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setting up Golite poncho tarp
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Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: golite tarp poncho thing on 09/01/2009 20:28:59 MDT Print View

Hi Brett,

A tarp alone cannot give you the protection of a full tent. That is why many of us use a combination of tarp and bivy. With a bivy that is waterproof on the bottom but water resistant and breathable on the top with a tarp, you get full weather protection, good bag breathability, and really, really light weights.

You give something up (much nicer to lounge in a tent), and you gain something (much lighter, simple). A poncho tarp simplifies the system further by leaving the raingear at home.

I love tarps and I think they're really fun- but there are lots of ways to get out there and backpack!

Best, Doug

Brett Morgan
(whyDRIVE) - F

Locale: East Tennessee
none on 09/02/2009 10:19:29 MDT Print View

thanks guys, i will check out the book!

Brett Morgan
(whyDRIVE) - F

Locale: East Tennessee
none on 09/02/2009 10:21:17 MDT Print View

Is there a BEST way to set up a tarp? and for 1 person, what is the best size for the best protection against mother nature?

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
"best" way and size on 09/04/2009 09:53:15 MDT Print View

For a beginning tarper, I would highly recommend an 8x10-foot silnylon tarp, set up in a A-frame configuration. The Equinox tarp available from Campmor is not too expensive and makes a great starter tarp. With guy lines and stakes, the whole package comes in just over a pound. It provides plenty of shelter for 1-2 hikers and all their gear. The 8x10 has a huge "sweet spot" which allows for minor mistakes in setup or orientation.

For the A-frame, you'll need two trekking poles or two trees, two long guy lines (8-10 feet), four short guy lines (2-3 feet), and six good, solid stakes (MSR Groundhog or similar.) I prefer to use trekking poles because I can set up in more places, without worrying about finding two perfect trees. If you look at the photos at the very top of this thread, that's what an A-frame set up looks like. (Your tarp won't have the hood opening in the middle, so ignore that.)

The most important part of tarp camping is SITE SELECTION. You can't just plop down in any old spot -- especially not one of those hard-packed, heavily used tent sites. A good tarp site is on loose duff or grass, in a flat area that is slightly higher than the surroundings. Take a good, hard look at your site -- is there any chance that a hard thunderstorm will cause water to run through it? (Look for evidence that this has happened in the past.) If so, don't camp there. With a careful eye and some experience, it's easy to find a good tarp spot.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Or build one like this.. on 09/04/2009 10:18:49 MDT Print View

A gatewood cape is going to be about as good as it gets, but if you are set on a tarp and want more room build as below.

It works. Just one full width continuous piece of sil, spinnaker or cuben 5'x11' and an extra 6' long full width piece to make the beak. Seam the edges. Tuck 2' of it up to become a poncho, maybe more for you but I am tall. Add a 2'6" beak the entire width on one side. That can velcro under for poncho use. Can be glued with mcnett aquaseal or sewn and sealed.

That gives you more coverage over the door and becomes a half pyramid with a semi protected entry similar to a forrester. Held up with one trekking pole. The beak can be varied in pitch. Pitched low, perfect for nasty weather.

You end up with 3 sides closed and about 5' x 8'9 area. Big and roomy. Around a 4' peak depending on how its pitched.

A SMD 7 oz bug tent will fit right in. I would suggest building one with tyvek doors for a tarp like this.

Build a bivy with a cuben floor and a 1.25 oz tyvek top big enough to put you mat in, add 1 oz polycro ground sheet for about 7 oz and you are good to go.

Built out of 1.1 sil - 13-14 oz
Built out of cuben about 6-7 oz

Cuben version with a SMD bug tent or clone and bivy with ground sheet - 21 oz. Sil version +7 or 28oz

Seam the edges, tieouts, add the beak, add a hole for the hood if you want to use it as a poncho.

Here is a sketchup of it.

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
good advice- start with a 8x10 on 09/04/2009 11:27:42 MDT Print View

Hi Brett,

Here's a shot af an 8x10 tarp set up.

Integral Designs Siltarp2 with Six Moon Designs Serenity Bug net

I even have a bug net in it. Plenty of room and easy to pitch.

I'd start with an 8x10 and work your way down to a smaller tarp with experience.

The above set up weighs 750g. My two person tent it replaced weighs 2.6 kilograms. Big difference!

Good luck with tarping!! It's the way to go.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
So primitive... on 09/04/2009 17:06:32 MDT Print View

...but so light.

