I have been working on a “design” for a light weight tarp-tent for a couple of weeks now. I quotated the word design because it is really nothing but a 9 x 9 tarp. The design part is limited to the strategic placing of the tie-outs and staking points.
Ever since the 1950s there has been a growing assumption that camping out always meant that you needed the latest, greatest, neatest, most high-tech tent available. From the old canvas Coleman “umbrella tents” that weighed upwards of 20-30 pounds to today’s silnylon and carbon fiber 8oz. wonders, you simply had to take a tent along. Bugproof, windproof, waterproof, with the bath tub floor and the solar panel. Self-suspending, pop-up, stake-less, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Whether you are planning on car camping out at Jellystone Park or hiking the length of the Pacific Coast Trail, you have to have a tent.
Well… I can’t afford to buy a tent. I have a nice enough old REI dome tent, but it weighs a lot to shelter just one person and a labradawg “puppy”. I have been hoping to find something that I could make out of the remnants of the Tyvek weatherproofing that I used when I built my home. I have a 9 foot long roll with an “as yet to be determined” length still down cellar.
When I found that old copy of the Boy Scouting Handbook I realized that turning back my technology expectations by about 80 years might be just what I needed. It only took a bit of surfing on the Internet to come up with quite a few variations on ways to pitch a simple square or rectangular tarp into a more than acceptable shelter. The simple secret is in just where the suspension points, the tie outs, and the staking points are located on the tarp.
The form that I’m planning on is a low-slope, cross-pole one called a “Forester”, 4′ high at the front, 2′ at the back. This is my preliminary paper mockup. The tarp is suspended along the centerline from a ridge guy-wire that would run from a tie off at the back, up and over the cross poles [that point is indicated by the upside down X and upside down writing], and then out forward to a second tie off or stake-out. To achieve that 4 foot height at the front the poles only need to be a little less than 6 feet long. I figure that in the Maine woods I can scrounge two 6-foot long sticks most places I would go.
You can see the folded-in corners on the two front flaps, just imagine two similar triangular flaps folded under and inside along both side lengths. With a simple ground cloth placed under a sleeping bag and some “no-see-um” netting to toss over your face while you’re sleeping, it should be fairly utilitarian.
My hope is that I can come up with a decent shelter using only the stuff I’ve got… the tyvek, some paracord, and some “Go-rilla” duct tape.
That’s the hope. That’s the plan. And we all know about the best laid plans of mice and men. Check back for the updates.