Loc: Michigan, just N of detroit
Can you help a new guy? so many people people here use tarps but I'm having trouble finding the companies that make them for BPing, I want to see whats out there, please share your opinion of which ones to look at, by the way I'll be using it with a bivy.
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
You'll want to be a little careful when buying a tarp from a retail outlet like REI or Campmor. They sell great tarps but they also sell less good tarps. For instance at REI they sell a tarp called a "Coated Tarp" and another called a "UL tarp". The UL tarp is made of silnylon, which is what you want. The other is polyurethane coated nylon which, while waterproof, is heavier than silnylon.
Campmor is even more complicated because they sell two tarps of the same size from the same manufacturer but only one is really for backpacking. The Equinox Ultralight Tarp (which is the same as the one REI calls the UL tarp) is the good one. The other is the Equinox Coated Nylon tarp and is almost twice the weight of the Ultralight Tarp.
In both cases the more expensive one is the one you want I'm afraid.
http://www.hammockforums.net - lots of trading goes on here. You can also look at some of the threads. I'm working on finding a website by one of the members. Will update later when I get the correct link.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Here are some more sources. I'll let you google!
Mountain Laurel Designs
Gossamer Gear (these won't be available until the spinnaker fabric shortage is over)
I found that by the time you add together the weights of tarp, groundsheet and bug netting that you pretty much equal the weight of many of the lighter tarptents on the market. I personally prefer having a fully-enclosed bug-free shelter. Your Mileage May Vary! Sources for these tarptents include Tarptent, Six Moon Designs, AntiGravity Gear and Gossamer Gear (the last is again having problems with the spinnaker fabric shortage).
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
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