Tarpology, by Cougarmeat

JKA

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Everything you ever wanted to know about Silnylon, Silpoly, DCF, snakeskins, continuous ridge lines/split ridge lines, dogbones, soft shackles, EVO loops, toggles, wasps, loop aliens, etc.
 

cougarmeat

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The pressure is on … :)

As I’ve typed this, I find myself describing things coming from a “hammock” or tarp camping situation where the tarp is the main shelter protection. I understand the orientation here is just something to provide additional shelter/protection/convenience for a tent setup.

I’ll try this in pieces. Going on a first of the season paddle in the next week so have to hunt up a bunch of gear. And it would be better if I could include either diagrams or photos - so there will be additions. Note that everything I say is mostly true - because to cover every little exception/variation would be a … task. It is also just one opinion. The materials/tarps mentioned are available from a variety of “cottage industry” hammock vendors; HammockGear, DutchWare, WarBonnet, Hennessy,JacksRBetter, ArrowHead, SimplyLightDesigns, UnderGroundQuilts, etc.

Note that this info is coming from HammockForum’s posts and experience. I haven’t sleep in a tent in years. The hammock folk are mostly backpacking so their concerns for weight and bulk may not be the same of kayakers. If you have an interest in hammock camping, as a starter text I recommend The Ultimate Hang, An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping by Derek Hansen. I prefer the first (2011) edition to the thicker second edition. You can find it here:
used with free shipping for $7.75. In addition to this volume, Derek has a larger second edition and a smaller book called Hammock Basics that features cute pirate characters in the illustrations.

Okay - why a tarp. Though shelter protection from rain is obvious, more often the tarp acts as a sunshade (especially if you are lying down, looking up - like in a hammock). It also protects you from bird droppings. Or shelter part of a picnic table to provide a dry cooking/eating area. You’d cover your tent - even if it has a rain fly - because it allows you to set up/take down under the tarp and pack the tarp away last, separate from the dry things. It can also provide an awning for your tent so you have an area to take off wet things before crawling into the tent.

Tarp materials: The three main materials for a tarp are Silnylon, Silpoly, and DCF.
Silnylon Pros:
it is usually considered the most durable
Silnylon Cons:
It hold more water (gets heavier) when wet.
It has more stretch.

SilPoly Pros:
Hold very little water - can almost shake it dry
Usually comes in lighter fabric
Many more color/pattern choices - you could even send RipStopByTheRoll a photo of your kayak and have it printed on your tarp material
SilPoly Cons:
Must baby it a bit more.

Note that all my past tarps are SilNylon but my next one will be SilPoly because I want it in Snow Day Camo for the winter.

DCF Pros:
DCF is Dynema CubenFiber. It’s the same stuff sails are made of.
Lightweight to the extreme. 7 oz for 11 foot ridgeline tarp
Patchable with matching tape.
No ridgeline seam.
DCF Cons:
Very Expensive - like $300+ vs $100 for Silnylon or SilPoly
Bulkier to pack.
More Translucent - a negative for those who want opaqueness for light block and privacy.
Rain sounds like bee bee’s on a tin roof.
Not ripstop - no boundary to stop a tear.

If you lean towards a specific color/pattern that isn’t some shade of olive or brown, look at SilPoly - though the colors for SilNylon are expanding to blue, red, orange. etc.
if you like the classics and RipStop protection, go with SilNylon
If you are looking for the lightest material with reliable protection and have a deep pocketbook, go with DCF

Next up: Shapes, features, setup gear
 
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cougarmeat

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Tarps come in three main shapes; Rectangular, Hex (imagine a triangle with the tip cut off about a third of the way down), and Asymmetric (diamond).
Rectangle Pros:
Gives the most coverage (but not necessarily the most useful coverage).
Because of max coverage it is more foolproof - less fliddling to cover the desired area.
If you're just looking for something to cover your tent/fly - this will do the job.
Rectangle Cons:
Bulkier and heavier than necessary to keep shelter area dry
More tarp flap - louder
More “sail” area to manage in higher winds.

