Sunday, 19 July 2009
Camping with Colin Ibbotson and his customised tarp and then pitching one for the TGO videos has set me thinking about tarps. Although I don’t often use one in Scotland (and never in midge season) I have used tarps extensively in other places. For me, one big advantage of tarps over tents is more space for less weight, which is why I don’t like small tarps such as the one pictured in the last post. I like a tarp in which I can comfortably sit out a storm without needing to huddle in a bivi bag to stay dry. The pictures above show my two favourite tarps, neither available any more. The top one is a Kathmandu Trekking Basha-Tent, which weighs a hefty 794 grams (28oz) to which I added a groundsheet and pegs weighing 425 grams (15oz) for a combined weight of 1219kg. It’s an enormous tarp – you could probably pitch a couple of solo tents inside it – and I did once spend a whole day in it during a big storm in the Alps. The picture was taken on the Arizona Trail, at a very windy site. Pitched with the sides at ground level no wind entered while the big entrance made for excellent ventilation. The second tarp is the GoLite Cave 1, which weighs 397 grams (14oz). Pegs and a groundsheet double this to 794 grams (28oz). The photo was taken at a site in the High Sierra on a day when rain threatened. As there was no wind and the site was sheltered I pitched the tarp with the sides well above the ground for good views and ventilation – another advantage of tarps is that they don’t cut you off from the world outside as much as a tent. Pitched with three sides down to the ground the Cave 1 is very storm resistant. It has side guylines, which greatly enhance stability. I don’t use a bivi bag with either of these tarps as both are big enough for me to stay away from any rain coming in the entrance – which can be pitched low to the ground if necessary – and don’t let in much wind when the sides are pegged at ground level.