Tarp tenting

“Almost tarp” tent

Tarp shelters are a common solution to ultralight camping.  They are simple, light and easy to build.  But they only provide a roof.  Walls (bug protection) and floor are extra or missing. “Almost tarp” tents address this.  My Six Moons design Night Wing tent is a good example.

The Night Wing is basically a tarp with netting closing the ends and edge.  It couples with a custom Tyvek 1443R floor.  But on a recent alpine climb approach, I was bothered by a lot of condensation that was wetting out my sleeping quilt.  Adding a bivy bag over the quilt or bag would give me both warmth and separation from condensation.  But that’s another pound!.

Alpine tarp bivy

The next outing involved two nights at a high camp at 7500′.  I decided to go lighter taking only an old sil-nylon tarp I made a few years ago and my very old Early Winters Gore-Tex bivy bag, to which I had recently added a waterproof zipper.  It worked, but the tarp had been designed only as a cooking shelter and was really not long enough to fully cover the bivy bag.  In practice this should not be an issue to have a waterproof bag sticking out into the rain, but….  In thinking about it, I wondered if I could easily improve things. A few hours of sewing and an ounce of fabric later, problem solved.

Too short

1 oz. extension

The extension is just a triangular piece of fabric added to the rear edge of the tarp with a tieout at the end.  It lengthens the rain coverage of the tarp by 22″ and turns it into a 10 oz. tarp tent.  Adding a poly-cro ground sheet and the same bivy completes the picture.

I took this setup on the next climb, pitching it on a ridge below our intended peak.  I used trekking poles front and rear to hold up the ridge line. It lacks bug protection, but seems a good solution to high altitude tenting.  Pitched lower to the ground, it handles wind better than the Night Wing.  I oriented it into the wind and the wind channeled through and over it keeping it inflated and quiet.  My bivy bag hood blocked the wind and I had a cozy night.  The air flow also prevented any condensation at all from forming.  In a more protected spot, I can pitch the front higher to get better headroom than with the Night Wing.  At 12.7 oz. including 6 stakes and a stuff sack, it proves to be usable, lightweight shelter, with a 35 sq.ft. footprint that could hold two in a pinch.

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