All Things Tarp Peg

Enough things have arrived through China Post to go ahead and start a few quick reviews.

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One one of the cheapos-from-China sites had an odd 11-11 sale on November 11th. Just about everything was discounted nearly a third. This made it pretty inviting for me to put together an order for a mixed lot of small camping stuff. My experience has been that the gear that I get almost always passes my 90% of the utility for 50% or less of the price guidelines. This lot certainly seems to qualify.

First up, in the front of the above photo was a package of five “Snow & Sand” stakes… Why five? No clue. It does seem like an odd number.  But was perfectly fine for me, because what I intended to do was to take a hacksaw to one of the snow stakes and make a little cat hole shovel.

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Five minutes work with the blade and a file, a mini’biner and a piece of cord, yielded me exactly what I wanted.   30 grams [or just over 1 oz.], easy to see if dropped, easy to hold, and since the package of five pegs was only just over $5 US, it cost me less than almost any other solution I could’ve found. Together with a pair of mil-spec toilet paper packages, and I’m good to go… a-yuh… pun intended.

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The other pegs are just your standard 7″ Y-stake with a nice annodized coating. They are available in red, black, gold, silver,and can sometimes be found in blue. Most sites give you a random pick, but some allow you to specify a preference. I honestly don’t recall whether I chose or went random, but mine are fine by me in the bright red. Whatever, the price of $.50 apiece for what to all intents and purposes is an MSR Groundhog stake** [and those are usually priced at around $2.00 each] made them a good buy. These claim to made of the same 7001 grade aluminum as the more expensive ones, but since nobody sends their units out for professional metallurgy testing, who knows about either ones claim. All I care about is that at the Chinese price point I can bend quite a few and still have quite a few left… and I could not bend one with bare hands. [** the MSRs are actually 4/10″ longer, but also 6gm heavier each… 19gm vs. 13gm]

The more important part about these pegs is the little plastic dongle shown in the photo above. Earlier in the fall, at one of our NEHHA hammock hangs, my friend Alex showed me this trick. $o.93 cents down at the hardware store got me a T-connector for flexible piping like you use for yard sprinkler systems. I went ahead and put a couple pieces of tape on it for easy visibility, and I will also probably end up putting a piece of cord on it.

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You just shove it over the top of your tarp stake as a handle, and use it to push the peg into the ground with a little wiggle to avoid rocks or roots. When you want to pull the peg out, you simply slip the vertical through the loop and give it a tug. Easy-peasy. The best part is since you are not using a rock or your foot to force the stake into the ground, you have almost completely removed the possibility of damaging it.

I am relatively happy with these purchases. I now have some redundancy in terms of pegs for my multiple setups, so that I don’t have to go pirating for some each time I want to use a different tarp. I also believe that the orange cord on the Y-pegs is going to turn out to be reflective, which is a nice little gimme when you’re stumbling around in the dark. The cat-hole shovel turned out so well that I may just vandalize the rest of the snow stakes to make some more as giveaways for my friends… gawd knows I’ve got tons of the MRE toilet paper packets down cellar to go with them. Since they are in that bright, anodized red color, they might make a really great stocking stuffer for the holiday season…

Another Quick Pitch

This time with my favourite hiking stick, and staked down at the front instead of flying.

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Higher, but narrower at the front… still over 5′ wide though. I do think that the GripClips are in my future. They would let me set the side pullouts lower, and could secure some mesh netting across the ends.

A First [Yard] Pitch of the New Tarp

Low “Forester” variation… Just a dropped, standard A-frame pup with the back corners pulled under… but the available area inside is great. (3’2″ height at the front/ 18″ a the rear/ nearly 7′ wide in front)

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It was super easy to pitch. However, Miss Connie got frustrated with how slippery the sil-poly was to work with, and I guess she ended up forgetting the ridgeline tieouts. While I could have just used the ridge-end ties, I went ahead and ran the guy-line under the ridge. It looks like I’m going to be springing for a package of those Grip-Clips.

The Tarp-Tent Is Here!

True to her word, Miss Connie has completed the custom-made, 9 x 9 [+] Khaki silpoly2 tarp that we conspired together…

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It should be around 9’4″ square… haven’t measured.

