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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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Old 03-23-2015, 05:03 AM
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JohnHenry JohnHenry is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 14
Bug shelter under tarp - what's your experience?

For those tarp aficionados out there, when you have to have a screen shelter from bugs under your tarp, what have you found that works best? What kind of room do you like to have, one person or more room for gear? How's the setup? What would you recommend as "must have" or things to stay away from?

I love my Big Agnes tent, but also have a number of tarps I've used, but plan to do some camping in Texas where bugs are an issue, so looking for something to add to the tarp for those times.
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Old 03-23-2015, 11:33 AM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
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Backpack: Gregory Shasta, Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
Sleeping Gear: REI ThermoPod +0 mummy, MH 3D +40 mummy
Shelter: SD Superflash, GoLite Hut 1
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: California
Posts: 436
I do like bug protection when I'm under a tarp.

Some bug screens have floors and some don't, so the first thing to figure out is if you want protection from flying bugs only, or from creeping ones too. If you want to keep crawlers (like scorpions) out, get one with some kind of floor.

I have a GoLite Hut1 (shaped tarp), and have 3 bug screen options I've tried with it:

1) A GoLite bug "tent". It works, but I don't like it. it's hard to get in and out of, is very difficult to turn around in, and I lose several inches of head clearance. It goes right under the tarp ridgeline and can't be set up off-center, so it turns a 2 man tarp into a one man tarp with no room for gear. It's also a little heavier than the tarp, a little over a pound, which is more weight than I want for a bug net. It's poorly ventilated like a nylon double wall inner tent, which is odd since it's really a bug net under a tarp. But, for it's major inconveniences, it does have a bathtub floor and is really good protection against crawling insects. A better designed bug tent could work real well.

2) The Equinox Mantis, I like it. It's only 4 or 5 oz. With creativity, you can suspend it off center if you want. (For me, that maximizes gear stowage under the tarp.) It has a net floor which offers minimal protection from crawling bugs (but not from a determined one). It works best with stakes or rocks in the corners. It only covers head and torso, so if it's too hot and you unzip the sleeping bag, you'll lose some bug protection. It's a lot like an Atwater-Carey pop-up net, except it suspends from one point instead of having pop-up springs, so it's considerably lighter (perfect if it's going under a tarp instead of under the stars) . I don't have scorpions where I camp, so it works well for me.

3) A Sea-To-Summit " Mozi". I like it real well. It's full coverage, no floor but still minimal protection from crawlies, can be hung off-centerline from a single suspension point (needs stakes or rocks in the corners), but has no floor, 8 or 9 oz. Easier to set up than the other two. It's the most flexible option I have, and has gotten the most use.

The really interesting choice, though, would be a MYOG project. You could find a proven pattern, and custom tweak it for your tarp.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:48 AM
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dustin dustin is offline
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Backpack: Golite Jam
Sleeping Gear: Golite quilt
Shelter: SMD Gatewood Cape
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Lakewood, CO
Posts: 36
I have a 6oz bivy with a bug screen that clips to a loop above my head. It happens to fit perfectly with my tarp..

I zip back the screen when it's not buggy and not windy. The mesh actually helps a surprising amount with wind. But just in case, I sleep in a bug-repelling Buff or hat, because I'm gonna wear a hat anyway...
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:57 PM
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Wildfield Wildfield is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 131
I recently purchased a MLD Bug Bivy from Mountain Laurel Designs. It has pretty good head room for a bivy and is very lightweight (7.35 ounces). I used this bivy with a MLD Grace Duo tarp made of spinnaker fabric that weighs about 10 ounces. It worked out very well on a recent trip to Desolation Wilderness, where there were a few mosquitos.

I will continue to use the bug bivy on future trips, with or without a tarp.

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