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  1. #1
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    are tarp doors necessary on the AT

    First off, I currently have neither a hammock nor tarp. I am preparing to thru-hike the AT and was wondering if purchasing a tarp with doors while using a hammock is really necessary.

    I have been to every tarp manufactures site I could find, comparing all styles and sizes. I really like the design and weight of the OES MacCat Deluxe and the slightly larger Warbonnet Mamajamba. The main difference being I can add a door set to the Mamajamba, increasing its effectiveness in certain weather conditions. So my question is, will carrying the doors on an AT thru-hike prove useful enough times to warrant their additional weight or not?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Acer's Avatar
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    If you happen to wear a poncho liner for rain gear,,you can use it to close one end of the tarp up..if it were blowing wind and rain, or snow, while hiking and hanging. You could always get just one set of doors to attach to a tarp as 2Q & ZQ and Wilderness Logics makes a set of add on doors to a tarp. Doors are nice to have in inclimate weather for added protection. No,,you don't have to have doors if you learn to use the forest, hillsides, rock walls, or earthan ridgelines to hang and block your weather while hanging,,even fallen trees will work for wind and weather blockage if you happen to find a place like that to hang in.

  3. #3
    Mrprez's Avatar
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    Like Acer says...location, location, location. Doors shouldn't be necessary.

  4. #4
    Acer's Avatar
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    I have a HG 11' long cuben tarp with doors, and all the attached lines and Dutch bling to hang with weighs 11 oz..and a 12' long cuben tarp with same lines, Dutch Bling to hang with that weighs out at 13 oz total,,,so you might consider cuben even tho it costs a lot more..and a lot of times,,I just hang the doors open folded inside as well as outside so they aren't in the way,,then when severe weather does hit, ,,close the doors..they are nice to have when you do need them,,but not necessary. Also have a WL Tadpole,,total weight with all the lines and attachments, I think at 18 oz without doors,,but have the poncho liner for a door if necessary.

  5. #5
    Member Trudge's Avatar
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    IT all Depends

    Time of year on AT lends to the decision. Being able to close down to the ground(pup tent) in a torrent can be worth every penny and ounce when you are not near a shelter or take out. Doors in conjunction with terrain will allow a truly custom hang for each stop, allowing you to maximize the experience. I have had the winds change direction 180% in middle of night and bring all kinds of moisture. The reason I switched from a CatCut to a Superfly.

    Chance serves the prepared hiker.

  6. #6
    Administrator Yukon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trudge View Post
    Time of year on AT lends to the decision. Being able to close down to the ground(pup tent) in a torrent can be worth every penny and ounce when you are not near a shelter or take out. Doors in conjunction with terrain will allow a truly custom hang for each stop, allowing you to maximize the experience. I have had the winds change direction 180% in middle of night and bring all kinds of moisture. The reason I switched from a CatCut to a Superfly.

    Chance serves the prepared hiker.
    ^^What he said^^

    I personally will never have a tarp without doors again, just my preference. Seems like such a small penalty for so much added protection...

  7. #7
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    I would tend to side with Acer on the Hammock Gear 4 Door/4 Season Tarp. I have this tarp and I just flip the doors out ot the way when I don't need them. Easy to deploy if you do need them. Very lightweight cuben fiber. Give this tarp some serious consideration before you buy - but save up as they don't come cheap. I think it would be an excellent choice for a thru-hiker, especially when you are trying to shed ounces from your pack.

    Just my $0.02, but when adjusted for current market conditions, works out to about 3/4 of a penny ....
    Scooter

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  8. #8
    Yoda's Avatar
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    While I have not thru hiked the AT (so take my thoughts with a grain of salt), I have hiked a lot of miles on it.

    There have been a LOT of thru hikers that have hiked the trail with the postage stamp hennessy tarp (that really small asym diamond tarp), and they finished their hike. Would they have been more comfortable in a larger tarp, who knows....I surely can't (and won't) answer for them. All I know is that they did it! I do know that there are thousands of hikers that start their hike from Springer with the most ridiculous of stuff in their packs, and then when they get to Mountain Crossings, Winton Porter, proprietor and unofficial AT guru at Mountain Crossings has a service that he offers called the Shakedown. He basically goes through packs and does a make over, they ship thousands of pounds of gear every year. More and more hikers and would be thru hikers are becoming much more educated on whats needed and what can be done without because of the internet and forums like this one, and many others (BPL, WhiteBlaze, and others) which have a plethora of information available.

    I have hiked in some really nasty weather (hail storms, what felt like monsoon weather, and perrrrrrfect skies) and have done it with the HH postage stamp, a hex tarp (maccat deluxe), cuben hex, rectangle tarp, winter tarp, with beaks (did it one hike with only one beak).

    I think my favorite was/is the rectangle, I was able to bend the ends in so they acted like door's, but just couldn't fully close off but added a extra level of protection, but was also able to open it up for that airy feeling.

    But this is just my opinion, and you will find that everyone will have a different opinion, and a different set of rules which they follow as to what tarp they would use/choose. Which also begs the mentioning I focus a lot on weight, and form my kit around a minimal/UL standard. So my views may be different than others. I also think experience plays a role in the decision making process.

    I do agree that if one were to choose to get a tarp made from lighter materials say cuben for example, you could get a larger tarp and still be carrying less weight. You could also get a cuben hex tarp, and cuben grizz beaks to close off the ends if you wanted the tarp to be sealed off.

    I would best say get too a HF Group hang if you can and see what the gear looks like in person, this will give you much more information than looking at pictures online, or reading about it.

    Again this is just my $0.02 and not worth much compared to others opinions!

    Good luck on your journey. I hope to read about how wonderful it was, and see the awesome sights and views though your eyes.
    Formerly known as "Cranky Bear"....

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  9. #9
    Mrprez's Avatar
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    Do you know when you will depart? NOBO or SOBO? If you are starting in the pre-May time period NOBO, you *might* need the doors. It can get rather nippy early in the year. Once the weather warms up, you can always mail them home. No point carrying something that you are not using.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the input...you've all given me things to consider.

    Like you, Yoda, I have hiked many miles, but unlike you, I have never used a hammock setup at all...so, while I have enough knowledge to understand what your saying, I lack the specific, personal experience with 'tarping'. Moving from ground is not something I'm experimenting with, it is something I am doing!

    While I am always looking for means to lighten-up my pack, I would not consider myself an ultra-light hiker. I can not, or will not, relinquish certain comforts and survivalist elements that are important to me...one being a good night's sleep! I'm not sure if the cuben fiber is worth the extra cost for me (plus, it may be vain but I don't know if I will like the 'whiteness' of it...I'm still undecided).

    Over the years I have learned very well how to make use of my environment for sheltering a tent and I feel, while different, it will not take me long to do so for a hammock. But as you state, Trudge, weather can change in an instant and getting a down UQ soaked because of such a turn is certainly one of the worst scenarios one may encounter.

    Mrprez, I am planning a 'head-start' type hike: from VA > ME - VA > GA. I plan on starting sometime early May and completing late November. I am doing so for both seasonal beauty and solitude. I would have preferred to start in early to mid April but I have been warned about mud and bugs in Vermont and Maine if I reach there too early.

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