14 edge tie-outs

4 ridge tie-outs + 4 corners

6 surface tie-outs

1′ long daisy-chain w/ 8 loops inside under ridge and the ridge is grosgrain taped end-to-end w/ tie-out loops

Total weight in bag w/ 9- 8″ aluminum gutter-spikes for tent-pegs…19.6 oz. [it stuffed down to fit perfectly in an old L.L. Bean para-foil kite bag that I had lying around, but I’ll need to figure out something to toss the spikes into]

I am totally impressed with how it came out,  and especially at how tiny it packs down. Miss Connie, being the fine clothing seamstress that she is, thinks it looks like a piece of crap; I, being a country geezer, I think that it’s going to do just fine.

I will need to string it up on a bright sunny day so I can run some seam seal along the ridge to prevent drip-through, and I need to scrub a bit of the gradooh off of the old gutter-spikes and give the top half of them a quick spray with some Day-Glo orange paint so they’re easier to see in low-light conditions… then I think we’re rock’n roll and waiting for good weather to do a trial pitch.

If I can find a couple of extra dollars, I plan on buying a package of these patent pull-out clips , and a couple of mini-reels of this Kevlar cord to use as guy-lines. Even without those gratuitous extras, I think this is going to be a tremendous upgrade to my camping gear. I can’t wait for a chance to try it out.

Tarp Tent Success!

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A product that does what it says!

ATSKO Silicon Water-Guard Sealant

I found mine over at Wally World for under six dollars. A quick bit of Internet research on the hammock and tent backpacking forums had persuaded me that plain old ScotchGuard was basically useless in this situation, but there seemed to be a lot of people who were recommending this ATSKO product.

I gave the old tarp a brief cycle through the washing machine with some gentle, “non-detergent” detergent, let it dry completely strung up out in the sun, and gave it a thorough treatment that used up one full can on a 9′ x 11′ tarp. The instructions include the idea that you need to shake the can up regularly while you spray. I found that a steady circular motion not only gave me very efficient coverage but also kept the little ball bearings rolling around almost constantly. There was almost no fluid left in the can when the propellant was exhausted. Just like they claim. The fluid went on smoothly to penetrate the nylon taffeta fabric very evenly, and it was also easy to determine how evenly the spray was covering the surface without any signs of soaking or drips. I didn’t have any doubt that I had followed the instructions and gotten the results that were indicated. This was yesterday morning, and this morning the heavy dew-fall had beaded up almost microscopically on the whole surface. A couple of quick flip/shakes and the whole tarp shed all the moisture. … You can’t ask much more than that.

Six dollars to renovate a 40-year-old tarp seems like a fairly good deal. Back in the 1970s PU treated nylon had just started to be used, and this was a pretty expensive tarp back then, so I’m grateful I was able to bring it back to full usefulness. We will string it up this weekend for a little shelter up by the river, and I’ll let you know whether it works out as well as it seems to.

Tarp Tent Fail

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I found an old catenary cut tarp that I bought back in the 1970s, so, yesterday I took some time to try to rig it up… not once, but twice. Once using an old sectional tentpole to spring it, and once without.

It certainly doesn’t look like it in the pictures, but… Fail! Always check out your gear at home before you leave, Kiddies.

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It went up OK both times, and was at least functional. However, it wasn’t designed for the gullwing/kite configuration I wanted to use. The tie-out points did not line up when the ridgeline was run corner to corner… It was planned for straight A-frame suspension; rectangular, front to back.  No matter what I did, there was always some droop and slackness that was going to flap badly in any kind of real wind.

Still, as I said, it was at least functional. Free, too… ne sait pas ?   The real problem showed up when it got dark and the dew came down. It soaked right through like it was a cotton sheet. Drips beading up on every interior fold, and dripping down. So now I’m left with the conundrum of whether to waste a can of spray Scotchgard on it. I suspect that all I would get was water resistance not waterproofing. I hate getting wet… Any Thoughts?

It looks like they just didn’t make stuff 40 years ago like they made stuff 41 years ago… Nothing lasts,  you just can’t count on stuff anymore.

Onward etc.