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Tarp Cliff notes

I had a quick fail in the backyard as the skies opened up... Here are some quick notes for setting up a tarp:

  • Depending on how the edges have been finished AND if there is some seam sealer or tape; there is a top and bottom to the tarp. Make sure the correct side is facing up
  • With hammocks and some other configurations it's common to suspend the tarp from the ridgeline rather than over the ridgeline. There are some advantages and disadvantages... Wearing of the tarp as it rubs on the cordage; else it will sag and require a more taught lines which has it's own complications. There's also some dripping as water flows along the cord... which can be offset with drip lines.
  • in a downpour a net tent may not be necessary. Get maximal coverage, ground insulation, dry clothes, use the poncho as a secondary blanket.
  • know the direction of the wind, locate any natural shelter, set the position and slope of the tarp accordingly.
  • Consider an umbrella as a 4th wall or to give some volume to the net tent.
  • there is a golden ratio between the diameter of the ridgeline cord and the prusik end. If the prusik end is too narrow the knot will be difficult to operate.
  • the smaller diameter of the cord the lighter it is and the more you can/should carry but then the harder it is to get knots out and the easier for it to foul.
  • skip the micro-biners. When your fingers are cold they will be hard to manipulate.
  • Keep the prusik knot a reasonable length. Just enough to do the work. Too long and there will be too much sag.
  • inflatable sit pads are a waste because they need to do double duty as a kneeling pad and they compress too quickly for that,
  • get rid of the useless crap. The net tent pictured here just makes "it" difficult. Use the hammock sock. So I threw my net tent away.
  • I like my Kelty bootlick. It's about torso length but an odd number of folds so it's a little big for my pack. It's better for glamping with the kids. GONE
  • I'm reconsidering my use of inflatable mattress in the backward. The ground is already kinda solf and standing up through my knees was ok, however, on hard ground the inflatable will bottom out and I will pay that price. The inflatables have to go. I'll use the dimensions to shape my foam mattress.
  • I had discarded the Borah Bivy but not actually thrown it out. My net tent and net sock experiments have been OK but not great. The bivy gives me overlapping solutions and a lighter pack. I'd considered a custom sock/bag but in the end the bivy makes more sense as it has a net.

Here the tarp is bottom up and it collected lots of water and sagged even worse.


A suspended "from" plow point. This made it impossible to suspend the net tent properly.


The nettent was connected to the guy out and seemed to work well.


Converted to draping over the ridgeline the nettent seems to install better. There is less tension on the netting so it will maintain it's DPI.


The tarp was ALMOST in the best direction but an umbrella might have been helpful. Also the pitch of the tarp was a little too aggressive.


This prusik is to tight. The smaller cord has "kut" not "cut" into the 550 paracord and refuses to slide.


The resin s-biner is useless. There was some tension but not a lot. This is the 4th or 5th failure and clearly a signal that metal is better or more durable.


Using the Borah Gear Bivy here I was able to compensate for the polycryo groundsheet and was able to continue with the inflatable pad. The inflatable is more comfortable and does not stick like the GG close cell pad. Also the configuration means that I'll not damage my knees.

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