- WRITTEN BY DAVE QUINN
Top tips to ensure you’re sheltered at camp
This kayak camping technique article was originally published in Adventure Kayak magazine.
You’re a paddling Jedi who can keep it hull-down in any sea conditions, roll a loaded double and cook a mean backcountry soufflé. But can you set up a tarp?
Whether you’re stuck in a 10-straight-day reminder of why it’s called the “rainforest” or blessed with blistering sun in Patagonia or Baja, solid tarp skills are the sine qua non of campcraft lore that separate the backcountry pros from the schmoes.
To salvage an otherwise drowning or overcooked experience, try this advanced tarp setup, known as the Big Top. With a little practice, you can create a spacious shelter for any situation.
1. Attach tarp corner lines to either paddles or cut driftwood poles just above head height, using a clove hitch.
2. Tautly secure all four corners at a 45-degree angle from the tarp edge and a 45-degree angle to the ground.
3. Elevate the center with either a driftwood pole or two paddles duct-taped together (experiment with lengths, depending on tarp size). Tie the top of the pole to the tarp center to keep it from falling in wind gusts.
Extreme conditions may require extra anchor ropes along the tarp sides. Anchors can be driftwood, boulders, boats, trees or simply a deadman anchor—a stick or log buried in the beach perpendicular to the rope, with the rope tied to the center.
TOP TARP OPTIONS
Chlorophylle’s La Caverne (shown above), a 4.3- by 4.3-metre (18.5-square-metre) shelter, lives up to its name in both size and bulletproof construction. As versatile as it is large, it’s become essential equipment for outfitters. Hefty but reliable, with ample reinforced tie-downs and a tough center patch. $370.00 Cdn // www.chlorophylle.net
The modern, lightweight MSR Zing would be equally at home on the set of Battlestar Galactica as the wildest, wettest corners of Earth. Sold with poles, the Zing’s funky design maximizes footprint (over 18 square meters) while weighing only 2.6 kilos. Perfect for expeditions where weight is as important as comfort. $349 Cdn // www.cascadedesigns.com/MSR
Covering 11.3 square meters and weighing only 1.14 kilos, the MEC Guides Tarp is a simple emergency shelter for smaller groups. It has a full complement of tie-downs and a unique tarp-tensioning system for easy adjustments. The tarp stuff sack doubles as a reinforcement and attachment point for the center pole. $52 Cdn reg // www.mec.ca
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