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M The Poncho Tarp: Techniques and Gear Systems for Inclement Conditions

by Ryan Jordan and Alan Dixon

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Article Summary:

Conventional backpacking style incorporates a rain jacket, for rain protection, and a tent, for shelter. Lightweight backpackers reduce pack weight by replacing a tent with a floorless shelter, or even a tarp. Ultralight backpackers may replace both raingear and shelter with a single piece of equipment - the poncho tarp.

Poncho tarps have been proven on long distance hikes and in inclement weather of several hundred to several thousand miles. Brian Robinson used one on his Triple Crown hikes, Andy Skurka used one on his Sea-to-Sea hike, and Demetri Coupounas used one on his unsupported hikes of the Long Trail, John Muir Trail, and Colorado Trail. The authors have used poncho tarps for several years in all conditions, from the deluge of rain on California’s Lost Coast in the spring, to fall snows in the Wind River Range, to the cold and wet winters of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge. We’ve even snapped two ponchos together as a large and stable shared tarp, at 10,000 feet in Utah’s windy Uinta high country.

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