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Despite my best efforts over the last few years not everyone ‘gets’ tarps. For some people tarps seem to present the great outdoors with the ideal opportunity to make the hours of darkness wet, cold, windy and completely miserable … sound familiar?


Trying to sleep under a tarp that’s flapping like a duck taking off or is only a stiff breeze away from depositing half a gallon of water over you and your expensive sleeping bag isn’t much fun. The chances are that by dawn you’ll already have vowed never again and resigned yourself to a life of tents. However, this sorry state of affairs isn’t the fault of the much beleaguered tarp – it’s yours!

In a last-ditch attempt to try and convert the non-believers, I’ve teamed up with the AlpKit Rig 3.5 to hopefully show you just how simple it can be … we really can’t make it any easier!

The Rig 3.5 is a great solo tarp. At 2.4m x 1.4m it’s just big enough to use all year round. It packs to virtually nothing and only weighs 270g, so it won’t weigh you down or slow you up. In common with it’s bigger siblings the 3.5’s real trump card are the mid-panel tie-out points, in this case there’s 4 which is generally 3 more than you’d find on any other similarly sized tarp … the diagram below shows where all the tie-out points are.


The 3 set-ups here, all use a pair of poles that measure 110cm and 70cm, 6 x 1m and 2 x 2m guy lines and 8 ‘decent’ pegs … total weight is 550g. The line attachment schematics show the position of the guy lines required for each set-up, the green lines indicate the position of the 2m guy lines and the black lines show the locations of the 1m lines. The ‘extra’ mid-point tie-outs in the diagrams can be used as and when conditions call for it, they can be pegged straight to the ground or tied off to your bike / stick or whatever to provide more space.


This is what we’re starting with.

When most people think tarp, they think ‘A’ Frame. It offers plenty of protection from the elements but usually at the expense of headroom. Pitch the lowest end towards the wind for the best protection / most stable pitch.


Moving the main pole nearer to the tarp will raise the shelter.


Aim for an even tension and as few creases as possible.

The Half Pyramid is quick to pitch and offers the most room. The open front isn’t great in windy, wet conditions so consider pitching it facing walls, trees, etc. It’s very stable and will withstand pretty much anything.


Pitch the opening towards natural shelter.


Surprising amount of space and very storm-worthy.

If things get really wild, then the addition of a dropped tail to the ‘A’ Frame makes it much more storm resistant but with a reduction in space. Move the main pole away from the tarp to lower the front of the shelter.


If things get ‘blowy”.

The Rig 3.5 is available directly from AlpKit and if you’d like some poles to accompany your tarp, you can find them HERE.

2 Comments

  1. Moglington says:

    This may sound a silly question but how go you secure the lines to the poles? How do you prevent the knots sliding up and down the poles?

  2. Not a silly question at all … the poles have a 'locking tip'. You simply wrap the line around the tip a couple of times then peg it out as normal, no knots required. There's a picture on this thread which will explain better than I can:
    http://bearbonesbikepacking.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/bear-bones-guide-to-rig7-part-1.html

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