Saturday, November 6, 2010

Praxis Request: Tarp Shelters and Components for specific purpose.


Rupert left this comment to this post from January.

Since it would likely be over-looked without my putting it in a more prominent spot, here ya go, Rupert:

rupert said...

I am looking to buy a tarp to use as a shelter for a trip across France in May/June (so not so extreme I hope). I have seen a very reasonably priced tarp from Thailand in camouflage aviation ripstop nylon, 3x2m and weighing 420g - so 70gm2, waterproof with silver back. Do you think this would be suitable? And poles - would lightweight 45g fishing poles extendable 38-197cm be any use? Appreciate any advice on these and what might be better.
November 6, 2010 7:15 AM


Anonymous said...

Each has their own purposes and needs, some of which aren't fully explained by rupert. The following are my thoughts based on limited information.

The 420 gram tarp and 45 gram fishing poles are equivalent to one U.S. pound.

A tarp can have multiple uses, such as being worn as a poncho and even a makeshift pack to contain gear. For emergency situations it can be a valuable thing to have, but maybe not the best choice for a primary shelter on a planned trip in a foreign country. Again, I don't know the purpose of the trip, but I'm assuming it is a general "backpacking across France" trip like many college students enjoy during school breaks.

For a planned trip, depending less on the tarp and fishing rods as all-purpose pieces of gear might be a valid point to consider. If a pole breaks, there goes your fishing rod and shelter support. If the tarp tears badly or blows away in the wind, there goes your pack, poncho, and shelter. The rest of the trip will be miserable.

A tarp shelter is already compromised given it provides "top-only" coverage, meaning the bottom and sides are open to various aspects of nature (e.g. animals, bugs, rain). Even if nothing damages the tarp, these distractions and intrusions during sleep time will make the trip miserable.

Given one-quarter to one-third of each day will be spent inside a shelter it would be wise to have a full-contained, high-quality shelter for a planned trip.

I would recommend a fully-enclosed solo bivy tent which weighs only 2 pounds and 4 ounces. It is twice the weight of a proposed tarp set-up, but still incredibly light for something as important as a shelter. At 90" x 41" x 24" it can shelter both a human and a full-sized pack. Packed in a carry case it measures only 18" x 4". At $50 it is more expensive than a simple tarp shelter, but the benefits received night after night might be worth it.

Taking a 420-gram tarp for use as a ground cloth for the bivy tent which can also serve as a back-up emergency shelter would be a great idea.

Bad Cyborg said...

Looking at those pix of tarp shelters causes me to wonder how transparent the material is to infrared frequencies of light. I wonder if one of those nifty mylar emergency blankets would be be opaque in the IR part of the spectrum. If somebody were lost, it could make locating them at night difficult and thereby prolong the interval before they are rescued.

Does anybody know? I personally cannot think of any scenario wherein an IR opaque material would be advantageous to possess. I mean why would anyone ever desire to be difficult to observe with IR sensing equipment?

Bad Cyborg X
Sometimes I think I might be the world's oldest 5-year-old.

Christian Patriot III said...

Wilderness Survival advocates packing a similar setup. The 6x9 tarp is pretty universal and inexpensive here in the states. 100ft or more of para cord and some opportune trees and rocks is all you need for a pup tent shelter. If you plan to pitch in fields, some variation of short shock cord poles commonly found as replacement tent poles in camping gear stores would do tree replacements with some modification and tie downs to keep them in taught opposition. Anchors would also be desirable in that case. Landscaping nails are a suitable tent stake but are heavy. You can try aluminum gutter anchors - light, usually about 6" -8" in length. 8 of these would be enough for the pup tent configuration. Having a couple of extra might be of some utility.

Consider this also:

A tarp is fine emergency shelter but a bit lacking without a decent bedroll.