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Topic: Tarps, calling all tarpers< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 22 2013, 10:49 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

So I am seriously looking into getting my self my very 1st tarp. There are soooo many to choose from and so many different variations for set ups. I want light weight, dureabilty and weather protection. I have a few different setups in mind from different manufactures. I kind of like MLD Patrol shelter (cuben), and I think that will go well with a Bear Paw Wilderness bug bivy.  I basicaly need a place to sleep. I want to be able to set up and break down camp as quickly and easy as possible. I am intrigued by the use of a tarp..and the bug bivy seems to be what I am looking for on nice nights in buggy season. It sets up very fast and simple and will give me a place to crash for the night away from bugs. If the weather turns bad I can pitch the tarp. They both seem to be very low profile also, nice for stealth camping.  Anyway, for those of you who own and use a tarp please justify my desires for ditching the tent. Some dos and donts and what your opinions are. What you love and dont love about tarp use. What is your set up and how it works for you? Thanks..

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 22 2013, 11:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Six Moon Designs has a couple of systems, as well as bug tents and separate tarps. Pretty good prices, too.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 22 2013, 12:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

honestly, if I were going for a quick setup: hammock.

I don't even have a good set of gear but I can hang my tarp and hammock quicker than pitching my basic dome tent.  I car camped last year for a week with both in camp.  I found my hammock purchase to be too small for me to sleep comfy all night.  Still, I kept getting up in the wee hours to move out to the hammock from the tent.

Setup and take-down is faster than a tent.  I get a big under tarp space for weather.  I can't argue with the hammock hangers that it's not the best way to go solo.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 22 2013, 2:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Quick setup is a relative term for me. It actually takes me longer to setup my tarp than it does my hammock or even my Golite Shangri-La 5 if I want it to be weather worthy. That said, with practice, all things setup relatively quickly. I think my Outdoor Research Advanced bivy is probably the "fastest" weather worthy shelter I've got...and it can be setup just about anywhere easily. If I were to have a quick light setup besides my hammock, I think a Golite Shangri-La 2 or something to that effect would be much more efficient for me and much more weather worthy than my tarp.

For the record: If you're talking about "stealth camping" in regards to camping on other's property without their permission, than I will state clearly that you are breaking the law and you should grow up and act like an adult and just go camping where it's legal. It's not like there isn't enough wilderness area that you can't find some nearby. If you're just using the term loosely, disregard this.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 22 2013, 3:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Setting up a tarp can be as quick as a hammock, or as slow as leveling an airstream.  It all depends on what you are looking for.  In the years I cowboy camped, we took a tarp along in case it rained.  Set it up about 4 times in 15 years.  Did I mention that most of my camping has been in the desert?  :)

Now that I am branching out to the Sierra mts, and some others, I have taken up the hammock.  I can set it up in about 2 minutes, and add a tarp over it in another minute or so.  Snake skins help immensely.

And, as for the weight, I find Shire's tarptents to be just about as light as any other method I have tried, outside of just throwing down on the ground and pulling a bug net over my head.  Sometimes we search for so many ways to accomplish a goal that we ignore the simplest and easiest.  A 2# single person tarptent will work just fine for keeping the bugs and rain off, but a hammock will do the same thing, for the same weight, and be more comfortable, IMO.  I sleep in a War Bonnet Black Bird, or WBBB.  Off the ground, and in the breeze.  Cooler in the Summer, warmer in the Winter.  I think Robert Duvall had a line like that, as he referred to owning a bar. 


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 22 2013, 3:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i have one tarptent, stratosphire 2, and have been amazed how tough it is. If you remove the inner section, and use it as only a tarp it is about a pound and TOUGH.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 22 2013, 4:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Jun. 22 2013, 2:15 pm)
QUOTE
For the record: If you're talking about "stealth camping" in regards to camping on other's property without their permission, than I will state clearly that you are breaking the law and you should grow up and act like an adult and just go camping where it's legal. It's not like there isn't enough wilderness area that you can't find some nearby. If you're just using the term loosely, disregard this.

anyway.....I was talking about camping out of site off trail. I would not consider "stealth camping" on private property. Yes, there is plenty of wild land for me to go, so why would I even want to go on someones private property?

