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  1. #1
    Senior Member Buffalo Skipper's Avatar
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    Evolution of Hammocking Tarps

    Hey all!

    I have been hanging for almost two years now, and though I have racked up nearly 100 nights, I consider myself a relative novice compared to many others here. But I wanted to share some observations of how hammock tarps have changed during this time.

    When I first came around here, it seemed to me that many people were regularly hanging under smaller diamond or asym tarps. I even recall a frequent reference to "postage stamps." Bucking what I was reading at the time, as a genuine rookie, I opted for a larger tarp. But others seemed to keep talking about smaller tarps. There were others who had 10'x11' tarps, but they seemed to be in the real minority. Silnylon was in, and spinU was expensive.

    I kept my focus on a larger tarp, and sought the balance of weight and cost with above average coverage. I spent little time following the discussions of smaller tarps, but I was gaining confidence in my own hammocking skills, and the need for me to have a larger tarp dwindled. At about that time, cuben fiber began emerging, making the pricy spinU tarps resemble brick from the dollar store. And to save weight, some were being made "postage stamp" sized, but that trend did not seem to last very long, and most of today's cuben tarps are of a "mid" size, larger than the minimalist, but slightly smaller than the larger tarps on the market.

    I imagine there are several things happening here. Obviously, technology is improving, and the availability of lighter materials has improved. Also, skill and experience in the community (both consumers and suppliers) has improved as well. Prehaps most important to this is my perspective of what was happening, as I moved from rookie to moderately knowledgable hanger.

    Because my place in the middle of this may have skewed my perception, I would really like to hear from both new and veteran hangers. What were tarps like before two years ago, and has size, shape and weight really changed over time. For those of you newer to this, how do you feel about tarps; are they too small, too large or just right?

    Thanks in advance for your input.
    “Indian builds small fire and stays warm, white man builds big fire and stays warm collecting firewood”—unknown

    “The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea”—Karen Blixen

  2. #2
    size of cuben tarps has alot to do with how wide the fabric comes, not sure what the roll width is, but it's narrower than 5' which is why you see alot of cuben tarps that are more mid-size

    we just got rid of our asym diamonnd because too many people were having trouble getting good coverage with it.

    the speer winter tarp was pretty influencial early on in the bigger tarp category

  3. #3
    MDSH's Avatar
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    Whether car camping, hunting, or having a picnic putting up a tarp was the first thing my family did, probably because around here the sun will eat you up. So, we've had everything from canvas to nylon to wally poly. My uncle was in the Air Force and would sometimes string up a parachute for shade. I'm covered up with poles, too, steel, wood, aluminum, and downed saplings that I've collected over the years.

    Because of an accident I simpy cannot handle heavy gear any more so I am giving nearly everything I have to my son, who is coming over today to get it. I need to go ultra-light, hence my move to hammock camping.

    I'll have to stick with my 10 x12 blue poly tarp for now but look forward to silnylon and eventually a cuben.

    We had so much fun as a kids with my family using an old-fashioned 10 x 10, four-paneled canvas tarp with tie-outs around the edges and in the middle. So, I like the Cooke Custom Sewing Tundra tarps. But some day I intend to make a cuben. A three panel cuben would make a tarp nominally 13' long and then each panel could be 10' and there you have it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member angrysparrow's Avatar
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    I agree that the trend has definitely been towards larger tarps. And I think there are probably a few factors that influence that.

    - Until 3-4 years ago, there simply weren't 'winter tarp' designs being made. I think Youngblood (and the SWT as Brandon mentioned) was the first.
    - Lots of tarp development in the last 3 years is geared toward expanding tarps. (pole mods, add-on doors and beaks, panel-tie-outs, etc).
    - An influx of new hangers who have less experience using a close-to-hammock tarp pitch technique to maximize the coverage of a smaller tarp.
    - Somewhat of a move toward 'more comfort' in hammock setups, because of the extra room under a larger tarp.

    I don't think any of those are a bad thing. But, it has sort of given the impression to a lot of new hangers that they *need* a larger tarp. It will be interesting to see if there's any move back toward smaller tarps in the future.

    Regarding sil vs spinn vs cuben - I really think Spinn's use and popularity was cut short because of the supply issues from the primary manufacturer. Some of the cottage businesses simply found some of the fabric batches not to be up to spec and had to discontinue using it. Which is a shame, since Spinn offered a nice balance of weight vs cost.

    How are tarps different than 2-3 years ago? More people carry larger tarps, and they tend to be based on a hex-shape, rather than a mix of hex, asym, and diamond configs.

    It's nice to have so many tarp options available! That's one thing that has greatly expanded...more off-the-shelf choices.
    “I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet. It dont move about from place to place and it dont change from time to time. You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt.” - Cormac McCarthy

  5. #5
    dakotaross's Avatar
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    Maccat was the standard bearer when I first started in 2005. The Deluxe was a relatively new product then and that seemed to be the first wave of the larger tarp movement, at least in terms of hex tarps. I think a lot of folks used Equinox 8x10 or similar squared edge tarps at that time.

    IMO, with the advent of lighter materials and innovative design, I believe the trend is toward larger tarps that offer more overall peace of mind compared to an ever-dwindling weight penalty. Doesn't mean, of course, that the small tarps are going away. I just think that as the market expands, the mix of users trends toward less experience and the want for greater protection.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Roche's Avatar
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    I'm not an old timer but I have noticed the trend as well. I have 4 different size tarps and use them based upon expected weather conditions for hiking. But if it's base camping, the larger the better.

  7. #7
    Acer's Avatar
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    I think also,,with everything already said..customization of the product that is available to us by our vendors working with us, has led us down the path to larger tarps. As well as the advent of better winter gear selections of quilts, peapods, UQP's, and winter hammock covers of various types.

  8. #8
    Administrator Yukon's Avatar
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    Big tarp all the way! For the tiny weight gain, you have and awesome space to move around in, and tons of set up options

  9. #9
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    I've only had the superfly from Warbonnetguy. I love it but it has not rained here in western NY since I purchased it. 80 plus degrees everyday. This weekend looks like I will finally be able to try it out. Hope it doesn't leak! I have set it up several time to prepare for hunting season.....can't wait, I do love the bigger size and complete coverage with the doors down. It gets pretty brutal around here in the snow belt region during the winter months. It is nothing to get a foot or two over night before lake erie freezes over. We'll test that tarp out real good.....mmmmhhmmmm.
    Take this soul, stranded in some skin and bones, take this soul and make it sing.

  10. #10
    you'll probably want to seal the round panel pulls with silicone, the ridge seam does not need any

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