Hex Pros
For many, the sweet spot between coverage, weight, packability.
Quieter - usually centenary cut on the edges (and sometimes the ridgeline).
More visibility.
Easier entry
Hex Cons:
A little more care in deployment if sitting out a real storm.

Asymmetric/Diamond Pros:
Lightest, least bulky for usually adequate coverage.
Only need two stakeouts rather than the usual four or six - so fastest deployed
If two hammocks are sharing the same tree (one on each side) each and put their head end under the diamond on their side.

Asymmetric Cons:
Not as much protection from blowing rain and strong winds.
Need more consideration of covering something like the footprint of a tent.

The Asymmetric is my day hiking tarp. I’ve used it kayak camping and it was fine - but note that I usually plan my kayak adventures for the best weather possible. I’m sure I’d be fine in basic downward falling rain. Sideways wind blown rain … maybe not so much.

Tarp Features:
Catenary cut - the “flap” you hear at night is the wind blowing the extra material along the ground edge of the tarp. A catenary cut is a curve cut along that bottom edge. It reduces the coverage, just a bit, on the edges but keeps those edges taut so they flap less - still have to guy them properly.

Panel Pull outs. Several tarps (note the most popular SuperFly from WarBonnet) have what are called “Panel pulls” They are extra connection points half way up the side of the tarp. They allow you to guy (pull) out the sides so the interior area is roomier. Imagine and upside down “V” (i.e. ^ ) with the sides pulled out a bit. This is done with guylines or small diameter poles going over the ridgeline and tied to the tie-outs, pulling them out and up.

Internal pole mods - this is more in the setup area but relates to panel pulls because the purpose it to expand interior room. The guy line tie-outs on the ground edge have a hole that excepts a pole tip. A longer shock-corded pole (like tent pole) is connected on each side to it makes a half-hoop. The resulting shape gives the tarp a covered (conestoga) wagon look.

Clothesline D-Ring - note that “D-Ring is a generic term or any connection point to the tarp. It could be shaped like a triangle or a split ring. if you just run your ridgeline support under the tarp, you risk creating a highway for water to flow under the tarp. Some tarps - I believe DutchWare features them - have a D-ring separate from the one used for tarp suspension. It is interior a few inches from the tarp end.

Doors - Doors are the big thing. They are extra panels at the end of the tarp that allow you to close the ends of the tarp facing your supports (usually, but not always, trees). They provide extra protection from wind and blowing rain. They provide extra privacy, turning your tarp into a single wall tent. In severe weather, you could rig the tarp close to the ground, close the doors (a panel on each side/end) on the side towards the weather and enter/exit from the lee side. As I write this I realize this is more a hammock configuration concern. You may just want to cover your tent/fly.

Setup gear:
In addition to the usual tent stakes (another rabbit hole of Shepard hooks, ground hogs, titanium nails, etc). the most useful is a snake skin. Before I adopted the “skin”, the MMA fight between cougarmeat and the wind was Wind 2, cougarmeat 0. that was winds in the 15 - 20 mph range with some stronger gusts. Trying to deploy an 11 x 10 ft tarp in high wind is great material for Americas Funniest Home Videos. The snakeskin is just a nylon or mesh tube that slides over the tarp, leaving the ridgeline cord out and available so you can attach the tarp to the trees (or poles), without the full body of the tarp exposed. It looks like a fat snake hanging between the two trees. SnakeSkins either come in two pieces - each about six feet long - or one piece about 12 feet long. The current favorite is one piece and mesh.

Poles - REI sells some collapsible tarp poles (two sizes), they come in handy when making an awning area and to substitute for trees if you want to cover a picnic table that is not oriented with or near trees.

Shock-cord - putting shock-cord at the edge guy points adds additional flap abatement. It also allows the tape to deflect a bit to spill some wind and then snap back into shape. It compensates for stretch that might occur with Silnylon after it gets wet. Often the bungee is backed up by a length of fixed line that limits the stretch so you don’t snap the bungee in high wind - or if you do, the fixed line still holds the tarp).

