November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Tarp with beaks vs. larger flat tarp
Display Avatars Sort By:
Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Tarp with beaks vs. larger flat tarp on 10/11/2013 01:39:58 MDT Print View

Given the following two options, which do you think is a better shelter for ground camping (all other things being equal):

a) A smaller tarp with beaks on each end.

b) A larger flat tarp (i.e. without beaks, but with a greater length dimension).

Lastly, if you've had direct experience tarping with another person, please indicate what size of your chosen tarp type you think will comfortably shelter two 6' adults. If you chose the beaked tarp option above, please also include the optimal beak length for said tarp.


Edited by dmusashe on 10/11/2013 01:40:54 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Tarp with beaks vs. larger flat tarp on 10/11/2013 01:57:48 MDT Print View

I haven't used a beak tarp but a 10x10 flat tarp is plenty big for 2 adults and their gear, even when pitched to be storm ready. My main hiking partner and I almost always share a large flat tarp.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Tarp with beaks vs. larger flat tarp on 10/11/2013 05:20:25 MDT Print View

Well, it depends. For two you can get by with either.
Smaller Beaked Tarp: 9x7 with a 16" beak
Lighter (around 14oz)
More efficient ground cover
Not very versitile (1 pitch)

Larger Flat Tarp: 9x11
Heavier (around 16oz)
More corners that don't provide interior space (sometimes I fold it under.)
Versitile in pitching options (leanto, shed or "storm" mode)

Your choice.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Flat on 10/11/2013 07:06:07 MDT Print View

I would vote for a flat tarp for group camping. Much more flexibility in pitching options: sunshade, windbreak ect. With a beaked tarp you are locked in to one pitch. I have had times that all I wanted was to pitch a tarp high off the ground for shade only for a luch break, or as a windbreak. With a beaked tarp, we would have had to all huddle under it without any views.

10x10 is a good size for a group tarp.


Erik G

Locale: THE Bay Area :)
Middle ground on 10/11/2013 08:57:31 MDT Print View

Another option you have is a tarp with a modular beak. This gives you similar versatility to a flat tarp, but also offers increased weather protection and privacy when needed or desired. The downside is a slight weight penalty over the other 2 options.

My wife and I have been very happy under our HMG Echo 2 (no affiliation with HMG, just a happy customer). Plenty of room for both of us, our gear, and 2 small pups. We use a MYOG 2-person bug shelter under it. I also use the tarp for solo trips and it is a palace. :)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Middle ground on 10/11/2013 08:58:52 MDT Print View

unsolictied advice - c) pyramid : )

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Nice and big on 10/11/2013 09:11:12 MDT Print View

I use the Golite Cave 2 for the two of us. 10x12 feet according to a review, with small beaks, about 1' long.

Two people use depends on which two people, it's fine for my wife and I, but with a friend width is just barely ok in poor weather.

I find that this tarp, with small beaks is just long enough. Sleeping bag is 7.5', then some room for my head above it, means the minimum length to keep dry is about 8', but a bit longer is nice in case you slide around at night. Add about 1.5' at the foot end pitched low and about 2.5' at the head end since it will be pitched higher. This is about as short as I would go with a beaked tarp, so a bit more for a flat tarp.

How do the above people using a 10' long tarp keep their feet and head dry in wind blown rain?

You could figure out the width you need fairly easy:
Assume that in bad weather you will pitch the sides nearly to the ground. Take the width of the sleeping area you want, add some width to avoid touching the tarp, choose the minimum height you want and there you go.

For example:
3'/person+1.5' space, 3' peak height at head; gives root of (4.5x4.5+3x3) , is almost 5.5' width per side, so a 11' wide tarp.

Edited by Tjaard on 10/11/2013 10:08:13 MDT.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Big & flat on 10/11/2013 12:03:04 MDT Print View

I use a 10x12 flat tarp pitched in an A-frame about 48" high at both ends and about 9" high along the long edges. Plenty of room for 1 people + gear width wise. About 2 FT longer than ideal length wise (have to walk hunched over farther, for no reason). Surprisingly, the 2 FT extra length does not stop 45 degree rain from getting to the sleeping positions - even when you slide down to the end away from the rain. So my recommendation is a 10x10 with some seperate triangular pieces you can attach as windbreaks on the open ends during storms.

Joe Lynch
(rushfan) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
agree-10x12 is too long on 10/11/2013 13:31:08 MDT Print View

I also have a 10'x12' flat tarp. I'm finding that it's too long for just two adults. However, I could probably get 2 adults plus 2 children under it pretty easily under most circumstances so the additional length might make sense for family uses or to bring dogs along.

I have not had it in the rain yet.

Jacob Hammond

Locale: Central New York
Re: Re: Tarp with beaks vs. larger flat tarp on 10/11/2013 17:33:53 MDT Print View

I totally agree with the pros and cons (with a shaped tarp you can really only raise and lower the front and end or tilt it a bit) but I think the weight difference is larger between the two. The silnylon cirriform that I have weighs 11.7 oz, whereas a 9.5 by 10 weighed 18 oz before seam sealing. I haven't weighed either since, but with linelocs and more silicone used to seam seal the flat tarp, my guess is that gap is even larger.

That said, although I love using the cirriform, I also really enjoyed using a flat 8 x 10 on solo trips too. The flat tarp did sag significantly more in the rain and required a lot more adjusting.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Tarp with beaks vs. larger flat tarp on 10/11/2013 18:27:57 MDT Print View

Go an buy some painters drop sheets, they are only a few dollars each.
Get some tape and some string and make your own ,just to try them out for size.
So build a couple , set them up possibly on a windy/rainy day with your mats and sleeping bags under them and see which one works better for you.

Long ago I questioned how a member here could rave about a certain poncho tarp when in my view he could not fit under it.
He eventually posted a shot of himself inside that poncho with part of his calves and feet sticking out covered with a rain jacket...
(yes, he forgot to mention that bit)