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Tarp Size
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Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Tarp Size on 05/29/2013 21:18:36 MDT Print View

I am looking at tarp sizes and see way too many options. I am looking for a solo tarp, most likely a "flat cut" tarp and not a "cat cut." I would like plenty of room underneath for weather protection and to spread my gear out a bit, without it being crazy large. I am 6'0" tall. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Or a link to a really good thread.

Edit: I do not want to use a bivy. Storm worthiness is a big consideration.

Edited by on 05/29/2013 21:45:17 MDT.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Tarp Size on 05/29/2013 21:31:36 MDT Print View

Will you be using the tarp in combination with a bivy? If so you can go smaller. If you aren't using a bivy and want to spread out under the tarp I would look at a standard 8x10 tarp. It's more versatile and once comfortable with tarping you could reduce the size.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Tarp Size on 05/29/2013 21:41:57 MDT Print View

If you are just getting into tarps I start with a 6 x 10 foot tarp as the smallest you consider. That is adequate if you pitch it right but you might want a bivy in nasty weather (if you are using a down sleeping bag).

If you don't mind a few more ounces a bigger tarp is a bit simpler to use. If you are under a small tarp you don't have much margin for error. If you are under a big tarp and rain is blowing under or a bit of water runs under the tarp, you just move over a bit.

Ryan Jordan did an article about tarping where he used a square tarp. If a tarp is square you can pitch it in some cool ways like a half pyramid etc. I haven't tried that but I did briefly us a 9 x 9 foot tarp. It was cool because I could pitch the edges right down to the ground and still have plenty of head room. It was a pretty bomber set up for nasty weather.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarp Size on 05/29/2013 22:05:23 MDT Print View

You could do worse than buy a painter's drop sheet fold it to the size you think it may work, set it up (just tape some guylines to the corners...) try it for size and adjust from there.
It will cost you $3-5 for the sheet, a few dollars for the tape (if) and a few bits of string...

Edited by Franco on 05/29/2013 22:05:57 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Tarp Size on 05/29/2013 22:43:50 MDT Print View

8x10 or 9x9 would be a place for one. I'd go 9x9

Franco makes good sense.

Edited by kthompson on 05/29/2013 22:44:27 MDT.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Tarp Size on 05/29/2013 22:44:06 MDT Print View

My first tarp was an 8x10. I am 6'1" and I wouldn't want anything shorter. It was wide enough for two people.

I since upgraded to a cat tarp that is smaller, lighter, and pitches way more tight.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Tarp Size on 05/30/2013 06:47:49 MDT Print View

Bieng from the north country of NY, I prefer a larger, 9x12 or 10x10 tarp. The winds in a storm can drive rain under a 36" tarp for 36" easily. Even an A frame with one end mounted to the ground can be a challenge to stay dry, sometimes.

I figure the first 1-2 feet (next to the ground) is basically unusable for sleeping. It is too low for anything except gear storage, even with a stick poked up under it. For the next 7 feet, you ar least te sleeping under it. For the next foot or two, is clearence for rain spatter. In wind & rain, the extra width means you sleep diagnal, giving the requisite 3' of clearance. The width means you can fold up your bag, pad and pack under you as a seat and also cook breakfast in bad weather. Packing gear, and loading the pack is easy, except for the tarp. Last thing, the stakes and tarp are roled up and put in your pack's front pouch, ready to go.

In dryer areas you don't need anything like that. I suspect half those sizes will work. But for a week out in the ADK's, I expect two days of rain, maybe three or four. (I have been out for 17 days straight of rain every day.) But rain rarely lasts more than an hour or so. It is miserable to get up wet with your bag half soaked, though.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Virga Outdoors on 05/30/2013 08:58:48 MDT Print View

Take a look at Virga Outdoors' tarps. I just ordered the Wraith and am very happy with the pricing, quality and shape. It has slight cat cuts on the outside edges to keep it tight but not down the middle, allowing me to still use various shapes depending on the weather conditions.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
GoLite used to make the best basic tarp on 05/30/2013 09:02:30 MDT Print View

I have a Lair 2 tarp. Basically just a tarp with one end closed off. Easy to pitch, roomy and handles nasty weather really well. Sadly, they don't sell it anymore.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Tarps on 05/30/2013 09:30:22 MDT Print View

If your going to use a tarp you need to be a free thinker... Its all about the pitch style for the conditions. I would get an 8*10 atleast(with no bivy). I agree that heavy wind and rain can make a trap harder to use but if you pitch three sides to the ground and then do an A frame front you only have one opening to worry about. Then you might have to get crafty maybe take a branch and put it over the entrance maybe hang your rain jacket over the opening maybe use a pack liner. Bottom line is tarps work well for people who can get creative and think outside the box. and work well for any conditions...