Split rings - these an be line “fuses" for your tarp. You want something weaker than the tarp in the system. it’s like sacrificial zinc. If you put a split ring on the D-ring and attache a line to the ring, when the wind gets really, really strong, it will deform the split ring before the tarp tears (size the ring appropriately). If you keep your eye on it and see it is becoming more and oval than a circle, you can reassess your camping exposure.

Various pieces of hardware (covered later) that holds the line and allows adjustment of the tarp along the ridgeline without having to deal with knots (not so pleasant in the cold rain). Sure, it’s good to know a tautline hitch and a few variations. But there’s nothing wrong with hardware that lets you pull and set; not tying and untying.
 
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cougarmeat

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Setup:
Orientation - I used to set up with the bad weather broadside. I figured I’d get the most protection that way. Problem was, it presented the largest area to the wind, usually blowing the tarp into the hammock. That wasn’t so much of a problem itself, but it would spill any accumulated water into my shoes at the foot of the hammock. When I set the tarp was parallel with the wind, not only did the trees ofter some wind/rain block protection, the aerodynamics resulted in the sides being pull outward rather than being pushed inward. Given that “out and up” force, you may need to review your stake guy line angles/attachements.

Also, we tend to think of things in terms of “Level is good”. There is no reason for your tarp line to be level. Often a slanting ridgeline provides necessary (and controlled) rain water runoff.

Snakeskins:
Putting up:
You slide the skin off - it scrunches up on the ridgeline cord - exposing the tarp a little at a time and guy out the tarp as you go.

Putting way:
Mesh is preferred because when you put a wet tarp away, the inside of the skin gets wet. You’ll want that dry before long term storage. The mesh dries much faster with a little sun expose. Note that we are not talking about drying the tarp - that’s done by exposing the whole thing to the sun. With a two piece skin, you sort of collect the tarp material from one end to the middle and slide the skin on that, then repeat on the other end with the second skin. Care is taken so you don’t end up with a bunch of material in the middle. A single skin starts at one end and you wrangle the tarp material (YouTube is your friend) as you pull the skin along the full length of the tarp.

Suspension line:
Unlike a hammock which can impart 100’s of pounds of pressure to the tree, a tarp itself weighs very little. The wind may add addition force but never nearly as much as a hammock. So - instead of the 1 inch or wider straps used for the hammock suspension, the tarp usually has cord in the 1.75mm to 3mm range. For example, the utility cord REI sells in 50 ft hanks would be about the largest you’d need. Note that Paracord is usually NOT USED because it has too much stretch, is too heavy for the job, and is too thick to take advantage of hardware options.

There are two main ways of suspending the tarp - split and continuous. Continuous has two variations. With Split, each end of the tarp has it’s own suspension line.
Split Pros:
minimum amount of line needed - saving weight and bulk (note, some hikers measure every ounce).
Easy to configure with snakeskins.
Split Cons:
To adjust the tarp you have to move one side, then the other - often more than once
The tarp itself is part of the suspension. As such, it is subject to any forces - such as something falling (tripping) against the ridgeline or tree movement (skinny trees in other parts of the country than our Doug Fir and Ponerosa Pine).

Continuous with the tarp as part of the oval:
In this setup the suspension line connect to the tarp end, goes around the tree, comes back to the tarp and in a mini-carabiner, runs down the ridgeline, though a mini-carabiner at the far end, around the tree, and back to the far end. So imagine an oval going around two trees. One side of the oval is just suspension line, the other side is the tarp. Now, pull the line and the tarp together - that’s what the mini carabiners do - so they appear (from the top) as one line. You could skip the mini-biner and run the line through the D-Rings on the tarp ridgeline but that’s more fuss.

Continuous oval Pros:
Easy adjustment - like old fashioned clothesline - you can pull on the line and the whole tarp slides left or right. You don’t want to do that too much because of abrasion on the tree and the support line. Usually you eyeball it just about right and maybe move it a few inches for fine adjustment.

