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Shelters The Shelters forum is for the discussion of backpacking shelters (tents, tarps, poncho-tarps, bivy sacks,...).


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  #1  
Old 11-16-2009, 06:54 AM
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JJ_Murphy JJ_Murphy is offline
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Tarp Material and design

I've got an 8 X 10 standard silnylon tarp, which is useful in some situations, but not appropriate for winter camping.

I'm looking for information from people who own SpinnUL and silnylon tarps about whether the difference in function or protection is worth the extra price.

I also don't know if there is an advantage to "cat" cut or "hexagonal" cut. My goal is to be able to set up the tarp, so that I can close the ends in the event of shifting wind conditions.

Thanks.

JJ
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  #2  
Old 11-16-2009, 11:16 AM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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stick with the square cut on your tarp, especially for winter conditions. you have more material and more coverage. caternary looks sexy, but the coverage isn't there in the event of foul weather.

if you fold over two feet of your tarp(to make a 8x8 square), you can easily make a tetrahedral shelter, which can be pretty damn useful in really bad weather. when i used to have a 10x10 tarp, it was my go-to configuration for storms. low and stable and it sheds wind from any direction.

it can get a bit cramped at 8 feet on a side though...
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  #3  
Old 11-16-2009, 11:56 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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The PBF Shelters forum is loaded with good information regarding tarp selection, materials, and use in challenging weather.

Here are a few:
[Note: I realize that you've seen a couple of the following threads, but I offer them for future readers too.]

Favorite Tarp Materials

Most Versatile Tarp Choice / Selection (Size)

Tarps and Weather Strategies

Tarp Cut / Design (Catenary Curve, Flat)

These and other threads offer some helpful thoughts on the issues you've raised.

Keep us posted on what you decide, and please feel free to let us know if the above threads (et al) do not answer your tarp questions. Many are eager to offer help.

Reality
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  #4  
Old 11-16-2009, 01:16 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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to be perfectly honest, an 8x10 tarp is more than adequate for winter conditions, if you know how to pack and dress. adequate sleep gear helps too.

there are a handful of really great pitches for winter conditions, including the classic a-frame(maybe pinched off at one end to cut down on airflow), the trapezoid, the tetra(as i mentioned before) and even a couple that are really great for emergency conditions...



on the bottom, the 'sole survivor' configuration is effective even when the temperature drops into negative double digits if you have a good sleep system(and maybe a mylar blanket or two to boost it). use your pack as a block at the front, and ride out the night.

cat cut tarps are funny to me... it almost looks less like a practical choice as a style choice. they are slightly easier to get taut when you pitch them, but if you know how to make a tensioning hitch, you can make a taught rectangular tarp too. if it's a style choice, it's akin to breaking the handle off your toothbrush to lighten your pack: pretty impractical, reducing utility in favor of some tiny weight savings.

if you're really in a straights, you can also dig a trench for a shelter, using branches or flexible tent poles to create arches that support the tarp. heap some snow around the edges, and you have a shelter that will shed all but the very worst the winter can throw at you. generally though, leave no trace somewhat forbids it save in emergency situations
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  #5  
Old 11-16-2009, 03:58 PM
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richwads richwads is offline
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Here's one way to "pinch off" one end of an a-frame (also shown in one of Reality's links):



The front can be partially closed with a cord through the 1/4 point grommets.
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  #6  
Old 11-16-2009, 06:19 PM
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Benwaller Benwaller is offline
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One company who makes a cat (which is the definitive A frame), GG, also sells "dodgers", or end caps for use in poor situations. That particular tarp does not have sufficient perimeter tie-outs, only 4 each side, to seal you up snug in the white stuff, though. Now I can tell you that it's pure pleasure in the summertime, but I wouldn't use it winter.

I'd be looking at a rectangular piece of fabric that could be pitched in any number configurations as shown in dsuursoo's post. That makes sense to me. I'd stay away from the cats in the winter.

But I stay away from snow generally anyway.

Ben
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  #7  
Old 11-16-2009, 06:26 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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there are times where i considered modifying my tarp to give me doors when i pitch it as an a-frame, but then it wouldn't be anywhere near as effective.

i always liked the method in the picture that rich shows. it's VERY effective. put your pack at the narrow part, or in winter, pile up some snow, and you're snug and comfy. not warm, by any stretch of the imagination, but doing pretty good, all things considered.
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  #8  
Old 11-17-2009, 10:30 PM
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Mocs Mocs is offline
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For true winter situations, a pyramid shaped tarp would shed snow the best and will hold up in all but the worst conditions, for somewhat milder conditions, what about a shaped tarp like the Gossamer Gear SpinnShelter? I like the fact that I can pitch it high and airy like a regular A-frame tarp, or I can close the doors for moderate rain, or I can pitch it tight to the ground with the doors closed for snow or heavy windblown rain, and I can do it all without a bivy.

The one thing that I really like about Spinnaker fabric is that is doesn't stretch like Silnylon, but it can be noisy(I think it is a overblown issue), is more expensive than sil, and doesn't come in any color choices (the older stuff is white, the new stuff is gray). Cuben Fiber is another choice that has the advantage of being lighter still, and inherently waterproof (both Sil-nylon and Sil-polyester (Spinnaker) can mist, although Spinnaker seems to be more waterproof than Silnylon) but is very expensive.

Cat Cut tarps give a tauter pitch than a "flat" tarp, but flat tarps tend to be better for multiple pitch configurations.

Last edited by Mocs : 11-17-2009 at 10:32 PM.
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  #9  
Old 11-17-2009, 11:40 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJ_Murphy
I also don't know if there is an advantage to "cat" cut or "hexagonal" cut.
I'll comment on this a little more, some of which overlaps with my comments in another thread ( Tarp Cut / Design) that addresses this issue.

I believe that a well-done (simple, minimal) cat cut can assist one in achieving a taut pitch a little faster (perhaps easier). However, I find that I can get a flat tarp just as taut.

Therefore, for me, the emphasis that I put on a cat tarp has to do with how it facilitates a taut pitch. Because I (many others) can achieve the same with minimal extra effort with a flat tarp.

I think one prevailing reason why some people have been attracted to making, selling, and buying/using the cat cut tarps is the perceived* weight savings. [*As stated in the aforementioned thread, the cutting away of fabric (coverage) is an obvious reduction in weight, but so is making a smaller tarp, regardless of the cut.]

Personally, I find that the benefits found in the versatility of a flat tarp exceed the commonly-stated reasons I've heard/read for opting for a cat tarp.

That said, some may not have the (pitching) skill-set/methodology or may not desire the wide-range benefits of a flat tarp.

There is more to say on this matter and more than a few variables that I did not cover. The preceding is merely my opinion in its simplest form.

Suum cuique.

Reality
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  #10  
Old 11-18-2009, 01:29 AM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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aaand Reality knocks it into deep center field. His opinions are one of the things i have always liked reading here.

and mocs also hit it on the head. a squat pyramid will shed wind and snow superbly, speaking from experience. i weathered out a hard winter's blow above the treeline in a tetragon(three sided pyramid) folded tarp. pitched it right on top of the existing snow, and just dug under the edge of the tarp when it was over.

pyramid pitches and trapezoid pitches have the advantage of needing only a single pole, something that makes setup really slick and easy.
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