 For the record..all you kids out there.."Dont grow up..its a trap" And the way that MOST adults act anyway..why would YOU or I want to act like that? Stay young, wild and crazy and you will have MUCH more fun.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 23 2013, 1:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Which bug bivy from BPW are you considering?  If it's the one with the poles and weighs 12oz, I would personally consider something else.  Unless you are wanting the extra room that the poles will give you.  Check out the bug bivy over at borahgear.com, very simple and affordable.  

If you are wanting to test out a tarp/bivy setup, I would hold off on the cuben tarp.  Get a bivy and a cheap tarp and take it out for a night or two.  If you like it, then drop the big bucks on a cuben tarp.    Just my opinion.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 23 2013, 2:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The bug bivy from BPW, yes the 12 ounce one. I like the fact I can use it with or without the pole. The pole thingy I like for when I want to use it by itself without a tarp, so it will keep the netting away and off of my face..some sanity and personal space, lol.  I have always used a tent and while the space is nice, I really find I only use it to lay down and sleep, so that's why I'm going with a tarp set up.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 23 2013, 11:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've tried a few different configurations of tarps and tarptents and my conclusion, for me, is that I love tarps but dislike net inners/nests and bivies; they just don't give me enough headroom and make me feel claustrophobic.  So, I use my tarps when I don't need bug protection, and I have a big enough tarp for coverage and the ability to set it right to the ground when the weather warrants.  I have a couple of silnylon ridgeline tarps, with and without beaks, one and two-person, that I made and a cuben Trailstar from MLD.  They're all less than a pound.

When I need bug protection, I use a tarptent.  I have a Lightheart Solo and a Contrail for solo and solo+dog, respectively, and a Squall for two.  The Lightheart Solo really feels like a "tent"; a great design, imo, for someone who isn't especially tall.  I vastly prefer the tarptent over a tarp+bivy.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 9:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tarp and a hammock.

The only problem I have with tarps and the ground is that inner - either a light water resistant cover for the insulation, or the combo of the netting and sleeping bag cover/bivy, is as heavy as a tarptent.

So, the Lightheart Solo is what I carry.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 10:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i bought a new tarp for my hammock this past winter to replace my overweight ENO tarp (Profly @ 22oz). if you're looking for a simple ridgeline tarp, Warbonnet has several lightweight options, some with detachable panels for better rain protection. i bought their Edge tarp that's about 8x10... only 10 ozs and packs down to baseball size.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 5:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've used the MLD SoloMid for two years now in the California Sierra, with and without the innernet as conditions required and have found it to be a solid and well constructed shelter.
I like the solidity offered by the two trekking pole arrangement meeting tat an apex.

http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop...._id=137

http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop...._id=127

It's a Cuben version and MLD did a good job on build quality and finnish, from my sailing experience not all manufacturers handle that material all that well.
Setup is measured in moments, I unpack, stick some stakes at the corners and open the zipper and put the poles in. Almost faster to do than to type out. I probably take more time on site preparation, picking up the various jabby rock fragments, pointy twigs and such than actual shelter erection. Have to say it's that simplicity that pays off in the compromise that I can't put up the shelter on my preferred sites of granite slabs.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 6:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

After much experimentation, I found that I don't prefer tarps over the lighter single wall (and now double wall) tents available almost everywhere from cottage manufacturers. But my preferences are - sadly - :^) - not universal. This is very much a HYOH kind of thing. Tarping can be a very different kind of experience, and I still try to do it sometimes, just for the kicks. But then, I've slept outside on a cot, and in the back of a pickup truck. I've slept on the ground with a blanket. It's all good, depending on circumstance and preference.

