February 3, 2012

Ultralight Tarp Basics - location, location, location!

During my Bold Coast trip I spent the night under my Tarp high atop a bluff overlooking the Atlantic ocean. The thunderstorm that evening was intense!

Since 2001 I've used a tarp for shelter while Ultralight Backpacking.  It's 8'x10', made from Silnylon, and weights 13.3 ounces. I purchased it from Campmor. It has served me well.
The 3 most important rules in setting up a tarp is location, location, and location.
  • Search for a high spot that slopes away in all directions. You want rain to run-off away from your tarp.
  • Pitch your tarp on soft ground if at all possible. Water pools atop hard packed surfaces but will soak into soft ground.
  • Pitch your tarp taking full advantage of any natural feature that would act as a wind block. The worse the weather the lower you pitch the tarp.
The following pictures show you an example of what I'm talking about. Notice that my tarp is pitched on soft ground that slopes away in all directions. The low end of the tarp faces the ocean to deflect the sea breeze while the high end of the tarp is facing the protection of the thick spruce forest.

Even though the thunder storm dumped a inch of rain, I was well protected!

Do you use a Tarp?

Thinking about it? Have questions? Post a comment below and tell me!

More information on Ultralight Backpacking Gear, Tips, and Techniques can be found at Onestep's Ultralight Backpacking Resource  “section hiking the Appalachian Trail with a 10 pound pack”.

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