The line over the top can be a clothes line for drying - assuming no periodic rain during the day.
The line can be run under the tarp for more support against a snow load in the winter. It can also work as a clothes line under the tarp as long as you make sure you’ve an adequate water block on the line so rainwater doesn’t run down it and under the tarp.

Cons:
The tarp itself is part of the suspension. So, as with the split line, it absorbs any stress on that line. Not as much as a split line, but still, some.
It requires enough line to cover the tree-to-tree distance twice. More line, more potential tangles.

Continuous line with tarp independent:
Imagine if you will (twilightline zone theme music), just a single line stretched from tree to tree. Think of those cowboy movies where they stretch a line across the riding path to knock the bad guys off their horses. That line itself is responsible to dealing with the stress caused by swaying trees (you don’t want to use them anyway), and branches (ALWAYS LOOK UP AND CHECK THE UPPER BRANCHES) and tripping people falling against the line. Now, hang a tarp on the line. one way is to use loops to make prusik knots (or other sliders) and mini-biner them to the tarp end D-rings. A popular hardware solution is a product called Nama Claws; often used as a pair - hardware that slides on the line and locks when tension is placed on its hook. The Claws are designed for 1.75mm line.

Pros:
Uses more a little more line than split but less than oval.
Takes any force against the line instead of passing it on to the tarp.
Makes a handy clothes line either above or under the tarp.
usually takes just two adjustments requiring sliding one end into position (which locks because of a prusik type knot or hardware) and then the other end to pull the tarp taut.
Works easily with either two piece or one piece snake skins.

Cons:
Takes more line than split style
Takes one end adjustment, then the other end instead of just sliding the line in the “oval” setup

RidgeLine Over or Under:
Lore has it that you mostly want your tarp hanging below the ridgeline (continuous style). That’s because if a branch falls, it will hit the line first. Also if it rains, the rain won’t have a highway under your tarp. And if you are using panel-pulls to widen the interior space, you can use poles over the ridgeline to hold the sides of the tarp out. There’s also a concern that when under, especially with any wind, the line will rub against the ridgeline seam and any seam seal applied there. However, if you have even a little weight on the line - like a pair of socks, given the usual 11 ft span, the line will be pulled down so there is minimal contact with the tarp ridge. BUT - make sure you have a working water break on the line.

For that reason it is usually line above in spring/summer/fall and line below in winter if heavy snowfall is expected.

Porch Mode:
This means that one side of the tarp is raise at the corner guy point with a hiking pole or collapsible pole (see REI). You could use a paddle but I like my paddle to be just a paddle. It’s too important to me to expose it to any other job. By raising one or both ends of one side of the ground side tarp edge, you can create and awning. This works great for being able to walk up to your hammock (no crawling around on your knees), or for extending the trap over the front of the tent so you can shed wet clothes before entering the tent and put them on before actual exposure to the elements. BUT - make sure you’ve thought out your water drainage or you can easily find a swimming pool of water, just waiting to spill on someone or gear (I.e. shoes/sandals) once the dynamic are right.

It’s easy enough to setup in porch mode during the day and at night, remove the pole and guy down the ends like the others. Or leave it up if the weather is mild and you want a view.

Now how that all interacts with a tent depends on the size of the tent and tarp.

No Trees: REI has two sizes of collapsible poles. There are other manufacturers but REI’s work great for me. I use the smaller diameter set for porch mode configurations. If it were pouring rain and I wanted to tarp a picnic table for cooking/eating and the table wasn’t conveniently oriented between two trees, I’d consider the large pole; bigger in diameter and height (8 ft max). I run two guylines off the top of the pole - making a V - to the ground. Note that the poles don’t have to be at the edge of the table. They can be several feet away so they are out of the way of people coming/going. That is, the tarp doesn’t have to be connected to the poles themselves. The tarp can be suspended anywhere along a line connected to the two poles.

