Today being the first day for a while without storm force winds and showers I spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and playing with some tarps and shelters for a feature for the June issue of The Great Outdoors that will cover everything from basic flat tarps to almost-tents (no inners, no sewn-in groundsheets). Compared with tarps tents are easy as they have a fixed shape. However as tarps can be pitched in various ways trying different configurations is necessary to test them. This is especially so with shaped tarps. I'll be out again tomorrow, pitching them in other ways.
|Tarp in use on the Arizona Trail|
I like tarps and have used them extensively, though mostly on long walks abroad as they can be difficult to use in Scottish sideways wind-driven rain that changes direction during the night and on our usually exposed sites. In the USA I've done long walks with a tarp - the Arizona Trail and a 500 mile walk in the High Sierra. On both those I could usually find a sheltered site on the rare occasions stormy weather threatened. In Scotland I've used tarps on several overnight trips in settled weather but only once on a long walk - last year's TGO Challenge. This was the Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar, which I reckon is a shaped tarp as it has no door or zips and can be pitched in many ways. The design makes it suitable for the worst Scottish weather without requiring an uncomfortably restrictive pitch or the use of a bivi bag.
|Tarp camp in the High Sierra|
|On Miller Peak on the Arizona Trail - the snow was unexpected!|
Photographic Note: the Arizona Trail pictures were taken on a 2.3mp compact camera - this was long before I had a digital DSLR. The High Sierra picture is a quick scan from a Fujichrome 100 slide.