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Knowledge is Power
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What is a Tarp Shelter? Here is another blog article that I am writing for our website. Feel free to point out anything you find useful/ not useful.

A tarp shelter is the most basic and often one of the most cost effective and flexible shelters that one can make and carry. A tarp shelter generally consists of cordage and a tarp of some sort. Depending on the size of the tarp they can be cast as an A frame, a simple lean-to (wind break and/or heat reflector), as a rain catchment system, a simple shade system, field expedient ground blind, really anything that you can imagine.

A good tarp shelter kit comes complete with everything you might need for a day at the lake, a weekend hunting, or simply a light-weight shelter for those long cross country motorcycle rides. It should be light weight yet as flexible as possible regarding emplacement and usage. It should provide fast set-up and take down.

Our idea started with a USMC field tarpaulin in good condition and added a supply of light weight 7075 aluminum tent stakes, a generous 25’ ridgeline complete with line lock and carabiner, (4) 10’ guy-lines, a low-profile water-resistant carry bag, instructions, and a small waterproof bag to keep your instructions and lines waterproof. We also ensured that there is ample room in that small bag for tinder, fire starter, and in the main carry bag, room for a water bottle and emergency food like a lifeboat ration and even a survival blanket.

We chose a drawstring backpack because they are often used in the gym and contain smelly gym clothes and such. If this kit is kept in a vehicle, it should be as unobtrusive/ not valuable looking as possible in the event of a vehicular theft.

These kits are perfect for bank fishing with your kids/grandkids, emergency shelter in your motorcycle saddlebag, the trunk of your car, or in your bug-out bag. Our entire kit weighs in well under 3lbs.

Jeans Plant Bedrock Vegetation Outdoor recreation

Plant Sky Water Natural landscape Tree
 

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Growing up, we didn't have tents. Just a tarp, not really a kit.. Support framing was cut at the campsite. Usually from branches of downed trees or small saplings. Those were cut with the Hatchett and bow saws we used to collect our firewood. Aside from the tarp, the only other thing we carried to build our shelter was some cordage to tie it off where needed.

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USMC,

In reply to theme of what I look for;

Would like a ripstop nylon w/ 1 side forest green (prefer not OD) and other side orange or white (to cut into strips to make "X" on ground for RayBan SAR acft. Would seek part of this bolt of material to be mosquito netting for various rigging options. No velcro fasteners !

Instead of that tentpeg type of stakes, would like a single pole of tomato patch type (like sold in Walmart.) that breaks down into a couple of sizes.

Would like this material fitted out w/ 107 lb. test braided fabric fishing line since less bulky than paracord.

My preference is a small canopy shelter rather than a traditional puptent.

Would seek this wraped and packd without any additions like survival blanket; just for a shelter.
 

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Isaiah 41:10, Acts 5:29
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What do I look for?
A misquito net.
No-see-um net

Also at least 3 military grade high quality grommets/snaps to a side (12+) fit net and tarp both sides (reversible color as suggested above)

And packs down very small, weighs next to nothing (way less than 1 pound)

No fireproofing or other toxic chemicals

Waterproof

Doesn't let light through
 

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No-see-um net

Also at least 3 military grade high quality grommets/snaps to a side (12+) fit net and tarp both sides (reversible color as suggested above)

And packs down very small, weighs next to nothing (way less than 1 pound)

No fireproofing or other toxic chemicals

Waterproof

Doesn't let light through
OF,

It would be most helpful if you could explain and contrast to newer Preppers here the distinction(s) between No See 'Ems ans mosquito netting.

I admit to using cost as one of my criteria.
 

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if you find a good supply of the mentioned tarp in great condition. IE no pin holes id be interested in 3 or 4 if the price is reasonable. Id even pay a little extra for hand selected but tarps with holes in them are of no use to me...
 

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all kits like this should come with an LED light, and a booklet of different ways to make bedding etc. so, if you handed anyone the kit, in the middle of the night - who doesn't know anything about the kit, can actually set it up and use it, and know how to do some of the things that improve the experience. you'll have a long time out there, if you need an emergency shelter, you might also want a way to charge that LED light, with a 10$ USB solar charger. Maybe that will go in the advanced kit, and cost a few bucks more.
 

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Whatever you choose for a tarp shelter, two major (and one minor) considerations should drive your shelter choice train:

1. Are you trying to hide? Or merely overtly bivouac without security concerns? Both styles of tarp shelter pitching will keep the elements off of you, but local security conditions dictate the style of shelter (and color of fabric). It does no good to stealth camp, then burrow into a shelter you can't see out of. Or a brightly colored one visible to distant observers. If armed threats can readily spot you at a distance and then approach unseen, your shelter may just become your burial shroud. Certain styles of tarp shelter pitch allow you to see around your perimeter... and also employ your weapon from under the shelter.

2. You need a tarp roof large enough to fully cover you and your kit from driving rain, but small enough to still pitch in tighter spots. It's the Goldilocks Equation...too big, too small, or just right. My field experience says that something about 7' x 10' or 8' x 10', in ripstop nylon or silnylon is the most useful and packable size for one person. You need enough overhead footprint to extend past head and toe when under shelter, plus provide some useful drape to left & right. Otherwise...the rain will get you and your gear. IMHO, 5' x 7' (typical single USGI poncho size) is too small for anything but a hammock roof or temporary sunshade/passing storm shelter. For actual RON (rest overnight) or longer termed camps...two ponchos of that size snapped together instead.

3. Minor concern: Are ready anchor points (like trees or shrubs) routinely available to assist in tarp shelter erection using mini bungi cords or paracord tie-offs? Or do you need to bring along mechanical support items (tent stakes, collapsible walking sticks, dead man anchors for sand/snow, longer ridge/guy lines, etc.).