Guyline and Ridgeline Hardware:
You can get by with knots - no hardware required. But think on this … I have a line with a hook on the end. I walk up to the tree, toss the end of the line around it, and hook it onto itself. NOTE: it’s best to come off the side of the tree instead of from the middle. That way maximizes the friction the tree provides and minimizes the stress on the hook and line. Then I walk over to the other tree, go around it and (coming off from the side) lock that loose end around a Nite-ize Figure-9. The Figure-9 is a small piece of hardware I can slide where I want on the line and it has a horn for wrapping the line around and a notch to lock it in. Other devices go by the name of Wasp, Flez, Stingers, or Loop Aliens, tactical toggles, turtles, tarp ticks, line-loc, etc. these are all devices that allow you to adjust a line and wrap it to lock it off. Because they mostly use friction, if it were really windy, you can back the “lock” off with some kind of half-hitch that will prevent line movement but is easy to remove.
 
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cougarmeat

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The rest of the story:
All my photos will be hammock or picnic table setups.

If any of the above piques your interest, you can Google the word with the word “tarp" - and maybe “YouTube" - and find lots of examples. I beg forgiveness for any place I typed trap instead of tarp. If you’ve ever read one of my initial posts, then seen all the edits I make later, you’ll understand. Spelling/typing is not my forte.

Resting after a long hike before the drive home. This is a “mini” 8ft hammock - not something you’d use for camping - mostly for day hikes. You get flat in a hammock by lying diagonal, NOT by making the suspicion tighter. Usually a 30 or 60 (depending upon which side you measure) degree angle coming off the tree is expected:
HikeNap.jpg


Here is an example of exterior pole mod that opens up the interior area of a tarp:
polemodegreen.jpg


You can see the exterior poles across the ridgeline:
exterior poles.jpg


Here are external poles to create an awning/entrance. Note the “spill zone” if water should accumulate:
Polemodentrence.jpg


Front side of hammock and picnic table protected:
Frontside.jpg


Backside - note poles over ridgeline on camo and panel pulls pulled back by line on green tarp:
Backside.jpg


Bridge hammock on Jones - a bridge hammock has spreader bars on each end rather than a gathered end (GE) hammock:
JonesBridge.jpg


A diamond or asymmetrical tarp only needs one guy one on each side rather than the usual two or three. This was my camp on Patos.
PatosHammock.jpg
 
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cougarmeat

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Photos Cont:

Here’s a tarp with one “door” open and the other closed:
Doorback.jpg


Part of the Broughton Group - full porch mode - no crawling around on the ground. Just walk up, sit down, bring your legs in:
Broughton.jpg


No need for level ground with a hammock:
HammockGround.jpg


But had we bothered to ask that one kayaker if he was staying at the main Burwood site, and learned he as leaving the next day, this would have been our site:
MainBurdwood.jpg
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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Thanks for all that info and the pics, too. Excellent!
:thumbsup: :thumbsup::thumbsup:
Part of the Broughton Group - full porch mode - not crawling around on the ground. Just walk up, sit down, bring your legs in:
Off topic:
But where do you put all your stuff? Extra clothes, radio, notepad (for listening to WX), all your paddling clothes, etc etc...all that stuff that takes up the extra space in my '2-person' tent and the vestibules.
Do you put a ground cloth under the hammock to stand on when getting dressed? And does it get pegged down to keep from getting blown away? No worries about animals carrying stuff away in the night?
Lotsa questions.... :)
I have a (good) hammock but haven't used it for serious camping for those reasons. Hammocks are very comfy for a snooze, though..no argument there. And an excellent backup for a trip where there may be no good tent spots, I guess.
 

cougarmeat

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John, good questions. I didn’t “go there” because I was focused mostly on just the tarp deployments. For radio, iPad mini, etc. there are “organizers” that hang like pockets from the hammock ridgeline. The ridgeline is not the same as the suspension line that hold the hammock to the tree. The ridgeline is a line - usually 1.75mm or 2.2mm Amsteel - that runs between the two ends of the hammock. It is usually sized at 83% of the physical hammock length (remember to put “-ish” and the end of any number). That keeps the hammock sag at a constant shape as you pull the suspension taut. You connect one end of the hammock suspension to the tree and bring the other end toward the other tree, connecting it so that ridgeline is just snug - not guitar string tight. You find the distance that works for you by experimenting with different hammock end distances (again, usually 83 - 86% of physical hammock length) then make/attach a line that limits the hammock ends to that preferred distance. As a finesse, many suspend the foot end about six to eight inches higher than the head end. It levels out with your diagonal lie and keeps you from sliding towards the foot end at night.

