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Thread: Tarp Hanging Advice

  1. #1
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Tarp Hanging Advice

    I've been revisiting (again) the idea of using a tarp and bug bivy/shelter for camping and have decided to give it a try. I ordered a bug bivy and have a tarp I can use (although I'm not sure it is best). My intended use for this specific set up is for near treeline camping where it is not possible to find a large enough area for a tent but gaps in trees would provide a large enough area for a bivy. The tarp is for drizzle/light rain/condensation protection. Secondary goal would be the reduced weight.

    I had some more specific questions about using a tarp after reading numerous posts on the subject:

    1) Should I run a structural ridgeline (i.e. a line running from one tree to another and draping the tarp over it) or just secure each end of tarp to a tree? I feel like a ridge line is a better idea but on forums I read it was a fairly split decision which surprised me a bit. I think I am also going to hang the tie outs on the bivy netting to the ridge line as well as opposed to using trekking poles or having it touch my face.

    2) What type of cord/diameter should I use for the structural ridge line if I go in that direction? Saw references to a lot of different materials. I assume I want to use something with minimal stretch. What is best?

    3) For those of you who do use tarps do you "pre-rig" your set up in the bag so you are mostly done when you unpack it or do you attach the various tie downs as you go based on the area you are setting up in? I saw a guy in a YouTube video who used a structural ridge line and had his tarp pre-hung to it with prusik hitches so he hung the ridge line, made some quick adjustments and had the tarp tight pretty damn fast. Seemed like a cool set up but I didn't really see anyone else do it like that. Does everything get all tangled in the stuff sack if you aren't super anal packing it up?

    Any thoughts on the topic would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    I run a split ridge line for my tarp rigged with titanium tensioning hardware. It's just what I've always done and have never wanted for a structural. My tarp has rings hung from its ridgeline seam so I don't need a structural line to secure a bugnet. I've never found myself wanting for a structural except on long nights when it would be nice to hang my phone from for entertainment.

    For my hammock/bivying tarp I use a 1.75mm Dyneema cord (zing it) with titanium tensioning hardware attached to the tarp. No stretch but not great if you plan to use knots. I use a 2.5mm Lawson Glowire with my hot tent. Works better with knots than the Zing It. I use it with Line Locs which are a lot cheaper than the titanium hardware used for the Zing It. Also low stretch.

    I do not prerig my tarp. i keep different lengths of line and use them where they make the most sense for the campsite. I store them in my stake bag. My hiking partners have their tarps prerigged. They use DCF tarps which is stored rolled, opposed to stuffed like poly or nylon, so that may make a difference in line tangle.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    I run a split ridge line for my tarp rigged with titanium tensioning hardware. It's just what I've always done and have never wanted for a structural. My tarp has rings hung from its ridgeline seam so I don't need a structural line to secure a bugnet. I've never found myself wanting for a structural except on long nights when it would be nice to hang my phone from for entertainment.
    Thanks for the detailed advice. I'm a little confused on the first paragraph though:

    1) Split ridge line? Are you just saying you do two lines tied to the ends of the tarp from either end or is this something more?
    2) Tensioning hardware? Do you have a picture or website link to the part you use? Is this just a titanium version of line locs or a different piece of gear?
    3) Does your tarp have tie outs on the underside of the tarp that you attach the rings to or are the "rings" just sewn in loops? What are you using for a tarp? That's one of the reasons I don't think my tarp is going to be ideal. It has multiple tie downs all along the edges but nothing in the body or underneath. Was fairly horrified at the prices on a lot of tarps when I started looking around. $300 or more on a lot of the ones I've seen referenced on forums. And many of them are still relatively heavy so the weight savings versus my tent was really not worth the effort.

    Thanks for the always detailed replies!
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    Split ridge line is just 2 lines to the ends of the tarp.

    For my ridgeline tensioners I use Dutchware Stingers. For the ground tie outs I use Dutchware Fleas. For my panels I use Dutchware Tarp Worms. Dutch's business practices have really soured me on buying from them so if I had to do it again I would probably source something of similar design from somewhere else like the Warbonnet Tarp Ticks if going with the smaller Dyneema line. Lawson and Line Locs is probably the simplest way to go, though if you don't want to use knots.

    The rings on my hammock/ground tarp are sewn in loops to the ridgeline seam. I use a Warbonnet Cloudburst which would be large for a single person used as purely a ground tarp. The times I've used it as a ground tarp it's been 2 of us under it. What tarps are folks recommending? A simple 6x9 solo tarp from Borah Gear can be had for under $65 and their larger 7x9 is less than a hundo. They are open to custom work so may be able to add panel pulls to the tarp walls or other features for a reasonable fee.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    2) Tensioning hardware? !
    On guy lines for my tents and tarp, I use 1/8 in. shock cord loops attached to the grommets and then tie the guy lines to the loops. Stretch the shock cord about an inch and the guy line will remain snug.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    On guy lines for my tents and tarp, I use 1/8 in. shock cord loops attached to the grommets and then tie the guy lines to the loops. Stretch the shock cord about an inch and the guy line will remain snug.
    I used to do this and many people do this but I found things got floppier than I like in the wind and went back to static loops. I like a really tight pitch and couldn't get it with shock cord in the system without damaging the shockcord. But I've also torn at least one silpoly tarp under wind and snow load and shockcord may have prevented that.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Great details guys. Thanks.

    P.S. JoshandBaron I got the bug bivy from Borah Gear based on a recommendation you made last time I brought this up. Long lead time but they are certainly an affordable product and their email customer service was pretty fast and specific. Pretty pleased so far. Feels like a reputable company. Looking forward to getting it.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

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    Just verified the size shock cord I use and found it is 3/16, not 1/8 in. Both sizes are available at Campmor.

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