After a fair few people writing about their experiences with tarps on blogs and forums i thought i would come up with a piece on why i use a tarp.Now it all started a good few years ago,i believe back in 1994.I used to use a old army poncho as a waterproof[partly due to how cheap they were]and after planning a 6 month trip to Europe and beyond i thought it would be a good idea to try out all my new kit that i had recently purchased.It was early in the year,April i believe and i headed up to the lakes for the the first time.I had my poncho which i had decided to use as a tarp.M first night out was above Grasmere,sheltered behind a stone wall.Iawoke in the morning to a inch of fresh snow but i had been so snug that i had not even noticed it during the night.I was hooked.I have to admit that i did stray back to a tent when i travelled to New Zealand,i took a 1 man mountain hardware tent and i still have it but it gets used by my friends now.
We went off to Europe but did not need shelters on our trip but on my return i hunted out an old army tarp which i still have.It weighed 600 grams and i used it on my walk along the GR5.6 weeks of sleeping under a tarp finally swayed me.
I love falling asleep with my head stuck out the end watching the stars or waking up to a beautiful sunrise.I have had the joy of robins sitting on the end of my sleeping bag and seeing deer at close quarters in the new forest.You get a almost 360 view if you pitch the tarp using a classic A frame style,which is my favoured way of pitching,more about that in by next installment.
In 2007 i found my love of hiking again and after hours of searching the net i hunted down new light weight kit to replace some of my old battered kit,one of which was my trusted tarp.I opted for a integral designs siltarp weighing 200 grams + stuff sack.I love it as it nice and light and when it rains i can watch the water droplets collect then run off.After hunting out lighter weight guys and some nice little guy rope locks http://www.backpackinglight.co.uk/product267.asp
along with titanium pegs i now have a great little shelter system and when i link it with my alpkit hunka bivvy i now have my perfect system for keeping me snug and i now have a gossamer gear bug canopy for summer use that weighs a lovely 80 grams.
In my nest article i will be giving out a few hints + tips on pitching tarps.
photo 1 – new siltarp and old army tarp being used on ashdown forest
photo 2 – siltarp on ashdown forest,using one trekking pole
photo 3 – siltarp using one trekking pole + tree
photo 4 – old army tarp on the GR5 set up with two poles and very loose