizes, the 8x10 goes from about $80 plus shipping. Here is a link:
Image from:

If you don't need a brand new tarp, I'm sure you could probably find someone on gear swap looking to sell a used tarp to a fellow BPL'er.

I too was in the same situation as you a year or so ago and made the transition to a tarp/bivy setup and haven't looked back. I do admit that i sometimes miss the bug protection but who wants to stay cooped up in a tent anyways :) Hope this helps!

Edited by kmyers1234 on 03/03/2013 14:12:36 MST.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: tent to tarp on 03/03/2013 14:14:42 MST Print View

I went with a wild oasis last year and have twelve nights in it thirteen oz seam sealed with guy lines I really like it I picked it up off gear swap for little more than you are looking to spend.Good rain and bug protection. I see them range from 80-145 used. The vertically blessed don't seem to like them though I'm 5'10" works great for me

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Tent to Tarp Transition on 03/03/2013 14:14:57 MST Print View

For the price point you are looking at try Bear Paw Designs. Nice stuff at a great price. You can get either a flat tarp or canopy tarp for the price you are looking at. Lot's of others as well: Yama, OES, etc. that carry some tarps in that price range.

Christopher Kuzak
Quick Responses--Thanks! on 03/03/2013 14:41:52 MST Print View

Amazingly fast responses. Thank you guys greatly for the suggestions.

Just curious, but would you recommend buying that cheapo REI tarp just as a tester to start with? Seems like lots of good choices out there. And, what is a good size?

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Quick Responses--Thanks! on 03/03/2013 15:33:47 MST Print View

If you're talking about the Kelty tarps at REI, they won't help your weight issue. Size depends on shape and how small you want to go. 6.5 x 10 or 8 x 10 if a flat tarp will easily keep you pretty covered. Bigger tends to give you more choices for pitching. I'm into more comfort so 8 x 10 is my choice most of the time. Buy a decent tarp to try from any of the companies recommended above. If you don't like it, who knows one of us might buy it from you!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
No, no... on 03/03/2013 16:37:28 MST Print View

... you're going the wrong direction. It's tarp to TENT. :o)

After all, by the time you get a decent skied tarp AND a mosquito net AND a ground cloth you will have a setup weighing more than a tent of the same materials.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
+REI/Walmart Blue Tarp on 03/03/2013 17:29:45 MST Print View

It won't save you a ton of weight but this is a cheap way to find out if tarp camping is for you before dumping some money on one. I agree with another comment regarding the Kelty Noah's Tarp being too heavy. I have the 9x9 and it weighs in at 24ish ozs; while cheap, not enough of a weight savings to justify the $60 price tag unless you want to cut a couple feet off of one side.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Quick Responses--Thanks! on 03/03/2013 17:35:57 MST Print View

BJ,If you click on my link for REI you will see that it is not a Kelty tarp,but a super cheap blue tarp you can get just about anywhere.It is not light but extremely cheap and he can decide without spending much money,and it is only one of many choices listed.

Andy Anderson
(ianders) - F

Locale: Southeast
Borah Gear Tarp on 03/03/2013 17:43:06 MST Print View

John's tarps over at Borah Gear look pretty good and are the cheapest around. Get one and play around with it. Golite's poncho tarps are good too. The best part is its a poncho and will serve as a pack cover too.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Quick Responses--Thanks! on 03/03/2013 17:44:11 MST Print View

But Anna, if he does that and doesn't like it, we won't get a discount on a nice tarp!!!

Actually my advice against that is those blue things never set up like a good sil tarp. Tough to get them to tighten up and not flap around. I went that route and it wasn't til I bought a decent tarp that I knew I would want to use one. But it is cheap!

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Polycryo on 03/03/2013 17:46:33 MST Print View

I've been toying with this idea.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick Responses--Thanks! on 03/03/2013 17:56:08 MST Print View

Lots of people have started by using the blue tarps,$7.95 for an 8x10 and of course it is not going to be like setting up a silnylon tarp,but if he wants to see if he likes being under a tarp in the rain it is a cheap way to find out,and no sagging like silnylon in the rain either.Again it is one of many options listed and Ian's suggestion of polycryo is also a good super cheap alternative also.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Quick Responses--Thanks! on 03/03/2013 19:54:16 MST Print View

Almost as cheap as the "blue tarps" but definitely lighter and higher performing than the former, and more durable than polycro, is tyvek homewrap. Less condensation too than many other materials.

Many places sell tyvek for around 1.75 per 1 ft x 9 ft, so a 8x9 piece would cost 14 dollars not considering shipping and the inexpensive taped tie outs you often can buy from those same vendors.

My gripes with Tyvek homewrap is color/dupont labeling, and that it doesn't compress down very well--so it's a bit bulky. Noise is only an issue if you don't do a little pre treatment. I hand crumple it first, then put it in the washer.