This old, blue tarp

Shenandoah River State Park

Shenandoah River State Park

I don’t remember where I got this blue tarp. Campmor? Wal-Mart? I’m not even sure when I bought it, but it must have been when I lived in upstate New York, so that was more than 15 years ago.

What I do know is this thing has been with me on many, many trips and has saved a lot of them.

I attract rain when I go car camping. It’s been this way since I was a kid. My father and I joked about renting ourselves out to farmers in need of rain for their fields.

So when you are dealing with a rainstorm nothing makes life better than a tarp over your head. It isn’t very fancy – no cantilever wings, no super lightweight silicon impregnated fabric. Just good old ripstop polyethylene in an 8’ x 10’ size. I have a ziplock bag filled with odds and ends of rope that gives me all the options I need for rigging it among trees (or occasionally to a picnic table or a roof rack).

I don’t think about the tarp that much – other than making sure it is packed for the trip, rigging it is it isn’t too stressed by wind or water pooling and then making sure it is dried out before being put back into storage. But when the rain starts to fall, I am really happy to have it overhead.

Some tips for setting up a tarp:

There are a number of tarps on the market that are designed to provide better protection and easier setup than the traditional square/rectangle. Here is one and another

A Fitpacking trip I went on used something similar to this, which was nice because of its multiple anchor points.

The knot I love about all others – even more than the figure eight – is the taut-line hitch. Perfect for tarp lines, tent lines, even moving all your furniture in the back of truck.

Here is pretty nice illustration and website:

Here is a good video, with some know illustrations, on how to pitch a tarp:

Have a great day.


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