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Bringing a Lightweight Tarp

Old 11-27-22, 08:53 PM
  #1  
garryg
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Bringing a Lightweight Tarp

I,ve been blessed to have dry weather on most of my tours but i know that can not last. Do many of you bring a small tarp as well as a tent when touring?
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Old 11-27-22, 09:07 PM
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Only as a ground sheet.

My tents donít leak.

I think itís ~4íx8í. Made of plastic.
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Old 11-28-22, 05:44 AM
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I have not taken both tent and tarp. When using a bivy ot bug bivy, I do take a tarp and pitch the tarp over the bivy.

Oh, and since ground sheets were mentioned ... I do not use a ground sheet. I found over the years that I am better off to just patch and holes in the tent bottom and recoat it if it ever gets that bad. I figure that eventually I could use a plastic sheet inside the tent if the floor ever really wears out. It could be a bit oversize so it wraps up the sides just a bit. The thing is that even without a ground sheet something else wears out or fails first any way. It may be because crawl into the tent onto the sleeping pad kicking my shoes off on the way in and lay right down. I pretty much am either reading or sleeping when in the tent so I don't put much wear and tear on tent floors.
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Old 11-28-22, 06:58 AM
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No, never even thought of it.
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Old 11-28-22, 07:35 AM
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I have and used it during one of those all day rains to cook and get out of the tent. A tropical storm blew in and it rained for a couple days.
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Old 11-28-22, 08:03 AM
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No not both.

If I expect to mostly camp, I bring a tent including a ground sheet.

If I expect to mostly stay inside, but have option of camping, I bring a tube tent. My tube tent has kept me dry in a snowstorm, though it doesn't do well for bugs.
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Old 11-28-22, 08:44 AM
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Nope, not on bike tours. I bring a big enough tent that I can get all my gear inside the tent. If it is raining in the morning, I can pack up my panniers when I am alone in my two person tent, so the tent is the last thing that needs to be packed.

Canoe or kayak trips where weight and bulk is less critical, I bring a tarp to sit under during those all day rains, and can cook under it on a stove in the rain. But do not bring on bike trips. The tarp I use for canoe trips is a Eno hammock tarp, but I do not have the hammock to use with it.

I used to bike tour with a single person tent, the last time it did that we had a lot of rain and I learned that I either needed a tarp OR a bigger tent, chose the bigger tent.

A local store has very thick plastic on some of their huge plastic bags, usually make tent ground sheets from that plastic for those times I have to set up a tent on gravel surface at a camp ground to protect the floor.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 11-28-22 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 11-28-22, 10:26 AM
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I thought about it only if I wanted to bring a hammock AND a ground shelter to maximize my success rate for stealth camping. I have not done that yet. I think on my next solo trip I will do that.
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Old 11-28-22, 01:15 PM
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PNW here. Yes, if doing a multi-nighter with a high chance of rain, we take a 10x10. It is nice to have the ability to get out of pouring rain if needed. Only used it a handful of times, but sometimes when the rain is hammering down, it is a very good luxury item!
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Old 11-28-22, 01:18 PM
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I only take my ground sheet. I do not want anything that is not the size of my tent. If it is too big it can make for a wet tent experience and too small won't cover and you could abrade your tent. The only time I might consider a tarp is for coverage on top of other things, like if my tent was damaged and leaking but I would have just gotten a new tent at that point I don't abide by leaky tents.
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Old 11-28-22, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by MixedRider View Post
PNW here. Yes, if doing a multi-nighter with a high chance of rain, we take a 10x10. It is nice to have the ability to get out of pouring rain if needed. Only used it a handful of times, but sometimes when the rain is hammering down, it is a very good luxury item!
True. I can think of a time in recent memory (2016) where a tarp for cover would have been most useful. I was camping in MT on the first day of a tour. It was raining pretty good in camp. USFS place with no picnic shelter. I ended up having to cook under the overhang of the vault toilet building. Fortunately, the campground was virtually empty on a Monday in mid-June. Most other times I have lucked out and had a shelter of some sort, including the very rainy day from Sedro-Woolley to Rockport, WA.
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Old 11-28-22, 03:58 PM
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On the topic of needing a tarp to cook under, I do not cook (as in a long simmer where you stir the pot) in a tent vestibule, but my tent has a fairly large and high vestibule and I have heated up water to boil in my vestibule on occasion. I do not cook in the vestibule, as I do not want a tent that smells like food.



This was a very rainy day, the KOA gave me a tent site where my only choice for the tent was a muddy gravel driveway. I found some newspaper in a recycle bin to use to cover the mud in my vestibule to keep my gear mud free. This was my most expensive campsite for that five week trip, not an ideal tent site.

