John, got it. Responded to email contained in message! THANK YOU!
Thanks Steven for the heads up on pole length. I gave the Hilleberg Rajd (HEAVY) a try. Yeah, it's not a tarp! I ordered a pair of BD Women's Distance FL Z-poles...they adjust from 105 to 120, if I remember correctly, to accommodate it. These poles have a good locking mechanism. This set up seemed to be the worst of both the tent and tarp world, especially since I only need a solo shelter. It all went back. (Like I said, I am a beginner!)
Over the years, i have used telescoping LEKI poles (usually the more expensive ones) -- they shorten on me too often and I have to take my gloves off to tighten the fiddly mechanisms. I'm sure, it's not just me. When I do get them tight enough to hold, I have a hard time loosening them to store or shorten. I started using the BD Z pole last summer and I love it! (As others have mentioned, I would avoid the Distance UL for anything other than trail running when it is nice to be able to trot along holding poles horizontally in the middle. I quickly broke one with little force...snapped at a joint.)
Dale, I agree, the idiot proof option is a tent! And that's where I am at the moment.
I would like the versatility of sleeping in the bivy bag alone or using it with a tarp. Bivy bag can be useful in damp or not well sealed shelters. Tarp can be quickly erected during day for protection for elements. Or just wrapped around the body. Easier to just stuff it all in the pack and be off. Even for a given weight, I think there are situations where I would rather have a tarp and bivy than a tent...provided I can figure out what to do with them!
I think I need a tarp with the lines and tensioners attached. Idiot proof costs extra, I'm afraid. I am not necessarily interested in buying something cheap to test the concept. I am convinced of the concept! I would prefer to read about the ins and outs, look at photos, watch videos, check out shelters on the trail, etc. Then buy it and make it work...or send it back (where this is an option)! There will be a learning curve for sure. I would prefer to spend less than more, of course, all else being equal!
Reading more great things about MLD. The line looks impressive. Thanks Ron for the update...glad business is going so well!