The WinterTarp is the results of several generations of a class of tarps that I call hammock tarptents. It is an 11 foot long by 10 foot wide silnylon tarp with catenary curves along each of its ten edges and four catenary darts. The basic concept is to provide a taut tarp when pitched high for rain protection and a taut tarp when pitched low for better wind protection as a hammock tarptent. Of course there are other basic requirements as well such as simplicity and functionality. In cold weather, simplicity and functionality are paramount as even the simplest of chores can become difficult when you are tired or cold and your equipment needs to do what you expect it to do without a lot of adjustments or readjustments. One other feature is that it has a steep pitch when used as a hammock tarptent to encourage any snow to slide off the tarp rather than accumulate and cause problems with stretching and sagging.
When pitched high for rain protection in a traditional A-frame configuration the WinterTarp has a surprisingly taut pitch for such a large silnylon tarp due to the innovative use of catenary darts at strategic points on the tarp and the catenary curves along its edges. It has two ridgeline tie outs and four tie outs on each side for a total of ten tie outs. The center pair of tie outs on each side are for the main body of the tarp and the corner tie outs can be pitched a number of different ways. The corner tie outs can be pitched to extend the tarp as a normal flat tarp or they can be angled inward. The unique catenary darts allow for a taut pitch over a significant range of angles for the corner tie outs.
When pitched low and the end flaps closed off, or partially closed off, it becomes a tarptent for a hammock. Most of the time you will only want it partially closed off as that is the best compromise for most winter conditions when camping with a hammock. With the ends partially close off there is more inside volume, it is easier to exit and enter, and the wind can't hit you unless it blows through the tree you are tied off to. This is great improvement over tarps that don't offer this type of coverage in cool weather where exposure to wind can be a problem. The approach on the WinterTarp tent is to use overlapping flaps for doors to close or partially close off the ends and to not have the tarp all the way to the ground, but very near the ground. This blocks the wind from having a direct path to the hammock as long as you pitch your hammock up off the ground and up inside the tarp, and still provides adequate ventilation for when the wind isn't blowing. Remember that conditions often change during the course of the night where the wind sometimes is blowing and sometimes it isn't. When the wind is blowing ventilation isn't an issue but when it isn't blowing it is an issue and it can become a big issue real fast in winter conditions.
Of course each person is free to experiment and find their own favorite WinterTarp configuration for the conditions they encounter. I think people will appreciate the simplicity and functionality of the WinterTarp.
aka Youngblood 2000
Designer of the Speer Segmented Pad Extender, the SnugFit Underquilt, and the WinterTarp