Tent or tarp? (1 Viewer)

jdrakeh

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I imagine this boils down to personal preference and/or knowledge of outdoor survival skills, but which of these two items generally makes for a better pack accessory on cross-country trips?

When camping (weekend trips), I've used a tarp instead of a tent — if you know how to stake it and work the ground around it, a tarp and a short piece of nylon rope can be much more versatile than a tent in different weather conditions. That said, I appreciate the comfort of a tent and the comparatively easy set up.

As I mention in the Introductions forum, though, I've never done any extended hitching or wilderness trekking. Thus, the query. Is a tarp's versatility better than the comfort/weight of a tent in the long run? Or is it wiser to invest some $$$ in an expensive-ish light-weight backpacking tent for travel?
 
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wartomods

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i prefer a single wall tent, i think you can find them cheap at general sports stores.
 

stove

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Agree with Wider (I'm certain this has been brought up before, but won't hold it against ya). I'm hitching around europe now, and actually just spent last night out in the rain, wrapped up in my 6x8 silnylon tarp. I *WOULD* have stayed totally dry despite the rainstorm if I had not been sitting in a puddle (my bad). Also, if I had not given my nylon rope away, I would have been able to actually pitch it...

It's totally personal preference. Weight vs comfort vs cost vs size. I would say tarp in MOST three-season situations; winter I'll go for a tent for the heat. Bugs can also be an issue, and one well worth considering if you've spent time in the mountains or any wetlands...
 
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jdrakeh

jdrakeh

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Agree with Wider (I'm certain this has been brought up before, but won't hold it against ya).
I searched and didn't find this specific topic, but it's possible that it was posted under another heading.

It's totally personal preference. Weight vs comfort vs cost vs size. I would say tarp in MOST three-season situations; winter I'll go for a tent for the heat. Bugs can also be an issue, and one well worth considering if you've spent time in the mountains or any wetlands...
I grew up in Eastern Kansas and did a lot of camping as a kid, so I'm used to insect issues. I haven't done much outdoor living during the Winter — can the heat retention issue be mitigated by a good 0-5 sleeping bag?
 

dirtyfacedan

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I got my siltarp in Portland. I think it's a great piece of kit. A bivy sack is a good thing to have as well. I'm not a fan of tents, unless it's shared space.
 

compass

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There are some pretty light and compact mosquito nets you can pack which are really easy to string up, with or without your tarp. Or you can just make a custom one out of no-see-um mesh to suit your needs.

Tarps are so versatile and can be used for pretty much all conditions if you know how to use them right. The weight and space savings can't be beat. Also, the ventilation is way better, so condensation isn't really a problem. I pack a silnylon poncho tarp.
 

kai

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depending where I'm gonna be I prefer a tarp but if i have to live outside somewhere amongst hordes of mosquitoes and black flies (northern ontario for example) and do so for an extended period of time I feel a tent would be invaluable.
 

wartomods

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I have a cheap single wall tent for two persons it weights 2 kilos , it is basicly a tarp with a zipper, with poles and a compression bag, so doesnt bother me at all
 
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I packed a small one-person tent. I don't like bugs or spiders. =P

It's really up to the person and what they are comfortable with.
 

mikey mayhem

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i wish i knew how to use a tarp accurately. every one i have seen use a tarp in heavy rain storms has came out soaked. so i prefer to use a single person tent, i use the eureka solitaire and it works wonders especially in hawaii where i had to worry about monsoon storms and centipedes and all the other critters that go bump in the night. but i guess it depends on the person and there skills with the tarp and tolerance of bugs.
 

stove

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wonder if the nylon rope that stove 'gave away' is the same stuff that is sitting here on my table, LOL
Nah, i actually picked up some more, and only recently in Ukraine gave it away...I tend to do that when someone says that they need something which I have.
 

wizehop

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depending where I'm gonna be I prefer a tarp but if i have to live outside somewhere amongst hordes of mosquitoes and black flies (northern ontario for example) and do so for an extended period of time I feel a tent would be invaluable.
Ya man Norther Ontario can be a bit insane that way. I'm still working on getting a bivi with the mosquito netting. It really does come down to total weight and size of your pack. I end up sleeping on the train more than anything and a tent just inst too practical....besides I hate packing tents up in the AM.
 
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tents have poles. tarps need cord/rope. or, the good old guys at rei give you a 1.5person tent with a rainfly (tarp). both worlds, 2.5 pounds. $100.
bugs and snakes or sideways rain = tent
rain or for general cover = rainfly
yeah i know your sil tarp is like 8 oz. mines 4 times that. but thats like carrying 3 beers in my bag. its all preference, and what your pack can handle. cheers.
 

drun_ken

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once again i dont know......these guys said some thin....and uh yeah....there is that milatary isused tarp.poncho tent thingy...oh dude those things are awesome...otherwise fuck it tarp and tent and like 70 other pounds of truly sometimes usless shit.........
 
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I have a cheap, heavy, 12x8 tarp, nice for versatility but I'd like to go siltarp for weight savings. The heavy tarp hasn't let me down yet though.
 

mkirby

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I've always used a lightweight tarp, and I've never had any issues.

Though I do try to stay away from places with gnarly weather.
 

Ravie

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oh man, i used to use a 9x6 and it was great for just me or a partner, but one time i went on a trip with two newbies and niether had a tarp...durring early spring. Rain. Lots of rain. Everything I owned was soaked for like 2 weeks. I eventually gave away my tarp to a couple i caught a train with and got a bigger one.
 

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