I have really enjoyed my tarp evolution!
I started with the "postage stamp" sized tarps (I call them napkins
). This was because my first 'camper' was a Hennessy and that's the tarp that came with it. I used it happily. I have to say, I can't really think of a better way to develop your tarping skills than using a teeny tiny tarp while hiking and sleeping through Florida rainstorms. Learn I did!
Prepping for my AT hike, I knew I would need something to shield me from the cold wind and rain I'd find for the first couple of months. Timing being everything, Warbonnet had a new winter tarp design that needed some testing; the Superfly. I jumped at the opportunity and quickly became enamored with a large tarp. Other hikers would make comments constantly like "You've got your own studio apartment". It felt massive by comparison to my previous tarp/hammock experiences.
But, along came spring, then summer. The extra weight of all that sil was interfering with my cookie addiction. Guess what? Once again the fates smiled on me and timing was again on my side. OES was starting to work with Spinn and Brian got in touch with me about carrying one on my journey northward. When he told me it would only weigh around 7oz, my 20+ ounce Superfly may as well of been a bag of bricks. Remember, I need
So, for the rest of my hike, I carried that dreamy MacCat Standard made of Spinn. Glory be! It was just marvelous. Plus, as an added bonus, the same old discussion (argument) about whose gear is better bloomed back into existence as all the 'experienced' LDH types told me that Spinn is a worthless materiel and I'd be sorry that I was carrying it. Well,
When I came off the Trail and came back to Colorado, it was the end of summer. Nighttime temps up in the mountains can be pretty cool even in the summer, but the wind can be ridiculous. Back to the large tarps!
This is about the time the tarp side of my hammock addiction started to kick-in. I started buying/trying/building tarps. I was looking for what I'm always looking for in life: balance. In the end, I have mostly settled on a mid-sized tarp (think, MacCat Deluxe/WB Edge range) for my goto rigs. I still employ a mindset of using the right tool for the job with my tarps. If I'm doing serious miles in fair weather, I'm quick to break out the Micro. Miles, long or short, in winter has the Superflies coming back out. But, for a run of the mill trip, I'll stick with my Goldilocks sized tarps.
The small tarps provide such nice views without having to build a hiking pole porch; which suck when it starts to rain in the middle of the night!
The large tarps provide safe haven when Mama Nature gets all cranky and stuff.
The mids give a nice bit of both; generalists in a drawer full of specialists.
It is the last category that I have spent my cuben money upon. If I'm paying that much per square inch of fabric, then I want it to be 'just right'.