Yeah, I was a "tarper" for years before I could afford tents but with TarpTent and Go-Lite single wall tents abounding I'll remain a tenter. Just ordered the TT Moment a few days ago.

BTW, After using a Vietnam era poncho decades ago I'll NEVER use a poncho again. Can't abide 'em in a wind or on a steep trail, either up or down.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
GoLite Poncho Tarp Configurations on 04/28/2011 12:15:57 MDT Print View

Having recently acquired the GoLite Poncho Tarp I would like to resurrect this thread and solicit any additional setup pictures from anyone with this particular tarp. This is a great thread and has some excellent ideas. Just looking for a few additional pictures.

Jon Holthaus
(t25hatch) - M
Ressurect Last Post on 04/28/2011 12:50:49 MDT Print View

5x8 has a ton of pitches, but best w/ photos I've found is this:

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: GoLite Poncho Tarp Configurations on 04/28/2011 16:21:43 MDT Print View

Here are a some pictures of a GoLite Poncho/Tarp. This is before I got trekking poles. Back then I used a hiking staff. In the desert there often is not a suitable branch to use as a pole, and no trees to tie it off. You will notice that I often ran two ridgelines under the the tarp, starting from the center front, and then back to each rear corner. I took these pictures to show my son some options.




Here is a MLD Pro Poncho. This area was almost 100% volcanic rock, and it was hard to find a sandy spot that was large enough for a campsite. Had to be creative is placing the guylines. But after a windy night, it was still pretty taunt.

MLD Pro Poncho

Edit: Wrong about the last picture. It is the GoLite.

Edited by ngatel on 04/28/2011 16:28:50 MDT.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Another one on 04/28/2011 16:25:02 MDT Print View

Diana Vann
(DianaV) - MLife

Locale: Wandering
1/2 pyramid pitch for poncho tarp on 04/28/2011 16:47:14 MDT Print View

There have been some great photos on previous threads. An example of a 1/2 pyramid can be found here .

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
MLD Pro Poncho on 04/28/2011 16:56:15 MDT Print View

Similar to the GoLite.

I think the GoLite is 8'8" X 4'10"

The MLD is 9' x 5'5" (front) x 4'5" in the rear.

Here I had just set it up quickly with 4 stakes for seam sealing of the ridge. It would have been more taunt with the left guyline placed more to the left.



I almost always set up my tarps or poncho/tarps in A-frame mode or variations (one side with short guys and longer on the other). With a poncho/tarp you are usually going to need a bivy if you get much rain or snow. With a full tarp, I don't use a bivy.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: golite tarp poncho thing on 04/28/2011 20:26:59 MDT Print View

I'd forgotten this thread, but it really helped me.

Here is the set up in Yosemite (Oct 2007) of golite poncho tarp. My son was using tarptent in picture. Was a great trip.

golite poncho tarp

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: mld tarp poncho thing on 04/28/2011 20:31:54 MDT Print View

Here is a MLD poncho tarp using line from tree to tree


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
pitches on 04/28/2011 21:18:41 MDT Print View

mine is a ID, but same size as the Golite

a frame



1/2 pyramid






this is a nice one- modified a frame



unless it's stormy, I generally settle on the half pyramid


Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Golite Poncho - Half Pyramid on 05/22/2011 17:36:46 MDT Print View

I think there are a couple of examples of the half pyramid on this thread but wanted to add a third because the pitch below shows it in a storm capable pitch (i.e., to the ground) and because I think this is an extremely easy pitch to get right. I was practicing in the backyard today and I think this has become my new favorite. I just love this Poncho Tarp. Note that in this example I didn't guy out the hood which obviously I would do in the field using either a second trekking pole or a tree.

Half Pyramid

Edited by randalmartin on 05/22/2011 17:38:34 MDT.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
7oz on 09/21/2012 18:19:41 MDT Print View

I am really considering getting one, you can hardly find a rain jacket for that weight, yet alone a shelter, poncho, and pack cover...

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
MYOG on 09/21/2012 19:30:09 MDT Print View

have been looking into poncho-tarps, and for sure gunna throw one together. Haven't found a good hood plan yet (although the Pro-Poncho idea is tempting), any recommendations?

Travis Glynn
(cmich) - F
Golite Poncho Tarp on 09/21/2012 21:17:32 MDT Print View

Here is a link to a couple of Golite Poncho Pitches I was playing around with for a while.

BPL Poncho Pitch