Forget all that nonsense about tarps melting away and dripping on you! Well, most of it anyway! The short version of it is that it does work, you just have to be a touch careful!
Now, here's the story and the pics to prove it, too!
For a long time now I wanted to find out about cooking fires under tarps. Oh, don't get me wrong, I've build plenty a regular bonfire under the good ole waxcotton tarp and cooked on a multitude of burners and stoves and whatnots under my hi speed Gucci tarp, but I was never thick in the head enough to combine "real fire" with UL hammocking. Until now, that is. The trick - I've found - is to combine stone-age technology with space-age gizzmos.
OK, here's my setup: JRB SpinUL tarp, pullout and grizzbeaks attached, WB blackbird underneath, even the dog likes it, the whole nine yards !
Now, when you look carefully, you'll see one bigger and one smaller hole on the very side of the pulled up tarp. In those two holes I built a "Dakota fire", a quite ingenious idea combining stealth and efficiency. You dig a hole about a foot deep and some 5" across, then another, smaller one next to it. You then dig from the bottom of the one hole to the bottom of the other and start your fire in the big hole. The air rushing in from the other hole makes this bigger hole a regular furnace burning everything you throw at it small and hot. Here you go (and yes, this is well under the tarp):
And here's the view from the inside out
And yes again, it does get a little warm under the tarp, but nowhere near "melting speed". And yes yet again, it does heat the whole little setup rather well, I actually had to go out for a short while, sweat started pouring in earnest.
And now for the next exercise, cooking! Since it was time for a civilized coffee - no proper mountainman in his right mind would ever down a tea, Ray Mears notwithstanding - I played with my brand new heavy cover lid for my trusted crusader cup. This in itself is quite an invention, the built in strainer works great and you get no more ash in your java. Here's the company http://www.heavycoverinc.com/products.html.
Well, I'm lollygagin' as Shug would say, so let's come back: The little Dakota style furnace works great, and in 5 minutes flat I had the entire cup filled with water and ground coffee boiling!
And while it was a neat little inferno down there, the flames came - if that at all - maybe 5-6" above the upper end of the hole tops!
"Coffee's ready, hon!"
So, give it a try! It does look dangerous but it ain't, well not too dangerous anyhow! In any case it is a great method to cook under your tarp , stay warm and enjoy the comfort of a proper fire.
Let me hear what your think!
Best regards from northern Germany, Chris