Richard Bucker

tarp shelter is harder than it looks

Posted at — Nov 9, 2016

Setting up a stasha looks simple enough:Snugpak StashaBut it is harder than it looks and I’m not sure how this person got the fabric to lay so perfectly without any typical hallmarks of tension on the material.My first attempt looked like this:First I staked the corners with some expectation of the shelter’s width. I tried to use the poles and some tension from the poles but I had nothing but sag in the middle.So I decided to use the poles as loops. This worked ┬áto give the ridge of the shelter some tension, however the cordage was on the outside of the shelter which would make hanging a bugnet impossible.Also, you might not be able to tell from this angle but it is going to be impossible to get in the shelter for all but maybe the youngest or smallest child.I tried leaning the pole to one side. Maybe a few small adults would be able to enter the shelter but this is starting to remind me of a WWII Shelter. Enter on one side and exit the other.I started looking more closely at the example picture and I noticed a few things. [a] there seemed to be a few more tie-out points than my tarp. [b] at the point where the ridgeline exits the shelter is seems to have about a 15 degree slope toward whatever the cordage is attached to. I imaging it’s a tree or some other fixed object. (I also noticed the seam ran perpendicular to the ridgeline.)So I reconsidered the configuration and got this:I set my poles to 44in and set them back about 2-4 feet from the shelter.And I had some success although this looks like 30 degrees and not 15. Which, after a few minutes, the tarp settled and this happened:Notice the end bunched up.There is only one way to get a taught ridgeline and that’s probably a good anchor. In my case the soil is loose and the coral underneath it is too hard. Yet another one of the lessons learned about erecting non-primitive shelters.I typically buy my cordage in 100 foot increments and I have a bucket filled with remnants. Right now I’m feeling the fool as this was a new 100 foot spool of cordage that I cut into 3x 25ft lengths and in the picture above the one 25ft segment was perfect for the application. And maybe that’s why bushcrafters make the recommendation. They also tend to recommend 4x 10ft segments. In total that is 65ft leaving 35ft for whatever or maybe a bearbag hang although I’ve read 50ft.I’m guessing the height at this point. I’m just trying to get an easy lay.Here is the cinch.Commentary. I do not like this shelter. Trying to insert the stakes I realized how wet the ground was and the idea of tracking that mud into my sleeping bag was going to be a problem because I wanted to care for my gear so that I was not replacing it every hike.Now I’ll install my sleeping system.1) tyvek foorprint 2) them-a-rest closed cell mattress 3) SOL 2 person blanket/bivy 4) pyramid mosquito netNotice I have these badge clips. They were intended to secure the net to my hammock but I realized the would work with the tarp too.And then I got everything stuffed under the shelter.I think the answer looks like this:It was fast to setup and faster to break down… even though I did not complete the task and I could still use some practice… it’s just more reliable than the tarp shelter. I think I can make an argument for a hammock but the ground hammock is a waste of time for certain.UPDATE: I did not want to write a second review or a review of the SeaToSummit Sil poncho but I took my poncho and drapped it over the tarp in order to compare them. On this side I lined them up edge to edge and then walked around the shelter to the other side.There is about a 6 inch difference in width. This is less than super fantastic because [a] the snugpak shelter is not big enough for an adult human. [b] therefore the tarp/poncho is not either.The SOL below is just a few inches smaller, offers heat reflection, packs smaller, is $10 cheaper, includes cordage and stakes even though they are Trump sized (small). and is lighter by about 50g.One thing for certain those stakes need to be secure and that was not possible in my backyard.