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Old 11-28-22, 04:51 PM
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Many years ago I toured with a bivouac sack, but soon found I needed a tarp if it rained, so I bought one along the way. After a few more tours I switched to a tent..
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Old 11-28-22, 11:05 PM
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Tent....yes
Tarp....no
Ground cloth....no
Ability to attract crummy weather...always
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Old 11-29-22, 02:25 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
No, never even thought of it.
What he said.
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Old 11-29-22, 12:06 PM
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I stopped carrying a full tent a few years ago - travelling in rural central/Eastern Canada means I can seldom NOT find two trees to support my hammock, and I carry a tarp as my primary rain cover.
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Old 11-29-22, 06:21 PM
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Never carried a tarp before, but have seriously considered it. My old REI Quarter Dome T2 isn't as waterproof as it should be, in a heavy rain. 🤬

But I just scored a really old REI tent today, at a thrift store, that's like new, but missing the rain fly, lol.🙄😉 Hopefully, I can use it with my old rain fly, and stay dry. It looks like a good long stretch of rainy days coming up, starting Thursday. With temps in the 30s F, so staying dry gets a bit more important.

But at least it'll help with this darn drought, huh? 🙄😁😉
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Old 11-29-22, 07:08 PM
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NEMO Hornet, two person tent.
My tours are in the Northeast and rain is likely at least one day a week. Even in dry weather, the insects want to eat campers.
The above posts pretty much cover my reasons and reasoning.
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Old 11-30-22, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
Never carried a tarp before, but have seriously considered it. My old REI Quarter Dome T2 isn't as waterproof as it should be, in a heavy rain. 🤬

But I just scored a really old REI tent today, at a thrift store, that's like new, but missing the rain fly, lol.🙄😉 Hopefully, I can use it with my old rain fly, and stay dry. It looks like a good long stretch of rainy days coming up, starting Thursday. With temps in the 30s F, so staying dry gets a bit more important.

But at least it'll help with this darn drought, huh? 🙄😁😉
Well, I found the real issue, the cords inside the poles are kinda disintegraty (that's a real word now, I just made it up). Not the end of the world, I'll fix them. 🙂

That thrift store also had an REI base camp-type tent, for mountain climbers, for just $10, but it probably weighed around 20 pounds, lol. Not really practical for bicycle touring. 😟
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Old 11-30-22, 10:49 PM
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I was actually thinking it might come in handy during the day when a big storm blows through.
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Old 12-01-22, 12:44 AM
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I sometimes use a lightweight tarp over my tent if I'm setting up or breaking camp in the rain. The tarp keeps the tent dry so that it's not packed wet and the tarp also means that I can take my time packing stuff and the tent.

Cheers
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Old 12-01-22, 05:05 AM
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I mentioned above that I bring a small tarp on kayak and canoe trips to sit under during those all day windy rain storms.

And I mentioned that is it a Eno hammock tarp, although I do not sleep in a hammock, I bought the tarp that was designed for hammocks. If anyone is curious what it looks like, this is a photo from my canoe trip in Oct in Northern Minnesota.



I pitch it low enough that it does not catch a lot of wind. Too low to stand under, but high enough for anything else.

It works very well for that purpose.

I also do not bring a chair on bike trips, but it is nice to have on canoe trips.
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Old 12-01-22, 06:36 AM
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We have a tarp that packs up to something hardly bigger than your fist and covers the tent entirely. Most importantly, it is about 1.5 meters longer than the tent. So we use it when we know there will be evening rain but we want to sit outside the tent. We have gizmos that turn a sleeping pad into a chair and happily sit out, cook, drink beer and enjoy the sound of the rain all whilst being outside. So the tarp now and then makes for a great evening. When we tour in winter we usually don't take it because as soon as the sun goes down we need to be inside the tent for warmth. That can mean 12 hours in the tent. So, yes, a tarp can be fantastic in bad weather.
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Old 12-01-22, 06:45 AM
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From a post I made back in 2020 on the topic:

Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
I've used tarps quite a bit with car-camping and last week used one while bike touring in northern MN. We expected and had variable weather. Tarps can offer a lot of protection for very little weight. We have a 10x12 silnylon tarp that weighs in just shy of a pound. Add in setup lines & rigging lines and stakes and we're at about 2 lbs. If you take two additional setup poles that can add a half pound(for 50 inch aluminum tent-type poles) to 1.25 lbs for a pair of adjustable hiking sticks. We had hiking sticks last week.

We also had a 4.5 lb two-person tent. Lows at night got down to the low 30's..we were comfortable and had a great trip.



We've been on several tours since and haven't taken the tarp setup. It's a nice option to have. With the two of us carrying gear, we have a little more flexibility in taking a luxury item here or there.
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Old 12-01-22, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
With the two of us carrying gear, we have a little more flexibility in taking a luxury item here or there.
Yeah. When I toured with my now ex we used a tent that came with a free footprint. We still took a tarp. Came in particularly handy one day while staying at a campground that was just getting up and running. It had no picnic tables yet, so we had to cook and eat on the grass, which was wet from earlier showers. Our butts stayed dry.
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