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PostPosted: December 30th, 2020, 5:08 pm 
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Joined: August 16th, 2011, 8:02 pm
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Location: Edmonton area
I really enjoy Canadian Shield tripping in the fall of the year; no bugs, no people. But autumn also features windy, wet, and cold weather; there is often ice in the Billy can in the mornings.

I spent the entire month of September this year several map sheets east and north of Missinipe, in the Churchill River area of northish Saskatchewan, and have often tripped right through into November up that way.

As a result, over the years I’ve developed a tarp/fire layout that has been like portable home living room, so that when inactive, after all the work of the day is done, it’s easy for me to stay comfy and warm, in rain, wind, and even snow.

Here’s a pic of my generic set up, repeatable at almost any site in the Boreal areas:

Image

I use a 9’10” x 12’10”, urethane coated, polyester taffeta Guide tarp made by Chinook Technical Outdoors, as unlike silnylon, I can have it only a few feet from my fire without worrying about too many spark holes in it; very few really.

I heavily modified the tarp by adding much reinforcing and pole sleeves.

In a typical setup, I locate a fire safe clear area, usually rock, a few dozen meters downwind of any tents, orient the tarp so that the prevailing wind will come at an oblique angle to the rear of the tarp, tie off the two front corners of one of the long ends of the tarp at overhead level to either two trees, or a tree and a positioned pole, stake out the rear of the tarp to the ground to form a lean-to shape, insert a collapsible pole into the centre pole sleeve on the inside of the tarp, and extend it upward at an angle of approximately 30 degrees, which creates a roomy shelter that blocks wind from the rear, and then about 2 paces forward of the tarp, construct a stone, or stone-faced fire reflector wall, and finally, set up chairs and a table under the tarp, light the fire, take off a few layers, and eat/work/chat/read/plan/veg, and drink in comfort.

This set up has withstood 50kmh steady winds with gusts through the night of up to 70kmh. I have also made a tarp sidewall that will quickly attach to either side of the main tarp if the wind shifts too much to the side.
At the correct oblique angle, the wind will blow all the smoke from the fire across the front of the tarp, but not into it. However a great deal of heat from the fire is reflected by both the stone wall behind it, but also by the inside of the tarp, back onto its occupants. It truly is amazingly warm, regardless of even snowy nights.

It’s also easy to reconfigure to a more common overhead tarp pitch, by freeing the back of the tarp from the ground, tying off the rear corners, overhead on trees or poles, and raising the tarp center pole. A very quick transition if desired.

Recently I was looking through one of those “bushcrafty” sites that listed something like 100 best tarp pitches, and had nifty names for them all, and so I tried to find mine – nope.

So, I searched all through this site to see if I could find a photo or description or reference to something like I have been using for a while, and again found nothing. I never thought my standard set-up unusual, but it seems perhaps that it may be a bit uncommon after all.

And so with that possibility in mind, I thought that I would share it here with whoever might have interest; and I’m happy to receive comments/suggestions, and to find out if anyone else uses this system.

Apologies for the long post. (if I manage to get this, and the picture, posted into the forum, I will be very pleased)

Cheers folks.

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PostPosted: December 31st, 2020, 4:14 am 
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Joined: April 21st, 2004, 10:52 am
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Location: Near Ottawa ON
Ted Baird doing a similar setup:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjDm-cv1A0c


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PostPosted: December 31st, 2020, 8:09 am 
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Joined: August 16th, 2011, 8:02 pm
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Location: Edmonton area
Bingo! Thank you Krusty. I had not heard of this fellow before.

Very similar indeed. Decent video, cheers.

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PostPosted: December 31st, 2020, 8:25 pm 
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Joined: December 20th, 2003, 9:27 am
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Hi, Guy,
Your tarp set up is similar to what we use. Depending on wind and weather, the back can close to ground level or a bit higher to give more usable space underneath. We often cut saplings or small trees to raise the front corners and/or the center of the tarp. I'm quite impressed with your fire pit and reflecting wall. Does it take long to build it and how does it affect the smoke from the fire?

Not sure if this is an issue for you but we often suffer from Murphy's Law of Tarp set up. It dictates that we often seem to have the wind coming in off the lake so we either have to turn our tarp away from the view or move it further back into the bush where we can't see much.


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PostPosted: January 1st, 2021, 8:16 pm 
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Joined: September 3rd, 2014, 4:35 pm
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Yup, stick, it up and tie it down. Leave the origami for the posers! Happy New Years....


Last edited by steve.of.london on January 2nd, 2021, 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: January 1st, 2021, 9:33 pm 
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Joined: August 16th, 2011, 8:02 pm
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Location: Edmonton area
Hello Ralph! Yes, I like this set up because it's so quick and quickly changeable too. The rock reflectors generally take about 15 minutes to build, as there is no shortage of head-sized rocks laying about in most sites in that area (don't use wet or recently wet ones).

