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Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team

6 Ways to Pitch a Tarp

By Alpkit
29, May, 2019

Don't tie yourself in knots and or get tangled in your tarp on your next camp trip, just take a look at our 6 top tarp setups before you go!

Summer is upon us! That means more daylight to enjoy, more agreeable weather to enjoy it in (well, in theory), and more nights out under the stars feeling like your part of nature… It’s time to dig out your tarps and revise some tarpology.

When you know how, a tarp is one of the most versatile and handy bits of kit you can own. It’s lighter than a full tent, goes up faster when you’re caught in an unexpected downpour, and lets you sleep out in the wilderness.

 

You can craft your tarp into a shelter using any one of an inexhaustible list of configurations, depending on your campsite, the weather, and how ambitious you’re feeling.

When we say inexhaustible, we mean inexhaustible (one of the books on our HQ bookshelf is called ‘651 ways to rig a tarp’). There is such a thing as too much choice though, so we've chosen a few of our favourites...

Our Top 6 Tarp Tips

  1. Plough Point Shelter
    • A fast and light shelter using just 3 pegs, some cord, and your trekking pole. 
  2. Continuous Ridge Line
    • A classic shelter design, especially great for using with a hammock.
  3. The Reflect Wedge
    • Set up shelter using your bike, great for when there's a lack of natural features.
  4. Buried Sand Bags
    • Stay cool on the beach and turn your tarp into a beach shelter, no pegs needed!
  5. Kayak Bivvy
    • Create quick attachments to paddles, walking poles or anything really!
  6. Van Attachment
    • Utilise your car or van at the campsite and extend your living area.

1. Plough Point Shelter

Why We Like It

Step 1:

Tie Fredd cord to one of the corner tie down loops.

Step 2:

Lie the tarp flat on the ground where you want it and peg out the other three corners.

Step 3:

Raise the fourth corner using your pole, insert the pole tip into the rig point and tension by pegging out the Fredd cord that you tied on earlier. A longer pole (like the CarbonLong) gives you more headroom.

Pro Tip:

Pitch away from the wind for the best protection from the elements.

2. Continuous Ridge Line

Why We Like It

  • A classic
  • Super simple if you have a tarp with riser attachment points
  • Uses minimal hardware
  • Fits nicely over a hammock

Step 1:

Home Prep - you can prepare your tarp at home by threading your line through any ridge risers you may have on your tarp. Attach a clipper to one end of the line and tie a prussik knot about halfway along the line with another clipper attached to it (There are plenty of videos online showing this knot). Now pack your tarp into a stuffbag trying the leave the 2 clippers hanging out the top for a swift set up.

Step 2:

Find two trees that have enough room between them to pitch your tarp and choose what height you would like it. Run the clipper (without the prussik) around the first tree and clip it back through the ridgeline and attach it to the centre point of your tarp.

Step 3:

Now work your way along the ridgeline to the other end of your tarp, slide the prussik knot along the line so you have enough line to  wrap it around the second tree and clip it into the centre point of this side of the tarp. Pull the prussik knot towards the tree to tighten.

Step 4:

Work the line around the trees to slide the tarp left or right to position it over your camp or hammock, then attach guys to each corner of your tarp and peg them out.

Download the Continuous Ridge Line tarp shelter as a PDF

3. The Reflect Wedge

Why We Like It

  • Ideal for lightweight bikepacking with a tarp
  • It’s quick and easy to setup - requiring little equipment, a small area, and no natural features
  • It provides wind shelter from two directions
  • You can light your stove just outside.

Step 1:

Peg down the long edge of your tarp.

Step 2:

Remove your front wheel.

Step 3:

Create a ridge line from corner to corner. Tie a length of cordage to the corner you wish to lift, secure it to the seat post / saddle of your bike and peg out. Your bike should be at approx 90º to this ridge line. The illustration below shows the setup from above.

Step 4:

Peg down the last corner making the tarp taught(ish)

Step 5:

Attach a long loop of cordage to 2 lifter points, wrap this around your wheel, pull tight and peg out.

(Note : this set up can be replicated with 2 walking poles in place of a bike)

Download the Reflect Wedge tarp setup as a PDF

4. Buried Sand Bags

Why We Like It

  • Stay cool on the beach
  • No need for pegs
  • Creates shade in open beach areas

Step 1:

Attach lengths of Fredd to the tarp at the leading corners and at the lifter tabs halfway along the sides. Loop around the top of your sticks and down to the sand.

Step 2:

Fill your bag with sand and attach the Fredd cord.

Step 3:

Scoop out a hole in the sand and bury the bag. You could also bury a stick, this also works on snow.

Pro Tip

Quickly attach Fredd to your Rig Tarp with our Clipper accessory carabiners.

Download the Buried Sandbags beach shelter as a PDF

5. Kayak Bivvy

Why We Like It

  • Minimal extra equipment needed
  • Utilises the Rig tarp’s stuff sack
  • Can be pitched on the beach without pegs

Step 1:

Place your stuff bag over the top of the paddle.

Step 2:

Pull the drawcord tight around the paddle blade.

Step 3:

Attach a clipper to the end of the drawcord and clip on to any of the Rigs attachment points.

Step 4:

Peg out your paddle using Fredd and if you are on the beach or snow check out our earlier Top Tarp Tip - Buried Sand Bags.

Pro Tip

You can Larks foot the stuff bag’s drawcord around the webbing loops that cover the Rig, eliminating the need for a Clipper.

Download the Kayak Bivvy tarp tip as a PDF

6. Van Attachment

Why We Like It

  • Simple trick for extending your living area
  • Create a quick shelter, awning, or changing room.

Step 1:

Pass a piece of cord through an attachment point.

Step 2:

Tie a big double overhand knot in the cord.

Step 3:

 Trap the cord in your vehicle door.

Pro Tip

If you have a set of walking poles use these in the opposite corners to prop the tarp up.

Download the Van Attachement tarp tip as a PDF

***WARNING*** - Leaving this set up over a long period in bad weather can cause water to seep along the cord and ‘drip’ into your vehicle.

Got a favourite tarp configuration that we’ve missed? Send us your photos!

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