Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What is the Optimal Tarp Size?

I received this e-mail about tarps and thought I'd share it with you.
Hi Brawny,
This is S-. I thru hiked the AT (NOBO) in 2009 and considering a SOBO this year. I'm modifying my gear list now to lighten up and considering a tarp. I don't have the resources to sew my own so I'll have to buy one.

Do you have any suggestions on which brands offer the best construction and configuration of tie outs? .... Seems you lean towards the 10 x 12 size as well? Just wonder if that's overkill for a thru hike?



Hi S-,

Congrats on your sucessful thru hike.
I actually like my ultralight silnylon tent which weighs the same as the tarp in the video. I make my own gear, and size it accordingly. A single wall tent has limitations, only one person will fit into it, if you're sharing a shelter a tarp can help block the wind coming in that opening.
The 10 x 12 is huge, and I made it for the YouTube video, versatility of base camping, tarping over a hammock, a one person castle (or tent tarp configuration, or up to 4 people could share it. I met 3 guys on the PCT sharing just one 10 x 10 silnylon tarp.
So, basically, its what your style and body strength is. If you're over 6 feet, you'd love the larger tarp.
I don't recommend any company in particular. Don't get grommets, tie outs are way better. I used to sew tarps for people and one guy actually bought a 10 x 16 foot tarp so he could use it on the AT for his thru hike.
The most popular size for a single person was the 8 x 10. However, with that you would need a ground cloth. A sheet of plastic is the lightest way, tyvek is bulky, but lasts forever as a ground sheet.
Once you get your tarp, practice several configurations. I did 3 separate videos using a 5 x 8 tarp, and called them parts 1, 2, and 3 Five Pitches on YouTube
They may help you get some ideas.

Best wishes on your upcoming southbound plans.

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