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  1. #1

    Newbie needs some specific tarp-hanging help

    I've been reading forum threads for a couple of months now, getting lots of great advice and ideas. I originally was looking for a lighter way to backpack, now that I'm single and have to carry all the gear myself -- no splitting up tent vs stove, etc. Although my tent is a backpacking tent -- L.L. Bean Microlight -- at approx 5 pounds, it seemed pretty hefty. I stumbled upon this forum and became enthralled with the thought of hanging. I decided on a Warbonnet Blackbird and I found out from Brandon that he had a Mamajamba prototype tarp, so I bought that too. I've taken some naps in my Blackbird and last night I slept in it, in my backyard. I absolutely love it. I'm only 5'1", so it's HUGE for me. I don't think my feet even reach the footbox and if I stake out the sides, it's nearly as roomy as my Microlight.

    I hadn't tried to put the tarp up yet, until this afternoon, when I realized I need guylines. I'm going backpacking in the Ouachita National Forest, in Arkansas, for the weekend on Friday and I'm feeling a little panicky. I need some guidance on how I should plan to set it up this first time. I want to make sure I have coverage in case a rainstorm blows in. If there's no chance of rain, I generally don't put my rainfly up on my tent when I'm camping, so, if the weather looks good, I'll probably just sleep under the branches. I started watching Shug's video -- #5 -- and I do like how, with the winter tarp, he created a ridgeline and kept it all together with snakeskins, but I don't think I have the time to do that this week.

    Thanks in advance for the help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member opie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Lansing, MI
    DIY Bridge
    Etowah, gargoyle
    Wool, heater
    Welcome to HF. Sounds like you went right to the top with your gear selection. Good choices.

    For your tarp... Some people like a 2 line set-up which is.... well, 2 lines. One off each end of the tarps RL to each tree. The advantage of this is its just about the lightest way to hang your tarp. The downside is there is more involved in getting it pitched and centered over your hammock.

    Some like a 1 line set-up. Which is... well, 1 continuous line. One end gets attached to your first tree and the other to a second tree and then you pull the RL tight. From there you can hang your tarp. Some folks like to leave it attached and either furl it or use something akin to snake skins. Some like to have it separate. There really isnt a wrong way to hang your tarp... its all personal preference as just about any option works.

    With either option you can use toggles for your tree and tarp attachment. Or Biners. With the tarp attachments you can even larks head the prusik loops right to the rings and eliminate the toggles or biners altogether. This method would have your tarp attached to the RL permanently.

    Youll want tensioning guy lines for your tarp. I make mine with fixed eyes in either end so you can use the tensioner or flip the line around if you need a close to ground pitch.
    Custom Bridge Hammocks

    Mackinac Bridge Hammocks

  3. #3
    Senior Member WV's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    southeast WV
    Definitely put the tarp up in your back yard, with the hammock, before your hike. If possible, spend the night under it. Keep it simple. Opie's advice is great; so is Shug's. Look for Griz's videos ("Professor Hammock"). Keep it simple; you'll get the hang of it. Did I say, "Keep it simple"? (Shug juggles; you shouldn't have to.) Have fun.

  4. #4
    New Member fishtar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Fort Collins, CO
    Mayan, Blackbird
    Easist thing (if you got the cash) would be to order a ridge and some guys from Opie. I Recently just bought one of his ridgelines, and it makes set up easy. And you can use a stick to push one end up high (5'1").

    The whole thing can easily strung up with paracord or a roll of mason line from the hardware store though. A bunch of little carabiners will make it easier. I use mason line for the guys still. Tie to the tarp, cut to length, put a loop at other end and clip to stake). Groundhog stakes with some shock cord tied to them work well, but any will do.

    Any class of twine/rope that can be pulled taught will also work for the ridge. Easiest way would be to tie 20' or so on to each end of the tarp, with loops tied at the very ends. Then you can just wrap the twine around a tree, pull for tension, wrap some more and use a biner to lock to lock the loop to one of the wraps. Take care.

  5. #5
    Senior Member tight-wad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Hoover, Al
    DIY Speer style
    "Sto" Serape & RRG
    Always, always, always, put up a tarp. You never know what Mother Nature has planned for you. My tarp is in snake skins so I can leave them in the skins if desired and quickly stake them out. If you don't have time for snakeskins, then pitch the tarp, undo 1/2, fold it over the 1/2 that is still staked out, and enjoy the evening.

  6. #6


    Thank you for everyone's suggestions! I got rope at REI last night and tomorrow night, I'll try it out. At least now I have a better idea of what to do with all those little rings around the edges...

  7. #7
    Senior Member TinaLouise's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    wilmington, nc
    BB1.0 double
    Hybrid Cuben F.
    Down & IX
    BB straps,whoopies
    I've been on camping trips where there was absolutly no rain forcasted, when I went to sleep the sky was clear.... only to wake up later with rain drops falling. I made the decision to wake up a couple of other people that also weren't set up for rain, they didn't sound real happy being woke up until they realized it was raining! Always...Always...Always.... Now I always set up my tarp before going to sleep, even if it's slung over itself and half open to the sky. I've still got to get up and stake out one side but that's easier than haveing to set up the whole thing. Another thing I've found is that around where I normally go camping, dew falls at night!! I've been in some heavy dew that, I might just as well go ahead and call it rain. Now fog is a different critter... it gets under the tarp and I've not found much to do to prevent it from going where it wants to go. I don't know if in North Texas you'll have much contact with heavy fog??

    Oh, practice, practice, Practice!! Set up and take down your tarp & hammock together in the backyard as much as you can, before your trip. If you've got different trees to practice with, that's all the more experience you'll have with different spacing of trees. Do you use trekking poles? If you do, then also practice setting up your tarp with them too.


  8. #8
    Senior Member KerMegan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Irving, TX
    not quite eno..
    10x12 DIY
    DIY whoopie slings
    I was going to recommend getting the braided mason line- not the twisted, but too late!- tip to try- take along some extra hair ties- the stretchy kind - and use them between the tarp and the line- the stretch will take up the slack when the tarp relaxes overnight...this is only if you do not have shock cord available...
    have a great trip! KM

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