So after being inspired by the yukon pack I was determined to make a backpack out of a tarp then use the tarp as part of my shelter system.
I have a jansport scout external frame pack where you can remove the pouches from it so all you have is the frame and the straps. I then have a 6 by 9 1.4 lb tarp from somewhere that cost 15 dollars, I lay this down and put my 25 dollar XL alpine designs self inflating sleeping pad (2.7 lbs yikes) parallel to the 6 foot side and put my sleeping bag (140 dollar -2 F marmot trestles 5.5 lbs) on top of that then roll it up, without the tarp and tie around it with my hammock (25 dollars 2 lbs). The XL pad is wider than the height of my sleeping bag so I can now put miscellaneous items into what is now a tube, an esbit stove (30 dollars 1 lb with all the fuel and matches) a nalgene, clothing and food. I then fold the tarp over the stuff, left right top bottom, and I had a cord running the length of the middle of the tarp parallel to the 9 foot side, one end is tied to a tarp clip and has about 3 feet of slack after that. The other end is merely threaded through the tarp clip but not tied, this will be important later, but it also has around 3 feet of slack. I use the slack now to tie the top and bottom of the package to the frame on my pack. The "package's dimensions are around 1 foot wide, 3 feet tall and 1 foot deep, think a big cylinder. This fits very well onto my pack and I can tie it securely to the top and bottom parts of the frame. Now I have some paracord starting at the top of the frame and I just spiral around the package and the frame until I have gone around three times and I then tie it to the bottom. I now have it secured very well to my pack and I have walked with it from some time and have not had any troubles. The weight is very symmetric and by having the dense nalgene, stove and clothes on top I have a favorable weight distribution for an external frame and it feels very comfortable on my shoulders compared to other packs that I have had on. However to carry items that I need to access on the hike I have an rei travel pack (30 dollars 11 ounces) that can hold two water bottles, warm clothes, snacks, and small items I wouldnt want to put in the package. I wear this kangaroo style and allows me to access all of these things much easier than if they were in a normal backpack. I look a little silly but it is not uncomfortable at all. Plus I now have a suitable daypack.
With this setup I can rig two different shelters:
Hammock and ground setup
What I failed to mention before is that I also pack a homemade vapor barrier liner for my sleeping bag. I used .7 mil plastic sheeting and made it into a bag using ductape. Cost a dollar and weighs 5 ounces. I also made an odd piece of equipment which includes a respirator from home depot, 25 dollars 6 ounces, a funnel, 1 dollar, and vinyl tubing, 3 dollars, to make a breathing mask where you can expel your moist air outside of the shelter and thus reduce condensation. It takes some getting used to to wear but it isnt too bad, and it keeps your nose warm and I believe it keeps you hydrated better when you sleep because you are breathing in slightly damper air. Anyways the mask takes some tinkering around with to get it to work well and it is good to have some ductape in case you need to make repairs. What these two things do is allow me to not worry at all about the breathability of my shelter. I can completely enclose myself in a tarp and not have to worry about condensation. The lows get down to about 15 here usually so I think this is the proper time to use the vapor barrier and mask. Obviously if condensation isnt an issue I wouldnt bring these things.
Hammock set up:
I string my hammock between two trees, tie the suspension rope of the tarp between the two trees, leaving the side with just the threaded rope to the end where my head will be. I leave the rope a little slacked so that the tarp will sag with me in the hammock. I then tie the corners together and on the threaded side I attach it to a heavy yet movable rock, and on the other side I merely attach it to the tree. I wedge my sleeping pad inside along with my sleeping bag, The stuff sack i then use to store stuff by hanging it from the ridge line. I hang the daypack in a similar fashion. Now with all my stuff in there if I want to hit the hay I can caribeaner the two sides of the tarp together underneath me for added warmth or I can guy line them out. The pad should be wide enough to compensate for my compressed insulation, which is less of a issue because of the nature of my synthetic bag. I can also move the rope attached to the heavy rock towards or away from the tree from inside the hammock to either hide or reveal the night sky depending on conditions.
I use the hammock as a ground cloth, its a 20 dollar hammock that is pretty thick and sturdy. then pad then bag, then lay tarp across leaving some slack in the middle. Using knotted end of suspension, tie over frame of pack to a foundational ground feature, giant rock or tree. This provides some elevation from the tarp to me. I can then pinch the tarp around the opening to limit air exchange. I can also choose to forgo frame pitch all together if conditions require. Again. condensation is a non issue because I am trapping it and expelling it. If it wasn't obvious. I secure the edges of the tarp with rocks or whatever.
I have made and worn the pack but haven't extensively tested either shelter system out in the field yet. Do we have an comments or concerns about this cheap yet versatile shelter. With everything packed including water, I weigh in at about 23 lbs, not bad for winter camping.
Thanks for reading