Some previous observations concerning mostly tactical tarp shelters, poncho shelters, & bivy sacks...




This is what I use today for my tarp shelter needs...

 

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OF,

It would be most helpful if you could explain and contrast to newer Preppers here the distinction(s) between No See 'Ems ans mosquito netting.

I admit to using cost as one of my criteria.
The "No See 'Ems" netting is just a name for a tighter woven mosquito netting designed to also keep out midges and other things smaller than a mosquito.
 

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Knowledge is Power
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Discussion Starter · #13 · · Business
if you find a good supply of the mentioned tarp in great condition. IE no pin holes id be interested in 3 or 4 if the price is reasonable. Id even pay a little extra for hand selected but tarps with holes in them are of no use to me...
We have grade 1 tarps listed on our website that meet your description. Link in my sig
 

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Knowledge is Power
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Whatever you choose for a tarp shelter, two major (and one minor) considerations should drive your shelter choice train:

1. Are you trying to hide? Or merely overtly bivouac without security concerns? Both styles of tarp shelter pitching will keep the elements off of you, but local security conditions dictate the style of shelter (and color of fabric). It does no good to stealth camp, then burrow into a shelter you can't see out of. Or a brightly colored one visible to distant observers. If armed threats can readily spot you at a distance and then approach unseen, your shelter may just become your burial shroud. Certain styles of tarp shelter pitch allow you to see around your perimeter... and also employ your weapon from under the shelter.

2. You need a tarp roof large enough to fully cover you and your kit from driving rain, but small enough to still pitch in tighter spots. It's the Goldilocks Equation...too big, too small, or just right. My field experience says that something about 7' x 10' or 8' x 10', in ripstop nylon or silnylon is the most useful and packable size for one person. You need enough overhead footprint to extend past head and toe when under shelter, plus provide some useful drape to left & right. Otherwise...the rain will get you and your gear. IMHO, 5' x 7' (typical single USGI poncho size) is too small for anything but a hammock roof or temporary sunshade/passing storm shelter. For actual RON (rest overnight) or longer termed camps...two ponchos of that size snapped together instead.

3. Minor concern: Are ready anchor points (like trees or shrubs) routinely available to assist in tarp shelter erection using mini bungi cords or paracord tie-offs? Or do you need to bring along mechanical support items (tent stakes, collapsible walking sticks, dead man anchors for sand/snow, longer ridge/guy lines, etc.).

Some previous observations concerning mostly tactical tarp shelters, poncho shelters, & bivy sacks...




This is what I use today for my tarp shelter needs...

These USMC tarps are 80x90". If you do not have ready anchors available, that's where the 4 10' guylines come in handy. You can source/fab a couple uprights out of sticks and use the guylines to support them.
 

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Weight is the biggest factor if you're on foot. Personally I prefer a lightweight tent. One advantage tarps have is you can see what's around you better, and escape quicker. But they are colder in winter and let bugs in in summer. Also you need trees to attach it to, or poles, and a hammock or groundsheet. It's a difficult choice. I do have a poncho that can be used as a basic tarp. It's fairly light weight (288g/10 oz). But I'd probably not bother taking it in winter, I take a rain jacket and overtrousers then.
 

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I go with one man tent as soon as it gets colder and rainy. But I keep a super lightweight tarp with me for impromptu cooking cover. It comes with a pre-prepared ridge line, some bungee cord and two plastic biners. I can use the pegs from the tent for tying down.

In a pinch I could sleep under it, but being super duper light it is very small. Not bigger than a poncho. So why not set up the poncho for shelter? Well, the idea is to have something to use as cover while removing the poncho, so.

For hammocking I take a big tarp. And a mosquito net.
 

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Weight is the biggest factor if you're on foot. Personally I prefer a lightweight tent. One advantage tarps have is you can see what's around you better, and escape quicker. But they are colder in winter and let bugs in in summer. Also you need trees to attach it to, or poles, and a hammock or groundsheet. It's a difficult choice. I do have a poncho that can be used as a basic tarp. It's fairly light weight (288g/10 oz). But I'd probably not bother taking it in winter, I take a rain jacket and overtrousers then.
In winter, I've used an Army poncho as a windbreak many times, worn and emplaced
Also mobile (worn) privacy for washing, toileting, changing clothing, stripping out of soaked clothes and standing over moss burner to dry (only female in the unit)
Also ground sheet to sleep on in an igloo (careful of the moss burner)
Once over top of an igloo because rain and sleet was moving in, followed by more severe cold, and didn't want to lose my toasty "home" (warmer and quieter than Army shelter halves, with advantage of built-in winter camouflage)
Also to haul snow, ice (careful, watch for sharp edges/points), or water (twist and tie carefully and keep upright; shake and dry after so no frozen "sail")
Not for hauling wood, branches, rocks, sharp ice, etc. lest holes get poked in the poncho
Flotation device in running water (not yet frozen or thawing out first/ice break-up)
Bunch of other winter (and all other seasons) stuff

Never liked the rain suits the Army issued because never fit and couldn't be altered, was noisy, hot/humid, and fire/melting issues and nonrepairable/expensive for turn-in. Much preferred the poncho. Even if it got damaged, relatively inexpensive to pay for/replace.
 

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I prefer a gore-tex bivvy bag. It does double duty as my pack liner, with the sleeping bag permanently in it. This makes setting up camp really quick; unroll sleeping pad, pull out bivvy bag, shake put sleeping bag, happy days. It makes it easy to be covert when you're camping on land you're not supposed to be on, which is most of England. In winter (in civvy life) I have used a British Army DPM basha over the bivvy, but that's only useful if it's raining heavily and if it's raining that hard I usually go home.
 
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