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  1. #1
    Hang Williams's Avatar
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    Tarp wind setup tips

    This summer I've experienced ***minor*** tarp failures on 3 separate trips. I didn't get any pictures of those setups because I either relocated or quickly put the tarp up in ts snakeskin. All 3 instances it wasn't raining, just very gusty with frequent wind direction changes. Could use some advice to learn what I can do better with tarp setups in the future.

    Picture below is a typical tarp setup for me. Basically set the ridgeline pretty tight, then tighten the guy lines on each corner until the edge of the tarp is taught. The result is a noticeable lowering of the ridgeline where the tension from the guy lines is present forming a shape akin to this in the ridgeline \________/.



    Instance 1: the tarp above (12' HG Journey), very windy conditions I'd guess at about 25-30 mph gusts with little protection. My linelocs on the ridgeline slipped during a gust after multiple instances of stakes pulling out. We ended up moving camps to a much more wind protected area and had no further issues that trip.

    Instance 2: a different tarp (11' Hex), gusty again, but hard to say as I was away from camp, came back to find the linelocs had slipped again. 0% chance of rain, so packed the tarp away until evening time. I was in as protected of a spot as I could find.

    Instance 3: 11' Hex again, so windy I couldn't keep my hat on my head. During setup I went a lot looser with the guy line tension (I tightened it until I felt some tension, but not until it was taut) to try to learn a lesson from the previous 2 incidents. This time a stake pulled which must've taken a lot considering I'd hammered them in with a rock. Reset the stake and it held, but the wind died down a lot too.

    Everything I've learned about hammock camping, I've learned here, but I will admit it's hard for me to judge tension in setups from pictures and videos. Any suggestions of less subjective metrics I could use?

  2. #2
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    For lineloc loosening, throw in a slipped half hitch just below the plastic buckle or even a slipped overhand, then tug it back to snug it.

    For stakes, leave a little slack in the guy line and then place a rock in front of the stake to hold it. Tying off to vegetation or logs is also great if they're in the right spot. If there is a handy crack between 2 rocks, sometimes you can use another smaller rock or small tree branch as a chock, which makes an extremely solid attachment point.

    Rock chock...

    Five Basic Principles of Going Lighter (not me... the great Cam Honan of OZ) Instagram (me!)

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  3. #3
    Hang Williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    For lineloc loosening, throw in a slipped half hitch just below the plastic buckle or even a slipped overhand, then tug it back to snug it.

    For stakes, leave a little slack in the guy line and then place a rock in front of the stake to hold it. Tying off to vegetation or logs is also great if they're in the right spot. If there is a handy crack between 2 rocks, sometimes you can use another smaller rock or small tree branch as a chock, which makes an extremely solid attachment point.

    Rock chock...

    I was worried about the tarp ripping if I did a slippery half hitch. Unreasonable fear?

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I use these on my tarps with good luck: https://www.gossamergear.com/blogs/o...ng-guy-lines-2
    I also prefer y stakes to v stakes and if it's really windy I'll double up on the stakes on the windward side.

  5. #5
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hang Williams View Post
    I was worried about the tarp ripping if I did a slippery half hitch. Unreasonable fear?
    If it's windy enough, at some point something has to give... that is, rip or break. So in the end none of our lightweight tarps and cords/stakes are going to stand up to hurricane force winds. It still comes down to site selection and maybe changing location at a very inconvenient time and place — as mentioned in your first post — bailing out altogether, or maybe not going in the first place. I've experienced all of those at some point!

    Even if one uses a shock corded guylines, once they reach the limit of their stretch they also become static lines and no longer relieve any of the force on the tarp.

    If some sort of split ring or other intentionally-designed weak point is employed as a "fuse," if the fuse works as intended one is left with furiously flapping material that might do a lot of damage. Without it, it is more likely that the material itself would have been able to withstand the wind all by itself.

    Personally, I simply use non-shock corded guylines and Blake's hitch loops with Blake's hitches at the tarp tie-out points. With Lawson cord, which holds all knots well, they don't slip and I've never had a problem with them, so the common practice of using a half hitch with LL3s should work similarly.
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  6. #6
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    If the type of stakes I've brought prove not to be compatible with the type of ground I'm pitching my tarp over, then I look for existing natural anchor points. I can see a couple of big rocks in your photo which could be moved to a staking spot; also the logs might be possible to use. (Be sure to put the rocks back where you found them when leaving your campsite.)

  7. #7
    Senior Member tsshaw78's Avatar
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    I had a similar failure while camping on a bald and a storm blew over. My prusik knots slipped and caused the line and prusik to fuse. I now half hitch behind it to help lock it from slipping. I also had my stake pull out but that was due to in adequate bury depth.
    I haven't been in another heavy wind since to test my adjustments.
    A day camping in the rain is better than a good day at work,
    --Shaw.

    tsshaw78 is too hard to say on the trail - Just call me Shaw.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bubba's Avatar
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    I use Blake hitches as well and they hold strong but adjust easily. As others have mentioned natural anchor points are good as well as placing something heavy on top of your stakes. As you're already aware site selection is important from the start but maybe have a bailout location in mind that may not be the nicest site but would provide better protection should you need to move.
    Unfortunately sometimes the wind just finds you though Lowering you ridgeline and guying out your tarp at a less steep angle might help the tarp catch less wind. If possible using other gear as a wind break can help as well such as an up turned canoe or maybe a spare tarp or ground sheet. At the end of the day if the wind is strong enough gear is going to fail so I think it's prudent to carry supplies like extra rope, gear repair tape, Silnet and or Seamgrip, needle and thread etc. if you're far in the backcountry. Coupled with this is the knowledge of some basic knots to deal with a torn tarp loop. A sheet bend can be used on a corner tie out in a pinch or a small stone to create a button to secure your line to. Anyways I'm rambling. Sorry if you already know or have already thought about some or all of this. Happy hammocking!
    Don't let life get in the way of living.

  9. #9
    Crazytown3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hang Williams View Post
    I was worried about the tarp ripping if I did a slippery half hitch. Unreasonable fear?
    I wouldn't think so, I use a slippery half hitch on my winter tarp with lineloc 3's, and it holds great. I tend to err on the side of tighter rather than looser. It's easier for the tarp to get damaged if it is loose and flapping around.

  10. #10
    Hang Williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    I use Blake hitches as well and they hold strong but adjust easily. As others have mentioned natural anchor points are good as well as placing something heavy on top of your stakes. As you're already aware site selection is important from the start but maybe have a bailout location in mind that may not be the nicest site but would provide better protection should you need to move.
    Unfortunately sometimes the wind just finds you though Lowering you ridgeline and guying out your tarp at a less steep angle might help the tarp catch less wind. If possible using other gear as a wind break can help as well such as an up turned canoe or maybe a spare tarp or ground sheet. At the end of the day if the wind is strong enough gear is going to fail so I think it's prudent to carry supplies like extra rope, gear repair tape, Silnet and or Seamgrip, needle and thread etc. if you're far in the backcountry. Coupled with this is the knowledge of some basic knots to deal with a torn tarp loop. A sheet bend can be used on a corner tie out in a pinch or a small stone to create a button to secure your line to. Anyways I'm rambling. Sorry if you already know or have already thought about some or all of this. Happy hammocking!
    Definitely hadn't thought about less steep angle. I did have my tarp ridgeline up higher given the low chance of rain (so I could walk around easier) for the first 2 instances. The 3rd instance had a shallower angle, but that's probably higher uplift and why the stake pulled though that seems to have easier fixes. The engineer in me prefers controlled failure points to protect the less fixable problem of the tarp body ripping.

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