Take a look at the Rab guide siltarp 2 it comes with Velcro on the sides so that it can be used as a bivy also, should you decide you don't want to set it up. I think its only 14oz.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Tarp Size on 05/30/2013 10:46:05 MDT Print View

I have had many tarp shelters.
My summer tarp is often a 5x9, but I usually also use a bug bivy which also adds some weather protection. I hike in areas with lost of bug.

I prefer a 9x9 over an 8x10 because of it's flexibility. The Oware 9x9 especially because of all the tie-outs.

But, I find I prefer some shaped tarp designs anymore. They can be lighter for the amount of protection they provide, easier to setup for a storm pitch and less troublesome in extreme winds.

My favorites are the covered-end A-frame style like the MLD Patrol, GG Spinnshlter, BearPaw and many others. They provide the most weatherproofness per ounce.

But if ultimate flexibility is your goal, the 9x9 square flat tarp can't be beat.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Tarp Size on 05/30/2013 11:31:23 MDT Print View

You could do worse than buy a painter's drop sheet fold it to the size you think it may work, set it up (just tape some guylines to the corners...) try it for size and adjust from there.
It will cost you $3-5 for the sheet, a few dollars for the tape (if) and a few bits of string...

what he said .... dial it it and the skills ... THEN spend the $$$$$ on fancy shiny gear ...


Andy Anderson
(ianders) - F

Locale: Southeast
Cheap Blue Tarp on 05/30/2013 12:39:56 MDT Print View

Go to Harbor Freight and get a cheap blue tarp. 5x7 is about $3.00 and the 8x10 is about $6.00. Play around with them in your back yard for a while and then make your decision on a more expensive tarp. When you are finished with the cheap tarp, use it to cover up something in your back firewood.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Re: Tarp Size on 05/30/2013 12:40:21 MDT Print View

"I prefer a 9x9 over an 8x10 because of it's flexibility" Steven

What can you pitch with a 9x9 that you cant pitch with an 8x10? Or maybe you meant something else by "flexibility".

No sarcasm. I want to know how its more flexible because im thinking about getting a second.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Tarp size on 05/30/2013 13:37:22 MDT Print View

Another option if you are worried about closing off ends of a tarp:

Ray Jardine designed a "bat wing" for his rectangular beaked tarps that closes off one end right down to the ground (he sells a kit). It's very light and you only put it up if you need it. The truly paranoid can bring two of them to close off both this configuration you can effectively create a tarp-tent where all edges go right down to the ground.

The idea can be transferred to any tarp configuration if you are willing to sew a custom version.

BTW I gather he calls it a "bat wing" because laying out flat on the ground it looks like one.

James DeGraaf
(jdegraaf) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
9x9 on 05/30/2013 13:39:42 MDT Print View

I think the favor of a 9x9 stems, to some degree, from this article:

And, not that it actually makes any difference a 9x9=81sqft and 8x10 is only 80sqft ;)

I find the diamond pitch is easier with a square also.


Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Tarp Size on 05/30/2013 15:30:27 MDT Print View

Re: 8x10 vs 9x9,

I think I was influenced by this:

And yes, I find I use the flying diamond pitch more than any other because of the quick easy pitch and 9x9 square works better for me using this pitch.

Edited by brooklynkayak on 05/30/2013 15:38:30 MDT.

Craig Hensley
(jchens) - F

Locale: North GA
9 x 9 versus 8.5 x 8.5.......miniscule difference? on 08/05/2013 13:33:52 MDT Print View

I'm having a similar debate about tarp size and thought I would resurrect an old thread instead of beginning a new one.

In an article a few months back on tarping in inclement weather, RJ recommended an 8 x 8 or 8.5 x 8.5 square tarp. Any thoughts on this size versus 9 x 9 square tarp for solo use?

I'm 5'10" and I'll probably end up with a silnylon square tarp (I do not want to pay a premium for cuben fiber). It seems like an 8.5 x 8.5 would be long enough. Bumping up to a 9 x 9 would only add an ounce or so though. Seems like a miniscule difference to me. I'm not sure how much it really matters either way.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Tarp Size on 08/05/2013 13:39:48 MDT Print View

Re: 9x9 vs 8.5x8.5.

Not much difference. I'd guess that many 9x9 tarps are actually somewhat less than an even 9x9, but I haven't measured.

The bigger the tarp the higher you can pitch in the rain/snow, but a half a foot either way shouldn't make much difference.