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Best way to setup 8x10 tarp
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daniel B
(dbogey) - F - M

Locale: East Coast
Best way to setup 8x10 tarp on 12/17/2013 14:15:26 MST Print View

Bad weather in Pa has given me the opportunity to test gear and put 'em through possible scenarios. Besides sleeping outside (my daughter thinks there's something wrong with me)i've been trying to figure out the best way to get a 8x10 tarp setup so there's no sagging. No matter how I've tried, each time i moved a stake to tighten up one end of the tarp the other end would would need adjusted. I have a BearPaw 8x10 sil nylon tarp that I want to use.

Start of Snow that would later turn to freezing rain

This setup would collect snow and rainRain and snow collector

what happened after a few hourscomplete failure

Any help on length of lines or anything else

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
ridge line on 12/17/2013 17:13:54 MST Print View

I am far from an expert, as I am just getting into the flat tarp thing, but coming from shaped tarps it looks like the ridge line had a good sag to it when you first started. I have found in my trials that the tighter I am able to establish the ridge of the tarp the better everything else follows.

I had to shift from the little Shepard hooks I was using to an actual tent peg (carbon Ruta Locure) to give me enough bite to get the tension necessary to create a tight flat ridge. then I was able to use the smaller hooks for the rest of the tarp.

I am using a cuben tarp, but i would think that with Sil you should be able to get a much tighter stretch on the ridge and even the corner tie outs.

I use 6-8 ft guys from the tips of my poles on the ridge and I use 3 ft at the corners and sides.

again, there are others here much more skilled than I, but this is my first impression of the challenge you are working with.

Best of luck


cody yochum

Locale: Nor Cal
half pyramid on 12/17/2013 17:39:09 MST Print View

Im just starting out as well but I thought a half pyramid is best for rain and snow?

Joe S
Ideas on 12/17/2013 18:35:38 MST Print View

You can try a bunch of different pitches , there are some good youtube videos, but for the a frame, you need to get that ridge line tighter, maybe with beefier stakes, and try moving the stakes for the four corners farther in front of the tarp end, better angle. Also remember that sil stretches and will need to give tightened an our or so in, or use some of the elastic tubing guys.

Maris L
Tighter ridgeline? on 12/17/2013 19:36:06 MST Print View

This is how I get a perfectly taut A-frame pitch:

1 - Stake 1 rear corner with your desired guyline length.
2 - Raise rear peak to approximate/visualize angle and height.
3 - Holding the peak in one hand, stretch out the other rear corner and stake it down symmetrically to the first. Leave rear peak unstaked for now.
4 - Go around and attach front ridgeline peak to pole and stake that out. Don't be afraid to really pull this outward tightly, I'm always surprised how much strength I can use here if my stakes hold. Your pole should kind of balance on its own now.
5 - Go back to the rear peak and stake that out, again really putting in some muscle to get your ridgeline as tight as possible.
6 - Finally, stake out your front two corners in a similar fashion as the rear.
7 - Stake out any side guylines you might have left.
8 - Readjust tension at any of the stake points.

Some things that help me do this:

- At the peaks, I let the guyline go up to the pole before going back down to the ground, instead of having the pole directly connecting to the tarp like it appears you do in your photos.
- I use Linelocs to adjust tension, makes initial readjustment and sag adjustment easy.
- For the corner guys, I angle them more to the front ends than a perfect 45deg angle.
- I use MSR Groundhog stakes for all my points. Small weight penalty, but man can I tug on that ridgeline without these budging.

I agree that you could start by trying out a tighter ridgeline, but accumulation of snow will eventually sag the large panels of sil anyway. Steeper sides can help with this, but then you obviously might have more exposed ends. In the real world you'd just have to periodically swat snow off.

Edited by Ablaut on 12/17/2013 19:38:30 MST.

Hamish McHamish
(El_Canyon) - M

Locale: USA
_ on 12/18/2013 12:00:37 MST Print View

The above suggestions are all good. But a gear design issue would help you a lot: pullout tabs in the middle of each side of the tarp. They will prevent snow/rain pileup and also give you a lot more usable headroom under the tarp.

An example:

If you want to add pullouts on your tap, David at OWare can do it well for a very reasonable fee.

Edited by El_Canyon on 12/18/2013 12:01:59 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Best way to setup 8x10 tarp on 12/18/2013 12:06:09 MST Print View

For mild weather and ease of set up, I like a simple lean to. Tie the corners on one side off to 2 trees and pin the other side to the ground with stakes. A very short set up time and requires very little stakes and line.

daniel B
(dbogey) - F - M

Locale: East Coast
Have the tie outs on 12/18/2013 12:25:47 MST Print View

Fortunately my bearpaw has those tie outs already. I was getting really discouraged at the amount of time I spent trying to get it to work in bad weather. I guess I'll need to practice a few times. I'm hoping to take it out on the JMT or SHR next year. The last time I was on the SHR we didn't really need a shelter and cowboy camped.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re: Re: Best way to setup 8x10 tarp on 12/18/2013 12:34:31 MST Print View

The half pyramid is my favorite, or you can lift one side flap up too. If like to see more pictures! Also silnylon is sort of annoying when it gets wet...