But one's like in the photo take a bit longer, maybe a half-hour, which is fine if you plan on staying for a couple or more days. Timbers cut and pounded as a backer for stacked smaller rocks works in a pinch. The logs behind don't even get hot, and the rocks both reflect and radiate heat toward the tarp sitting area.

If the tarp was properly oriented to the prevailing wind (and if it doesn't shift drastically), the wind blows almost at 45 degrees onto the front of the rock wall. That keeps the smoke out of the tarp area, but allows the heat in. And, that sidewall that I made, which is carried with the tarp and only takes one minute to add, keeps things copacetic if the wind shifts a few degrees more toward blowing directly across the fire and into the side of the tarp, if that makes sense.

The 45 degree angle also usually lets me have at least a partial view of the water, 7 times out of 10ish. But sometimes, yep, you have to set up in a more sheltered, less picture friendly spot, for sure.

Well, I must say that I am happy to know that a sensei such as yourself uses a similar set up, cheers Ralph!

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PostPosted: January 4th, 2021, 10:05 am 
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Joined: August 19th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Simcoe, Ontario Canada
Yes, it was the first tarp set-up my sweetie and I used when we started tripping (2001). If I recall, we got the idea from a Cliff Jacobsen book.

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PostPosted: January 8th, 2021, 3:25 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1836
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Tarp pitch

My favorite tarp is a (large, colorful) Cooke Custom Sewing Tundra Tarp in sil-nylon. On trips with friends I trust one companion to bring his (also large) spark and ember-proof campfire tarp.

Solo, when I think there is need, I’ll bring a smaller POS poly tarp and risk it to pin holing with flying embers. I am not doing that with a sil-nylon Tundra Tarp.

But I often use that one-dropped-side set up, especially in high winds or wind driven rain. Enough that I bring a wind block side panel that quickly/easily clip attaches to one side of the tarp.

ImageP1060480 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImageP1060481 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

It is a lot easier to move that side panel (an old coated nylon Eureka Timberline “Annex” awning) from one side to the other as the front passes though and the wind direction changes than it is to re-orient the entire tarp.

One tarp set up of which I am especially enamored, the day hammock cover as protection from wind, rain or blazing summer sun.

ImageP1070518 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

If it is really windy, blowy rainy or etc I’ll drop both side of the tarp to a fully protective /\.

ImageP2180009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There are times when I love having a true catenary cut wing tarp on coastal or desert canyon trips where the wind shedding performance supersedes the ability to erect the tarp in different guises. With a wing tarp you pretty much have a single stretched-taut way it can be properly erected, but lordy it is windproof.

ImageP2180690 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImageP5132040 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There are so many more ways in which a flat tarp can be protectively erected that, unless I anticipate howling Outer Banks or desert canyon-funneled winds, I’ll take my chances with a flat tarp.


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PostPosted: January 10th, 2021, 1:17 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1836
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
I will add one self-own caveat to that tarp pitch. Due to some tree space restrictions, and more to hurried operator error in setting up before it got snotty, I did a poor job of assuring proper drainage off the sloped backside of the Tundra tarp a couple years ago.

It poured absolute buckets for most of the night. I was glad to be snug in a well sited, waterproof tent, and equally glad that I had dry under-tarp space ready to go in the morning.

Or not; I had dry under-tarp space, provided I was the height of Lego Man. The tarp had sagged and begun collecting a pool of water, which made it sag more, and collect more water.

When I say “pool” I meant a literal bathtub’s worth of water, sagging the sloped back of the tarp nearly to the ground. It was a testament to the construction and stitching of a CCS Tundra Tarp; the heavily burdened tarp didn’t rip or tear out any stitching. Didn’t even leak; I had thoroughly seam sealed all of the stitching with a DIY mix of odorless mineral spirits and 100% silicone caulk a few months prior.

Fortunately - no foresight on my part – the bathtub of water drained AWAY from my site when dumped with a gush. Sadly that was on a freshwater lake and I didn’t need the potable water collection.

One additional advantage of a parawing in some tripping venues, the drainage points are unmistakable on a wing, every drop comes off at the two low V ends. On coastal/tidal trips, silty desert river trips, chicken farm effluent blackwater campers or etc limited potable water venues, the ability to assuredly collect rainwater off those two low drainage points is advantageous. Note the waterfall pour-over in the background, and collapsible blue bucket below the V end of the tarp.

ImageP5112025 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Five effortless gallons of silt-free water; I wished I’d brought a second bucket. The pour-over water, having run off the dusty plateau high above, was siltier than the river water, but what came off the tarp was clear as day.

Best ever parawing water collection was a spring trip on the Green. It was warm, unexpectedly approaching hot. I had a few beers left, but was long out of ice. The weather gods provided, in the form of sudden rain/pea snow/sleet storm.

ImageP4261917 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Five minutes of frozen pluvial tarp collection and I had a bucket of ice water. I had a cold beer to celebrate.


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