Other hammocks, like WarBonnet’s RidgeRunner bridge hammock, have a “saddle bag” pocket on each side. The Warbonnet Blackbird has extra material that makes a “shelf” extending off of one side by your head.

The is an issue called “calf ridge” where a “hard line” can be felt under your leg. It is alleviated by changing position, changing the sag amount, adding a small camp pillow under your knee, etc. In other words, with different body dimensions, weigh distribution, hammock length and width, sag and hang angle, there is no “right for everyone” setup - but they are usually all very close. It might just might take a little tweaking if some discomfort appears.

Also, sleeping in a hammock is different from a bed - the pressure points are different. So people who say the must sleep on their side or they have to toss and turn in a bed, find they can sleep comfortably on their back in a hammock (you can also sleep on your side - takes adjusting). But your muscles need to learn they can relax. So the first night or so feels funny. Add to that, my first night in any strange/new place is less than completely peaceful - new night sounds, etc. So if someone says, “I tried a hammock once and didn’t like it.” I’m guessing they may not have known what adjustments to make coupled with the “newness” factor of a remote location. Hammocks are not for everyone, but I’m guessing I can get most people to sleep in about 30 minutes - and not just by having them read all my posts.

Additionally, the dry bags can live under the hammock and tarp. Sometimes I even have a … wait for it … hammock for my dry bags. It’s called a “gear hammock” - usually 5ft long or shorter. it’s strung up between two nearby trees and gear goes into it like an open canoe. So I’m looking for stuff standing up and everything is collected in one place. Or the gear might live on the picnic table. Only one time a raccoon tried to make off with a paddling bootie but dropped it after about 15 feet. I think he surccumbed to the smell and his buddies had to carry him off.

Often, as gear is emptied out, dry bags go inside dry bags. I try to consolidate loose items as much as possible. All expensive items are with me in a small day pack if I’m hiking away from camp.

The mat I stand on when I put on my drysuit is also a door mat (third photo) but I usually put down some plastic sheet and anchor it with shoes, or a dry bag weighted with extra “just in case” gear. For privacy, if the tarp is in porch mode, I just lower that side and I’m enclosed.

Also, though a hanging hammock is the preferred sleeping arrangement, I could set the hammock on the ground with the net and tarp suspended between two poles if there were no trees, But I often carry a “Plan-B” tent. Amazing but true, some park officials don’t like hammocks. Maybe it reminds them of Yahoos who leave cord and nails in trees after they leave. So often a tent is put up too and all “blow away” bags and such are stowed in the tent. During the day, I might take the hammock down - once it’s all set up, the distances are locked in so it’s just a matter of clipping it to the tree again; no additional “distance” adjustments necessary - and stow it in the tent as well. Same with the tarp. Once it’s centered where it needs to be on it’s ridgeline. I can just detach the line from the trees. When I go back to those trees, I just wrap the line and clip it again. No need to readjust the position of the tarp on the line.

When hiking - like a week out - a person might run into a treeless situation. Of course you can always seek it out - hike in a desert. There are people who do long thru hikes with just a hammock. They tarp camp on the ground when trees are not available. But kayaking is different. Your only camp area might be a shell/sand beach or a rocky shelf. More “no trees” opportunities. So I’m more prepared to “go-to-ground” if I have to.

In other words. Just as you're hosed if you have a tent and nothing but big thick tree roots to sleep on (Burwood photo), so you can be hosed if you run into a no-good-trees situation. A little self standing solo tent (Plan-B) takes up very little additional room in the kayak. But sleeping in the hammock is like waking up on a cloud.