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
8 x 10 tarp on 12/18/2013 13:12:44 MST Print View

Looks to me like your front line just came loose. It obviously has to be tight to get a good ridgeline. I almost always tie that line to a tree, root or other solid natural object. Then it can't pull out.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 8 x 10 tarp on 12/19/2013 02:45:17 MST Print View

+1 on what Ben said. Tie one or both of your ridge lines off to solid natural anchors whenever possible. These will suddenly become more numerous when you start intentionally looking for them.

If your ridge line is the tight, the rest of the setup will be easy to dial in.

Edited by dmusashe on 12/19/2013 02:46:21 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Best way to setup 8x10 tarp on 12/19/2013 05:33:34 MST Print View

Yeah, I agree that it appears to be incorrectly done from the get-go.

Ridgeline This is always a problem. Tension is the key as others have said. On A-Frame pitches ("Pup" tent pitches) this is always difficult. Attaching to trees always helps but there is always some you cannot get out. Your best bet is to drop one end for better water countrol. I only use one trekking pole and a found stick about 12-16" long for the "back". This will insure good run-off, good cross-ventilation, additional wind resistance and add some staking power to the rear. Of course, choose your ground so the water does not flow back under. MANY manufaturors do this with shaped tarps anyway. No reason you cannot do this with a flat one, is there? A tapered ridge line will also help "create" a bit of ventilation on still nights. Heat rising from your body will slide along the tarp in the direction of the highest point.

Staking looks to be off. Ideally, for good tension and holding, you want your stakes and guy lines along the diagonals. You don't seem to be close to this, but it could be the picture. Staking is MUCH facilitated by longer guy lines. The length of the guy line increases the leverage the stake has on the ground, hence tension on the tarp.

Of course, there are a lot of different pitches. Often, these are just sort of made-up as you go. I often use an ADK Lean-too type pitch with mine. This is just a lean to with a shorter roof segment over the front. Generally you need a couple loops at about 1/4-1/3 the length of the tarp, though. It stands about 6' high at the ridge and is easily heated with a fire. A partial lean-too uses about a quarter of each side to pull down as "wings; good for staking, wind resistance and will trap a bit more heat from any fire. A diamond is a good pitch for cooler weather with no fire; staked down on one corner then pulled tight over the pole at the diagonal. A minimal staking pitch(partial pyramid) is three stakes. A half pyramid requires 4 stakes. A Pup tent requires 6 stakes. And so on...

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
A frame on 12/19/2013 08:58:53 MST Print View

I would make it taller with steeper walls, use linelocs on the ridgeline tieouts to make it as tight as possible. Snow sticks to Silnylon so walls need to be steep, or snow shaken off regularly.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
A frame on 12/19/2013 10:38:54 MST Print View

An open A-frame wouldn't be my choice for cold weather, unless one end is blocked by an object to reduce the amount of air blowing through.

You have half pyramids or modified A-frame options for a better cold weather pitch.

As a general rule, you need a lot of tension on the ridgeline stakeouts, with not nearly as much on the corners and barely tight on the mid tie-outs.

Slinylon expands when temps drop and so needs re-tightening once or twice after setup.

Be careful that your knots don't slip as well. Gusty winds can cause adjustable hitches to slip a little over time.

Line locks allow for easy adjustment without slippage.
Some adjustable hitches will hold better than others but can be harder to adjust in the cold.

I prefer whoppie slings on the ridge ties for their strength, grip and ease of adjust-ability, but whoopies won't work for close pitched corner and center tie-outs.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Best way to setup 8x10 tarp on 12/19/2013 21:31:55 MST Print View

I sold my 8x10 flat tarp and bought a catenary shaped tarp. I just couldn't get the flat tarp tight enough to defeat physics....

daniel B
(dbogey) - F - M

Locale: East Coast
Re: Tighter ridgeline? on 12/21/2013 20:38:47 MST Print View

This worked out real good. I've had the tent up for a day and used the msr groundhog stakes. we've had quite a bit of rain the past 24 hrs here in Pittsburgh and the tarp has held up quite well. only issues i have now is some leaky spots where the tie outs are but I'll fix them with some silicone. thanks for everyones input

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
good to hear on 12/21/2013 20:50:49 MST Print View

Good to hear that things are looking up. I went down to the park last night to play with some pitches and I think if it is not snowing, this is how I am going to roll
 photo IMG_1265.jpg
 photo IMG_1262.jpg

Sets up like a palace for one or 2



Edited by jeffreytsims on 12/22/2013 11:14:49 MST.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Best way to setup 8x10 tarp on 12/22/2013 06:56:09 MST Print View


Your modified A-frame pitch is a common pitch in snow.

You can go a little lower in the front and or block the door a bit with a poncho, jacket, umbrella and/or pack if spindrift is going to be a problem.

I use a UL bivy(7 oz) under my tarp in the winter for this and the warmth reasons.

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
thank you on 12/22/2013 09:59:48 MST Print View

Thank you for the info Steve. I was concerned with snow loading, especially if I lowered the front, effectively flattening out the side angles. I have a cuben Borah bivy that I plan to use here as well.

Edited by jeffreytsims on 12/22/2013 11:11:33 MST.