Tarps - How To Set Them Up On Your Next Backpacking Trip

Nowadays, instead of using tents, the backpackers and hikers are leaning towards the use of ultralight tarps as they save up a lot of time and effort. The tarp shelters are different from the ones you would find at a hardware store. These are made with durable and thin nylon or polyester fabric that is water-resistant or in some cases, waterproof.

Let’s find out the frame set up and features of a tarp which makes it better than any other regular tent.

Setting up the Tarp in Classic A-Frame –

  • Stick both corners of the tarp down on one edge.
  • Put the poles of trekking in midway that would be the front and back of the shelter. You just need to stick down and lightly tension their guylines so that the poles are held intact in their place.
  • Stick down corners on the other side as you did for the first one and then tighten the trekking poles’ guylines.
  • Stick down the extra additional loops on every side of the tarp as needed for ensuring that the shelter is protected and stays stiff.

In case you are traveling in an area full of trees, it is advisable to use a ridgeline for setting up the A-frame. It eliminates the need to carry trekking poles.

Steps of Setting up a Ridgeline for the Tarp Shelter –

  • The first thing that you need to do is run a cord through top loops along the centreline of the tarp. In case there are no top loops, you can run the cord underneath along the tarp’s length.
  • Tie up the bowline knot around a tree.
  • On the other side, tie up the trucker's hitch to the second tree.
  • Tie up the prusik knot for it to goes through the front pole grommet as well as around the ridgeline. Repeat it with the rear pole.
  • Slide every prusik knot along the ridgeline till the time tarp is stretched along the line.
  • Stick and tension the sides and corners of the tarp shelter.

Once you know how to set up a basic tarp shelter, it is easy for you to create your own configurations and experiment freely.

The Basic Tarp Shelter Features –

  • Every tarp shelter varies but there are some standard supplies that you would always get when you purchase one.
  • Both the grommets for pole tips are present in the middle of sides of a tarp.
  • The reinforced loops are strongly tied along the corners and edges that allow you to stake them or attach the guylines.
  • There are some tarps with additional loops for adding guylines when there is a chance of strong winds.
  • Some of the tarps may have loops along the centreline on top that allows you to set the ridgeline.

The Three Important Knots –

There are three types of knots available for showing off the tying skills in case you have an expertise in cord wrangler.

  • The prusik – This knot helps you adjust the stiffness by sliding a hitch freely till the time it stays intact with the help of tension. It is used for securing the front and rear edges of the tarp along the ridgeline.
  • The bowline – This knot is essential for the safety of the guyline with a tree trunk.
  • The hitch of a trucker – This knot is used to provide security and tension to the guyline to a tree trunk.

In case you go on a hiking trip and want to set up a tarp, make sure you take the proper steps while doing the same. It would help in saving a lot of time and energy which otherwise gets utilized in setting up a tent.

Author

Cornishman and lover of adventures in the great wilderness, Mike has been writing on his website Wild Tide for three years. Jack of all outdoor pursuits (and master of none), he writes about everything he loves including: kayaking, camping, fishing, snorkelling, climbing, mountain scrambling, surfing, SUP, outdoor cooking, hiking, cycling, coastal living and his VW van. As a total gear junkie and technical clothing lover, Mike is excited and proud to write for Outdoor Look as well as Wild Tide.

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