A camping hammock setup consist of a hammock with an attached bugnet or a separate one that can be added. A tarp, and something to keep you warm. A Top quilt (TQ), for on top, is like a sleeping bag with 3/4ths of the zipper removed. A pad or Under Quilt (UQ) is on the bottom. If a person is going to use a pad, they usually have a double layer hammock so they can sandwich the pad inside (doesn’t move around as much). But most people end up with an underquilt - like half a sleeping bag that hangs snuggly under the hammock.

On the ground, you loose heat by conduction - contact with the ground and your pad insulates you from that. In a hammock (and cot for that matter) you loose heat by convection - the air currents flowing under the hammock. the UQ saves you from that heat loss.

But I know you don’t want me to retype every thread in HammockForums.net :)
I’m happy to answer specific questions and if you Google YouTube and shugemery, lots of educational videos appear.
Maybe it’s time to start my own channel.
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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Thanks!!
I've seen spots where I could put the tent but wouldn't want to lie down in it - too many roots, etc.. That would be an A+ spot for the tent for gear + hammock for sleeping, I guess...

Back to our regular grad-school seminar: Tarpology 503
 

YYJ Paddler

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Poles - REI sells some collapsible tarp poles (two sizes), they come in handy when making an awning area and to substitute for trees if you want to cover a picnic table that is not oriented with or near trees.
I can't seem to find these online (and can't get REI at the moment). Does anyone have suggestions of poles that are available in Victoria? I'm planning to bring my 2 trekking poles to try with, but they are only about 1.5m long.

SO much great information in this post. Thanks @cougarmeat
 

cougarmeat

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Alas - “… you are seeing it correctly - at this time, we do not have any REI locations outside of the United States.” Someday Canada will be open to US kayakers again and additional supply options would appear.

Here’s the REI link to see what I’m talking about: https://www.rei.com/product/845322/rei-co-op-adjustable-tarp-pole-single

Maybe you can find another product like that - or make your own. Raw pole material and end caps are available from a few sources. See https://www.questoutfitters.com/tent_poles.htm

I’ve made a few poles and I’m “… not of of those guys.” who can do things. If you are just look to raise the ridgeline in porch mode, some stick might work - they are not load bearing. Or you could temporarily strap two hiking poles together for extra length on one pole.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,054
Location
Victoria, BC
Does anyone have suggestions of poles that are available in Victoria?
In Victoria or shipped to Victoria?
REI will ship those poles to you - I just put one in my cart there and the shipping was a very reasonable $20 for one 8 ft pole.
MSR is the other well-known maker of tarp poles.
Try calling Robinsons and Valhalla?
Or farther away:
https://www.altitude-sports.com/products/msr-5-adjustable-pole-v2-llll-msr-13311?

https://www.sail.ca/en/msr-adjustable-poles-8-ft-322915-3868180001

Lots of DIY possibilities, too.
https://advrider.com/f/threads/diy-tarp-tent-poles.495331/
 
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JKA

Paddler
Joined
Jul 25, 2016
Messages
170
Location
Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
Fantastic, thanks cougarmeat aka Dr Tarp.

I've used tarps, or bivvies as well called them, for many, many years and yet I learned new things in the last few minutes of reading.

The tarp (doorback.jpg) with the end folded to create a door is brilliant, but something I had never thought of. Given that I spent several years using a tarp of that exact same cam pattern when in the field, I'm surprised that we didn't come up with it.

One thing I have done with most of my tarps is to sew on individual pockets for the guy lines. When packing up I figure 8 wrap them around my hand and then stuff them in their pockets. When folding up the tarp it stops them from tangling and deployment is easy as each line comes out smoothly.

Brace yourself for many questions!

