Ray Jardine Tarp vs. Tarp Tent
Posted: 15 April 2009 01:34 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I am really interested in making a one person tarp and I have decided to either make the RayWay tarp or the Tarp Tent that is detailed on Thru-Hiker. Both look like great tarps and I’m having trouble deciding on which to tackle. Any opinions?

As for usage expectations: I love backpacking to high ridges to camp on in order to glass wildife at first light. The trouble with that: wind. I have spent some sleepless nights in my Sierra Designs Lightyear tent listening to it getting whipped around. I figure a bivy would make a nice alternative in mostly good weather. I am planning on using EPIC fabric for the top of the bivy. I don’t expect EPIC to endure much more than a summer thunderstorm so I’d like to pair it with an open tarp in the event that I did need to endure a storm.

Any thoughts/advice would be appreciated.

Thanks and what a great forum/website (I’m new to it).

Scott

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Posted: 15 April 2009 01:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I think either of those tarp projects would be a choice that would leave you satisfied.

RE Epic:  you would be wet out in short order without some kind of canopy (like a tarp) even in a summer thunderstorm in a bivy with an Epic top, especially if you camp in dusty conditions which negatively impact the water resistance.  Epic tends to attract fine particles of dust due to its static charge.  But even in the best of conditions epic is a poor choice for a bivy top unless it is as a “splash” type top.  Ironically you could use Epic for the canopy without a problem, though there are lighter options that are a better choice unless you really need your canopy to be breathable which would not come into play with a tarp.  You might be able to make epic work if you made a hybrid type bivy where the epic top were suspended/taut with poles like a tent canopy.

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Posted: 16 April 2009 01:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Well, that just saved me a disappointment in my bivy project. I appreciate the feedback. So I guess the question now is what to use for the upper fabric on a bivy. I looked at eVent but I couldn’t find a place that I could purchase that fabric by the yard. That pretty much leaves me to decide between 2 layer Gore Tex, 3 layer Gore Tex, Entrant, or Ultrex unless there’s something that would be more highly recommended. I have samples of two layer Gore Tex and I like the fact that it seems lighter but it also comes at the cost of having a fabric right next to my sleeping bag that would seem to cause moisture to bead up which wouldn’t be very desirable.

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Posted: 16 April 2009 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I don’t know enough about the characteristics of the various wp/b fabrics you mention to be able to offer an informed opinion about which one would be best for your application.  I used to sell Epic here at thru-hiker and have used it pretty extensively for a variety of projects which is why I knew it wouldn’t work for a true bivy.

I do know enough about tarping, though, to suggest that the wind problem you mention is manageable.  I think going with the bivy you’re planning and a shaped tarp is probably a good idea as you get your tarping chops scaled up, but once you do you may find that with the right tarp and the skills to know how and where to rig it, the bivy will be unneeded.

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Posted: 17 April 2009 12:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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The more I thought about it the more I began coming to the same conclusion. I think with a bivy sack, no matter what fancy material I use, I’ll always face a condensation issue. Plus, it would be more desirable to sit out a storm under a tarp than holed up in a bivy. I think I’ll probably abandon the bivy project, at least for now, and take up the tarp project. Probably just as cost effective and ultimately more versatile. Thanks for the thoughts.

Scott

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Posted: 17 April 2009 09:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Scott,

Another consideration ... you can get a lot of coverage with a larger tarp that weighs less than a small tarp plus a bivy.

Having said that, I’ve been very happy with a home made TarpTent slightly adapted from the plans here ... until the temp gets below 25*F when I toss a bivy into my pack.

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Posted: 19 April 2009 01:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I appreciate the feedback. I think I’ll probably be tackling the TarpTent design. The directions look like something I could pull off plus I think the protection it affords at the weight it costs makes it the best choice. Just out of curiosity, are you willing to share your modifications that you made to the design? I know I’d be interested.

Scott

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Posted: 19 April 2009 02:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Things I did different from the plans:
* a slightly larger beak on the head end
* small beak on the foot end
* stake and guy line loops on the middle of each side edge
* guy out loops at the center of each roof panel

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Posted: 20 April 2009 12:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Looks great. Thanks for sharing.