I have tarps from Kelty, MLD, SMD, Gossamer Gear, Oware and Equinox (my first) - I use them (and my Equinox poncho) over my Epic tents as insurance (Lighthouse and OneShot) against heavy rain, though that means those really lightweight Epic tents are not all that lightweight in reality. Different strokes...I don't usually go out to prove I'm a "mountaineer" (though nothing wrong with that) - I do it to "get away" and "to see the sights" I can't reach otherwise. Sometimes I just want a little quiet to read a book. There are far too many people on this site - and others - and this planet who, for whatever reason, think the only way to backpack is to put in a lot of miles and prove something. IMHO, not so. (OF COURSE) Sometimes, I just want to feel "different" about the experience, so I change it up a bit. Tarps are one way to do that, again, IMHO. It's a hobby.

As HSF pointed out, a lot depends on what you're doing. Stand alone tent works better on rock, though it's not impossible to use something else. (Burrito roll behind a rock, anyone?) It's not true (certainly, anymore) that a tarp setup is going to be substantially lighter than a tent. It's more about what you're trying to do, and what you like. It's certainly worth trying, at least until you can make a decision how to use it - or not at all.

So, to the OP: I'd personally go with something like the Equinox (I forgot ID - I have a couple of those too, but they ain't "cheap") and work up. MLD makes some nice bug bivies, but you don't need superlight and expensive (not saying $150 is expensive!), esp. if you're just introducing the kids to a "new way of doing stuff". I'd go for "fun" over superlight, though there's at least some connection between the two, isn't there?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 6:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

tarptent contrail--24.5 ounces
lightheart solo---27 ounces

MLD patrol Shelter(cuben)--6.8 ounces
BPW bug bivy---12 ounces(Complete)
   combined that is 18.8 ounces for a pretty versitile set up. Again, if its a nice clear night I can just lay the bug bivy down and go to sleep. If the weather is looking bad I can use the tarp. If its cooler out and not buggy season again, I can just use the tarp alone.
Wasatch bivy--3.7 ounces
    I can use in colder wetter weather and leave bug bivy home..

 I am sure there may be lighter options out there, but I do think this set up will suit my needs for 4 season backpacking. Deffinetly 3 season....unless anyone thinks not???

Again, its really just to lay down and go to sleep and protect me from the elements, while also cutting well over a pound from my pack.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 6:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This the bug bivy you're referring too?
http://bearpawwd.com/shelters_floors/bug_bivy.html

If so there's not all that much "living" room in there. And in heavy bug season you do spend awake time in there in my experience.

"The regular Bug Bivy has a smaller internal space with about 20" height at the head and fits someone up to about 6' 2". It weighs about 12 oz. packed with pole, lines, and stakes"

A shelter with 20" of headroom is not what I'd want to spend time in, the extra weight reduction for one of the inner net systems would, for me, be the preferable choice (MLD: SOLO InnerNet
This is the shelter used with the SoloMid  
$145
8.5oz Shield Silnylon Bottom
6.5oz Cuben Fiber Bottom"
: but then my style is to do more than lie down and close my eyes during bug season when the days are longer. But why not get added usable volume and personal space at less weight?
http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop...._id=127

44" versus 20"... and 3.5 to 5.5 less ozs.... an innernet compatible with your shelter of choice might be worth researching for...

The MLD bivy gives approx. 30", a bit better...

http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop....s_id=55

at 5 ozs (Cuben) or 6 ozs. Silnylon they still beat the lower headroom bivy on weight... maybe it's the pole?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 6:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, you can go really light. (I just checked, and MLD's bug bivy is only $125, not $150, so, sorry, Ron!) I have an Adventure 16 (the one that twists and rolls into a circular shape), so, yeah, there are really light options out there. I also have a couple of really old GoLite bug bivies, 1 and 2 man - that are relatively heavy. And, yes, I have 2 or 3 REI bugnets from way back when I was experimenting. Not so light as the cottage stuff, but...

I guess what I was saying up there is that it gets to the point that you're saving a few ounces for a whole different setup - and then, at least for me, it becomes more about "feel" and what I'm doing. I once slept completely naked on top of a local rock just to see what it felt like. Yeah, it was the 70s, and all that, and the middle of the summer, and I wasn't "doing drugs" (though there might have been some still in my system), and I wasn't trying to freak anyone out (God knows it would have, at least some - I'm not Brad Pitt!) - it was just this thing.

