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There’s no excuse for an appallin’ tarpaulin. PHOTO: DAVE QUINN

[ CampCraFt ]

from the Storm


A few anchor points of GOOD TARP DESIGN


ranting protection from the rain or shade from the sun, no other piece of equipment

is as useful and versatile yet easy to pack along as a tarp. The most secure and comfortable set-ups

have a stable ridge forming the highest part of the tarp. The best way to support the ridge is to string

an independent line between two trees or poles. This is called a ridgeline and once this sturdy line is established at the right height you can drape the tarp over it. If there is no natural anchor point exactly

where you need it, then run a line at an oblique angle between two adjacent trees. Tie a loop in this line where you would have your anchor and secure your ridgeline to the loop. Next, run anchor lines from the corners at

about 45 degrees from the ridgeline axis, with additional lines from grommets or tabs on the sides as wind conditions warrant. Be creative about what you anchor to: tent pegs, trees, roots, bow or stern grab handles and thwarts. The heavier the rain, the steeper the tarp’s side slopes should be so it sheds water better in case the tarp is worn and not entirely waterproof. Remember that most tarp fabrics stretch

when wet. This means the water pools just in- side the hemmed edges, which don’t stretch as much. Create a drainage valley by using a line to pull down one of the attachment points near the centre of the tarp’s lowest edge. Tie this line to an anchor, or simply weight it with a


stuff sack of stones or a water bottle.

Think outside the box Bungalow-style roof set-ups are great where they work, but campsite geography or weather conditions might demand creativity.

» On oddly shaped sites, run the ridgeline from one corner of the tarp to the oppo- site corner. This creates a longer ridgeline and triangular sloping panels that fit more easily between trees.

» For a simple lean-to, you can tie only the tarp’s highest edge to the ridgeline, instead of draping half the tarp over to create a second roof aspect. This protects from a driving rain while still providing maximum overhead coverage.

» If the weather is terrible and you don’t need much space under the tarp, set it up with one high corner and three low cor- ners to create a cave-like set-up that opens downwind to provide maximum shelter.


» Carry at least 20 metres of stout cord that ties and unties easily. More line means more options.

» Learn to tie the trucker’s hitch for a tensioned ridgeline and the taut-line hitch for anchor lines that you can adjust without retying.


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