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Posted: 21 April 2009 09:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I used Ultrex on a poncho once, because it is less expensive than Gortex.  I found it quite heavy, almost like coated rubber.  I donated the poncho to charity.  Ray-way tarps are great, and I really like beaks in a tarp. They are quite spacious for one and comfortable for two.  I like lots of tie out points, both along the edges, up higher to hold the sides out, and along the edges of the beaks.  Here is a picture, camping along the AT with my daughter in the fall with the first frost in the forecast.  That is why the foot end was set as low as possible and into the wind.  I stowed the tarp in “skins” or sleeves made for hammocks.  Using trees to tie out the ends, one can set the tarp in the skin to keep it dry as long as possible if it’s raining, or to set the tarp stowed over head as an emergency shelter when sleeping under the stars.  If it starts to rain in the night, just reach up and slide back the skins.  With a 10 x 12 tarp sew a reinforcement into the center and use one pole as a center pole.  Works great, too.  I use a tarp tent only during bug season.  The smallest tarp I am comfortable with is an 8 x 6.  However, using spinnaker cloth one can have a 8 cx 10 tarp that weighs less than a smaller version made out of sil-nylon.  Apologies for adding more info than you asked for.  In brief, use a tarp tent if you are expecting bugs.  I have not found a bivy necessary under a tarp unless I am using it to add warmth in the early spring or fall. 
My latest project has been to add line tensionerss to the tie-outs of sil-nylon tarps.  They really help to keep a taught pitch. 
Here is another pattern for a tarp/tent.
http://sixmoondesigns.com/ultralight/myo_NightWing.asp

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1198228962045831896KXVCDT

NB The wrinkle can be removed by adjusting the stakes.  ( Homemade Tarptent, Shires Pattern)

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1076803217045831896TXoHIX

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Posted: 22 April 2009 02:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Great post. Thanks for all the good information and tips.

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Posted: 19 August 2009 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Jim Colten - 19 April 2009 02:18 AM

Things I did different from the plans:
* a slightly larger beak on the head end
* small beak on the foot end
* stake and guy line loops on the middle of each side edge
* guy out loops at the center of each roof panel

Jim, I really like the design of that shelter.  Specifically, I really like how the back half of the roofline is flat (parallel to the ground)  and lower, while the front half has the traditional taper downwards. 

Is that a catenary design, or just the way this one is designed? 

Also, how do the additional (roof midway) guy out loops work for you?  On the one I made a few years back, I considered guy loops midway up the wall (after it sagged inwards when wet), but I never did follow through with the modification.

Finally, is the pattern for this available for perusal, or is it only available when purchasing “plans” or a “kit”?

Great looking shelter!

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Posted: 19 August 2009 07:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Jim, I really like the design of that shelter.  Specifically, I really like how the back half of the roofline is flat (parallel to the ground) and lower, while the front half has the traditional taper downwards.

Is that a catenary design, or just the way this one is designed?

It is more or less catenary ... probably less.  I made a pattern for the roof panels as described in Henry Shires’ TarpTent for 1, instructions available here at Thru-Hiker (and also at Henry’s TarpTent website).  I taped the pattern to a wall with the ridgeline edge up and the other edge down and level.  I hung a thin chain from the ends of the ridgeline so that it sagged an inch below the pattern’s straight ridgeline at the point of maximum deflection.  I marked the line scribed by the chain and recut the ridgeline to that curved line.

The shape you see in the photo is partially due to that curved ridgeline seam and partially due to the guylines pulling outwards.  The next one I make I’m considering skipping the curved ridgeline and just rely on the mid panel guyouts.

The initial result was too low for my size so I widened the roof panel that goes to the ground by 4 inches at the head end and 2 inches at the foot end and lengthened the poles by 4 and 2 inches.

Also, how do the additional (roof midway) guy out loops work for you?  On the one I made a few years back, I considered guy loops midway up the wall (after it sagged inwards when wet), but I never did follow through with the modification.

They work great.  Since then I’ve put those kind of guy lines on a TarpTent Cloudburst and TarpTent RainShadow and have been very pleased with the results.

Finally, is the pattern for this available for perusal, or is it only available when purchasing “plans” or a “kit”?

Like I said, I started with the TarpTent 1 plans available here.  You could use the pattern as is if you are more average sized than I am.  I built it without beaks and set it up in the back yard then marked the two end guy lines where I wanted the beaks to end and measured 1) from the corners of the ends to that mark 2) from the corners to the ridgeline ends 3) from the ridgeline ends to the mark and used those numbers to lay out the beak pattern then sewed the beaks on.

I’ll try to find a photo detailing a way to rig the beaks so they stay pretty taught at a variety of guy line angles ... here it is

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Posted: 22 August 2009 07:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Ah, thanks Jim, I appreciate it.  Those upper guys really do help to change the shape of the shelter; I like that. 

I also really like your beak technique; I pull the beak (mine’s actually a vestibule) cord out to the center stake out in front, but when it’s not perfectly inline with the tent axis, it makes the zipper harder to pull.  Great idea!

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