In short, there are really nice things about a tarp - the freedom of it all. And there are equally nice things about a small space like a bivy - some find it claustrophobic, but I find it "comforting" in a strange sort of way ("fetal"? hmmmm...)

Keeping in mind that "versatility" is (I suppose) the reason why the TT Moment is now DW. Henry just had to look at the weight savings of the single wall and go "Jeez, it's only like, less than an ounce of no-seeum... in the top..." - and you can use the Moment DW just like a tarp, now - can't you?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 7:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have two of those A16 things, a very old one (surprise!) and a newer maybe bigger one I got "only" maybe a decade ago. Tend to be what I'd carry when I used a MegaMid, as a backup for when bug season was nominally over but my location for the night turned out to have not gotten the memo. Worked okay.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 7:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

good points...I have checked all of those other bug nettings out....this can go on forever..going back and forth about likes and dislikes. What it really boils down to is trying different things out untill I find the near "perfect" setup that suits me. I say near perfect because I dont think there is truely 1 perfect setup that does it all. Worse case buggy situation, heck throw on bug headnet, lightweight silk tops and bottems, pitch tarp low..and sit there wishing I had brought my MH Supermega UL2 tent....hahahahaha!! Isnt that right?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 7:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GottaGamble @ Jun. 24 2013, 7:24 pm)
QUOTE
this can go on forever..going back and forth about likes and dislikes. What it really boils down to is trying different things out untill I find the near "perfect" setup that suits me. I say near perfect because I dont think there is truely 1 perfect setup that does it all.

Yup, pretty much.

One thing that I noticed, again for *me*, is that when I *need* a shelter (I do cowboy camp whenever I can), chances are good that I need it for more than just sleeping.  Sometimes I've just had enough of the flies/mosquitos/no-see-ums/drizzling rain/whatever and retreat to my shelter to read or write, maybe make dinner and eat.  Then I really appreciate having the room to sit-up, spread my stuff out, etc.  Also, some of those buggy nights are also hot and humid -- and a bivy would probably drive me nuts.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 24 2013, 7:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

yes, I understand what you are saying. I guess over the last 4 years of my camping I dont really recall spending much time in my tent...ex sitting up..thats just me though. I always find my self laying down thinking hmmmm..so much unused space on top of me, lol. Or, laying down reading..relaxing or sleeping. Im not saying that I never sat up in my tent..because then i would for sure be full of sheet. I have sat up plenty of times but, not of any significant amount of time. I am sure there will be some nights when I am laying there thinking..damnit..they were right, this is maddening, lol. I am also banking on many nights thinking..Haaa, I knew this was as close to perfect for me as I could get..if only they knew!! Im also sure that I will post back with my thoughts and reviews, be them good or bad and let you all know what I think. I am also hoping that this will be the final piece to my puzzle..6 different tents and now venturing into the tarp world..a new beginning..lmao.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 25 2013, 2:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have much less to offer than others, but thought I'd plug my first (and only) tarp purchase: http://www.shop.backpackingadventuregear.com/8x10-Si....ale.htm

My first use was in my backyard on the heaviest rainful of the year last summer. Stayed totally dry even with a less than perfect pitch. For my interests/tastes, the biggest draw to tarp use is simplicity. I can pitch a basic one pole shelter in about 60-90 seconds with much more room than my 2 person tent. Keep it simple.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 25 2013, 4:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(DustinTN @ Jun. 25 2013, 12:57 pm)
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My first use was in my backyard on the heaviest rainful of the year last summer. Stayed totally dry even with a less than perfect pitch. For my interests/tastes, the biggest draw to tarp use is simplicity. I can pitch a basic one pole shelter in about 60-90 seconds with much more room than my 2 person tent. Keep it simple.

That's one of my biggest attractions to a tarp setup as well, and I've been using tarps for most trips for about 9 years now.