Cheers
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,054
Location
Victoria, BC
One thing I have done with most of my tarps is to sew on individual pockets for the guy lines. When packing up I figure 8 wrap them around my hand and then stuff them in their pockets. When folding up the tarp it stops them from tangling and deployment is easy as each line comes out smoothly.
:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Here's a pic of one of the line pockets on a DIY tarp I made:

mini-IMG_0331.JPG
 
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cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
854
Location
Bend OR USA
Tarp waterproofing:
The tarp itself is waterproof but seams may not be. All my tarps came with a waterproof ridgeline - as they should - but some vendors who option the panel pulls do not seal those pulls “at the factory”. They include a small tube of seam sealer so the owner can seal the stitching along the panel-pull seam. Maybe it’s suppose to be a bonding experience. Note that there are different sealant formulas. Some are generic, some are specific for SilNylon or SilPoly. So make sure your sealant will work with your specific fabric.

Care:
Bird poop and sap should be cleaned off - maybe the tarp itself hosed down - then allowed to COMPLETELY dry before stowing away, waiting for the next adventure. Some recommend getting any sap really cold and then it will peel off. If you use a solvent, make sure it won’t damage the fabric. Tenacious Tape is a good repair item for your kit.

GuyLines:
There are whole religions about this - guylines attached to the tarp or not. Guylines attached to stakes or not. If you have only one tarp, then it makes some sense to attach them to the tarp. But many people - I’m told :) - have more than one tarp. So you can have guylines attached to every tarp or you can have a set in their own ziplock bag for use with whatever tarp you bring. At most, my tarp would have three guy points on the side - but more often just two or one (asymmetrical). The doors, when closed, might attach to the end guy point with light bungee. I often carry two longer lines in the set to use with the Porch Mode poles (like 10 ft rather than 4 to 8 ft).

Note that if a line is mostly horizontal (going to a tree rather than the ground) and below head level or crosses any path, I tie some day-glow survey ribbon on it for visibility.

Shock-Cord relief:
Having some “give’ in the line is a good thing. A person might trip over a line. Or a swimming pool might form on the tarp during heavy rain and a little give allows the trap to spill the water (or strong wind force) and spring back. It allows the tarp to maintain some degree of tautness even if the material stretches a little.

You can use 100% shock-cord for the guyline. Or you can have a length of shock-cord tied to guyline that goes to the stake. So you are relying on the strength of the shock-cord. Or you can parallel some shock cord with a fixed line that limits stretch. Let’s say I can stretch some light bungee about 10 inches before I feel it “stop”. Given that, I might want to only expose it to an 8 inch stretch. So I’d attach a small line about 8 inches long to each end of the bungee so it can’t stretch more than 8 inches. I’d attach that (larks head or garth hitch) to the tarp D-Ring and maybe put a small split ring on the other end. That would stay on the tarp - a smaller “extra” than a full guyline. The main guy line would then attach to that split ring - like with a LineLoc #3 with a hook. Or the stretch bungee could be part of the main guyline itself and that’s attached directly to the D-ring during setup.

So there’s no “right way”. Choices are determined by expected environment.

Reflective guyline cord:
This is handy stuff if you’re and old timer who must get up at night. It lights up like an airport runway - but only when a light is shined on it AND it’s viewed from the necessary angle. So it doesn’t illuminate the whole camp. The bright lines you see in the photos are illuminations of the guylines because of the camera flash.
 
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YYJ Paddler

Paddler
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Messages
20
Location
Victoria, BC
In Victoria or shipped to Victoria?
REI will ship those poles to you - I just put one in my cart there and the shipping was a very reasonable $20 for one 8 ft pole.
MSR is the other well-known maker of tarp poles.
Try calling Robinsons and Valhalla?
Or farther away:
https://www.altitude-sports.com/products/msr-5-adjustable-pole-v2-llll-msr-13311?

https://www.sail.ca/en/msr-adjustable-poles-8-ft-322915-3868180001

Lots of DIY possibilities, too.
https://advrider.com/f/threads/diy-tarp-tent-poles.495331/
Thanks for the links @JohnAbercrombie . The MSR poles (1 or 2 8' poles maybe?) look good. I was in Trotac yesterday and they had some extendible boat hooks. They were pretty chunky, but seemed really solid. I'm going to paddle tomorrow, but will head in to town and look through some of the stores in the next few days to see what they have. Capital Iron might have something as well.
 
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