Rating: 5 / 5
I don't think I could have found a better tarp to learn with and from. It is fragile compared to heavier fabric tarps, but it is precisely for that reason that it is a great learning tool
This is the first time I have tried using a tarp, instead of a tent or bivy -- let alone a lightweight tarp for shelter. Here is the Gear Shop photo of the Nano Tarp (4.2 oz.):
I chose the lightest tarp I could find at the BPL Gear Shop after reading a lot about using tarps in the BPL magazine, pamphlets, online articles, reviews, reader comments, etc. Here is the link to the BPL Gear Shop webpage for the Nano Tarp:
I am very happy with the Nano tarp at this point (having only just started to learn to use it).
At the same time I purchased the tarp I also got the BPL Gear Shop guyline kit: the AirCore Pro Dyneema Guyline Cord Kit described at the Gear Shop at:
My theory was a good set of guylines, designed by UL users and enthusiasts would have to be easier than reinventing the wheel here at home.
That proved to be totally true.
I would have really been frustrated if I couldn't use the jam cleats that come with the guyline kit to adjust the lines.
So for the first time, after looking at a lot of pictures and studying the web site I put my tarp up today.
I chose a spot in our backyard with very rocky soil, lots of old bark and wood pieces in the soil, and where the soil was semi-frozen. I wanted to see if I could do it in bad soil conditions.
Stakes were not easy to get in the ground, with a rubber mallet. I ended up having to angle them and only got them in the ground in all but one instance a few inches.
I used the two front poles from a Henry Shires' Tarptent Rainshadow II for the main supports, front and back. After struggling with getting the stakes in it finally went up and I put the BMW Nano bivy and my MH Phantom 32 F bag under the tarp to see how they fit. They fit easily and left plenty of room for other gear.
I learned a whole lot about setting tarp height, adjusting tension, length and angles of guylines, etc.
Even the cat was interested in it.
The dogs had to be chased off the bivy & bag after I went in the house to get my camera.
All in all it is a really good feeling to have come this far in just a few months in terms of lighter, durable, safe and functional gear. The next step for me is perfecting setting up and controlling the height above the ground, as well as learning the different configurations that I have seen in pictures here at BPL and using it in moderate weather conditions.
I definitely learned how the catenary ridgeline influences the taughtness and stability of the tarp from the way the adjustments changed the shape and position of the tarp, including the side angles.
Given the UL weight, the functionality as a learning tool if nothing else, but mainly because it inspires me to take it with me and use it -- this gets a 5.
Update: I am absolutely loving learning about tarps from this tarp experience. The above pictures show my first attempt. So, after it got dark, I spent time reading up on tarps in the BPL articles and reviews -- again.
Just finished adjusting all the guys to change the configuration for wind so that the back end was lower, which also allows for widening it out as the height of the rear comes down.
I lowered it by lowering the tie on at the rear stake. I took it down about 2/3 the distance from the top of the stake to the ground:
I left the front pole tie on at the top of the pole, as in the pictures above:
That changed the height and the stress patterns of all the guys. They all had to be readjusted. Finally got it smooth again and learned that sometimes a guy has to be loosened and the opposite or kitty corner guys tightened to really equalize the pressure on the seams and "section" lines. Basically, if you tighten or loosen one guy the rest will need more or less adjustment. This UL tarp makes it easy to see and feel the stress lines so that I can see what is really happening when I change one guy or another. Great learning experience:
This experience and the lessons being learned ought to really help with setting up a heavier and stronger silnylon tent or tarp evenly and taut.
Most important, learned that if you leave good strong stakes in the ground and need to shorten a guy you can just take up slack and tie a slip knot to shorten the guy length and not have to move the fairly symmetrically placed stakes -- which is great when the ground is hard and getting stakes in to begin with is hard enough. Here's a picture of a shortened guyline and the cam cleat that comes with the BPL guyline kit:
Update 2: Watching the temp fall quickly, here on Mt. Lassen, and the humidity start to change or the air get damper and colder I also have learned that such changes can require modifying the guyline tensions. This is just a great tarp, especially to learn from, because changes are so obvious by looking at it or pressing on the guylines. Now, I gotta go outside and keep studying it.
Update 3: Today we got wind. At average, based on my sailing experience between 0 and 10 mph. Gusts all afternoon have been stable at 10 - 20 miles per hour. Some gusts got over 20.
The lesson is the NANO tarp worked great, kept its shape and did not either suffer damage or move a lot. It never made noise. It did "waft" in the winds.
The big lesson is that if you set the rear pole or guy for wind, then take into consideration the length of the pole. The one I am using flopped because it is so tall.
The front pole stayed stable because it was tied in at the top:
The overall performance is great and given this test I have no problem using it in these kinds of winds out on the trail (tests are being performed in my backyard). After an entire day of what I consider light winds, up to 25 gusts, it kept its shape and made no noise:
NOTE: After looking at the picture of the NANO it appears my mid-side guys are too tight compared to the rest of the guys because of the angular point in the middle. Oh well, someplace in one of the articles here I read that setting a tarp is an art. Uggghhhh. More to watch and learn. Onward and upward.