My setup does use a bug bivy (although not a water-resistant bag bivy... I simply don't see the need if your tarp is big enough and especially if the sleeping bag fabric is mildly water-resistant already, as many are), but I love the versatility of it.  I cowboy camp whenever I can, under the stars.  If bugs are bad, I put up the bug bivy (which covers my upper body), still under the stars.  If rain beckons, I pitch the tarp.  If it's wet and buggy, I use both.  An all-in-one tent isn't quite so versatile, which is why I choose the tarp even though an equivalent all-in-one tarptent would be just as light.

My $.02 anyway.  I like it, and plan to keep using it for 3-season camping until something better comes along for my needs.

- Mike



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Wealth needs more.  Happiness needs less.  Simplify.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 25 2013, 6:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

SICK PICTURE!!!  Thats what I'm talking about..What tarp is that???

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 25 2013, 7:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That's an Anti-Gravity Gear Basic 10' Tarp.  Unfortunately they don't make it any more.  I had a previous version of the exact same tarp, which used to be made by a "niche" online shop run by a couple thru-hikers, who eventually gave that up and AGG took up the design.  When that tarp wore out I still liked the design, so I picked up the AGG replacement from someone on the BPL Gear Swap forum.  Now, AGG doesn't offer it anymore either.  It's a simple "beaked" geometric design that allows setup with one pole (although gives more room in the back with a second shortened pole).  I can set it up and break it down quickly with trekking poles or a walking staff, and it has an optional separate 2-oz front panel to cover the door opening if/when the rain is really howling sideways.

I pair it with an Adventure-16 Bug Bivy, the little pop-up loop design covering the head and torso.  I've found it completely adequate.  I only need it to sleep, and have been happy with it.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 25 2013, 8:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, I bought mine from Dancing Light's "clearance/scratch & dent stack"..the "Brawny UL" for very little. Conceivably, if you or I could sew a lick at all, we could duplicate the thing. The canopy is made from a single piece of silnylon and relies on the inherent "stretchiness" of silnylon to achieve its shape - there are no seams and no zippers (the noseeum just tucks under the floor to seal out bugs), though I do suspect that the proportions and shape are somewhat important. Too bad Brawny (the tent is named for her - Carol Wellman - she made them) didn't leave us a "pattern" (outside of the tents themselves). Mine has a floor, though not all of them did. It's just a trapezoid-shaped piece of black silynylon sewn to the canopy.

I have slept in mine probably less than a dozen times, and only twice in the rain. I really slathered the seam sealant on those pullouts you see on the ends and the back, but I never got them to completely stop leaking - for some reason. I thought about Plasticoating the damn things on the outside (joke), but moved on before doing anything about the leaks...

Here's mine set up in the back yard with my poncho over the top for a "vestibule" and "bad weather" shield - though I slept in it without anything but the black beak protecting me both nights of rain - one really a downpour when the pullouts leaked - and not all that much splatter got in.

The biggest problem I found with the tent was HEAT. If you aren't somewhere exhilaratingly cold like that in GoBlue's photo, it is kind of a heat trap. Not a tent for humid and hot.


The scenery here is decidedly less exciting than GoBlue's...and the dogs had torn up the turf for a few years... But it does show how I used a shortened pole in the back to create a bit more room, like GoBlue said.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 25 2013, 9:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Very cool. This is the inspiration I need to know that I can do this.  It all seems so much more clear to me now...lol. I am not at all worried that I won't be comfortable. Yes maybe some times I will have to deal and adapt..but I'm sure most times I will be in pure bliss.  Thanks for the reasurance and thanks for posting pictures.  I hope in the next 2 or 3 weeks I will be ordering the patrol shelter and finish this masterpiece and get out and use it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 26 2013, 10:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here's a good post concerning the Patrol Shelter.

BPL Patrol Shelter
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 26 2013, 12:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

thanks for that link...I think I have found amost everything there is to find about it. Research research research...Thanks everyone for all your info and help.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 26 2013, 2:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Man, that is one great looking setup and great picture, Mike. Love your setup, too, Gabby. It's funny, I often find myself reading and researching new tent designs (out of habit I guess?), but a well-designed tarp rig is always more compelling to me. Good luck finding what's right for you, GottaGamble!

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