Tarps are one the hikers greatest (and oldest) tools to have with them on any long distance hike. Although some trekkers may prefer the more traditional tent, tarps are seen as the jack-of-all-trades. It is light, portable, and can be tucked into a pack without much space needed for it.
The most convenient part about a tarp though, that I think you will appreciate the most, is the ability to create a shelter in any situation! You can use anything that is around you, trees, roots, or even your own gear to set up your tarp.
Though, that can also cause many people to shy away from the tarp. But not you, you are the brave soul who took on the tarp and are going to find out just how to set it up for your next camping trip.
You will find it useful for any kind of situation, rain or shine to have this tarp with you, so strap up and lets go.
What Will You Need?
- 9'6" by 7' 4" Tarp
- Parachute Cord
- Ground Sheet
- 6-8 tent stakes
This size tarp should be the right sized for a normal to tall man or woman in normal weather. These tarps can be purchased at any outdoor store or hardware store. Though the cheapest place that I have found the find my personal favorite tarp was Harbor Freight.
If you are having unexpected winds of rains, smaller tarps will not be able to protect you and can dangerous. In the case of expecting bad weather buy a larger and heavier tarp, an 8’ x 10’ or 10’ x 14’ tarp would due for a solo traveler.
You will need a large amount of parachute chord, more than you would expect (trust me on this one, I have run out before). You will need different amounts for different types of tarp shapes that you set up.
Today we will be learning the basic diamond and it doesn’t use much chord. I would recommend getting about 10 meters or more if you think you will need it for extra for your own hiking needs.
Though sleeping on the forest floor is never quite comfortable, you don’t want to be sleeping on twigs. This also helps from getting dirt into your food and other belongings.
You can lay other things you don’t want to get dirty, like a mattress pad over the top and relax before you cook a meal and go to bed. You can also buy a ground sheet at any outdoor store.
Stakes are an important part to your tarp kit because they keep your tarp from flying away with the wind, and you along with it! These tent stakes can range in cost from $10-$100 depending on the brand and where you buy them.
They are going to be the heaviest part of you kit, bringing your tarp kits weight up to anywhere between 2-3 pounds. Though this is much lighter than most any tent kit you will find on the market!
1. Finding Your Plot
Before you are able to set up a successful diamond tarp shape, you need to find a plot of land it can stand on.
This needs to be a flat space of land with either a large tree or a stable rock with crevices that you can jam your stakes into.
When you find your spot you need to turn away from the wind and take your tarp out of your pack, facing your tree or rock. Be forewarned, trees are your best options, you might not get back a stake if you jam it into a rock, but it can be used in desert hiking and emergency cases.
2. Tie A Corner Of Tarp To The Tree
There should already be small cords attached to the holes in your tarp, so grab hold onto that cord.
While you hold that, reach for your extra rounds of parachute cord that you have and use the appropriate amount to wrap around the tree tightly. You do not want your cord to slip down in the middle of the night due to winds or rain.
3. Stake Down The Opposite Corner
Now that you have secured one corner against the tree, the hard part begins. If there is no wind, this part will be easy, but if there is any weather you might have a hard time, but don’t stop, this will be worth it!
Walk with your back to the wind and until the tarp is straight and stretched out. Now staked that side in and make sure the ground is stable enough to receive the stake and is not too soft. Great job!
The hardest part is over and the rest of the experience is going to be down hill from here!
4. Stake the Two Remaining Sides of the Tarp
Grab two more of your tent stakes and make your way to the right side of your tarp. Now hold down with your hand the tarp and nail in the tarp stake. Do the same procedure to the left side of the tarp.
Make sure the tarp is secure by tapping the top of the tarp to make sure that it is firm. If you tap the top of the tarp and it does not feel firm you will need to remove all of the stakes and move them further back to make the tarp tighter.
This will make your tarp more secure and you safer from the elements.
5. Set Up the Inside of Your Tarp
The outside is now secure and complete, this is the time to lay down your ground sheet and take out your supplies.
You can lie out a mattress pad and cooking supplies. The best thing about a tarp is that you are able to cook in the open end of it and it is safe, unlike a tent.
This would also be a good time to spray bug spray on yourself and the areas around you to keep yourself comfortable. After you are finished with that, I would like to congratulate you! You have finished setting up your tarp!
Not as hard as you thought, right?
Tarps are a great alternative to the traditional tent when a hiker like you wants to have a lighter pack or try something new.
It is important to remember that there are many different ways to set up your tarp, and that you can find one that is just right for you!
I hope that I was able to find one that just right for you!
Read more - How To Waterproof Your Tent.
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